Everything You Need To Know About Going To Disney World
Havent been to the Florida parks in a few years? Heres a cheat sheet to get you up to speed.
If you havent been to Walt Disney World in the past few years, brace yourself. Even if youre a Disneyland regular, visiting the Florida parks is a whole different game. Do your Disney World memories include waiting in an endless line for Splash Mountain, handing over cash for popcorn, or misplacing a hotel room key? Get ready, because the landscape has changed so dramatically, that believe it or not, those practices are all stuck in the past.
These days, guests reserve a time for a ride in advance, pay for cotton candy with the swipe of a bracelet, and enter their hotel room courtesy of a nifty text message, all without having to ever pick up a key. The new ways of Walt Disney World can make a vacation more enjoyable, but its all too easy for first-timers or former visitors to get completely overwhelmed. Thats why were here with explanations on everything you need to know, even if you have no clue what “Frozen” is about, cant remember which parks are in California, or simply havent visited EPCOT since the days of Horizons.
Spend less time getting lost in the details, and more time whizzing through the single rider line for Test Track and collecting Hidden Mickey pins. Not sure what either of those are? Read on:
Disney Is Serious About Its Trash
You buy your Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar, you eat it, you throw away the wrapper, and thats probably one of the only times you think about trash in Disney World. But, with millions of guests visiting every year, trash is a BIG deal. And theres a lot of behind-the-scenes magic that makes sure all of that trash is taken care of!
Trash Can in Magic Kingdom
According to AllEars.net, the AVACS system Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection System Disney uses was imported from Sweden. Its essentially made up of giant tubes that hang from the ceiling in the utilidors. These tubes help move trash from 13 drop-off points around Magic Kingdom to one central location. Every 20 minutes, Disney vacuums the trash through the tubes. The trash actually flies under your feet through these tubes at around 35 MPH!
Its actually been reported that an average of MORE than 80,000 pounds of trash actually runs through the AVACS system each day.
Saving Time When The Sun Sets
Dont worry, there are opportunities for night owls as well.
One of the easiest ways to save time in the evening is to focus on the fireworks schedule. The crowds will gravitate toward the primary viewing areas, such as Main Street in Magic Kingdom, before the fireworks. That will thin some of the lines out.
Then, right as the fireworks start, the wait times on many rides will plummet. We scored a 15-minute wait on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a ride where the wait can easily stretch an hour or two, this way.
Just before closing, hop in one final line. As long as you are in line before the official closing time, Disney lets you finish your wait and ride the attraction. The wait times in the My Disney Experience app are notoriously inaccurate around closing time, usually overestimating your wait time.
For the time being, Disney World will continue to offer a bit of late-night access for certain resort guests. Be sure to check if your resort qualifies and what dates and parks this is available for. The parks really clear out in the evening for dedicated hours like this and you can get in a ton of rides in just an hour or two.
If you want to map out your perfect day at Disney World, check out Touring Plans, an organization tool with a lot of free resources . We used Touring Plans for our crazy ride-every-ride-at-Disney World charity fundraiser. When you consider how much youre spending for your Disney vacation, the additional $17.95 to maximize your time can be a wise investment.
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Advance Dining Reservations :
Reservations can be made at WDW restaurants up to 180 days in advance before arrival and should be. In-demand locations like character breakfasts at Cinderellas Royal Table and the wildly popular Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom tend to fill up quickly, so booking well in advance is rather necessary.
Getting From Park To Park
If you are park hopping you will want to go from one park to the other in the same day. Thankfully, Disney offers park-to-park transportation for resort hotel guests.
You can take the monorail between the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. If you want to go between the Magic Kingdom and any other park, you will need to take the bus. Right now they run from 2:00 pm daily between parks.
Hollywood Studios and EPCOT have multiple transportation methods between them with boats, walking, and the Disney Skyliner all options.
Disneys Animal Kingdom is the most difficult park to get to from another park and can only be reached by bus.
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Rent A Stroller From An Offsite Vendor:
Dont want to pack that big stroller on your trip, save some serious dough by renting from an offsite stroller company. There are two offsite stroller companies that we recommend and they will save you up to 65% off.
Kingdom Strollers has been around for over 20 years and they will save you a ton of money plus they deliver the stroller to your hotel or Airbnb! You simply place your order and then meet them at your hotel at one of their 5 daily meetup times and grab your stroller. It couldnt be any easier Check em out here!
**Update** Now Kingdom Strollers is available for pick up and drop off at their onsite location at the Orlando Airport. Simply hop off your flight, head to their location at Terminal A and pick it up.
