Before You Book:

The Disney website will automatically charge you regular price unless you go through their special offers page. You can book regular price now and when specials come out, you can call and ask them to apply the special to your vacation. They will not do it automatically.

Best Times to Visit:

The best dates to visit Magic Kingdom are: mid-November through mid-December (except the week of Thanksgiving) the third week of January through mid-February the first three weeks of May (except Memorial Day weekend) the first 2 weeks of September

Don始t visit the Magic Kingdom on a Monday. Save it for the middle of the week when crowds are lower. If rain is in the forecast, Hollywood Studios is definitely the best park to avoid the rain. Almost every single attraction and queue are indoors.

Staying at a Disney Property:

Bell Services at Disney hotels will store your luggage, meaning you can enjoy the parks if you arrive before check-in day or have a late flight out on checkout day.

If you始re staying at a Disney-owned hotel, you can have merchandise you purchase in the park sent to your hotel so you don始t have to carry it around all day.

Request a free wake-up call each morning from Mickey or Stitch on the resort hotel phone. It始s better than a buzzing alarm, and it始s a cool way to wake up (it might even get your kids excited to start the day!).

If you decline turndown service at a Disney resort, they始ll email you a gift card for $10 each night of your stay.

Getting Around the Parks:

Bus wait times are now available in the My Disney Experience app. Consult the app and wait until your bus is 5-7 minutes away before leaving your room for minimal waits at the bus stop.

Did you know that there is a secret entrance to the Animal Kingdom? If you go through the Rain Forest Cafe始s gift shop and out the doors at the back, there is a fun garden type area with oversized vegetation. There is also a working turnstyle with a CM that you can use to get into the park! A lot of people don始t know about this and thus it isn始t very busy.

It始s ALL in the Details:

The second story windows along Main Street U.S.A. have names and titles on each. The names are in honor of Imagineers and prominent Disney folks including Walt Disney. You始ll see his name at the beginning and end of the street- just like in the opening and closing credits of a movie.

Food & Drinks:

If you始re watching your spending, packing at least some snacks and/or bottles of water can save you quite a bit. Some favorites of mine are granola bars and fruit 鈥 they始re yummy, filling, and don始t take up much room in your bag or stroller.

In the parks, Sunshine Seasons and Electric Umbrella at Epcot, Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, Backlot Express in Disney始s Hollywood Studios, and Restaurantosaurus & Satu始li Canteen in Disney始s Animal Kingdom all have drink refill stations for free refills.

Get a free caffeine fix at Epcot始s Club Cool, where there are eight flavors of Coke products from around the world. Make sure to try the Beverly. It始s a rite of passage!

Adults can always order from the kid始s menu, which is a great way to save money while still getting a meal that will satiate smaller/moderate appetites.

If you始re on the Disney Dining Plan, you can order a regular OR large fountain drink at counter service restaurants. The default is regular, so make sure to specify large if that始s what you want.

If there are animal lovers in your family, eat at Sanaa and ask for a window view. Not only are the views great, but it始s one of the most underrated restaurants at Walt Disney World.

If you plan on eating at Coral Reef in Epcot, book the earliest lunch or dinner reservation possible, show up slightly early to your reservation, and request a tank view for the most spectacular view of the marine life. Your request will usually be accommodated.

Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom is open for breakfast an hour before the park opens聽(so is Cinderella始s Royal Table). This is not just a great opportunity for an early breakfast, but also for empty photos of the Magic Kingdom

If you始re 鈥淒rinking Around the World鈥 in Epcot, stop at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico; some of the highest quality drinks in World Showcase.

Cosmic Ray始s Starlight Cafe and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe both have similar toppings bars with items such as pickles, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc., allowing you to pile on the toppings to your food to get more bang for your buck.

If the Magic Kingdom is especially busy, take the monorail to Contempo Cafe in Disney始s Contemporary Resort, Gasparilla Island Grill in Disney始s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or Captain Cook始s in Disney始s Polynesian Resort for a counter service meal. These are three of the best counter service restaurants in Walt Disney World.

Kimonos at the Swan Hotel is a great place for karaoke, and it also has a solid drink menu.

