[See the first 101 tips here!]
1. Animal Kingdom is not a half day park- and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It does close early, but plan to arrive early and stay until closing. There are more than enough amazing attractions to fill a day.
2. As much as I hate to admit it and criticize Disney- their training of Cast Members seems to be lacking as of the past few years. I say this because on more than one occasion, I've gotten answers/directions that I knew for a fact to be incorrect. So this hyper-planning that sort of surrounds Disney isn't for nothing. Read as many tips as you can! You wont remember them all, but some important things will stick out.
3. For the longest time, I thought that Disney World food (particularly counter service) was just blah. But there are many delicious options throughout the parks if you know where to go. (Check out our restaurant reviews here.)
4. A land and sea vacation is quite a good idea. Be sure to go to Disney World first, cruise second so you can recoup from those days in the parks.
5. Always check for construction/refurbishment updates on the Disney World website or with your travel agent prior to booking. Some minor work likely wouldn't make a difference, but if the resort you're planning on staying at is going through major upgrades (like the recent Polynesian overhaul) then it might actually impact your stay and another resort might be a better choice.
6. If you're traveling to an early reservation or offsite without your own car, using Uber might be a good option. If you're not into Uber, taking a cab will be your best bet to get there on time, but it will be a little steep in price.
7. The hard ticket seasonal parties, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party & Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, are worth the price.
8. Get the croissant doughnut at the refreshment port near the Canada pavilion. (It's kind of hidden.) Do it.
9. If you're going to book a dining reservation for breakfast inside a park, get the earliest one possible. They generally begin reservations at 8:05 and when a park opens at 9:00, you have a ton of great empty park photo options.
10. There are some great attractions that generally have low wait times that you can cool off in. In Magic Kingdom- try Hall of Presidents and Carousel of Progress; Animal Kingdom try Finding Nemo the Musical and The Festival of the Lion King; Hollywood Studios try Animation Academy and One Man's Dream; and finally Epcot has a number of inside attractions, including Soarin', Living with the Land, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
11. If you have the opportunity, try to meet a face character. They stay in character while actually being able to speak to you and it's super fun.
12. Face characters will also let you video record them if you want to send someone a message. That's kind of an awesome birthday gift, right?
13. If you need a quiet place to rest for a bit, Columbia Harbour House has an upstairs that is usually pretty quiet because most people don't realize it's there. It overlooks Fantasyland to boot.
14. If you have the room in your park bag and plan on riding any water rides, carry a pair of flip flops to change into prior to the water ride. Wet shoes = blisters.
15. Its a good idea to bring one or two ziplock bags. I put my phone in it when there is a chance it could get wet.
16. It's not uncommon for a person to walk 10+ miles in a day at Disney World. If you or someone in your party has any issues like a bad knee or weak ankles, make a plan ahead of time to take breaks or maybe even rent a scooter if needed.
17. The anticipation and leading up to a Disney trip can be just as fun as the actual trip! Well... maybe almost. Some great ways to get excited are to listen to Disney music (try Spotify- it has the full arsenal!) plan out your days, buy some souvenirs ahead of time and my personal favorite is a countdown on your phone. Thanks for reminding me that I have 32 days til Disney! Better make sure I have the correct red lipstick to match my Minnie ears!
18. If your trip will be during busy times (i.e., anytime kids are out of school), a tour plan (a free version can be found here or a more in-depth paid version here) is a good idea. If you're going during non-peak times, then it's not necessary.
19. There are plenty of shady spots to rest in the parks if you're between attractions. Epcot and Magic Kingdom actually have dedicated rest spots with chairs and AC. (See here for Epcot and head over the the tent in Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom for a nice rest.)
20. Epcot is enormous and most likely can't be properly toured in a day (particularly during busy times). If you can, plan on going there twice (or one and a half with a park hopper.) Similarly, Magic Kingdom has so so many attractions, and it can't be done in a single day. We typically spend a full day at MK and park hop to MK other days as well, like in the evening after Animal Kingdom closes or the day we arrive/leave.
21. Animal Kingdom (ALTHOUGH NOT A HALF DAY PARK- SEE #1) and Hollywood Studios (definitely a half day park) can be done in one day.
22. If it is a drizzle or right after a rain while you're at Animal Kingdom- head to Kilimanjaro Safari. The animals are generally very active during those times, particularly early in the morning.
23. Stake out parade and firework spots early if you want great views. You can sit on the sidewalk until it's time to start.
