• Lisa

Walt Disney World Hacks & Best Kept Secrets

Updated: May 12

I've had an annual pass to Disney World my entire life. Over the years, I've picked up on some of the best Walt Disney World Hacks, Tips, Tricks, and Secrets. Sometimes the smallest tricks make the biggest difference, so check out my list of best hacks and secret tips below!

PS: If it is your first time to Disney, check out my guide for first timers here.

1. Early Morning Breakfast

Make breakfast reservations that start before the park opens. You'll be able to enter the park early for your reservation. This allows you to take pictures with no one in the background. Also, if you finish breakfast early enough (aka - eat fast), you can begin walking over to your favorite ride and be first in line. Or, opt to have a full character dining experience (because breakfast is the cheapest option).

2. Free Cups of Water

Never pay for bottled water. Disney will always give you free cups of ice cold water at any quick service restaurant.

3. Park Hours

Be mindful of park hours - they tend to change seasonally. Also, be aware of the extra magic hours...

  • If you’re staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of the extra magic hours!! This is a great perk for staying at a Disney Resort.

  • If you’re not staying at a Disney resort, avoid the parks that have the extra magic hours.

Related Post: Top 10 Perks to Staying at a Disney Resort

4. Free Pins!

Pick up a free pin if you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, first time, etc! These are usually at the front of each park or at Guest Services – ask any cast member and they’ll point you to them!

5. First Aid

Each park has a First Aid center which will offer free bandaids and pain relief. This is especially great since you're bound to get a blister throughout your trip no matter how good your shoes are.

6. Mobile Order

Take advantage of Mobile Order (why wait in another line?). This is a great perk offered on the My Disney Experience (MDE) App. While you're in line for a ride, check out the menu options and place your order. Then, head over to the special pick up zone for Mobile Orders. Boom - your food is already ready and you avoided one extra line for the day.

7. Secret Cast Lingo:

Know some key cast lingo so you can be aware of what is going on around you!

  • Code V: Someone got sick on the ride (vomit)

  • 101: The ride has stopped working momentarily

  • 102: The ride is back up and working again

8. Photopass Photogaraphers Will Use Your Phone

Want a picture of your entire family? Well, selfie sticks and drones are both prohibited in the parks. But! Disney has Photopass Photographers all around the park at the best locations. They're always willing to take pictures on your personal camera or phone so you don't have to pay for the photopass.

9. Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines

There are only (4) single rider lines in Walt Disney World. It is definitely worth taking advantage of though because the lines for these four rides can have the longest waits. As long as you are over the age of 7, you're able to join the single rider line which is usually no more than 25 minutes long!

  • Animal Kingdom: Everest

  • Hollywood Studios: Rock N' Rollercoaster AND Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run

  • EPCOT: Test Track

10. Avoid Busy Times

Every year, people flock to Disney for special holidays or seasons. Check out a crowd control website (like this one) before locking in your dates to visit the parks so you can know what to expect.

11. Broken or Damaged Disney Souvenir?

If you accidentally break your souvenir after purchasing it at Disney, they'll replace it for free!

12. Embrace the Rain

In Florida, it is bound to rain at least once during your trip. But that's okay! Disney still has plenty of things to do in the rain. Have a game plan before the day begins on what you want to do during the rain. Also, bring a poncho from walmart in your bag. The ponchos at Disney are $12+ and thick so they weigh a lot more and get hot in the summer.

Related Post: What to Pack In Your Disney Day Bag!

13. Book Dinner Reservations Same-Day

You can book Disney dining reservations 180 days in advance (yup, 6 months out!). Popular places like Cinderella's Royal Table and Be Our Guest will get booked 180 days out! Don't fret - people can release their reservations with no penalty or charge up until 24 hours in advance. Keep an eye out as reservations will begin to pop up the day before or day of so you can snag some of the best options!

14. Ride in Style in a Minnie Van

Lyft operates a series of cars that are decorated for Minnie Mouse. They'll pick you up and drop you off anywhere on Disney property. This is a cute surprise for kids and can be much quicker than the free busses offered.

15. Bring Your Own Snacks

If you want to save money in the parks, bring your own snacks! Disney allows food and drinks to be brought into the parks.

16. OR, buy the Refillable Popcorn Buckets

I love snacking (who doesn't). But I don't enjoy carrying around my snacks all day. Instead, I carry around my refillable popcorn bucket (which can easily be attached to a bag on the handle). Then, I can get fresh popcorn for $2 bucks anytime I want!

Disney has started launching fun Popcorn buckets (like the one below) which can double as a souvenir!

17. Know The Prohibited Items

Disney has a list of prohibited items that cannot be brought into the parks. For instance, balloons or plastic straws cannot be brought into Animal Kingdom specifically. Check out the full list of Prohibited Items here. You'll have to go through security before entering the parks, so don't bother trying to sneak any of those items in.

18. Take Advantage of FastPass+

FastPass+ is the best thing ever - definitely take advantage of it. Unlike other parks where you have to pay to advance to the front of the line, Disney gives every guest (3) FastPasses. If you're staying at a Disney resort, you can book your FastPass+ 60 days in advance. Otherwise, if you're staying off property or local, you can only book your FastPass+ 30 days in advance. The most popular rides per park are listed below:

  • Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarf's Mine Train, Peter Pan

  • Hollywood Studios: Millennium Falcon Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog, Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railroad,

  • Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, Everest

  • EPCOT: Test Track, Frozen Ever After

19. Book Extra FastPass+

Once you use all (3) of your FastPass+ for the day, you can begin booking more fastpasses. For quick access, use your MDE (My Disney Experience) app and book it immediately after scanning your Magic Band.

20. Consider an Annual Pass

The splurge is worth it! Annual Passes let you visit the parks anytime of year. You can go to multiple parks in a day and don't have to worry about squeezing everything into one trip. You'll get access to all of your photopass pictures for free (say whaaat)! You get free parking at each park/resort and you'll receive discounts on some meals and merchandise. Being an Annual Passholder is one of my favorite things ever and it's worth the extra splurge.

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