Tips for the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park is for kids of all ages, it is the greatest Disney experience! Parking for Disney’s Magic Kingdom is at the Ticket and Transportation Center. From there, take the monorail to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, or take the Ferry for a great way to see the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Top rides at Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, and Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride.
The fireworks are on every night at 8 or 9 PM – check the schedule for times, but you do not have to watch them from Disney’s Magic Kingdom! Look for our number 1 secret later on as to the best strategy to view the fireworks and avoid the mad rush afterwards. If you do opt to watch from inside the park, find a spot in front of the castle well in advance of the show.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios brings Hollywood to you! Here you can find: the brand new Star Wars land called: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, that has 2 brand new rides, Toy Story Land, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, and our favourite ride – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (it looks scarier than it really is). At night time there is an amazing show called Fantasmic with several Disney characters including the Beauty and the Beast characters – You won’t want to miss this!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a water ride called Kali River Rapids, DINOSAUR (ride), Kilimanjaro Safaris, The Tree of Life, It’s a Bugs Life, and Expedition: Everest – a thrill roller coaster not to be missed! Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s newest land is Pandora – The World of Avatar. Here you will find amazing scenery and 2 rides. Flight of Passage is NOT to be missed! It is one of Disney’s headliner attraction!
Epcot is probably the most diverse park of them all, in our opinion. In the first part of Epcot, do not miss Spaceship Earth – the ride inside the iconic geosphere. Another favourite for kids is Journey into Imagination with Figment, and my 3 favourite rides: Mission: SPACE (Great ride but hard on the stomach! Luckily, you can ride the Orange side that is intense, or the Green side that is much easier to tolerate for some people), Test Track, and Soarin’. Do not miss it – Great for all ages.
If that’s not enough, Epcot then has a second part – Disney’s World Showcase – built around the World Showcase Lagoon and boasts pavilions from countries around the world. There are some great replications such as France, Norway China, Japan, Morocco, Canada, and Germany to name a few. This is a fantastic place for adults. Kids may not enjoy it as much but almost every country has a Disney Princess Meet and Greet which are great fun to seek out! There are some wonderful places to eat and taste food from all over the world, but be prepared – eating at Disney is expensive!
To finish your day off you cannot miss the Epcot firework show! – usually at 8 or 9 pm (check the schedule when you arrive at the park). Get your spot early. My best place is the bridge by the United Kingdom pavilion. The fireworks show is the greatest I’ve ever seen. Do not miss it!
Disney’s Blizzard Beach is a fantastic waterslide park. If it’s hot, try and make a visit to either one of the 2 water parks. Disney’s Blizzard Beach is like a ski hill but with water instead of snow. All kinds of slides and tube rides with the biggest of them being “Summit Plummet”.
My favourite water park is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – which has a huge wave pool but so much more. True Disney imagination, sandy white beach, great for the young and old. Also has some smaller water slides, and a wonderful lazy river called Castaway Creek.
Hidden Gems At Disney World
Here are a couple of secrets most people do not even know about
but I am sure you will enjoy them and it will save you both time and money.
Top 5 Disney Secrets
Visit Disney’s Boardwalk – it is on the Osceola Parkway in Disney right beside the Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. It is like the early 1900’s boardwalk and you will love it. Everyone I tell comes back and says I didn’t even know it was there!
Parking at Disney: If you go to a Disney park, like Epcot for the day and you drive, they charge you $25/day (plus applicable sales tax) for standard parking all day, which is valid for all 4 theme parks on that day, on top of your ticket price. It is possible to park at Disney Springs and use Disney transportation, but the buses for Disney Springs only go to a resort. You’d have to take a bus to a resort, and then another bus (or different mode of transportation) to a park. While this saves you money, it uses up a good portion of your time.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom fireworks: this is one of my favourite tips for many reasons. Every night Disney’s Magic Kingdom does an amazing fireworks show over the top of Cinderella Castle. While watching it inside the park is good and you get to watch the high tech projections on the castle, when the show is over, there are several thousands of people heading directly for the monorail, ferry and buses – it can take an hour and a half to get out but we have a solution to that!