24. Don't try to get super close to the castle for the fireworks. That is not the best view, you'll be straining your neck to see them and you won't be able to get the full perspective. No matter how crowded it is, Main Street will always be the best view inside the park.
25. Bringing a lightweight mat (these are kind of cool/light and the smallest size is kind of perfect for sitting) or some type of fabric (an old t-shirt maybe?) is a good idea for benches or sidewalk breaks if you're wearing light colored pants or are germ-sensitive.
26. Speaking of germs- BRING HAND SANITIZER! I bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer and also a small pack of anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any surfaces if needed, and to keep my phone wiped down. A restroom isn't always super close to wash your hands, particularly if you're grabbing a snack out in the park.
27. Disney World has special fireworks for holidays and events. If you're visiting during one of those times, be sure to check for times.
28. It's okay to cry! Don't hold in the tears! You'll definitely catch other adults crying at first sight of the castle, or after the fireworks at the end of a day. Sounds stupid I know, but you'll probably feel more emotional than you think you will. It's quite an experience.
29. The shops in Magic Kingdom close an hour after the park closes, so you can hang out there until the mass exodus out of the park calms down a bit.
30. Some rides with typically lower wait times in Magic Kingdom if you need a quick stop for a rest are: Carosel of Progress, It's a Small World, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (although I don't know why!) and Monster's Inc Laugh Floor.
31. If you're able to do evening Extra Magic Hours, save the rides with the longest wait times for that. It is usually pretty late and if you can stay up, it's a good time to catch them.
32. If you're into Hello Kitty, check out the Japan pavilion in Epcot. :)
33. There is a walkway between Epcot (and Epcot area resorts) to Hollywood Studios that can be quicker than Disney Transportation since there is no park to park buses.
34. You can buy pins from Amazon or Ebay for much much cheaper than the parks, but be warned that some can be fake. Here's a good video on telling the difference. You might be able to tell from product photos.
35. The closest resort to the Magic Kingdom is the Contemporary. You can walk right on over.
36. If you're not staying at a Monorail resort (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or the Contemporary) then taking a bus is generally the quickest way to get to Magic Kingdom (assuming there isn't a long wait for a bus). You'll have to catch a monorail or boat from the parking area (Ticket and Transportation Center) to the Magic Kingdom entrance if you drive but the buses let you off pretty close to the entrance.
37. There is a projection show onto Cinderella's Castle before the fireworks that you definitely need to see.
38. Peter Pan's Flight in Magic Kingdom is considered a "slow-embarking" attraction which makes the wait time considerably long. Get that done soon after opening or get a Fastpass+. They recently updated the queue, but it's still a torturous wait. I've visited during the slowest/lowest crowd times of the year and that one will always have a long wait.
39. Similarly, Enchanted Tales with Belle has that same slow-moving aspect, so the wait time will almost always be long. Plan to go early or late in the evening. (But don't miss it... it's pretty cool.)
40. The back of the castle is quite beautiful and you can get some really great/regal shots. It's more majestic than the front and without a stage.
41. There is new "hubs" near the front of the castle for some rest if you need a break. It has some grass (albeit astroturf) with some calming fountains.
42. Adults can order from the kids menu. (Or at least we've always been able to. Anyone with any different experience please let me know in the comments!)
43. You can decorate your room window at Disney Hotels. The moderates and value resorts are visable to passer-bys so it's more fun there than the balcony windows at most deluxe resorts. Get creative!
44. If you stay in Magic Kingdom after it closes, you'll be able to catch the "Kiss Goodnight."
45. The provided shampoo, conditioner, and soap at Walt Disney World is H20 brand and is of very good quality. I always save suitcase space by not bringing my own. If you ever need more (like for longer or thicker hair) then you can leave a note (and a tip!) for Mousekeeping and they'll generally provide it for you.
46. At Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, there is a nightly (free) camp fire and movie with smores making and a sing-a-long with Chip n Dale.
47. You can ship (yourself or through Amazon) packages (of reasonable sizes) to your resort prior to your arrival, or to arrive the day you do. There is sometimes a fee to pick up (I've seen some people say they charged $5) but it's not confirmed and not everyone has reported it. This can be full size toiletries, snacks, etc. Be sure to clearly put the Guest Name on the package. I even like to put RESORT GUEST: XXXXXX to be clear.
48. You can get some free soda samples from around the world at Club Cool in Epcot. Try the Beverly! Video/photograph your party trying the different kinds.
