What would be the most important things to know before visiting Walt Disney World? What are some tips to point guests in the right direction? We developed 50 top Walt Disney World tips to help you with your Disney vacation.
Many things have changed at Walt Disney World in recent years. The closure of the theme park resort in 2020 expedited several changes in operations at Walt Disney World. For example, theme park reservations became important. The Fastpass+ system disappeared, replaced by a new way to enter a shorter attraction queue called Genie+. The formerly free transportation from the airport, Magical Express, no longer exists.
Even theme park bloggers look at their excellent advice from three years ago to find obsolete tips and tricks with all the changes. When people give Disney advice, one should ensure it is current and accurate.
We would like to provide you with some timeless and updated Walt Disney World tips. We have 50 top Walt Disney World tips. These are a few of the most important tips for your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Top Walt Disney World Tips: Before You Go
1. Buy Walt Disney World tickets in advance for a discount. You can save money and avoid a line at the ticket booth when you purchase your tickets in advance. Also, based on some other significant changes to the operating procedures, many other advantages come from buying your tickets as far in advance as possible. Also, ticket prices will increase due to simple inflation. For example, buying your tickets ten months in advance might save you money in the long run. Also check on our analysis of the best Disney World discounts and listing of all current Disney World discounts.
2. Once you have your tickets, make theme park reservations. Just because you have a ticket to enter one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks does not equal access to theme parks. You still need to make a theme park reservation. This procedure started after the theme parks reopened in the summer of 2020. We have created a resource to help you with this process.
Theme park reservations can run out. The earlier you book your theme park reservation, the more likely the theme park you want to visit will be available. If needed, you can modify your reservation. Still, theme park reservations will be limited during busy times of the year. You are better off preparing in advance.
3. You can save money on your Disney vacation by purchasing Disney gift cards in advance. Some stores sell these at a slight discount, like Target with its “Red Card.” These Disney gift cards can be used for purchases at almost all Walt Disney World Resort locations.
We recommend registering these Disney gift cards online. This Disney gift card site does not act like a mobile wallet. However, it allows you to transfer funds. If a card is lost, you can move the money from that Disney gift card to another one to keep your Disney gift card money safe.
4. Packing correctly for a Disney vacation provides a sense of calm when you arrive at Walt Disney World. Be sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes. Visiting Walt Disney World theme parks can be a long day. You will be walking and moving around constantly, so proper shoes and clothes will matter. We understand you want to look your best. Still, if that cute outfit does not function well in Florida weather, you will understand our advice.
The weather in central Florida presents some challenges. If you visit in late fall to early spring, the days may be cold in the morning and evening but very warm in the afternoon. You will need to plan for various weather possibilities.
Also, make sure to bring all your charging cords. You will find that a fully charged mobile device is necessary for a Disney vacation. Also, bringing a portable charger would be very helpful in Disney theme parks since you will use your phone often.
5. Our next top Walt Disney World tip involves dining. Make table service dining reservations in advance. At Walt Disney World Resort, many excellent dining options exist. The demand for advance dining reservations is high.
Making dining reservations can help structure your day. A table service meal in the middle of the day can serve as a great break from the theme parks. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance. If you desire a specific restaurant, we suggest being ready at the 60-day mark for your booking.
Currently, table-service dining reservations can be canceled two hours or more in advance. If canceled after that time, you will be billed $10 per person on the reservation.
When making the reservation using the My Disney Experience system, indicate if you are celebrating something. Also, this would be a good time to mention any allergies or dietary concerns.
You may also find it helpful to select table service dining based on your daily schedule. For example, if you plan to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom all day, then a lunch table service meal at Yak & Yeti or Tiffins might be just what your group needs that day. Remember the excellent table service options at Disney Springs or your Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
6. Try to visit Walt Disney World during some lower-crowd level weeks of the year. We have written a crowd calendar guide to help you examine your options. We understand that visiting during the slower times of the year may be impossible for your group. However, adjusting from a historically hectic week to a moderate to busy crowd-level week might save you money and time.
