The Ellis Exclusive Villas team shares our favourite Disney World top tips. This is everything you need to know about Disney World!
Even experienced Disney visitors will learn something from this collection of our favourite Disney hacks. If you are planning to visit Disney World while staying at one of our Orlando vacation homes, make sure you try these best-ever Disney World Hacks.
Let us guide you step by step through everything you need to know about getting the most from your visit to Disney World Orlando.
#1. Pick your dates wisely
Ticket prices can vary wildly from one month – or day – to the next. Choosing the right dates to go can have a huge impact on your total bill. If you are able to pick your travel dates freely, January and September are usually the cheapest months – and the weather is milder too.
If you are planning a visit to the parks with tiny tots, then make the most of these cheap rates before your toddler reaches school age and you’re constrained to the more expensive school holiday periods.
We really love Dave Shute’s guidance on this and if you’re serious about picking a day with lower footfall highly recommend you visit his site.
#2. Get your ticket from a reputable source
Don’t fall for too-good-to-be-true prices – always get your ticket from a reputable source.
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t want to find yourself signed up for a timeshare meeting to get a discount (what a waste of a day’s holiday!) or, worse, turned away at the gates.
#3.Buy your tickets AT LEAST a month before you go so you can use the Fast Pass service
Disney’s Fast Pass Plus will save you lots of time standing in line.
Fast Pass is a free service from Disney. To use it, you need to have Disney tickets.
Then, 30 days before you are due to visit, you can use your Fast Pass to reserve your place in the queue on some of Disney’s most popular rides and attractions.
If there are some rides you don’t want to miss, your Fast Pass is the best way to minimise the time you stand in line for those rides. Simply register online or in the app to book your slot in the queue in advance.
Each guest can reserve their place in the queue for up to three rides or attractions.
You can also use your Fast Pass Plus to book character Meet and Greets too – which is really great if you have toddlers and little ones in your party.
Spend some time thinking about what you want to do, what you don’t want to miss, what is going to make your day special and use of your Fast Pass allocations wisely.
#4. Download the Disney World app
The best source of information before you go is the Disney World app – it includes information about wait times per attraction as well as showtimes for fireworks and parades.
The app is ideal for helping you get familiar with the park layout and services before you arrive.
It also gives you access to the Fast Pass Plus scheme – so you can book your place in the queue for the most popular rides (see item #3). You can access the Fast Pass Plus system from 30 days before your visit. This scheme is one of the best ways to minimise the time you spend in line during your visit – so do make use of it.
#5. Book Disney restaurants and Disney character meet and greets far in advance
Character meet and greets are extremely popular and you need to book them month’s in advance. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
#6. When you visit, aim to arrive BEFORE the parks officially open
People don’t usually want to get up early in the morning when they are on vacation so, as a rule, the parks are always quieter first thing in the morning. Aim to arrive even before the official opening time. This enables you to make your way to the gate for “rope drop” and be at the front of the queue!
Magic Kingdom opens an hour before rope drop – so you can spend a little time browsing the stores on Main Street before getting yourself into pole position for opening.
On some days, on some rides, you may even be able to enjoy an attraction before the official opening time.
#7. Early starts don’t have to mean a full day
If you have toddlers in your party, one thing we have found useful over the years is to book a villa just a short drive from the main gate – our homes on Seasons are ideal. This way, you can align your trip perfectly with your toddler’s schedule.
You’ll be used to the early starts with your toddler’s early rises so can arrive at the parks early and make the most of the lighter queues in the mornings. When your little one is ready for their lunchtime nap, escape back to the vacation home for lunch. This will save you a fortune because you can cater for yourself instead of having to pay high restaurant prices in the parks.
You can chill by the pool during the heat of the day, then return to the parks fully refreshed in the late afternoon – ready to enjoy the evening fireworks and parades.
Disney can be quite overwhelming, especially on a first visit, so this is one way to reduce the stress and sensory overload on your whole party!
#8. Extra Magic Hours
One way to sneak into the park before anyone else is to stay at a Disney hotel for a night when there are Extra Magic Hours running at the park you want to visit.
On these days, hotel guests can access the park an hour early or stay a couple of hours later than other guests.
A word of warning, however: this is really only useful if you intend to get up an hour earlier and make use of that extra magic hour. What’s more, the parks do tend to be busier on the days when Extra Magic Hours are available.
There is a cheaper and better way to get into the park early which we will explain below.
#9. Time your Disney restaurant bookings and Disney character meet and greets wisely
Rather than checking into a Disney hotel and leaving your villa empty for the night, we recommend saving your money and booking a character breakfast on a day when there are no Extra Magic Hours instead.