Mizner始s Lounge at Disney始s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa serves a mean Manhattan, and has a solid selection of good drinks beyond just what始s found on the resort-wide generic drinks menu.

The Hollywood Brown Derby serves exceptional mixed drinks. The Cobb Salad is also makes a nice, light meal if you don始t just want a liquid lunch or dinner.

Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom isn始t a 鈥渇ull鈥 counter service restaurant, but their ice cream聽sandwiches and other snacks, plus views of Cinderella Castle, are to die for.

If you like a dish at a Walt Disney World restaurant, you can request the recipe.

Rides:

The Mad Tea Party ride in Fantasyland has 18 teacups which all spin at different speeds. If you want a fast spinner jump in the orange teacup with diamonds or purple one. If speed is not your cup of tea then chill out in the two teacups with hearts for a slower ride.

Slinky Dog Dash is the hot new FastPass+, and it始s incredibly difficult to score. Despite this, the roller coaster often has short waits at the end of the night. As of July 2018, you can jump into line after the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks before the park closes. Expect to wait 20-30 minutes, even when posted waits are 50-60 minutes.

Fantasyland attractions are best experienced first thing in the morning or last thing at night to minimize waits.

Attractions don始t close when the parks close, meaning that you can get in a 90-minute line at 10m59 p.m. when the parks close at 11 p.m. and be in the park well past closing. This is a great way to experience rides with perpetually long lines, like Frozen Ever After, Avatar Flight of Passage,聽or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without wasting 鈥渧aluable鈥 time.

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover is a great attraction for relaxing, and it rarely has much of a line.

If you have a kid who is really into trains, accompany them to ride with the train engineers up front as a special guest. Inquire at Main Street Station.

One of the best Disney World tips I can give those of you who aren始t travelling with kids is to utilize the single rider lines.聽 Not all rides have them, but the ones that do will make your line time minimal!

Freebies Magic & Souvenirs:

DON始T think you have to spend every day in the parks. Be sure to take advantage of all the amazing FREE activities Walt Disney World has to offer.

Enjoy the Florida weather with some time by your hotel始s pool.

Walk around the newly renovated Disney Springs. There are a ton of great shops that are fun to stroll through, even if you don始t plan on spending any money there.

In the evening, many resorts offer free movies by the pool (or campfires at a select few), or you can visit one of my personal favorites 鈥 Disney始s Boardwalk. There are always fun entertainers around, and you can watch Epcot始s fireworks from there.

PhotoPass Cast Members will take (free!) photos of you with your camera, so don始t be afraid to ask! Make sure your settings are dialed in before handing them the camera, as they will not typically adjust settings. Family photos taken from the front, dead-center of Cinderella Castle are most popular, but the back of the Castle is arguably prettier and a much more unique location for that family photo.

A great (free!) activity during the Christmas season is touring the Deluxe resorts to see their beautiful Christmas decorations and displays.

When it始s working, Old Faithful erupts on the half hour at Disney始s Wilderness Lodge.

Get a free dusting of pixie dust at the Barber Shop on Main Street USA or at the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle. 聽As long as they aren始t too busy, just pop in the shops and request to be sprinkled with pixie dust.

If your kids pop their Disney Balloon, they will replace it for FREE. Just take the remains of the balloon with you.

If one of your souvenirs breaks while you are on vacation, Disney will replace it for FREE! Just take it to the nearest store that carries that product and let the Cast Member know the issue.

There is a working barber shop located on Main Street. At Harmony Barber shop, you can get your baby始s first haircut. Your package will even come with a pair of commemorative ears. You can also get a gel style for just $5 complete with Mickey shaped confetti.

If you ask one of the Disney cast members if you can visit the wheelhouse they will lead you to a secret ladder on the second floor and introduce you to the captain. You will also get the opportunity to steer the riverboat, blow the whistle and ring the famous Mark Twain bell. You will also get a certificate to say you piloted the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Buying pins from Amazon or eBay to trade with Cast Members is the difference between spending ~$1 per pin and $8-10 per pin.