7. Weigh all your options when considering transportation from Orlando Airport to your hotel. The former Magical Express included with a stay on-site no longer exists. However, several paid options do still run. You may find that a rental car works for your group, especially since parking is free at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel now. Services such as Uber and Lyft have grown in popularity. MickeyVisit has a resource to help you decide on that aspect of your vacation before your vacation.
Free Disney World Quote!
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And at no additional charge, you get FREE concierge Walt Disney World services! These services include having Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World expert Brooklyn take care of all your dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, and more! This really takes all the stress out of planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Rather than waking up at odd hours of the night to book all your reservations, why not let their travel agents take care of it for you- for free!
Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.
8. Based on when you visit, some paid after-hours events might be options for your vacation. If visiting from August through December, Magic Kingdom will be home to Halloween and Christmas after-hours parties. Other paid after-hours events happen during the rest of the year at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
These after-hours events involve lower crowd levels and unique entertainment and treats. These events are separate from regular park admission. You will need to purchase a separate ticket in advance to utilize this top Walt Disney World tip.
Suppose you decide to enjoy one of these after-hours events. In that case, we recommend you refrain from using a regular daytime admission ticket to visit another Disney theme park during the day. We understand you might feel the need to be at the theme parks every moment. Still, the after-hours events run until midnight or later. That will be an expensive and very long day to pay for two admissions in one day.
9. Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel makes the top Walt Disney World tip for many. This offers many advantages for your vacation. In addition to closer proximity to the theme parks, several additional perks come with a stay on-site.
On-site guests receive entry to the theme parks one-half hour before the official opening. All Disney on-site hotels offer free transportation to theme parks and Disney Springs. This transportation includes a direct route to the Magic Kingdom. On-site guests also can purchase individual lightning lane access to the most desired attractions before other guests. Finally, on-site hotel guests receive access to advance dining reservations up to ten days earlier.
In your planning, these advantages should be considered. We recommend staying on-site whenever possible. Still, we understand that Walt Disney World Resort hotels come with a hefty price tag sometimes.
10. Though they come with high price tags, guests should consider staying at a deluxe-level Walt Disney World Resort hotel for extended evening hours. These additional hours are only available to guests staying at that hotel level. On select evenings, deluxe hotel guests have complimentary extra hours in the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. The crowd levels are far lower than during the daytime.
11. The oldest and wisest theme park Walt Disney World tip revolves around arriving early at the theme parks each morning. This advice does not work as flawlessly as it did in former days. However, the earlier you arrive, the better for you.
Arrive at your designated Disney theme park entrance for the day at least 45 minutes before opening time. Many days the parks open before their scheduled opening time. You want to be prepared to take advantage of that extra time in the theme park before most of the crowd arrives. In addition, the actual queue to enter the theme parks can look daunting once the official opening time comes.
For your planning, you should factor in transportation time to ensure you arrive when you want. Remember, the Disney theme parks may open early, but that does not mean the attractions are open yet. You will have to assess that when through the turnstiles.
12. Magic Kingdom opens in segments, so your plan should vary based on your ability to enter during the early theme park half-hour. Everyone can enter Magic Kingdom theme park a half hour or more before the official opening. However, only guests with early theme park entry privileges can advance past a certain point. If you have early entry access, use this time to visit Fantasyland to Tomorrowland before most guests. If you do not park early access, you should line up towards Adventureland and plan to ride Jungle Cruise since that attraction develops a very long queue as the day progresses.
13. Take a photo of where you parked your car. You want to avoid searching for your vehicle after a long day at the theme parks. The Walt Disney World theme park parking lots are enormous. It is better to ensure you can find your car than get lost. Also, if you have a rental car, you will not immediately notice it, so photos would be helpful when you drag yourself from the theme park to the car after the sun goes down. Also, the Disney mobile app contains a place to indicate where you parked your car.