Book an early breakfast at Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table on a non-EMH morning and you can skip down an empty Main Street USA and pose with characters with hardly any others in the picture.
This is a great treat. Plus, the rest of the day won’t be subject to the extra crowds that seem to materialise on Extra Magic Hours days.
You can also use the Disney app to book restaurants and character meet and greets.
Do book as early as you can because they are popular!
#10. Agree a meeting point
As soon as you enter the park, set a meeting point where all your party can meet up in the event you get separated and your phone batteries die. If nothing else, it’s good for peace of mind.
#11. Your first visit should be to Guest Services if it is a special occasion
On your first visit, birthday, anniversary or special event go to Guest Services as soon as you arrive to pick up a pin badge. Wear your “It’s my birthday today” pin and you’ll be regaled with birthday greetings all day. A little bit of extra Disney magic which makes an occasion or birthday extra special.
If you are going to do this, we recommend an early start because the queue for Guest Services can get long quickly – and early start saves the time you’ll spend in line.
#12. Leave your selfie stick at home
They are not welcome at Disney.
#13. Do pack a poncho
This is our favourite money saving tip. At certain times of year, Florida is known for its flash showers so having a lightweight waterproof is vital.
Plus, your waterproof poncho will also come in very handy on the water rides!
However, the ponchos you buy in the park are expensive, so if you are trying to save money don’t leave it until you get to Disney World to buy one. Pick them up cheaply from local stores or online before you go.
#14. Make use of the Single Rider and Rider Switch schemes
Just as in Universal, Disney operates a rider swap scheme for parents with young children, so no one has to miss a turn on the ride because they’ve been left holding the baby.
As well as ensuring both Mum and Dad get to turn on the ride, older children in the party can enjoy a second turn without having to return to the back of the line.
Another way to reduce times is to ride as a single rider. This way, you will be seated where there are single seats between large parties. However, you do need to be prepared to ride alone; if you join the Single Rider line with other people in your party, you need to understand that you will be seated separately.
If you are parents visiting with one child who is too small to ride, you can combine Rider Switch with Single Rider and keep your wait times to an absolute minimum.
#15. Keep adding to your Fast Pass Plus selections as you use them
Once you use up your three pre-booked Fast Pass Plus selections, you can add more Fast Pass Plus options through the day (subject to availability). Either use the app or go to one of the Fast Pass Plus kiosks around the park.
Remember, to use the Fast Pass Plus scheme to full advantage, you need to get your Disney tickets well before you travel.
#16. If you don’t mind missing parades or firework shows, this is the time to ride!
The wait times for attractions are usually much lower when there is a parade or show happening.
On nights when there are no evening spectaculars in Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, you’ll find those parks have shorter waiting times too.
So, provided you don’t mind missing the shows, this can be a great time to get some extra rides in.
If you have little ones in your party or its your first visit, you won’t want to miss these magical events of pure Disney – so position yourself to the beginning of the parade route so you can scoot off once the parade passes and enjoy the short lines!
Word of warning: make sure you are on the right side of the parade route for the attraction you want to ride. There’s no crossing the parade route once it’s started.
#17. Offset your mealtimes
Wait times are often shorter during mealtimes too. So, you could consider scheduling a mid-morning snack and afternoon tea instead of having lunch.
This is a double win: you eat when the restaurants are less busy and you make the most of the short lines during peak dining times.
#18. Shop wisely
There are so many ways to spend money in the parks, so it’s worth thinking about what you want to spend your money on before you go.
You can pick up Disney merchandise cheaply in stores like Walmart or online, so if you are trying to save money it might be worth buying your little princess her Elsa dress before you go.
You can also save money by taking refillable water bottles with you – most restaurants will give you free iced water if you ask for it.
When Main Street is busy, you can avoid the crowds by walking through the shops instead of along the road. The shops are all inter-connected and the air conditioning is a cooling bonus!
We suggest you leave your shopping until the end of the day, because the shops of Main Street remain open for an hour after the rest of the park closes. However, if you do pick up a few souvenirs during the day, you can ask for them to be sent to the front of the park for the end of the day, so you can pick up your gift shopping as you leave.
Follow these 20 tips and you can get your most from your Disney World Orlando visit.
Share your Disney World Orlando hacks!
If you have other Disney World Orlando tips you can share with our guests, please do share your thoughts on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear your Disney World tips and hacks.
If you’d like to talk to us about finding you the perfect vacation for your Disney World Orlando vacation, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure: