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Disney World Hacks to Make the Most of Your Trip

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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.

Plan, book and save on your next Disney vacation with AAA

theme park ep 2

For more tips on planning your first Disney trip, listen to Episode 2 of our podcast, Merging Into Life: Theme Park Secrets.

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.

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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 friends 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.

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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.

disney world hacks

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.

This article has been updated and republished from a previous version. 


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8 Thoughts on “Disney World Hacks to Make the Most of Your Trip

  1. Hey, just got back from Disney two weeks ago. I agree with everything you said except the lightning passes. They are not worth buying because unlike fast passes you can only schedule one at a time and you cannot schedule your next one until you use your first one. By this time the nearest time you can get is like four hours away. This doesn’t include the popular rides which has an additional cost for lightning lane passes on top of the original cost you already paid. In fact, that was the only complaint I had about Disney. I was told most of the people there were complaining about the same thing. So short answer, general fast passes are not worth your time now. But individual fast passes for one or two rides are as you get to pick your time.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jeremy! It’s good to hear from someone who has first-hand experience with the new system. It will be interesting to see if any Lightning Lane policies will change as Disney figures out what works and what doesn’t in these early stages.

  2. When eating, choose a restaurant that has a fixings bar. Load your plate with all the vegetables you can. It’s like getting a free salad. It will probably be the only vegetables the kids will get all day. Also, share entrees. The kids typically won’t finish one by themselves.

    1. Hi Elaine!
      I’ve forwarded your question to our travel team. They should be getting back to you shortly.
      Thanks for reading!

      1. I am 89and use a warker and can not stan more then one minuet I do not do riads so what is there for me to do or see and can my warker be in the way.
        I plan too go in march or april

        1. Hi Benjamin!
          The Disney parks are all very accessible, and you can certainly bring your walker if you choose. It might be easier, however, to rent a mobility scooter for your trip. You can rent a scooter at the parks, or through a third-party service that will deliver it to your hotel. Currently, most Disney parades and shows are on hiatus due to COVID restrictions, but I expect they will be returning gradually throughout 2022. Some of my favorite shows on property are Festival of the Lion King, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Finding Nemo: The Musical and Enchanted Tales with Belle. I would also check to see if some of the dinner shows will be running when you’re there. The Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue is a personal favorite. Every ride on Disney property is accessible, so you might enjoy some of the slower rides like Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, it’s a small world, or Pirates of the Caribbean. Fortunately, fireworks have recently returned to the parks, so you’ll definitely be able to attend those shows. I hope you have a great time!

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