Free Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan has passionate supporters and detractors. Whether youre a fan or not, its hard to argue that free is a darn good price.
While the plan is also temporarily suspended, generally once or twice a year, Disney World offers a promotion where they include a free Disney Dining Plan for your entire party if you book a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort and purchase park tickets. They rarely advertise this promotion ahead of time, so keep your eyes peeled for news of its return, and then book your stay and dining reservations ASAP.
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The Award For Most Expensive Rollercoaster Goes To
Currently, according to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive rollercoaster isExpedition Everest! The rollercoaster opened in 2006 and is estimated to have cost $100 MILLION.
Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
Everest lost the title a couple of years ago to Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in Universal Orlando. BUT the Guardians of the Galaxy Roller coaster is said to be costing HUNDREDS of MILLIONS more than Everest ever did. Move over Yeti and Hagrid, a new pricey coaster is could be coming to town.
Disney World For Adults
Did you know that there are so many things to do at Disney World for Adults?
Going to the Walt Disney World as an adult without kids, or kids who can go off on their own for a while is a pretty fun experience.
In fact, theres a whole new world at your fingertips once you check in to your hotel and tap your MagicBand to get into the parks.
You just have to be willing to look a little deeper into the experience Walt Disney World has to offer outside of the rides and seeing Mickey Mouse and his pals. Both of which are still great, but everyone else is going to be doing those things too!
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Your Magicband Does A Lot Of Things
You might be familiar with MagicBands and even use them to open the door to your hotel room or scan into the Disney World theme parks. But, did you know that your MagicBand can do SO much more? MagicBands contain an RFID chip which can help trace, sync, and transmit all kinds of data. For example, if youre sitting on its a small world your MagicBand could transmit data to cause your name appear on the Goodbye screen at the end.
its a small world
MagicBands and their RFID technology also help automatically sync on-ride photos for select rides without the need for guests to go scan their band at a photo station. On Frozen Ever After, for example, on-ride photos are automatically associated to your My Disney Experience account as long as you wear your MagicBand on the ride.
Frozen Ever After
If you even looked on My Disney Experience and saw a preview for a ride photo you dont remember scanning your MagicBand for, there ya go! Disney magic IRL.
Walt Disney World Transportation:
The complementary system of buses, monorails, and boats transporting guests from all Walt Disney World hotel resorts to the four parks, two water parks, and entertainment facilities across the vast property. Each Walt Disney World hotel resort operates at least one bus station, which is the primary form of transportation to the parks. WDW buses arrive approximately every 20 minutes, and only select properties offer boat and monorail access a gondola system will debut at Walt Disney World in fall 2019.
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Resorts And No Parks Days
If you have some free time, or if youre planning a meal at one of Disneys hotels, you may want to set aside some time to explore their resorts. This is particularly a good idea if youre planning a future visit and want to scope out the hotel.
You can easily visit the monorail hotels by riding the monorail between them. You can easily visit the Boardwalk hotels by walking between them, particularly while walking between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
And if you want a full day of relaxation , you may want to set aside time for a no parks day. This is a day where you dont go to the parks, instead focusing on the other activities your resort and Walt Disney World have to offer.
Give Cinderella Her Crown
Just past Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland, youll find a beautiful small fountain featuring Cinderella. To an adult, she might look a little sad. But, if you look at her from a childs perspective, youll see Cinderella looks like she is smiling. And, if you place yourself correctly, you can actually make the crown in the wall behind her appear as though it is on her head.
So, consider looking at this fountain, and perhaps other areas of the park, from a childs perspective sometimesliterally.
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Theres More Than Rides At The Parks
While every park has a diverse offering of rides, there is more to each park than rides. Each park offers shows, including stage performances and “street” performances. They also all have different restaurants, from quick service burger stops to table service three-course meal joints.
Three of the parks have nighttime shows. They also all offer great places to explore and take in. This sounds silly, but the detail Disney puts into these parks is unparalleled. We cover the rides and attractions at Walt Disney World in the following posts:
How Much Of Disney World Actually Runs On Solar Energy
Disney later opened another solar farm to the east of State Road 429, near Disneys wetlands and open lands. According to the Orlando Sentinel, this solar farm is actually 270 acres in size about the same size as 2 Magic Kingdoms! And the panels can actually move to follow the sun! But how much of Disney actually runs on solar?
