Disneyworld Tips & Tricks- MUST Know Before You Go

It’s funny… I never considered myself a Disney fanatic or a Disney Pro. Until, friends began approaching me to help them plan their Disneyworld Vacations. Turns out my 20+ visits to Disneyworld + a few inside tips from my imagineer dad qualified me to help families make the best of their Disneyworld Vacations. So, in order to help out even more people I decided to put together a list of all my best tips, tricks and a few secrets. I hope you enjoy!!

Happy Girl with Mickey Balloon Background at Magic Kingdom | Global Munchkins

Disneyworld Tips & Tricks- MUST Know Before You Go

In order to save you time and keep things organized I have divided the tips up by parks. Read through them or skim to the areas that you are interested in. And, don’t forget to leave me a comment and tell me what you think 🙂

All Parks

Women using magic band to open room door at Disneyworld | Global Munchkins

  • Order your Personalized Magic Bands and book Disney’s Magical Express ASAP- your magic bands and luggage tags need ample time to arrive before you leave. Your magic band will be your most prized possession. It is your room key, park ticket, payment method, photo pass, memory maker tag & more! Magical Express luggage tags mean you won’t even have to go to baggage claim when you arrive- SCORE!
  • Download the My Disney Experience App it’s AMAZING!- the app is available here. And, it links your reservations, lets you search ride wait times, book dining reservations, purchase souvenirs and send them to your room or mail them home and it’s linked to your photo pass!!!
  • Stay away from the Magic Hours Parks- they tend to be the busiest the entire day. Or take advantage of the early morning and get out!
  • Ice water is free from any cafe with fountain soda service- we like to bring refillable water bottles to make it easier to carry around.
  • Fast Pass- schedule your first 3 fast passes for the morning in one park, then after you finish you can use the app or visit a kiosk to schedule your next three in the evening at the same park or a different one.
  • Single rider- Test Track, Expedition Everest and Rock N Rollercoaster all have a separate line for single riders.
  • Riders Switch Pass- have little ones that can’t or don’t want to ride? Have one parent and said child wait outside while the rest of the party walks through the queue as normal. Then let a cast member know you are doing Rider Switch. They will give you a Rider Switch Pass (like a Fast Pass). You simply enjoy the attraction as normal and exit. Then, you hand the person waiting with the child outside the Rider Switch Pass and they go through the fast pass line with up to 2 additional riders. This way everyone gets to ride and you DON’T have to wait in line twice!!
  • Make all of your dining reservations 6 months in advance- you can make reservations on the My Disney Experience App, online here or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
  • Adults can order kids meals at Disney- whether you are health conscious or trying to stay on budget ordering off the kids meal can be a great choice. There are a number of healthy options available and the portion sizes were just right for me.
  • PhotoPass- Disney has professional photographers throughout the park ready to capture your special moments. They will give you a photo pass or link your magic band so you can view the photos on the Disney Experience app or website at a later time.
    • Pro Tip- Did you know these photographers will also take a photo for you using your camera or phone? Pretty cool right?

Here are some of the moments our Photo Pass captured. And, thanks to the Memory Maker we were provided through DisneySMMC, every picture like this was ours to keep.

Family on Rockin' Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios | Global Munchkins Ride photo from Splash Mountain Magic Kingdom | Global Munchkins

    • Pro Tip- If you can afford it the Memory Maker is an AMAZING tool!!! It tracks the photos you take on the rides, while meeting characters and any photo you take with a Disney Photo Pass Photographer.  The photos come directly to your My Disney Experience app or can be viewed online almost instantly. From there you can download the photos to keep with just one click! There is an additional fee but with all the special photo memories we brought back I would say it’s totally worth the cost. I won’t even bring my big camera next time we go!
  • Chewing Gum- if you like gum pack it, none is sold in the parks.


Disney Resorts

Happy Transracial Adoptive Family on boardwalk at Beach Club Resort | Global Munchkins

  • DVC Points- Disney Vacation Club members are allowed to book resort stays for their guests. There are several sites that allow you to “rent” points from a member. This can save you a considerable amount of money if you are planning to stay on property. A few sites I know of can be found here, here and here.
  • Buy the refillable drink mug the first day you arrive- great for morning coffee, sodas, tea and hot cocoa at night! Plus, a fun souvenir to take home. See below.

Kids with their Refillable Mugs Disney Resort | Global Munchkins

  • Disney Transportation- plan more time than you think you need if using Disney Transportation. It is a great way to get around but buses only come every 20 minutes or so and sometimes they have multiple stops. Also, be aware that you cannot catch a bus from one Disney park to the next. You have to go to another resort or take the monorail or boat sytems to get to your next park.
  • Sign up for a wake up call- you receive a phone call in the morning from a Disney character and the kids will love it!
  • Room Delivery- You can have souvenirs delivered straight to your room from any Disney park. This way you don’t have to carry them around all day! You can also order items straight from the My Disney Experience app and have them delivered to your room or items can also be mailed home directly.
  • Best Resort Dining-
    • Best Food: Kona Cafe (Polynesian), Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge), California Grill (Contemporary) & Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
    • Best Character Dining: Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary), Cape May Cafe (Beach Club), O’hana (Polynesian)
    • Best Themed Dining- Beaches N Cream (Beach Club), Perfectly Princess Tea (Grand Floridian) & Whispering Canyon Cafe (Wildnerness Lodge)
  • Best Concierge- Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Best Overall- The Beach Club Villas
  • Best Pools- Yacht & Beach Club + Animal Kingdom Lodge its a tie for me!