49. If you really need a break from the park but don't want to go back to your hotel room, you can hop on the monorail or a boat and have lunch/afternoon snack at one of the counter service locations at the Polynesian, Contemporary, or Grand Floridian. It's a nice break from the parks and you get to check out a resort you're not staying at. The resorts are attractions themselves. (Or just a rest in the lobby if you're not hungry. I may or may not have napped in the Beach Club lobby before.)
50. If you have any type of special dietary needs/allergies, Disney will have options. At table service restaurants, the chef will often come speak with you about what he or she can prepare for you. They're pretty accommodating. They recently started testing allergy-specific menus as well. Note it when you make your reservation.
52. Eat off-hours for the lowest crowds for counter service. Sometimes we have a "snack" breakfast like fruit on the way to the parks and have a very early lunch (Columbia Harbour House opens at 10:30 :) ) and either an early dinner or an afternoon snack + a later dinner. If you can work it out where you don't walk into a counter service location between 11:30-1:30 you'll have way more relaxed meal.
53. Conversely, if you make a lunch table service reservation, shoot for the "busiest" times- 1-2 for a perfectly timed break. That is the peak time in the parks for crowds as well. That way, you're in the AC during peak times.
54. There is a Haunted Mansion themed gift shop called Memento Mori and who doesn't love the Haunted Mansion?
55. If there is a major sporting event that you can't miss while you're visiting Disney World, go to the ESPN Club on Disney's Boardwalk.
56. If you're able to get a wall seat at a counter service restaurant, you can probably find an outlet to charge your devices. Another reason to go in there at non-peak times.
57. Drink lots of water! You're walking a ton and it's most likely hot + humid. Drink lots, then visit the Tangled themed restrooms.
58. I've ran across a few areas where they sell some fruit and other healthier snacks- but they're not really ever in the same spot from what I remember. I think they move stands around a lot, but a park map should help you out, or you can ask a Cast Member. I've gotten an overpriced small carton of grapes in Frontierland that was super refreshing and cool and was just what I needed at the time. If you look out for it- there are some options that aren't sugar laden.
59. If you stay at Pop Century, you can walk over to the Art of Animation resort for some great photos and a great food court.
60. Some of the outside rides (like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant) are even cooler at night. If you have the opportunity to ride them during the day and at night, even better to see both perspectives.
61. Pete's Silly Sideshow is tucked off in the Storybook Circus area of New Fantasyland and has some pretty fun character costumes on Goofy, Donald, Minnie and/or Daisy. They're dressed up as "performers."
62. If you're a Chase Disney Visa cardholder, there is a special character spot in Epcot only for Disney Visa members. However, both times I've attempted to visit the area, the line and wait were pretty long, more than 30 minutes. Also during both of these times, the Epcot Character Spot wait was 10 minutes or less, so we've always ended up going there instead. The characters at the Disney Visa character spot aren't any characters you can't see elsewhere, so don't wait in the line if there are other shorter lines. [Reader RoxanaM mentioned the following that I wasn't aware of! GOOD TO KNOW! "TIP #62, Visa Card Spot... you forgot to mention the FREE photo. The surprise characters are great, sometimes you will two, other times will get three. You will get a free 5 X 7 printed photo, you choose which one. If you go to Epcot in two different days, you can get one photo each day. On my second day in Epcot, I got the same characters as the first time, so I got to choose any photo from my Photopass files. Priceless."]
63. There are character dance parties in Dinoland in Animal Kingdom, the Tomorrowland stage in Magic Kingdom, where you can dance and take some pictures of some characters that you likely wouldn't normally see elsewhere. The Dinoland Dance Party in particular has some rare characters like Brer Fox.
64. Thanksgiving isn't a big celebration at Walt Disney World. The parks are already decorated for Christmas at this time. Other than a few meals (Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom comes to mind) you likely won't see a cornucopia if visiting on Thanksgiving Day.
65. If you want some great photos of the parks, bringing camera gear (with a proper bag for storage) is not impossible. See here for a full post on this. Some highlights are 1) if you have a DSLR, keep it to one lens. 2) If you don't have a DSLR, a very good point & shoot or an iPhone works so great too!
66. Your choice in hotel stay is almost just as important as the parks. Consider your budget options and pay attention to reviews of different resorts to see what is best for you. For example, only three resorts are on the monorail, Caribbean Beach Resort is extremely spread out and requires a lot of walking and the All-Star resorts share bus service. Each resort has its own specificities.