14. Take advantage of the complimentary Walt Disney World transportation when possible. The bus service, Disney Skyliner, and boat transportation will take you to the theme parks from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Disney transportation will also take you to Disney Springs for some shopping and dining if you are interested.
15. To maximize your day at Walt Disney World, consider buying Genie+ and individual paid access lightning lanes. These advantages cost more. However, this service allows you to enter a shorter queue for many attractions. Genie+ system allows guests to reserve a return time for an attraction with a shorter wait than the standby queue. This will save time waiting in attraction queues.
The price for Genie+ varies between $15 and $35 per day per person. That price sounds tough to swallow. However, this comes down to your perspective on the value of theme park time. In other words, you are trading money for time in the theme parks.
If buying Genie+, do so before 7:00 a.m. If familiar with Disneyland’s version, the Genie+ system does not work as well at Walt Disney World as at Disneyland. The Genie+ system for the Florida theme parks also experiences more technical issues. Despite that, you do not want to wait until you enter a Disney theme park to decide whether to buy Genie+. At that point, it is too late. Many other people had already booked Genie+ attractions at 7:00 a.m. when those opened for booking each day. For more details and help planning, consult our Genie+ guide.
16. If prioritizing rides during your visit to the Walt Disney World theme parks, try early in the morning, during the last two hours of park operation, and during parades and fireworks. You will most likely find the shortest wait times for attractions during those periods.
17. If meeting Disney characters like Mickey Mouse is essential, check the mobile app and park map for character locations in the four Walt Disney World theme parks. The queues for some characters will be extended. However, with some planning, you should be able to accomplish your goal. We have written a guide for characters to help with this..
18. Another less stressful way to meet characters involves character dining. Walt Disney World offers several character meals. These meals cost more than a meal without characters. Still, with character meals, you can take a break from theme park time with some food while meeting four or more characters. This would take some time to encounter this number of characters during a typical theme park day. Also, this allows you to do it inside with some air conditioning.
Character dining can be a great way to meet characters without wasting your theme park time in lines for photos. There are quite a few character dining options. We have listed several of them in our character dining guide.
19. Walt Disney World offers a rider swap system. This is often called a child swap. This allows one adult in the group to wait with a child while the other adults ride, and they can switch afterward. This system enables all adults in the party to experience the attraction while only waiting once. This way, the child, unable to ride the attraction, keeps from being left alone. Feel free to use the rider swap option to try this Walt Disney World tip.
20. Also, regarding children, bring your own strollers if possible. The ones you rent from Walt Disney World function fine. However, they can only be used inside Disney theme parks. If you cannot bring a stroller with you, consider renting from a stroller company. This will allow you to use it at the hotel and in transit. Dealing with a tired child at the end of a theme park day without a stroller brings its own challenges.
21. Related to this, wheelchairs and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECV) fall under the same stipulations as the last Walt Disney World tip. If you need a wheelchair or ECV for someone in your group, do not rent one from the parks. Several hotels allow you to rent wheelchairs. If you need a scooter or ECV, many Orlando companies rent those and will deliver and pick them up from your hotel.
22. If you have someone in your party with a disability, Walt Disney World offers a DAS pass for attractions. This works similarly to the Genie+ lightning lanes.
Disability Access Service (DAS) is designed to accommodate Walt Disney World theme park visitors who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in an extended queue. DAS allows guests to schedule a return time comparable to the currently posted standby queue wait for the given attraction. The DAS pass requires pre-registration. More information can be found on Disney’s website. Guests should not be afraid to ask Disney about this service.
23. A few attractions at Walt Disney World have single-rider queues. These queues are used to fill in a single slot on an attraction with one person from the single rider queue. Usually, the single-rider queue moves faster than the standby queue. However, you will not be sitting with anyone in your group if you utilize the single-rider line.
At Walt Disney World theme parks, four attractions have single-rider queues. They are Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, and Test Track at Epcot. All four of these can develop a long standby queue.
Expedition Everest offers the best experience using the single-rider queue. The loading method for the attraction leaves more slots for single riders than should be expected with that roller coaster style. The other three have some negatives you should be aware of.