Well, at least back in 2019, Disney officials noted that under sunny conditions, up to 25% of Walt Disney World Resort actually runs on solar power. And Disney is constantly setting new environmental goals to have more sustainable designs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and more.
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Those Arent Genuine American Flags
There is a large American Flag on Main Street, U.S.A. closest to the train station in Magic Kingdom that is lowered and raised each day in a special ceremony. But, there are tons of other little flags all throughout Main Street, U.S.A. or at least they LOOK like American Flags. If you were to look very closely though, youd see that these little flags are actually NOT genuine flags. Each of these have something incorrect on them like the wrong number of stars or stripes.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Why bother doing that? Well, the U.S. laws on the flag have specific rules about displaying the flag in public places. By making these items not genuine flags, Disney doesnt have to worry about those requirements.
Be Prepared For All Types Of Weather On Your Disney World Vacation
Despite the daily weather forecast, Orlando is known for unpredictable and sporadic changes in weather when youre least expecting them.
I have heard of many people who werent prepared for the extreme heat, humidity, and pop-up rain showers that frequent this area.
I absolutely suggest bringing a rain poncho, despite the forecast, for each member of your traveling party.
Chances are youll need to use it, and you will be grateful to stay dry.
I also recommend bringing a handheld mister fan, or fan necklace if you are traveling to Orlando when temperatures are hot. Alwaysplan ahead on how to deal with the Florida heat when it comes to summer weather.
AdditionalDisney tips: With a little advanced planning and knowing which attractions to ride during the heat or rain, the weather doesnt have to be anything more than a slight annoyance.
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Awesome Disney World Vacation: Everything You Need To Know
Before we were actually on-property at Walt Disney World I had no understanding of its size or how to plan anything. I knew Disney World would be a very different experience than Disneyland, but thats all. And thats why weve created our Walt Disney World First Timers Guide. Here is everything you need to know for an easy Disney World vacation .
Give our Walt Disney World podcast episodes a listen. From visiting Disney World during COVID-19 to picking our favorite attractions, and even comparing a Disney World trip to visiting Universal Orlando, weve got you covered!
What you’ll find…
Michael Jackson Appears Onkali River Rapids
Hidden Mickeys? Good. Hidden Minnie, Donald, and other Disney characters? Sure. Hidden Michael Jackson?! YUP, thats true too. Apparently Kali River Rapids in Disneys Animal Kingdom was Michael Jacksons favorite in Disney World. He loved it so much that the Imagineers gave him a small tribute in the ride. To find it, look for this painting in the last room at the end of the queue which features Michael riding along in the raft.
Michael Jackson Painting on the Kali River Rapids Queue!
This Michael Jackson may not be able to sing and dance like he did in Captain EO, but its still a really neat and unique tribute!
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Walt Disney World Requires Planning
Chances are by now you’ve figured out Walt Disney World requires planning. Nowadays, this doesnt mean you need to do much booking in advance, but you should at least have a strategy in mind for the parks. If you just showed up and expected to wander into a good time, youre likely to be disappointed.
As far as doing things in advance, the most important thing right now is that you get your Disney Parks Pass Reservation to visit a park. While these dont run out often, you cant enter the park without oneeven with a valid ticket.
As far as strategy for visiting the parkstheres a lot. A good place to start is at our one-day park itineraries. These link to things like our Genie+ and rope drop posts that take deeper dives into those issues:
Magic Kingdom One Day Itinerary
Worried about wrapping your head around this? Then an Authorize Disney Vacation Planner might be for you. We recommend using our form to get a quote from Lauren Quirk At Travel With Character LLC. Lauren can guide you step by step through the process of planning a Walt Disney World vacation!
Use Mobile Ordering To Skip Food Lines
Rides and shows arent the only places where Disney has created a way to skip the line its true for most food orders, too. While mobile ordering was a suggestion prior to the pandemic, it has become virtually the only way to order at many Disney World counter service restaurants now. That may change when pandemic restrictions are lifted, but there really is no better time to familiarize yourself with ordering food with the My Disney Experience app.
Pretty much all quick-service restaurants offer whats called mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app.
The process is simple: When youre starting to get hungry, load up your My Disney Experience app, order food at the quick-service restaurant of choice and then pick up the food at the counter when its ready. You order and pay in the app and never have to wait in line for your Dole Whip from Aloha Isle, barbecue from Regal Eagle Smokehouse, hot dogs from Caseys Corner or breakfast wraps from Ronto Roasters.
These days, you are wise to order well in advance of when you actually hope to sit down with food. Expect hefty delays to order food on busy park days.
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