Where else can you hold Tinker Bell, Soar around the World, sit amongst a snowfall inside a theater, see a Yeti, go on a Safari, experience a fireworks show that will floor you, drink a pineapple beer, and unknowingly (and constantly) whistle “Heigh-Ho” walking around your hotel room ALL in the same day?!
As a seasoned Disney Veteran, it was time to show my husband the ropes of the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” In case you haven’t been to WDW in quite a while, Magic Bands are now utilized in lieu of actual Park Tickets.
Magic Bands are RFID technology wrist bands that are now your park tickets, fast passes, and, if you stay on Disney Property/purchase a meal plan – your room key and payment for meals!
Weigh the pros and cons of upgrading to Park Hopper Tickets.
If you plan to ride just a few rides per park and are up for making your way out of the park, getting on transportation to another park, and walking back into another park (this could take an hour+ to do), then the Park Hopper is for you. They are also great for families with small chidren when you want to exit a park and head back to your resort to chill out for a bit, let a chld nap, etc. and then head to a different park for the remainder of the day.
Buying a Park Hopper worked great for myself and a couple of friends years ago when we knew we just wanted to hit up the “big” rides of each park all in one day. Park Hoppers Tickets, which cost a little more than a Single Park Ticket, are great for really young people that aren’t interested in the small park details and/or for people that have been to the parks before. They can also be great for staying at one park all day and then hitting up another park at night for their nighttime show. If nothing above interests you and you have your heart set on finding that hidden Mickey** on It’s a Small World like just a normal Tuesday, stick to one park a day.
Make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) to eat anywhere specific.
Note: You do not need a Disney Dining plan to make ADRs. We did an ADR for Be Our Guest Restaurant because this is still kind of new at Magic Kingdom, and I wanted to see the inside of Beast’s Castle – which you can only do if you eat there. The ADR worked out perfectly for us for breakfast. If you have an ADR before the actual park opens, you get to go to the ADR line, get in the park before the rest of the crowd, see the park practically empty, have time to eat, AND potentially still have time to walk to your first ride (the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Train) without too much of a wait.We pretty much walked right onto the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride. When we got off the ride, there was a 70 minute wait already!
Utilize Fast Passes.
Fast Passes can get you on up to three rides of your choice (per day) and make the reservations 30 days before you go to the park if you are staying off of Disney Resort property and 60 days before if you are staying on Disney Resort property. This will help to make certain you get on the rides you want and at a time that you want. Also with this, note that there are different tiers of rides, and you may not be able to reserve Fast Passes for the top three rides of the entire Park -since if this was the case, most people would just pick those top three! It limits you to how many big rides you can do depending on the park. When you go to reserve them, you will see what I mean.
After you’ve used your three fast passes, you can go to a kiosk in the park and reserve another fast pass (1 at a time). It would be nice if you could do this from the app (that you must also download), but at the time we went, we were unable to. Hopefully this is something Disney allows in the future.
This system worked perfectly for us to get us on each and every ride we wanted. If we did reserve a fast pass, and saw that the line was a ~20 minute or so wait for the normal line, we would get in the normal line, and swap out the fast pass for something else via the Disney app. We never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride, and we were there at prime high season!
Frozen Singalong in Hollywood Studios – snows in the theater! Great for ALL lovers of Frozen.
For Hollywood studios, we choose the Tower of Terror fast pass over the Rock n Roller Coaster (you can’t choose both), and we did the single rider line for the Rock n Roller Coaster to keep that wait time 20 minutes and under!
If you don’t have ADR or a Fast Pass, and want to ride a big ticket ride, get to the park an hour before it opens. The queue to get into the park is a line in itself before the park opens. If you get there an hour before the park opens, you will be able to get towards the front of the line to get into the park and then go straight to that big ticket ride. We did this a couple of times. It works especially well for Animal Kingdom, where we were first in line to get into the park and we walked straight to the Kilomanjaro Safari first (thus saving our fast passes for other things). The animals are typically out more in the morning when it is cooler anyways. Perfect!
Keep your eyes peeled for hidden details.
I am really bad at finding “Hidden Mickey’s” around the parks, but maybe you can find how they incorporate the famous Mickey Mouse shape into park details while waiting in lines and walking through the parks. Speaking of which, there are so many things to see and do outside of rides. Disney is all about the whole experience, even while waiting in line.
Consider packing one meal and bring a reusable water bottle.
Disney food prices can add up quickly. With only the two of us, we would bring healthy snacks, an almond butter & banana sandwich, and eat what we brought as either lunch or dinner. That way, we were only really splurging on one meal a day. Also, any “quick service” restaurant (not the sit down restaurants) will give you a free cup of ice. We would fill our reusable water bottles at the water fountains and use the free ice.
Meet at least one Character.
Seriously. It’s been yearssss since I’ve done this (I haven’t done it as an adult before this trip). You will be shocked at how “in character” the characters are! Since one of my personal favorites is Alice in Wonderland.. you can guess who I was waiting to meet! Alice (along with the White Rabbit) showed us the proper way to drink tea, asked Garrett if he’s seen the Hatter (since he was wearing a hat), asked if we drank the “large potion” (since are are tall), and told us that next time we should drink the small potion so we can be the right size like they are! Ha! ..and Alice did this all in the exact voice! Just mention any “key” words to the characters (for Alice = I asked her if she was running late) and see what happens!
Get a good spot for Fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
If you haven’t seen the new technology for the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular at Magic Kingdom, you should check it out! Also, plan to do this about an hour before the show starts to secure at spot that you want. There is extremely limited seating, so if you get a spot early enough you may be able to find somewhere with a concrete bench/slab to sit on and wait. They project images onto Cinderella’s Castle and do some cool lighting effects during the show – here are a few of my favorite pictures of it..
Ask for Magic Shots.
There are Disney Photographers all around the parks. You can have them take your picture for free. They will take the pictures for you even if you did not purchase Memory Maker. Memory Maker is a way to enjoy unlimited digital DisneyPhotoPass photos. Without it, the photos will still be linked to your Magic band, but you will have to purchase any that you want individually. Purchasing Memory Maker in advance saves you a little bit of money, but you can buy it at any time. The photographers will take your picture on your phone if you ask them nicely. Sometimes, they have you pose for a “guest” appearance to happen..
This is super convenient for people that don’t want to be bothered taking a ton of pictures.
This is the cheesiest yet most important tip, because it doesn’t even matter if you did anything I mentioned above, as long as you had fun. There is so much to see and do and if you try to do it all in one trip, well..just don’t. Odd are you’ll go back. Ground your sensories and take three deep breaths as soon as you board each ride.
“I’m happy to report that my inner child is still ageless!”
**There are Mickey shapes hidden amongst decor all over the parks. It’s so fun to try to find them!