Magic Kingdom

Kids with Mouse Ears in Magic Kingdom | Global Munchkins

  • Avoid the Crowds- work the park from the back to the front and counter clockwise to avoid the crowds. Also, plan to ride the big rides when others are watching the parades.
  • Stay Cool- most of the year it’s pretty darn hot. Magic Kingdom has some awesome spots to cool off in that will helpmake your day much better. Try checking out:
    • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
    • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
    • Country Bear Jamboree
    • The Hall of Presidents
    • Haunted Mansion
    • Small World
    • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
    • Pirate’s of the Caribbean
    • Stitch’s Great Escape
    • Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid
    • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Transracial Family Dumbo Ride at Magic Kingdom | Global Munchkins

Family on Magic Carpet ride in Magic Kingdom | Global Munchkins

  • For the Littles: Splash Mountain has a great playground located at the exit, underneath the train tracks you see below.

Splash Mountain entrance | Global Munchkins

  • Fireworks- you can view the fireworks from the Dumbo ride in Toon Town if you want to skip/ avoid the crowds. It is still a great view.

Little girl on dad's shoulders watching Disney Fireworks | Global Munchkins

  • Parade Tip- watch the parade at the second viewing time when possible. It is less crowded bc every one goes to the first one.
  • Food Tips-
    • Cinderella’s Royal Table– an amazing princess character dining restaurant. Little girls will feel like a real princess.
    • Columbia Harbor House is a great option for lunch. With two stories there is always an indoor table available and the food is good too.
    • Be Our Guest has the best food in the park and the kids will love the way the waiters deliver the food straight to your table with a fancy food cart thanks to your magic rose locater.
    • Dole Whip is available in multiple locations in Adventureland. One across from the Swiss Family Treehouse and the other by the Magic Carpet Ride.
    • Gaston’s Tavern has the amazing HUGE cinnamon rolls that used to be on Main Street. YUMMY!!!


Gorgeous image overlooking the lake at Epcot with Ball in Background | Global Munchkins

  • The front of the park is GREAT for Hot Days!
    • Innoventions are full of hands on educational games and simulators for the kids. The attraction is all indoors and air conditioned.
    • Most rides are located inside air conditioned buildings that are filled with smaller attractions as well. Giving you a much needed break from the heat.
    • There is a playground inside Mission Space’s exit that kids love.
    • Check out all the cars inside the exit of Test Track. Kids love pretending to drive them.
    • Sample sodas from around the world at the Club Cool sponsored by Coke- it’s free!
  • Spaceship Earth- sorry to burst your bubble but this ride is nothing special and EVERYONE goes there first. So, head to the back for Test Track and Mission Space and save Spaceship Earth for later in the day.
  • Little Ones-
    • The Seas with Nemo & Friends is a great ride for kids and usually a quick queue.
    • Turtle Talk with Crush is super fun and it’s located indoors along with a giant aquarium offering ample time indoors.
    • Spaceship Earth slow moving and if you go later in the day the queue isn’t bad.
    • Innoventions
    • Gran Fiesta Tour- boat ride with Donald in Mexico. Our kids love it!
    • Plus, Opening in June- Frozen Ever After!!!!
  • Characters-
    • There is a great character greeting area called Epcot Character Spot– head there early to avoid long lines. It’s great bc you wait in one line but get to meet multiple characters like Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and Donald usually and its indoors and next to Starbucks!!
    • Want to see the princesses? Book a breakfast at Akerhaus in Norway and you’ll see a bunch. Book the breakfast before the park opens to be one of the first allowed in the parks 😉
  • Kidcot- kids love coloring the Duffy Bears (free) at the Kidcot Fun Stops in the World Showcase. You can start in any country and the kids get their bear and first stamp. The kids continue collecting stamps in each country they visit!
    • Pro Tip- kids can also ask cast members in each country to write their name in the cast members native language on the back of their Duffy Bear.
  • Phineas & Ferb- kids love racing around Epcot with special phones on a detailed detective mission to save agent P. Their phones unlock special animated features throughout the park!
  • Miyumi- if you have the chance catch Miyumi’s candy making show. Its pretty amazing how she forms pieces rice candy into animals right before your eyes.
  • Food Tips-

Delicious Desserts in Epcot located in France area | Global Munchkins

  • Spiked Dole Whip! they spiked the delicious favorite with coconut rum. Get one… it will make your day SO much better!!
  • Snack on a Croissant Donut available at a stand near Canada in the World Showcase.

Croissant Doughnut from Epcot | Global Munchkins

  • The Jambon sandwich from France is a great lunch!
  • Grab ice cream or a Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich or just some delicious Macaroons. All found in France.

Ice Cream with Mickey Scoops in France at Epcot | Global Munchkins

  • Macaroon pack from France in Epcot at Disneyworld | Global Munchkins
  • Italy has the BEST latte.
  • Le Cellier has fantastic food.
  • Coral Reef is an incredible experience as you dine inside an aquarium.
  • Teppan Edo restaurant in Japan is a fun experience for the kids and delicious too!
  • Schedule dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel to coincide with illuminations show and request for a table by the window. Their tacos and margaritas are fantastic!

Delicious Taco Trio from Hacienda San Angel in Epcot | Global Munchkins

  • Illuminations- the show can be seen anywhere around the world showcase so don’t worry too much about finding a seat. 30 minutes prior to show time seems to be just fine!
  • Pro Tip- there is a back exit that drops you into Boardwalk which is a great place to walk around, grab a bite (we like picking up a whole pizza pie from the walk up window) or watch the night time entertainment. You can also walk or take a boat to Hollywood Studios from here. Just make sure if you parked at Epcot you get back to that park before closing.


Animal Kingdom

Cute baby dancing with performer at Animal Kingdom | Global Munchkins

  • Morning Safari- you can usually walk right on and the animals are just being fed so many are out.
  • Secret Entrance- there is a second entrance at the back of the Rain Forest Cafe Gift Shop if the front entrance is crowded.
  • Fast Pass- schedule a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and the Kali River Rapids.
  • Characters-
    • This park is a great place to meet characters as it typically has much shorter wait times than the other parks.
    • Most are located at Discovery Island
    • You can also catch the characters by arriving early and heading to the Tree of Life. The characters arrive by car to kick off the day.
    • Or book a character breakfast at the Tusker House and see them there.
      • Pro Tip- book it before the park opens so you can be one of the first in the park!
  • Food Tips-
    • Find some great cocktails at the Dawa Bar
    • Harambe Market has excellent lunch. I love their Chicken Tikka Masala!
    • Grab Samosas from the food cart at the entrance of Africa.
    • Waffles and Ice Cream are tasty from Tamu Tamu.
    • Can’t beat sit down at Tiffins or Yak & Yeti. They are both excellent choices!
  • Cool Off-
    • plan to get wet, really wet if you are riding Kali River Rapids. Plan to pack ponchos and spare clothing as necessary.
    • The Lion King Show is awesome- very entertaining and is in a giant air conditioned theater.
    • It’s Tough to be a Bug is also a great show to cool off in.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios | Global Munchkins

  • Park Plan- head to Star Wars or Toy Story Mania first if you are at the park early as everyone else will run to Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster. Get fast passes for those!
  • Cool Off-
    • The Great Movie Ride
    • Star Tours
    • Muppet Vision 3D
    • Star Wars Launch Bay

Storm Trooper Selfie at Hollywood Studios | Global Munchkins

  • Jedi Training Academy- does your little one want to learn to be a Jedi? If yes, then you better get to the parks early.
    • Although, the website says registration begins when the park opens I have found that they begin letting people in about 30 minutes prior to that time.
    • Registration is located at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost near the entrance of the stunt show. If you are walking into the park it will be on your left.
    • All participants MUST be present to register.
    • Participants must be 4-12 years of age
    • Space is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Star Wars Launch Bay- make sure to stop by and give Chewbacca a big hug. Plus, you can also meet Kylo Ren too!

Hug from Chewbacca at Hollywood Studios | Global Munchkins

  • Pro Tip- The Jawas will trade you. So, bring something that you don’t mind giving away and you’ll get a fun star wars trinket in exchange!

Jawa Trading at Star Wars Launch Bay | Global Munchkins

  • Rockin Roller Coaster & Tower of Terror- when the line merges into a smaller room go towards the wall with a door. When it opens you will be closer to the front of the line.
  • Food Tips-
    • On the dining plan? Mama Rose’s Fantasmic package is included on the dining plan and your meal includes a fast pass for Fantasmic!
    • The Brown Derby has the best food in the park in my opinion.
      • Pro Tip- they also have a bar called the Brown Derby Lounge where you can grab amazing cocktails and appetizers too!
    • 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a hoot especially with tweens as they get bossed around by the funny wait staff. Think “elbows off the table” “eat your veggies” type stuff.
    • Hollywood & Vine has character dining with the Disney Jr. Characters. It’s best to book prior to park opening to be allowed in the park early or book lunch because it’s a great place to cool down and relax.
  • Fantasmic- don’t stress too much about seating because it’s located in a huge stadium and most seats are pretty great. If there are two shows opt for the second. Most will go to the first and you can ride the big rides at that time with very little wait. Plus, because the shows are back to back you won’t wait as long to sit down either.
    • Pro Tip– Watch out because if you sit in the first five rows you will get misted and splashed throughout the show.

Pin for later-

Excellent Disneyworld tips & tricks from a pro | Global Munchkins

Do you have Disneyworld Tips that I missed?

Tell me in the comments below and I will update the post and credit you!!

*A special thanks to DisneySMMC for inviting us to their amazing conference. We received discounted theme park tickets and room reservations through this wonderful event. We also were given a few extra perks.  All thoughts and opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

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