60 minutes before the fireworks go off, leave the park entrance and get on the monorail for Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (make sure you take the resort monorail!). When you get off at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa go through the hotel – it is an amazing hotel and at the top end of the Disney hotels. Go out the back doors of the hotel and you will see the swimming pool. Veer left and follow the path past the pool towards Narcossee’s Restaurant. Behind this restaurant is a boat dock. Go to the boat dock and sit on the benches 15 minutes before the fireworks. Keep your eyes on Cinderella castle and enjoy the show. When the show is over, go back on the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center and then on the bus back to Disney Springs, or take the Disney Springs bus directly from the hotel. I bet you won’t go to the car because Disney Springs is a buzz of excitement in the evening!
Go to Disney Springs , park the car, and get on the buses and visit some of the Disney hotels – some are incredible. My favourites are Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The last 3 of those hotels are on the monorail loop and can be accessed by taking the resort monorail.
Go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – When you take the Sherbuth St. Shortcut – when you hit Osceola Parkway turn left and the lodge is just up the street. Tell Security you are coming for a meal, park the car, go inside and at the back of the hotel, go outside and there is Safari (Best during daylight hours) this is where we park our car for the day when going to the parks and then use Disney transportation for free.
More Disney Tips
“Bring your own food and drinks. Disney allows coolers and bags up to a certain size into the park (it will be checked at the gate for any contraband) but you are free to bring food and drinks into the park (no glass and no alcohol). Also, anywhere you can get fountain soft drinks will give you free cups of water.”
Get Disney’s official app. “I cannot emphasize downloading the app and bringing spare battery chargers enough,” the app lets you maximize your FastPass usage because it tells you the current wait times. It also lets you plan your route around the park more efficiently.”
Disney World is never quite out of season, but its crowds do ebb and flow. Orlando is least crowded after Labor Day weekend and before fall break we recommend January and February. But avoid marathon week in January
Show up early, 30-60 minutes before the morning “rope drop.” “You’ll have the run of the park for a few hours
Nap and go for a swim in the afternoon! especially if you’ve gotten to the park early. Get indoors, chill at the condo then go back for the evening. The condo is only 15 minutes away
Crowds are typically lower when kids are in school. Holiday weeks (especially holiday weekends), spring break, and the summer months are usually the most crowded times at Disney World.
Arrive at the park before it opens, regardless of the time of year. We suggest arriving 30-45 minutes before scheduled opening times. Midday sees the highest crowds, so we suggest taking any lunch break or rest period at this point. Crowds normally diminish later in the afternoon.
You will often find the longest lines (to enter parks and attractions) towards the middle.
If you don’t mind splitting up your group, single-rider lines tend to have much shorter wait times. These rides include Test Track, Expedition Everest, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
If you’ve seen the parade before, skip it. Lines at attractions are often shorter during parade times.
FastPass+ reservations are a valuable commodity, so use them wisely. If you arrive at your reservation and the standby line is short, get in the standby line and try to change your FastPass+ reservation (with your phone) to another attraction.
When it starts to rain, Disney vacationers often run for cover. Put your poncho on and wait it out. Orlando rain showers are often brief. By the time the skies clear, you will breeze through the lines.
Lines close at official park closing time. However, the park stays open for at least one more hour. Therefore, plan to get in line before the park “closes” and you will be safe to ride an attraction past the official park closing time.
Many stores remain open after rides close, so you can do your souvenir shopping before leaving the park.
Extra Magic Hours usually means extra-long lines. It’s a great perk, but be warned that parks offering Extra Magic Hours will be more crowded that day. If you have a ParkHopper Pass and want to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, try hopping to another park mid to late morning.
Magic Kingdom is usually less crowded midweek, especially the day after MG has late-night Magic Hours.
The Kiss Goodnight performance at Magic Kingdom usually starts 30 minutes after the park closes, so staying around for this is a good opportunity to avoid the crowds leaving at official park closing times.
When leaving Magic Kingdom by monorail, take the Resort Monorail. The Express Monorail usually has long lines, while the Resort Monorail does not.
If you are leaving Main Street USA (Magic Kingdom) after the fireworks show, walk through the souvenir shops. They are all interconnected and not many people use this route (less crowded). There are also walkways behind the shops that are usually opened up around park closing time. They can also be a quicker path to the exits.
