Walt Disney World is one of the hottest vacation spots in the world. That means it can get busy – and expensive. But if you have some insider tips, you can make sure your vacation is the most magical experience ever. Check out these Walt Disney World hacks that you and your family can use to make the most of your trip.
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Don’t: Wait in line for character meet-and-greets
Character meet-and-greets come with wait times. And that’s valuable time you and your family could be spending enjoying the rest of the attractions at the parks, like the rides, parades and shows. Waiting in lines for character after character can start to add up – and while the photo-ops are nice, they’re nothing like riding Space Mountain. It’s a huge drain on your theme park time.
What kind of Disney guest are you?
Do: Visit one of the many character dining options
Character dining is one of the best ways to meet your favorite Disney personalities. Walt Disney World is full of options where you and your family can meet characters while you eat. There’s no waiting in lines, no wasted time, fantastic photo-ops and amazing interactions. Some options include meeting princesses at Epcot’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Mickey and friends at Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella and her family at 1900 Park Fare and more. Check with the restaurant in advance and make sure that your favorites will be there when you make a reservation.
Don’t: Weigh yourself down with a huge backpack
If you don’t need to bring something like a diaper bag, special food items or important medicine with you, it’s best to leave the backpack at home. It’s a huge pain to walk around with a bulky bag all day, and it can be hard to squeeze it onto the rides with you if you don’t have anyone to hold your stuff.
Do: Travel light
A small purse, bag or even a fanny pack will do. If you’re nervous about going to the parks without a water bottle, don’t fret! A lesser-known Disney hack is that you can get a free glass of ice water at any food service location in the park. It’s a lot more refreshing than carrying around a sweaty water bottle all day.
Don’t: Assume things haven’t changed
If you show up at the parks looking for free FastPasses, you’re going to be disappointed. FastPass+ used to be the law of the land in Walt Disney World, but the system has been replaced with Disney Genie+ and its Lightning Lanes.
Do: Adapt to new systems early
Get ahead of the game by doing your research beforehand. You can learn about the Disney Genie and Genie+ systems in this article. If you learn the rules of Disney Genie+ quickly, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.
Disney is always introducing new and exciting changes, but it could start to feel overwhelming. To help you navigate, AAA has travel advisors who specialize in Disney vacations; it’s their job to stay on top of all the latest happenings and help you plan.
Don’t: Follow the crowd
Many people entering theme parks will automatically go to the right, meaning that those parts of the park – like Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom – will get more crowded earlier in the day.
Do: Forge your own path
If you go to the left in the Magic Kingdom, toward Adventureland, you’ll be able to hit a lot more rides in your first couple of hours in the park. Most theme park guests try to get to the most popular rides early in the day, but the long lines can waste time. (If you get to the park as soon as it opens, you’ll want to check out these rope drop tips.) If there’s a popular ride you want to go on, try getting in line a couple of minutes before closing at the end of the night. There are several benefits to this option. First, if you’re in line before the park closes, cast members must let you ride the ride. Second, this means you’re not missing anything, no matter how long you wait. Third, posted wait times at the end of the day are usually inflated to discourage guests from getting in line, so the actual wait time might be way faster than the posted wait time. And finally, you’ll miss the huge crowd of people all leaving the park at the same time.
Don’t: Use Lightning Lane access on shows and parades
Everybody is going to get to see the show at the same time, so there’s really no reason to use one of your Lightning Lane choices on something like that. You might get slightly better seats, but it’s not really worth it.
Do: Schedule your Lightning Lane choices early in the day
If you use up your choices earlier in the day, you have more time to keep picking more and getting more Lightning Lane rides throughout the day.
For extra savings on your Walt Disney World vacation, check out AAA Tickets.
Do you have any Disney World hacks? Share them in the comments below.