If you’ve ever been to one of the many Disney parks, you most likely are very familiar with the fact that it is almost impossible to not be overwhelmed. With the combination of brutally hot weather and massive crowds, it can be difficult to navigate your busy day. As someone who spends almost every ounce of their free time in the park I’ve come up with 10 tips and tricks that I use to make my adventures at Disney a lot smoother (and cheaper). Before I tell you them, just remember that everyone has a different personality and lifestyle, while these might seem like average tips to one person, they might be life changing to the next. Having said that, enjoy!
1. Be nice to Cast Members.
Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Tyson, how in the world does this help me have a better day at Disney? Is this just some trick to get all the guests in the parks to treat cast members like royalty?’ And to that I say, partially. All jokes aside, think about the type of people who normally work at Disney parks. They’re usually 18-25 year olds whose primary concern is making your day as magical as possible. Most cast members are not there just for a paycheck, these are people who love Disney so much and want to reciprocate the feelings they had as a kid walking into Disney World for the first time onto you and your family. So when they have the ability to create something that’s popularly known as “A Magical Moment” they’re going to be looking for someone who they feel most deserves it. If you treat them with respect (I.e. Saying thank you as board/exit a ride) You are more likely to receive better treatment.
2. Save the Hassle For Universal Studios, Get the App.
I hear a lot of reasons as to why people don’t want to get the My Disney Experience App, waste of space, doesn’t understand what it does, slow, not necessary, and so on. While it is true that this app can be painfully slow, the benefits you gain from downloading it outweigh the cons immensely. Booking fastpasses, virtual map, and not having to call to book a reservation to your favorite restaurant are only a few of the amazing tools you will have access to if you decide to get it. It might not seem worth the hassle right now, but once you realize just how much time you are saving by being able to do virtually everything from the palm of your hand, you’ll wonder why you ever doubted it in the first place.
3. DON’T PAY FOR WATER
At the time this article was written, a Dasani water bottle will run you 3.50$. That’s a hefty amount to pay for something you need to have, especially when the heat is beating down on you. While it’s expensive to have your drink in a bottle, Disney offers many alternatives. They have water fountains located almost everywhere you look, if you decide to bring your own water bottle it can save you a lot of money! If you decide that you don’t like the idea of having to bring your own bottle or the water doesn’t taste cold, you can go to any quick service location and ask for a water cup. They are always free and the cast members would be more than happy to serve you. The last option, and my favorite, is to go the Starbucks location that is inside of every Disney park, and ask for a large cup of water. Not only is it bigger and colder than the bottle of water, it’s free!
4. Free Buttons = Fun Interactions
Is this your first trip? Your birthday? On your honeymoon? Even if you are just celebrating the fact that you got out of bed this morning, Disney has a free button to give you. I always recommend wearing these to show off whatever it may be that you are celebrating. Let the entire population of Walt Disney World know what’s happening, the cast members will be eager to join in on the fun, and can cause you to have a more enjoyable experience whether you are meeting a character, or just buying a Mickey ice cream bar. Who knows? You might just get a magical moment out of it!
5. VIP access to the front seats… FOR FREE!
What if I told you that you could ride in the front row seats on every single roller coaster you ride in the Disney parks without having to pay a nickel. No, I’m not crazy… well at least not on this topic. You have the ability to sit in the front row without having to do basically anything. Next time you get to the front of the line, politely request to sit in the front row. At the very most, you’ll be waiting an extra 1-2 minutes, but being able to experience a ride in the front row is incomparable to that small extra waiting time. I highly suggest doing this on Expedition Everest located at Animal Kingdom inside Disney World, especially if you’re going with someone who knows nothing about the ride.
6. Save Money on Tickets, Resort Hop Instead.
Let’s face it, vacations are expensive no matter where you go, and sometimes it’s really hard to budget when you come to a place like Disney World. If you and your family come down for 5-7 days I always recommend taking a day away from the parks and go resort hopping. Basically that means spending a little bit of time walking around each resort. Disney did an amazing job to make each resort look like it’s own little universe and it’s very easy to get swept up in the atmosphere of each place. Best of all, it’s completely free! This is usually when I get most of my vacation pictures out of the way as well so I can spend more time living it up when I am actually inside the parks. This is a great way to save over a 100$ a person if you’re looking to save some money.
7. There’s More to Fastpasses than You Think
This tip is going to assume you know the very basics of setting up a fastpass. If you do not know what it is or how to make one, please refer to tip #2 to help get you started. Most people select a fastpass and that’s the end of that. But with a little help and a lot of luck you can manage to get fastpasses for the most popular rides literally minutes before you can use them. First you need to make a fastpass, favorably for the ride you want to go on, but let’s say there is only one for 10pm and it’s only 2pm, that’s eight whole hours between you and the ride of your life. Luckily the MDE app has an option to let you modify your selection. Once you select this it can show you other fastpasses you can select or other return times for your current fastpasses. If you check frequently enough throughout your day you can sometimes snag fastpasses for amazing rides literally 15 minutes before they’re activated. Best of luck!
8. You Won’t Be Able to Do Everything.
There is just TOO much to do at Disney World, no matter how many days you give yourself, there will always be something that you won’t be able to do. I hear it everywhere I go about how people regret not doing this and that. If you are to only take one thing away from this article, make it be that you give yourself 3-5 things that you HAVE to do. And as soon as you get to the park of your choice make sure that you go to check those things of your list as fast as you can. It may appear as you have all the time in the world, but I can guarantee that the time will go by faster than you might like. If you wait to long, your favorite character might disappear for the day, or you won’t be able to make it to the last showing of your favorite event. Just play it safe, and go to the things you love the first chance you can get. Plus if you go early enough, you can avoid most of the lines as a lot of people like to casually stroll in hours after the parks open. After you accomplish this list, you have the rest of the day to see where your newest adventure will take you!
9. Treat Yourself!
Most of this list has been showing you how to save some money, but let’s face it. You’re at Disney!! You deserved this, you worked all year. Use the money you saved from following this list or any other tricks and tips you’ve learned on a fancy souvenir for yourself, or treating yourself to some fancy food. You are here to make memories that will last a lifetime, never forget that! This trip is for you, and you alone. Go ahead and buy that shirt, or eat that giant mickey cookie. Smile and laugh because in this land, calories don’t count. If you spend your entire trip worrying about your budget you won’t have any fun! Plan ahead and let future you enjoy the vacation worry-free!
10. Please Don’t Ask for This.
This is one of the most important tips to remember. If you’ve noticed throughout this article I’ve mentioned something a few times. A Magical Moment, something made up by Disney Cast Members that enable them to sprinkle some extra pixie dust into your vacation. It’s one of the greatest moments that a cast member gets to experience while working for the mouse because they get to bring unexpected joy into your life. Notice the word “unexpected”? That’s because it is supposed to be a surprise. These moments are random and spontaneous, but magical. Please don’t ask for a moment like this because it ruins that magic. Yes, it can be a tad annoying if you haven’t received one, but if you demand one I can guarantee that you won’t be satisfied with the response you get. Cast Members look for people who hold themself in the highest light, and by that I mean they’re selfless and kind to one another. Every Cast Member has the ability to make magic, and from what I’ve heard from other people, their favorite moments from their trips always have to revolve around something happening to them unexpectedly. So just go in with a big heart and a bigger smile, this is your trip!
Regardless of what happens on your trip to Disney, it is yours to keep and cherish forever. Hold onto it. So what are you waiting for now? Reach out and find your, Happily Ever After.