14 hacks that will make your visit to Disney World way better

Orlando’s Walt Disney World is a magical place for both adults and children.

The Florida theme park is open year round, however some specific attractions and rides close every so often for renovations.

Within Disney World there are a total of four theme parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There are also two water parks: Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

We took a look at a Quora thread and did some of our own research to put together a list of hacks that will vastly improve your trip to Disney World, no matter if you’re a first timer or a regular.

1. Book your rooms and buy your tickets from a discount website.

Mouseowners.com calls themselves “the Internet’s most honest Disney Vacation Club community.” The site includes resort reviews, forums, and general insider information about the park. The rent / trade / transfer page on the site allows members to post if they’re looking for reservations or point transfers — those who are part of the Disney Vacation Club earn points that they can use to reserve accommodations at a Disney resort. Getting your tickets and rooms from a site like this — as opposed to going directly through Disney — usually saves you a decent amount of money.

2. Buy Disney merchandise from Ebay, not from the actual park.

Smart and budget conscious parents plan ahead and buy Disney merchandise for their kids before making the trip, so that when they’re begging for a pair of ridiculously overpriced Mickey Mouse ears, it’s easy to provide them with a much cheaper — but just as good — pair that was bought online.

You’ll still probably end up buying them something at the park, but one overpriced item is better than five.

3. Attend the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival if you’re looking to meet singles.

Taking place this year from September 25th till November 16th, the Epcot food and wine fest features close to 30 food and beverage marketplaces from all over the world. There are culinary demonstrations and seminars led by chefs, along with a concert series.

Since it’s geared more towards adults than kids, this fest attracts single adults visiting Disney World, which makes it an ideal place if you’re looking to meet someone on your trip.

4. Don’t rent a car.

Disney World has an extensive and effective public transport system (bus, monorail, and boat) that will get you to pretty much anywhere you need to go in the park. This way you won’t have to deal with finding parking, which can be a struggle.

5. If you’re planning on using the monorail, board at the Contemporary Hotel.

One of the best ways to get around the park is by taking the monorail. The train travels above the park and makes five stops: the Magic Kingdom Park, the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Polynesian Village Resort, and the Transportation and Ticket Center.

However, because it’s such a convenient way to get around, the monorail can get pretty crowded. In order to avoid long lines, it’s best to board at the Contemporary Resort (as opposed to the Magic Kingdom).

6. Or just take a water taxi instead of the monorail.

Disney Water Taxi

Flickr / Jeff Bergman
Some hotels and resorts offer water taxis.

Some hotels and resorts offer water taxis (boats) that take you from your resort or hotel to the parks or downtown Disney. If this is the case, opt for the water taxi. Chances are, it will be a lot less crowded than the monorail.

7. Use a crowd calendar to book your visit.

If you’re hoping to dodge the masses, consult a crowd calendar to see what parts of the park will be most crowded when. Undercover Tourist offers a great one for Disney World, which uses a ranking system to tell you which parks will be most crowded on what days and at what times. If you’re planning on making a trip during a peak season, this is a particularly helpful resource for planning your trip around other people’s.

8. Arrive at parks when they open.

No one likes to stand in line for hours in the blazing sun waiting for a ride. You can reduce your chances of having to do this if you get to the rides right when they open — you can only get in early if you have access to Extra Magic Hours. Big name rides aren’t as crowded in the early mornings, so plan to get those out of the way in the morning, and do lesser known rides in the afternoon. For park hours, click here.

9. Make restaurant reservations at off times.

Instead of eating lunch at noon or 1 pm — when everyone else at the park will also be eating lunch — make a reservation for earlier or later, and do the same for dinner. That way, the restaurant will be less crowded when you’re eating, and you can enjoy the rides while everyone else is eating.

10. Know which rides are long and generally have shorter lines in case your feet need a break.

All that walking and waiting in line amounts to tired — and sometimes blistered — feet. Here are the rides that guarantee a long ride but a short wait, according to Quora user Tom Nikl:

  • Magic Kingdom: Carousel of Progress, People Mover
  • EPCOT: Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Living with the Land boat ride
  • Hollywood Studios: Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Lights Camera Action Stunt Show
  • Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Express Train

11. Let someone know if you’re there for a special occasion.

Quora user Michael Lee mentioned to his travel agent that he and his wife were going to be on their honeymoon when they visited Disney. When they arrived at their hotel, they were given “just married” buttons. This button got them special treatment from cast members in the park, a signed photo of Aladdin and Jasmin in their hotel room upon their arrival, as well as free dessert at some restaurants.

12. Don’t watch the Wishes firework show from the Magic Kingdom.

The wishes nighttime spectacular is an impressive fireworks show that happens near the Magic Kingdom. However, you don’t need to be at the Magic Kingdom to see it. Instead, avoid the crowds and watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. You’ll be a little farther away, but it will be a much more pleasant show to watch.

13. Utilise the FastPass+ system.

If a ride you want to go on has a particularly long wait line, consider using Disney’s FastPass system. Here’s how it works: insert your regular park ticket into a FastPass machine, and you will then be given a card with a specific return time window for that ride. If you go back to the ride during that window, you can enter through the FastPass lane, which is usually five minutes or less. And sometimes your FastPast card will still be accepted even if you miss the window (as long as you’re using the card the same day it was issued).

14. Take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express.

If you’re staying at one of Disney’s resort hotels, make a reservation ahead of time for Disney’s Magical Express, a complimentary coach bus which takes you and your luggage to your hotel. The magical express also allows you to check in ahead of time for your flight out of Disney World, if you’re staying at certain Disney resorts and flying on participating airlines.

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