A trip to Orlando’s Disney World is a dream come true not only for children, but even for adults who grew up with the secret wish. Now that you’re finally going there, you wouldn’t want the trip to turn sour. You want every moment to count and that means getting the best out of your holiday to the huge theme park.
Jason Cochran shares Disney World Tips and Tricks to save money and to learn some insider secrets for days well spent in the theme park. With the introduction of the MagicBands in 2014, things aren’t so simple anymore.
“Embedded with sensors and linked to guests’ personal information, this bracelet works like a wearable magic wand as visitors roam Walt Disney World Florida’s four theme parks and two water parks. Wave it over sensors and it grants front-gate admittance, makes cashless purchases, opens locked hotel-room doors, and validates up to three reservations a day for the shorter FastPass+ lines at major attractions. Plans can now be changed on the fly as well using an app, My Disney Experience.”
Who would like to reveal too much personal information when you’re out just to have some fun riding the gargantuan beasts of a ride that is something not even Alice would enjoy. Getting lost in the rabbit hole offers adventures, but the invasion to one’s privacy is a bit too much.
Matt Roseboom, publisher of Orlando Attractions Magazine, recommends downloading the “My Disney Experience app” and signing in 60 days through FastPasses, particularly if you’re booked in a Disney hotel. Roseboom suggests, “… if an attraction breaks down or the line is moving slower than you’d like, you can update the times for your next reservation.” Disney runs, after all, on a click.
To minimize waiting, secure your dinner reservations, and enjoy Disney, here are some planning advices to make a Disney visit as simple and easy as it once was.
- Meeting Cinderella over dinner: Slots are taken up hungrily by a long queue, book 180 days in advance. Reservations can be made starting at 7 a.m. Orlando time.
- Best time to make the rounds: If you want fewer crowds of too many boisterous youngsters, the best time is during school days. September is a good time when the weather is warm and the prices are lower. Early May, after spring vacation is another good time.
- Dining the way you want: Dining in in-demand restaurants such as Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest and Epcot’s Le Cellier Steakhouse, book ahead of time.
- Without a MagicBand: if staying outside the park, you can use My Disney Experience app. Note, though, that FastPass reservations can’t be done in advance. Secure your passes at in-park MyMagic+ kiosks and expect long lines.
- Using Disney Dollars is savvy: Control spending with Disney Dollars that’s equal to the value of the U.S. dollar, but don’t order in advance to avoid paying shipping fees of $15.
- The best seat in the theater: You don’t have to fight your way in to get the best seats in the house. Instead, follow a large group of guests so you won’t be pushed down the end of the row.
- Avoiding crowds: Mornings have the smallest crowds. You can go back to your hotel to take a break. Watch out for “Extra Magic Hours” offered to guests staying in official Disney hotels and not open to the general public.
- Easy character meal treat: Treat your kids to meals with their favorite Disney character. These are snapped up fast Make things easy and cheap by booking one held outside the gates.
- The best view of Epcot’s Soarin’: For the best view (one that has no dangling feet to obstruct your view) asking for a seat ending in 1 such as A-1, B-1, C-1, etc. Avoid positions ending in 3.
- Getting the best seat on Kilimanjaro Safaris: To catch the animals, go there first thing in the morning when the beasts are still up and about. Grab a seat in the back rows, where views aren’t blocked.
- Fun way to put up your feet: Have fun, even when your feet are tired and screaming for a rest by boarding the Walt Disney World Railroad. Passengers are required to disembark after completing a circuit. You have another 25 minutes (or more) to rest those throbbing feet.
- When to watch the parades: There are several of them; there’s no need to catch the ones scheduled when the sun is up and searing. Catch the ones slated after sundown.
- Don’t get stranded once the parade starts: You can do this by staying clear of Adventureland and Frontierland 30 minutes before the parade.
- Get through without fingerprint: If you don’t like to be fingerprinted, which is scanned for you to enter, tell gate guides that you’ll use your photo ID; fingerprinting isn’t required.
- Savvy use of FastPass: You can save the uses of your Fastpass smartly. There are “walk-on” attractions that don’t need FastPass. Use the line-skipping system for attractions with really long queues.
- Plan your ride route: Doing a bit of research will show you the way to a most strategic route. Don’t just jump on the first one you see. Consider the time and the kind of entertainment you want to experience. For instance, Spaceship Earth at Epcot is best visited late in the afternoon or after darkness falls.
- The best seat in the house of Epcot IllumiNations: Booking up for the nightly fireworks show? IllumiNations. Get the best table by asking the hostess nicely; aren’t you celebrating an anniversary or birthday?
- Where to sit in Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks: The top floor of the California Grill, a next door neighbor offers a perfect view of the fireworks. Get a table in advance at the correct time.
- Cut spending on meals: You can order à la carte without the sidings – fries or chips – and knock $2–$3 off the set price of a counter-service meal. For extra mileage, ask the food counter attendants to hold the ice on sodas since it’s served chilled anyway.
- Riding solo to cut waiting: On those rides you can’t do without, join the queue at the Single Rider Line. This is intended to fill seats.
- After the sun has set, it is time to fantasize: To satisfy the child in you, you can ride those that you used to dream about after the youngsters retired to bed. You can also avoid Mondays, the most hectic day of the week.
- Don’t get terrorized in the Tower of Terror: You can’t miss this ride touted as one of the best rides in the park. To get an unobstructed view of the sky-high vista, grab a position numbering 1 or 2 at the front row when spots are assigned and not later.
- Need to save on a stroller: Don’t rent the expensive ones. There is a cheaper version, the classic one.
- The rain brings blessings: Rain here is actually a brief shower. If you will dress ready for the rain, you can fall in the queue as it gets short with people fleeing to take shelter.
- Get tips as they are announced: Don’t be left out when tips are shared. Grab them and use them when needed. These are available on Tip Boards, My Disney Experience app and you can ask performers and hotel clerks.
A trip to the Disney World is priceless. You have the choice to make the best out of it or agonize with long queues and complications. All it takes is a bit of research, planning and a handful of useful tips.