Book your FastPas 30 days for off-site Guests .You can start booking at 7 am EST. Slots for popular attractions go fast, so make your FastPass+ reservations ASAP!
Book all three of your FastPass+ selections for morning slots. If additional FastPasses slots are available, you can reserve more selections for the afternoon and evening. After your third FastPass+ check-in, open the “My Disney Experience” app to get your fourth.
If you are traveling to Disney with other people, consider connecting as friends in My Disney Experience. This will allow you to make reservations at the same time (like FastPass+).
Frozen Ever After – inside Epcot’s Norway pavilion – is currently the most difficult FastPass+ to secure. Keep that in mind when booking your advanced FastPass+.
We suggest you use a FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight, or head to this ride as soon as Magic Kingdom’s gates open in the morning. Lines form quickly and move slowly.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is also a very popular ride with long lines in the same area as Peter Pan’s Flight. Booking an early FastPass+ for either and then getting in line at the other at park opening is a good combination.
Purchasing a Park Hopper Ticket allows you to visit any and all of the four Disney theme parks on the same day.
Walt Disney World now offers free wi-fi internet in their theme parks and resort hotels.
One of the most important yet often overlooked Disney World tips and tricks. Wear comfortable shoes. Between walking to attractions and waiting in lines, you will be on your feet for most of the day. The average person walks 7-10 miles a day at Disney World.
When you park your car, make note of the location. It may be helpful to snap a photo of this location with your phone.
Bring bottled water, snacks, toiletries, etc.
Instead of standing in lines to meet characters inside the park, consider meeting them at character meals
If your child isn’t tall enough to go on a particular ride, use the “Child Swap/Rider Switch” program.
If you are using a stroller, tie a ribbon (or another identification marker) to the handle. This way you can easily identify your stroller.
Ask a PhotoPass Cast Member to take photos of you with your own camera. It’s free and they are happy to oblige
Flip flops and sandals aren’t ideal for walking long distances, but they are great for rainy weather consider packing a pair in your daypack in case it rains.
Ziploc bags come in handy for many different reasons. They keep your items separated and organized. Place snacks, toiletries, and wet/dirty clothes in Ziploc bags so they don’t ruin your other items.
Keep an external phone charger in your daypack. You will likely use your cell phone throughout the day, so having a charger handy will prevent cell phone frustrations later in the afternoon.
Orlando gets very warm at certain times of the year. If you aren’t accustomed to heat, be sure you pack accordingly. Misting fans and Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads can provide relief
Looking for a good place to watch the fireworks? Stand near people with cameras on tripods. They usually have a good view scouted out.
The Ticket & Transportation Center (to the right of the ferry launch) is a great spot to watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from outside of the park. Also, consider going to the Beaches at the Polynesian (easily accessible by monorail). Sound played through speakers there.
We think some rides are more fun at night, including Expedition Everest and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Head to the second-story balcony at Pinocchio Village Haus for relaxation and fabulous views of Fantasyland.
We recommend spending half of the day at one park and then heading over to Epcot in the evening to dine and peruse the different countries.
If motion sickness is a concern, look straight ahead on Mission: Space at Epcot. Also, the Green line is much less intense. If you have any concerns with motion sickness it’s best to avoid the Orange line.
Everyone is required to show their own MagicBand/park ticket to enter a Disney park. However, you can use someone else’s MagicBand/park ticket to use their FastPass+ reservation.
Head to the Castle Couture shops (behind Cinderella Castle) for staged princess pictures. Although most visitors are entering from the Bibibidi Bobbidi Boutique, anyone can walk in Castle Couture and have their princess pictures taken. A PhotoPass photographer is on-hand.
Some shows – like The Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom – are best viewed sitting up-front. However, other shows often have better views from the back of the room. The Nemo show generally has better views from the middle.
Epcot’s Club Cool offers free samples of eight flavored Coca Cola products from around the globe.
We think Sunshine Seasons in Future World is the best counter service restaurant at Epcot.
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime parade is best viewed from Main Street USA. Expect to see “snow” fall during the parade. This makes for a truly spectacular and festive scene!
If you want to see Turtle Talk with Crush without going on the Nemo & Friends dark ride, enter The Seas pavilion via the gift shop.
For a low-key attraction with minimal lines, head to The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.