Test Track single rider queue skips some experiences in the pre-show area. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run single riders usually end up in the least exciting section of the attraction. However, the single-rider queue tends to be short and moves quickly.
In contrast, Rock N’ Roller Coaster’s single-rider queue moves slowly. It often provides a wait for the attraction close to the time of the standby queue. Of note, Rock N’ Roller Coaster is closed for refurbishment at the time of writing.
24. Be realistic about how much you plan to do during your theme park day. Choose a goal for what you want to accomplish during your visit to the Walt Disney World theme parks. You will not be able to do everything. You want to enjoy yourself and not feel like you are having “forced fun.” Decide what attractions, food, and experiences are more important and focus on those. Anything else will count as a bonus.
25. Speaking of avoiding “forced fun,” Take a break in the afternoon makes a solid Walt Disney World tip. You can go back to your hotel. Also, you could schedule a slightly later lunch outside the theme parks. Historically, Disney theme parks are busiest daily from noon until 4:00 p.m. Taking a break from the sun and crowds will improve your overall theme park.
We suggest a nap back at your hotel as the best option. This reigns as great advice if you start at park opening or have small children (or full-grown adults) that need naps in the afternoon. We understand that leaving the theme parks sounds like you are wasting money. Nevertheless, you will enjoy your time more with an afternoon break making your time far more valuable and enjoyable.
26. Wear sunglasses and hats or visors to protect against the sun. Using sunscreen would also be a good idea. At Walt Disney World theme parks, several areas feature little shade from the sun. For example, Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios famously offers little shade. Especially if you are not used to the sun and heat of Florida, make sure you can guard against the sun. We would hate for your vacation to be remembered for the sunburn, not the excellent Disney feel.
27. If visiting Magic Kingdom, several indoor attractions offer air conditioning and usually short wait times. Though these attractions will be less exciting, they will let you cool off quickly. Country Bear Jamboree, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Hall of Presidents each fit this mold. All these attractions have their critics. Still, trying them once to see for yourself would be best. At the least, you took some time to enjoy the cool air and relax in a seat.
28. Bring water and snacks with you to the theme parks. Within reason, guests can bring non-alcoholic beverages and small amounts of food inside the Disney theme parks. Based on the price of drinks and food inside the theme parks, this could save you a significant amount of money. However, you cannot bring loose ice in a cooler or container. If you do not bring in your own beverages, most food and beverage locations will provide guests with a free cup of water.
29. Do not attempt to use selfie sticks at Walt Disney World. They are not allowed within Walt Disney World theme parks. If you somehow bring one into the parks and bring it on any ride, that attraction will be shut down. However, gimbals for use with mobile devices are allowed. The distinct difference involves that gimbals do not extend in contrast to selfie sticks.
30. Please do not be that person using the flash with their camera or mobile device. In almost all cases, using the flash feature will not help the quality of your photos at Walt Disney World. The images of the nighttime spectaculars will come out poorly with the flash feature on. Also, indoor attractions have been designed for lower light levels. If you use the flash on your camera, you will not get a good photo and will ruin the attraction for everyone else.
31. Regarding the fabulous Rise of the Resistance attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this attraction breaks down often. Despite this being a masterpiece in Disney theme park attractions, the system does not always work well. Unless you visit this attraction during early theme park entry time or the last two hours of the park day, we do not recommend waiting in the standby queue for this attraction.
If this attraction breaks down, the standby queue will move very slowly once the attraction reopens. The people who purchased individual paid lightning lane access for Rise of the Resistance will have priority. The standby queue will move at a snail’s pace in these circumstances.
In fairness, when this attraction does not break down due to all the intricate ride technology used, the standby queue moves fine. Visiting during the first hour the park is open makes sense in those cases. However, you are basically playing the lottery with Rise of the Resistance.