67. If there is a specific character you're hoping to meet, Kennythepirate.com is a great resource for character info on when/where/if you can meet the character.
68. There is a slight chance you can run into some characters in Epcot that are considered "Character Training Areas." More info on where the locations are and when some might be out can be found here. As Kenny the Pirate points out, these are characters training their new attendants and photopass photographers. :)
69. We always carry a small towel/washcloth with us to the parks to wipe any sweat or rain away. It will be nice to have in the humidity to keep the back of your neck cooler.
70. I've seen a lot of people recommend chill pads, like these, but we tried them and found that they just felt like a wet towel on our necks which made us hotter. Did we do it wrong? It's a widely used tip, so if you can find one easily/cheaply- try it at home first. It might (or might not?) be worth it to cool off.
71. If Main St is particularly busy, check to see if the sidewalk is as busy. The crowds generally remain in the street area and the sidewalk can be less crowded. (There are times, though, that every sidewalk and street inch is taken. All bets are off then!)
72. If you have a Fastpass+ reservation and discover that the standby line is super short, check your MyDisneyExperience app to see if you can ride the ride later, or get a different Fastpass+. No need to use up a Fastpass+ when there is a 10 minute wait!
73. If you have already booked your trip and a discount comes out, you can (or your travel agent can) get that discount applied to your package so you can take advantage. So watch out for specials!
74. When the attraction is a theater attraction, don't try to be the first to enter the theater. If you want a good middle seat, hang back a bit. The first people in the theater will have to walk all the way to the end, so no middle seats.
75. If you need to get to the other side of Magic Kingdom and have some throbbing feet, get on the Walt Disney World Railroad for a fun commute!
76. If you're willing and the waits are terrible, your party can go through the single rider line. You won't ride together, but if you don't want to miss a particular ride- it's a decent compromise.
77. There are lots of tips out there that say to bring cheap ponchos with you on your trip. I tried this on a particularly rainy day and they absolutely did NOT work. I was still soaked and they stuck to me pretty much all over. If you have a particular poncho brand that you've used before and have been successful, go ahead and bring it. But those 50 cent - $1 ones that are scattered about are not even worth the effort. I bring a shopping bag and usually buy a poncho from Disney and re-use it throughout the week by folding it up as small as possible and putting it inside the plastic bag and inside a backpack. It sounds like a hassle but if you're already carrying any type of bag, the weight of it is very minimal, and they can be rolled/folded up pretty tightly.
78. If you're looking for some Man v. Food type entertainment, the Kitchen Sink at the Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club Resort is the way to go. Be sure to allow plenty of time for your stomach to settle afterwards :).
79. Most of the rides at Disney World are still generally okay for people who get mild motion sickness because they're not terribly spinny. The ones to watch out for in particular are the Mad Tea Party (the teacup ride) in Magic Kingdom and Mission Space in Epcot. Those should probably be avoided.
80. The biggest and hottest park is Animal Kingdom. It's physically the largest (those animals need room!) and with the jungle-like atmosphere, I've always found it to be much more humid than the other parks. So the day you go to Animal Kingdom is the day you should plan to dress the coolest.
81. This is more of a general travel tip, but one I definitely use on Disney trips. I always pack at least a week ahead of time. I do this because I hate rushing at the last minute and I'm always anxious something will come up and I'll miss my plane. But I also do it because I want to make sure I don't wear anything I plan on taking and have to wash it at the last minute. It's just easier on my part. Also, I usually leave on a work day so packing the weekend before really helps out on time. This may be overboard for some people, but if you try it out on your next trip I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much less stress you have on the day you leave.
82. Pack some zip lock bags. You can use them to shield phones or cameras from the rain or water rides. The gallon size is also good for any clothes or shoes that may get really dirty- like accidentally stepping in mud or something along those lines. I also like to wrap up anything that might spill like hand sanitzer or hand cream for my park bag since sometimes the bags get stuffed at your feet for rides. Just an extra precaution.
83. This is more do as I say not as I do tip, but try your best to arrive at the park about 30 minutes before opening for the rope drop. I know, I know, sometimes after a long night at the parks- getting there by 8:30 is a drag... but it will be worth it to ride a few rides (sometimes more than once!) before the lines are crazy long and save some Fast passes for other rides later in the day.
