It’s summertime once again and we all know what that means – vacation time. Whether you are looking for the perfect family vacation that will create lasting memories, or you are just looking for a great way to spend that hard-earned holiday time, Walt Disney World Resort Florida is the perfect destination. But though Disney is renowned for its one-of-a-kind attractions and magical attention to detail, it may not seem like the perfect travel destination. After all, aren’t there those long pesky lines to worry about and throngs and throngs of people to get through? Hardly the relaxing vacation so many of us dream of, right? Wrong!
Here at VIVRE | VERRA we were lucky enough to have the expertise of a former Disney Cast Member who has shared some insider secrets with us – 10 tricks that will make your Walt Disney World vacation not only easier but even more affordable. Many of these tricks will seem like “common sense”, but a lot of these tricks are simple ways to get the most out of your Disney vacation and leave you smiling for years to come.
1. Stay In Walt Disney World Resort
A lot of families make one pivotal mistake when planning their Walt Disney World Vacation – they don’t stay inside of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Many of the surrounding hotel properties will entice you with “can’t be beat” prices and tell you how convenient it is to commute into one of Disney’s 4 main parks but in 9 cases out of 10 – they’re lying to you.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is a massive tract of private property that holds not only Disney’s 4 magical parks (The Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), but also hosts a collection of other can’t miss attractions such as Downtown Disney (home to central Florida’s only Cirque de Soleil), Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
While you will may pay a higher premium to stay in some of these properties, you will also receive exclusive amenities such as free park-to-park shuttles, monorail transport, water transport, character breakfasts (who doesn’t want to eat pancakes with Goofy) and much, much more. Many of Disney’s outer guest lodgings are also extremely affordable, and even the more exclusive guest properties offer discounts for larger families and longer stays. Each guest property also contains a distinct theme, and is expected to live up to (in every single way) the Disney standard of guest care and attention.
By staying in Walt Disney World and opting into their massive and convenient transport systems you are cutting down on the stress and hassle of constantly fighting your way through the immense traffic of central Florida. You are also contributing to helping the environment, as many of Disney’s transport systems run on recyclable energy.
So, don’t get stuck in hours of non-stop traffic and miss out on the magic. Stay in Walt Disney World Resort.
2. Get A Handy-Dandy Travel App
There are many apps out there that will enhance your Disney experience, but there is one that above all the rest: Undercover Tourist. This app is fantastic for scheduling, but it also shows you exactly which parks are the most crowded on which days.
With this app, you can predict how packed a park will be on any given day of the week, and you can even view the current wait times of certain popular rides such as Space Mountain. By using an app like Undercover Tourist, you can not only cut down on wait times, but cut down on the stress of visiting an overcrowded park.
3. Get to the Park Before It Opens
Waking up early is not everyone’s cup of tea, but when it comes to Disney it can be the difference between a great experience and a stressful one. Most parks open at 9, with shuttles and monorails working as early as 8AM.
Now, you don’t need to arrive before the workers. Just arrive 10-15 minutes before the gates to your chosen park opens. Many of the parks, especially the Magic Kingdom, even have a special opening ceremony, which includes many of Disney’s most popular characters (Mickey Mouse…eek) and even some songs, dances and surprises. Ceremonies such as the opening ceremony at Magic Kingdom are also a HUGE deal, claiming as much ceremony and prestige as similar opening ceremonies at historic sites such as the Tower of London.
4. First Things First…Take Advantage of the Fastpass+ System
A few years ago, Disney realized they had a problem. Lines were getting longer and longer and both guests, cast members and attractions were being put through substantial amounts of undue stress. So Disney devised a plan…the FastPass+ System.
With the Fastpass+ System, you can schedule a 1 hour window to ride Disney’s most popular lines. All you have to do is scan your bracelet or ticket at the ride of choice and you will receive a ticket with a 1 hour return window. If you return any time during that hour, you skip right to the front of the line and can board the ride within minutes.
You can now also book your Fastpass+ tickets online before you even arrive at the park. All you have to do is sign into Disney’s secure guest portal and select the ride and date. You will be given a selection of times to return and BOOM, you’ve got 1,2 or 3 Fastpass+ tickets. Best part of all? It’s included in the price of admission.
5. Travel Clockwise
This is a trick that you can only learn from countless Disney experiences, and its one of the biggest tips to relieve the stress of your Disney vacation.
Once you have secured your Fastpass+ tickets from your desired rides, it is best to then enjoy your park of choice in a clockwise direction from the entrance of the park. For some reason, when large crowds enter the park, they tend to instantly gravitate towards the right hand side, after which they enjoy the park in a counterclockwise direction.