Frogg Togg Chilly Pads are a great way to keep cool in the parks. We聽swear by them. They始re just one of the unorthodox things on our Unique Walt Disney World Packing List聽post.

Hidden Mickey spotting is a fun game for kids. The books/apps have different point levels for the various Mickeys. Offer prizes to add to the fun. If Hidden Mickeys aren始t your thing, bringing along an Imagineering Field Guide and hunting for hidden details is a great way to increase your appreciation for the design of the parks.

If you anticipate 鈥渘eeding鈥 a princess dress or pirate costume while at Walt Disney World, buy it from your local Disney Store or DisneyStore.com in advance during a sale. Much cheaper that way.

Character meet & greet lines are typically shortest in Disney始s Animal Kingdom and typically longest in the Magic Kingdom.

Campfire Sing-Along with Chip聽&聽Dale is a (free!) campfire show at Disney始s Fort Wilderness Campground every night at 7 or 8 p.m., depending upon the season.

Blue Fairy Wish Book 鈥 Tucked away inside Pinocchio始s Village Haus, you can find a wish book where you can write down your wishes for the Blue Fairy.

Walking around Cinderella始s Castle is a pastime for photographers and storytellers like me, so this gem is often forgotten and missed by folks who stay on the main paths. On the right-hand side of the castle is a path that leads to Fantasyland鈥ut there始s a great photo opportunity with a Wishing Well! Take the time to stop鈥ou始ll thank me later.

Next time that you始re thinking about which horse to ride during your ride on the Carrousel, look for the stallion with a gold ribbon around the tail. Not only is it a cool detail鈥t始s also Cinderella始s Horse!

Take the time to sit under the train station and you始ll hear a telegraph. The message is the opening speech given by Walt Disney on Disneyland始s opening day.

If you love rope drop at Magic Kingdom, and aren始t headed for one of the super popular attractions, try making Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland your first stop. Many mornings the first riders of the day receive cute, Jolly Roger flags to take on the ride and then take home Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Cards.

If you stop by the Firehouse (on left as you enter Main Street), you can show them your park ticket (or scan Magic Band) to get a set of FREE Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom cards.

Wilderness Explorer Field Journal. At Animal Kingdom, kids can take part in an adventure learning about Animals and their habitat through their Wilderness Explorer Program.聽 Each guest can pick up a Field Journal at the Wilderness Explorer headquarters (located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island) and gather stickers as they complete various activities through the park.

Each park contains a First Aid center. Here you can get single dosages of select over the counter medicines. They can also help with blisters, heat exhaustion and loose teeth! If you need their services, use them.

It始s FREE The Animal Kingdom has a program for kids called Kids Discovery Club. As you tour Animal Kingdom, look for the Kids始 Discovery Stations. Each station has a different activity and your child will receive a special stamp in their free activity book (given to them at the first station they visit) when you complete the activity. When you have received all your stamps, you can turn it in for a special surprise

If you have the ability to take a picture with your phone and use it as your phones lock screen. Take a photo of your key to the World (room key). If you lose your phone, a cast member can see the photo with key information and have your phone returned to your resort.

Ah the Fireworks: The bridge connecting Disney始s Yacht and Beach Club to Disney始s BoardWalk Inn is a decent place to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth from outside Epcot.

If you are visiting when there are two showings of Fantasmic at Disney始s Hollywood Studios, always see the second showing. The line will be聽much聽shorter and you始ll get better seats.

A few restaurants in Epcot始s World Showcase offer views of Illuminations. La Hacienda has the best view. Make late reservations that are at least 30 minutes before the fireworks, arrive early to them, and request a window table. Inform the server that you始re willing to wait 20 minutes for the window seat. Not only will you have a great view of the show, but your meal will end after the park closes, giving you a tranquil walk out of the park.

The Magic Kingdom is not the only place you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks. You can watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. You do not need to be a guest of that resort to enjoy the show.

Make an effort to hang around the Magic Kingdom for 30 minutes after it closes (Main Street stores are open an hour after closing). You始ll be rewarded with The Kiss Goodnight. Shops on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom are open up to an hour after the park closes. Do your shopping once you can始t do rides.

  1. Free ice water at restaurants
  2. Fast passes

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