Everybody knows that Walt Disney World is the happiest place on Earth! Here are some tips, tricks, and travel hacks to make your family’s time at the Magic Kingdom even more magical.
Though sometimes more expensive, there are some advantages to staying at one of Disney’s Orlando resorts. First, you’ve got the Disney Magical Express, the bus that will take you and your luggage from the Orlando International Airport to the resort.
If you stay at a Disney hotel, you get “Extra Magic Hours.” This means you get into the parks before they officially open, and can stay later after the parks close—sometimes even as late as 2 am! Check the park calendar to see when Extra Magic Hours are offered, though, it’s not an everyday thing.
One of the most popular, and most crowded ways to get around the park is by taking themonorail. The train travels above the park and makes five stops: the Magic Kingdom Park, the Contemporary Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Polynesian Village Resort, and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
If you want to avoid long lines, try boarding at the Contemporary Resort and heading to the park from there. Some of the resorts also have water taxi boats that will take you from your hotel to the parks. These are smaller, but often less crowded than the monorail.
8 Magic Bands
A Disney Magic Band is your ticket into the park, literally. If you buy one, it becomes your entrance ticket. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, it becomes your key. You can link it to your credit card so you don’t have to carry a wallet or purse. The band also links to your Disney Experience Page where you can plan your rides and shows, make dining reservations, and manage park picture packages.
If you want to go on a ride, but don’t want to wait in a long line, you can use the FastPass System. You can reserve your FastPasses online at your Disney Experience Page or pick up a ticket at a FastPass kiosk in the park. Grab your FastPasses for popular rides early, because reservations do fill up.
If you’re unable to get a FastPass for a busy ride, you can also try getting in line during mealtimes, a parade, or the nightly fireworks show. Since so many visitors will be busy eating or watching the shows, you might have fewer people in line with you.
Another important tip: if you are traveling with a baby and someone has to sit out a ride to hold them, you can use the infant or child rider swap option. That way, one adult can wait with the baby while the other adult goes on the ride with the kids. When the ride is over, the adults can swap places, so the adult doesn’t miss out. (And the kids get to ride again!)
Instead of waiting in long lines with everybody else to eat lunch right at noon, try going earlier or later. That way, restaurants will be less crowded when you’re eating. (And while everyone else is eating, you’ll hopefully have a shorter wait time for rides.) Do the same thing again at dinner, or make reservations for dinner in advance.
You can also hop on a bus or water taxi and head back to your Disney resort to grab a meal at a resort restaurant. (Or even take a nap or a dip in the hotel pool to cool off.)
You don’t necessarily need to be at the Magic Kingdom to watch the Wishes fireworks show. You can avoid the crowd and watch the spectacle from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. Or you can catch “Illuminations,” the Epcot laser light show from the Disney Boardwalk Hotel. An even better idea is eating at the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort—one of the best places to view Disney fireworks from a distance.
Stuffed animals and t-shirts (and mouse ears) from any of the Disney gift shops are bound to cost a pretty penny. In Orlando, there are plenty of souvenir shops where you can get discounted merchandise. You can also try finding some on Amazon or E-Bay. That way you can be all decked out heading into the park. Or, you can stock up on souvenirs before you leave—but still spend less. And if you can’t help buying something at the park, one overpriced item is better than a bunch.
3 Be a DIY Princess
At the park, you’re likely to see little girls walking around in full princess regalia: a fancy updo, glittery makeup, and a poufy dress. Your little girl can get the look, too, at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which is run by Cinderella’s fairy godmother and her apprentices.
Your princess can pick a hairstyle, nail polish, costume, and accessories, if you can afford it. The least expensive package starts at $59.95 and will get you a hairstyle, nail polish, makeup, and princess sash. To go full princess and get a hairstyle, makeup, nail polish, costume, and photos, it will cost you $194.95!
Save some money and DIY. You can probably find a Cinderella costume online for around $20. Or maybe your little girl has a leftover Anna or Elsa costume from Halloween. Paint her nails the night before. Put her hair in a bun or ponytail, spray with glitter hairspray, add a little princess makeup, and she can wear her costume to the park.
2 Special Occasion
Stop by guest services at any Disney Park and let them know that you’re celebrating a special event. Whether it’s a birthday, honeymoon, family reunion, or your first visit—if you let an employee know, you’ll receive a special button to commemorate your event.
Besides being a cute, little souvenir, the button will get you extra attention from Disney employees. Disney characters will be sure to congratulate you or wish you a happy birthday if they spot you wearing a button. You might even score a special treat.
1 There’s an App for That
If you check your smartphone app store, you’re likely to find an app that will help you navigate the parks and check wait times for rides. An app such as Lines has info on ride wait times, restaurant menus, a crowd calendar, and tours and itineraries.