If you explore the park in a clockwise direction, you will find that the rides you visit first will have shorter wait times and the park will generally be less congested on those sides. In some cases, such as the Magic Kingdom, this means that you enjoy some of the slower rides first (such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Swiss Family Robinson Tree House) but it will also allow you to start your day at Disney in relative peace, comfort and ease – with more rides under your belt by lunch time.
6. If You Have To Eat in Magic Kingdom…Eat at the Churro Stand Beneath “The People Mover”
Just like Disney is renowned for its magical experiences, it’s also renowned for its often-high prices…and that includes their food. Magic Kingdom, which is the most visited theme park in the entire world, has especially high prices.
But sometimes you can’t wait, and you need a little snack or cool lemonade to beat the summer heat and get your energy back up for Space Mountain. If that’s the case, the most affordable place in Magic Kingdom is none other than the small churro stand located at the base of “The People Mover” in Tomorrowland. While it’s menu is limited, it’s budget save isn’t.
7. Looking For a “Big-Kid” Drink? Hollywood Studios is Your Place
While Disney has no lack of adult beverages (except for in the Magic Kingdom which is a mostly dry kingdom), the best place to go if you’re just looking to wind down in a cool setting with an even cooler beverage is the retro Tune-In Lounge, located in Hollywood Studios.
This 50’s style bar will almost have you feeling like you’re on the cast of Mad-Men, and better yet? It’s connected to a lovely homestyle cooking restaurant called “The Prime Time Cafe”, which is also vintage themed and where the staff “call you in for dinner”. So drop in here for a martini made from one of their many premium spirits. Or two. Or three. You won’t regret it.
8.Don’t Watch “Wishes” From The Magic Kingdom
Wishes is Disney’s premier nightly show, and is more commonly referred to as just “the fireworks”. But Magic Kingdom is not the place to watch them, quite the contrary.
The best place to watch Disney’s most magical fireworks show is none other than Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located alongside the banks of Disney’s very own manmade Seven Seas Lagoon. From here, you can watch the fireworks from a white-sand beach, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to enjoy a little dole whip – just like they make in Hawaii.
Not only is it a peaceful and romantic setting, but there’s plenty of space for the family to space our and relax, as you enjoy the spectacle that is Disney’s “Wishes”.
9. If You’re There for a Special Occasion…Let Someone Know
Ever see those cute couples walking around with their “just married buttons” or see the kids running around with the special name badges that say “it’s my birthday”? Well, you can have one of those special pins as well – and it’s all complimentary.
If you’re there celebrating a special occasion, Disney Cast Members want to help make it the most special event you’ve ever had, and they’ll do just about anything to do it – including giving you one of those adorable badges.
Those cute pins are often a sign to other Cast Members that today is a special day for you and they will go that extra mile to help you, including occasional places in parades, special behind-the-scenes looks, front-of-the-line access and sometimes even complimentary Disney goods and prizes.
A little known secret is that Disney Cast Members are given special license by the parks to make your day as special as possible, and many are even given special budgets each day that they are allowed to spend on guests. So don’t be shy. If your Disney vacation is more than just another visit, let the Cast Members know – you’ll never forget it.
10. Eat and Drink Your Way Around the World
Disney’s Epcot Center was once the sparkling jewel of the Walt Disney World Resort, but as society began to shift more and more away from “science is cool”, Epcot became a (mistakenly) underrated park.
If you’re there on a solo vacation or as part of a couple’s retreat, this park is one of the best. Not only does it have a few high-adrenaline rides, but it has a number of attractions and the greatest collection of restaurants and bars in the entire park.
Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has 2 distinct realms: Future World, which features technological innovations, and World Showcase, which shares with Guests the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
Each one of these countries boasts not only Cast Members from those respective countries, but an array of restaurants, gift shops and pubs that feature items, cuisine and cocktails native to that country.
If you’re feeling particularly wild, you can even “drink your way around the world”, and as long as you are staying within the Walt Disney World Resort, you can then take either a water taxi or the fantastic monorail right back to the door of your hotel.
So there you have it, 10 of our favorite “Disney Hacks” to make your vacation easier and more enjoyable – straight from the former Cast Member’s mouth. But don’t think the tips end here. If you would like more tips and tricks to make your Disney vacation even better, join our exclusive mailing list The VIVRA | VERRA Club, where you can receive tips and tricks that will make your Disney vacation even more enjoyable and affordable. (Sign-up located in the sidebar of this page.)
Remember, Disney isn’t just for kids, and it’s definitely not just for families anymore. Disney has everything you could want in a vacation and, what’s more, their attention to detail and commitment to guest service is something that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Disney vacation today!
You can begin planning your Disney vacation HERE.
Like what you saw? Have some other tricks that you think should be included? Let us know in the comments below!