Although Disney World isn’t as glamorous a destination as some might prefer, it’s one of the places I’ve been to that I can never imagine myself getting sick of. I have been more times than I can possibly count (or even remember), and every experience has been unique. Over the years I have picked up tips and tricks that have made the parks even better, so I thought I’d share some with you, in case you ever find yourself planning a vacation down there. Take all of this with a grain of salt, though, since I haven’t been to Disney World since 2009. I also have never set foot in Disneyland, so I can’t help there, either.
sometimes always get emotional when I visit Disney World, particularly as I approach Magic Kingdom. I’ve been a Disney fanatic as long as I can remember, so entering the park fills me with nostalgia each time. Even now as I type this, I am listening to Disney songs like a true fangirl. Without any rhyme or reason to the order or importance, let us begin!
This one may sound a little strange, but there was one particularly steamy August when we were all nearly drowning in our own sweat (TMI?), and couldn’t seem to beat the heat. Seriously – even the first several pictures of the day all turned out a little foggy. If you’re looking for a brief relief from the heat, the bathrooms are all (at least to my knowledge) air conditioned. The same is true for (most) stores, so either works, but “bathroom hopping” paints a funnier picture.
Choose the Month of your Visit Carefully
I have been to Disney World in at least May, July, August, September, and December. I even spent Christmas Day in Magic Kingdom one year. That said, my absolute preferred time to go is in May. The crowds are thinner, the weather is much more bearable (much cooler than the high summer, but still warm enough that you won’t be cold when you go on water rides), and the possibility of dehydration and sunstroke is decreased. I would also recommend (if possible) that you go during the week as opposed to on a weekend.
Always Check out the Theme of the Year
You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at the theme, which changes yearly. One year I was there it was making memories, and staff members were running wild snapping pictures. In 2009, it was a celebration theme, which meant that people who were on their first ever visit, celebrating their anniversary, or (like my regrettably blurry picture above) celebrating their birthday received a button to commemorate the event. My mom, sister and I went to Disney about a week after my birthday, which the lady behind the counter took note of when I picked up my ticket. She ended up giving me a button anyway, which I then wore proudly. Since they take celebrating seriously at Disney World, the Cast Members and people in the audience on the Carousel of Progress ride all sang happy birthday to me.
Wait out the Weather I was born in Florida, and since my dad still lives down there, I have visited many times since moving to Canada with my mom at age 8. Just like any Floridian, I know that the weather can go from piercingly blue skies to a full out, house-shaking thunderstorm in a matter of minutes. If a thunderstorm should pop up during your time at one of the parks, fear not. Just wait it out in a restaurant, shop in a few stores or even go on a ride (that isn’t likely to break down and doesn’t go outside). Chances are you’ll be glad you did. When we were at Magic Kingdom in 2009, a thunderstorm happened that lasted over two hours. We decided to grab dinner, and watched as people fled for the exits. By the time the storm had died down, we had eaten, browsed through some stores, and were ready to go on more rides. Thanks to the mass exodus that took place, we were able to ride The Haunted Mansion several times in a row, and we had an amazing view of the fireworks at the end of the night. Sometimes it pays to be patient!
Fast Pass is Worth It Once you’ve waited in even a single long line at Disney, you’ll understand the pain. Though the price has definitely increased and the usage restrictions have expanded since it was first released, the Fast Pass will save you time and aggravation better spent in line for another ride. When I was last there, you swiped your ticket at a ride-specific fast pass machine, which then gave you a piece of paper with a time (typically an hour’s length) to return to bypass most of the line. As I understand now, it’s even more advanced and you can update your ride time with your phone while in the park. You can pre-arrange online to ride at a certain time so that when you show up, you have little to no wait for that particular ride. Along with Fast Pass, I highly recommend getting to the park as early as possible.
Transport to Magic Kingdom You can take a monorail or a ferry to get to Magic Kingdom. My suggestion is to take the ferry to the park and take the monorail back. You will face large crowds coming back on the monorail (especially if it’s after the fireworks), but you won’t freeze on the ferry.
Look for the Hidden Rides
Not that they’re actually hidden – they’re just harder to find than some of the others. For instance, inside the building pictured above (in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot), there are countless stores and restaurants, but also a quite enjoyable boat ride based off the movie The Three Caballeros.
Talk to the Cast Members in the Epcot Pavilions As of now, eleven countries are featured in the World Pavilion. The greatest part of it, though, is that every Cast Member is from the country they are working in. It can make for some incredible insight into a country you’ve never been to, or even the one you live in.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Goofy and Take Pictures
If you beg and plead (kidding – just ask), the characters will take pictures with you, even if you aren’t an adult. Sometimes you even get to live a lifelong dream though the process like when my friend Allie met Peter Pan. Sometimes you even get a funny story out of it, like a Donald Duck who shoved us away after a couple of seconds, or a Rafiki who did everything in his power to make my sister laugh.
Sometimes the Over-Priced Photos are Worth It
Normally I don’t go out of my way to purchase a ride photo. Typically they cost WAY too much, but sometimes the price is worth it. With this photo, it was actually the first time any of us had been to Animal Kingdom. We rode Dinosaur, not knowing what to expect, and were rewarded with this lovely picture of terror. Seconds before this picture was snapped, a T-Rex (who, I might add, I could almost have touched if I reached out) roared as loud as possible. The ride is crazy, fun, and produces incredibly hilarious picture results.
These are all the little tips I could think of off the top of my head. Hopefully I’ve helped someone out. If not, then at least I got to spend a little bit of time reminiscing about past trips to Disney World!