This attraction is known to not open in the morning sometimes. In some rare cases, the attraction was only open some of the day. Based on historical data, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most likely days that Rise of the Resistance will not open in the mornings and will struggle to stay open. We have no concrete reasons for this. Still, this is what the data shows. Good luck!
32. Do not let rainy weather slow you down. Make sure you have a poncho or an umbrella with you. The Walt Disney World theme parks can still be enjoyable in rainy weather. Most of the attractions are indoors.
Fewer locals will visit Walt Disney World theme parks on rainy days. The rain will also reduce the crowds of tourists. People will stay at their hotel, hoping the rain will pass. This will leave more space at the theme parks for you to enjoy. Though the park will be far from empty, the wait times for attractions will be noticeably lower on rainy days. For example, this might be the perfect chance for your group to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure more than once a day at Epcot.
33. If you are visiting when there are two showings of Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we suggest going to the second showing. Though this is not always true, the entrance line will usually be much shorter for the later show. You will usually find better seats at the last show. By the way, be careful sitting up front unless you do not mind being in the splash zone.
34. Also, regarding nighttime spectaculars, please plan where you want to view the shows. This becomes very important for Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks and projection show. The end of the theme park day spectaculars display what Disney does best. They should not be missed.
35. All World Showcase countries have little nooks to explore at Epcot. You can enjoy exploring all the intricate details that the Disney cast members placed within these areas. These should be noticed while you race from attraction to attraction. Sure, the merchandise options will be immense. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun to peruse. This Walt Disney World tip leads to great discoveries.
36. Towards the end of the theme park day, you can still jump in line for an attraction. You can enter the queue if the park has yet to close officially. Once you are in the queue, you can experience the attraction even if that happens after the theme park closing time. The lines to the attractions close but not the attractions themselves until all guests in the line ride the attraction.
For instance, you can save one of the big attractions for late at night, hoping for a shorter wait. If you enter the queue for Slinky Dog Dash four minutes before the theme park closes, you will still get to ride this attraction, even if you must wait an hour. Also, after riding Slinky Dog Dash, you can exit Hollywood Studios enjoying a much quieter theme park. Feel free to take a few photos but do not annoy security by taking too long. In a way, entering an attraction queue near closing time earns extra time in the theme parks.
37. Merchandise locations will stay open after the Disney theme parks close. Not all stay open, but the main one will be open at least a half hour after the official park closing time. The shops on Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom have been known to stay open one hour or longer after the official park closing. This makes another way to extend your theme park day.
38. If your vacation allows, consider visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the evening. The Pandora area looks impressive in the evening. Also, many attractions have the shortest queue of the day in the late afternoon and evening. If you decide to use this strategy, check the operating hours of Animal Kingdom in advance. Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other Walt Disney World theme parks.
39. Some of the best attractions at Walt Disney World use a virtual queue system. For example, Tron Lightcyle / Run uses a virtual queue currently. The only two ways to ride this coaster would be to pay for an individual lightning lane or get a slot in the virtual queue. A standby queue is not currently available, meaning a virtual line is your only free option to ride. We have written a resource about the virtual queue to help.
Using My Disney Experience, you should be ready before 7:00 a.m. on the day you want to join a virtual queue. If you are unable, you will have another chance at 1:00 p.m. Please ensure you have an updated Walt Disney World mobile app version.
40. Use mobile ordering. In most cases, the wait for food and beverage will be much shorter using mobile ordering. Many guests will not use the mobile order system, leaving an opportunity for you to schedule your pickup of counter service dining.
41. For soft drinks fans, a few Walt Disney World counter service dining options offer free drink refills during your meal. At Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, Connections Eatery, and Regal Eagle Smokehouse allow free refills. Over at Hollywood Studios, Backlot Express and ABC Commissary in Disney’s Hollywood Studios have drink refill stations. Restaurantosaurus and Satu’li Canteen in Disney’s Animal Kingdom have drink refill stations for free refills.