84. During hot and humid times, like the peak of summer, be sure to plan out "cooling off" breaks. You'll need them.
85. If you have some type of touring plan (either paid for, from a website, or of your own creation) be prepared to go off the plan when needed. Sometimes lines are longer than expected, sometimes you need a food break early or later than you thought, sometimes you have a take a detour to a bathroom that is in the opposite direction of your next planned ride. Don't stress out over these things and remember that you're there to have fun.
86. Pay attention to the Disney details. Stop and have a listen to the Dapper Dans. Chat with a cast member on Main Street. If you catch a Hollywood citizen in Hollywood Studios, definitely stop and listen/interact with them. The improv nature of these interactions are unbeatable and will be a favorite memory.
87. If you run upon a photopass photographer and a cast member hovering around a certain spot, there will likely be a character to follow. If you're unsure- just ask! They'll be happy to share the information with you and you may even be first in line.
88. Even if you don't plan on visiting the parks on your arrival or departure day, arrive early and leave late (if it's feasible.) This allows you some park hopping or some downtime at the hotel. The Disney Resorts are a all great places to explore.
89. Grab a park guide from your resort before you leave and check out the map so you have a general feel of the park beforehand. Nothing worse than standing in the heat three minutes after entering the park to figure out which direction to walk.
90. There are some grocery delivery options at Disney World if you want to have breakfast in your room/ or some snacks for the park. It's much easier than packing things in your suitcase and will likely save you money in the end since food prices are pretty steep. (Garden Grocer is what I've seen mentioned the most.)
91. Most of the resorts show some type of movie on grounds somewhere in the evening. If you need a night off, take it! If your resort isn't showing something, a nearby one likely will. Ask your front desk or concierge.
92. If you want to watch special event fireworks without standing in the insanely crowded parks, the beach at the Polynesian is a good spot. An even better spot is the Ticket and Transportation Center. You'll be able to catch the perimeter fireworks from there that you'll likely not be able to see in full in the park.
93. Pin trading is a huge thing at Disney World. I was always interested in the look of the pins but never in the actual act of trading them, or wearing them on a lanyard. I decided I would begin purchasing a new pin on each trip commemorating a special event (like a Halloween Mickey or a birthday pin) or a special memory, and a new pin for each resort I stay at/cruise ship I sail on. So far I've been putting them on a Disney tote bag. Eventually, I might have to expand on how to store/display them but I like the thought of having something commemorating each trip.
94. I always bring one extra set of clothes solely for the possibility of needing to change because of sweat. To be honest, I usually shower twice a day at Disney. The humidity really is no joke!
95. You can buy Disney gift cards at Target before your trip. If you have a Red card and use it, you can get 5% off the gift card price. You can use the gift cards almost everywhere on Disney property. Some people even purchase their entire food budget on gift cards for easier planning.
96. Check out menus for both table service or quick service meals prior to booking reservations or planning to eat there. Each restaurant has specific menu items and they're usually limited to a handful since there are so many restaurants to choose from. Make sure there is something there everyone in your party will enjoy.
97. Downtown Disney is in the midst of an overhaul, and it is slowly but surely coming together. A few years ago, I would've said skip it if you're limited on time, but now-a-days I say try to make it out there. The marketplace has great and unique souvenirs and it still has that Disney Magic. There are a number of great restaurants opening up as well. The parking garage is finally open, too!
98. For varying food options on a budget, check out the different counter service restaurants at different resorts. Each resort will have a different menu with different options.
99. If you have a specific character that you MUST see, check to see if there is a character dining option that that character makes an appearance at and try to get a reservation. That way you won't be running around the park hoping you get in line in time- although that is still possible! If all else fails- try to watch the 3:00 parade and you'll likely see the character there.
100. If you're holding out for the most-of-the-time released free dining promotions, check out other offers instead. Not paying for food is great, but the free dining promotions are becoming more and more limited- by dates and by resorts/room types. Do the math- there might be room offers that would work out better for you.
101. Not sure how I got through 100 tips! Especially after I had already written 101! I was tapped out and asked Ashley for ONE TIP for Disney World. I said, "When someone you know mentions they might want to visit Disney World, what do you tell them?" Her response: "Text Magen." So that leads me to my last tip. ASK AROUND. If you know someone who's been, if you come across someone you follow on social media who's been or is a general fan, or you can search out bloggers/instagrammers/snapchatters/ etc. who love Disney- contact them! Ask them their tips. Listen to any complaints they have. Every person has a unique experience on a Disney trip and can offer a different perspective.
Whoa. 202 down. Should I try for a third? Guess I need to visit a few more times for that! :) WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS? Leave in the comments anything that I missed!