42. You can buy a refillable cup for those staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. The resort cups cost $22. You can get unlimited refills at any of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels for 14 days for this price. Based on the price of soft drinks, this makes a good valuea dn money-saving Walt Disney World tip. The value increases drastically if you plan to dine at the food court at your Walt Disney World Resort.
43. Do not feel you must order a full entrée for your meals. Anyone can order kid’s menu items from counter-service restaurants. These smaller versions of entrees can be a satisfying meal. We recommend doing this with the grilled cheese at Woody’s Lunch Box at Hollywood Studios or the cheeseburger pods at Satu’li Canteen at Animal Kingdom.
Sharing meals at non-buffet restaurants also makes a good plan. Based on the portion size of some entrees, they can easily be shared. Also, if you share, you can enjoy more tasty food options at Walt Disney World.
44. If you have allergies or dietary concerns, never be afraid to mention those. Walt Disney World does a great job handling any dining concerns. Also, these adjusted items are often just as good as the other food items at Walt Disney World. The Walt Disney World website and mobile app list almost every allergy or dietary concern suggested item.
If you are still concerned, try dining at table-service restaurants. When we do this, we often experience the actual chef coming out of the kitchen to discuss allergies to ensure we enjoy our meal.
45. Do not give up if you cannot get the table service dining reservation you wanted. With the current cancellation rules for table service dining at Walt Disney World, many reservations open for same-day enjoyment. We have gotten some tough to acquire table service dinner on the morning of those meals. Do not give up on hard-to-find dining reservations.
46. You could try the Crystal Palace breakfast and lunch trick. The Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom provides buffet character dining. Breakfast runs until about 10:45 a.m. Lunch officially starts at 11:00 a.m. If you want to sample the breakfast options and then have some lunch options for your second plate from the buffet, book a reservation around 10:30 a.m. This will allow you to enjoy a more comprehensive sampling of food at this restaurant. Pooh and friends will happily entertain you during your buffet at Crystal Palace. This “trick” can be done at a few other buffets at Walt Disney World.
47. Consider dining at other locations inside Walt Disney World Resort beside the four theme parks. Walt Disney World Resort contains some of the best dining options around. You can find excellent food options at the Walt Disney World hotels. Also, Disney Springs offers guests over 20 different table service choices and even more counter-service dining choices. Generally, the quality of food outside the theme parks rates as better than inside the Disney theme parks.
On that note, if staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you should consider having breakfast at your hotel. This will allow you to enjoy attractions instead of eating once you get to the theme park.
48. Each Walt Disney World theme park and Disney Springs have Starbucks locations. You can use your Starbucks app or gift cards at those locations. However, you cannot redeem “Star” rewards at Starbucks inside the four Walt Disney World theme parks. Yet, you will earn “Star” rewards with purchases using your Starbucks account.
However, you can redeem Starbucks rewards at the two Disney Springs locations. Also, you can use Starbucks rewards and utilize the mobile order system at the Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs locations.
49. Walt Disney World sells refillable popcorn buckets. If you are looking for an inexpensive snack during your vacation, this might help.
Popcorn buckets vary in price. This is dependent on the bucket design. Popcorn buckets range in price from $13 to more than double that for the more intricate options. Each bucket refills for $2.25.
Disney says that popcorn buckets are refillable for the length of stay. Popcorn buckets can be refilled at any location that sells popcorn. Of course, remember that pricing and availability are always subject to change at Disney parks.
In some cases, flavored popcorn refills are available. Usually, the flavored popcorn refill costs the same as standard popcorn. At Epcot, guests typically find maple-flavored popcorn in the Canada Pavilion.
50. If looking for authentic Disney merchandise at a lower price, you could visit Disney’s Character Warehouse. There are two locations in the Orlando area at the area outlet shopping centers. Though, we cannot guarantee a great deal. Yet, it is fun to try to find deals.
Plan Your Walt Disney World Trip!
Of course, this list of tips could keep going. This is why MickeyVisit creates so many resources to help with your vacations. We also offer a free deals newsletter to keep you up to date about the theme parks. Feel free to check out some of our other vacation planning resources below.
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