Disney World Secrets & Tips

We are heading to Florida in less than 4 days & I am bursting with excitement!! I have spent the last 2 nights pouring over Pinterest & scouring the internet for the best secrets, tips, etc. related to Disney World. I have come up with quite a book full. You may see my Pinterest board where I’ve rounded up all these tips or simply take a look below at what I considered essential, significant, important, or plain interesting. I hope this helps some other families whom are Disney bound this summer. Also, please share any of your own tried & true pointers!

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DISNEYWORLD

TIME-SAVERS 

Head to the back of the park. When you first arrive at the park, go straight to the back. Most people will start with the first ride they see.

Get your fast passes early on in the day!

Think left. It is most people’s inclinations to go to the right side first, so if you see two lines for a ride, hop in the left one to shave off a little waiting time. If you’re going around World Showcase or the Magic Kingdom, start on the left side going counter-clockwise.

Get in line right before the parades. About an hour before most parades start, people will put a halt on their attraction and ride plans to score a front row parade spot. If you don’t care about getting a primo spot (or about seeing the parade at all), use this time to get in line for big rides.

Shop on your way out. When the park closes, they shut down the rides, but they don’t actually kick you out of the park or close the stores. So spend your valuable time on rides when they’re running, and shop as you make your way to the gates.

GTK 

Chewing gum is not sold anywhere on Walt Disney World property. Plan accordingly.

If you are a veteran ask at City Hall (Magic Kingdom) first thing in the morning if you can participate in the evening Flag Retreat.

If you eat a meal in a park or hotel that you really enjoy, you can ask for the recipe!!!!  {It may be in bulk when you receive it though!}

When riding the ferry boat or the monorail ask the Cast Members if they have any trading cards – they sometimes give them out and there are lots to collect.

CHARACTERS 

You can enter the Animation Building in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for some of the best character meet & greets in Walt Disney World by going through the Art of Disney store (skipping the Animation Academy attraction). Likewise, you can experience Turtle Talk with Crush without doing the Nemo dark ride by entering The Seas pavilion through the gift shop at the exit.

Animal Kingdom – Camp Minnie Micky has a variety of characters in safari gear.

Epcot – find all the original characters in an air conditioned waiting area.

Hollywood Studios – Look in the art of animation for character greetings and at Pixar Place for Woody and Buzz.  The Cars are available for pics but are not animated and don’t sign books.  Phineas and Ferb are right next to them and do a cute little show with the kids waiting in line.

Magic Kingdom – the classic Mickey and a selection of princesses are located in the Town Square as soon as you enter the park, all the way to the right. Storybook Circus now has Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and Ariel is in the new Fantasyland.

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

WHERE TO BUY 

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

Disney’s Character Warehouse is an outlet carried heavily discounted and discontinued Disney merchandise. They have two locations off property, on I-Drive near Universal Orlando and on Vineland near Downtown Disney.  The Vineland location is larger and closer to Walt Disney World.

FREE STUFF 

If you are celebrating a special occasion, make sure to pin up a button reflecting the celebration at your resort hotel or in the parks from Guest Services. You may receive special treatment if wearing the buttons.

Free Wi-Fi internet is now available in the theme parks and resort hotels at Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World counter service restaurants will give you a free cup of water (ask for a large cup!) or a free cup of hot water.

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

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

PhotoPass Cast Members will take (free!) photos of you with your camera, so don’t be afraid to ask! Make sure your settings are dialed in before handing them the camera, as they will not typically adjust settings.

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’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.

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

You can bring your own food and drinks into the park, no alchohol.

There is a new dream suite that you can win a night in Cinderella’s castle. When the park was being built this space was supposed to be a apartment for Walt and his family to live in but since he passed away before the park opened they used it for storage, until now.

The best way to win “dreams” such as the ultimate fastpass for the day, mickey ears or that night in Cinderella’s castle is to get to the parks early in the morning. That is usually when they’re handed out.

ANIMAL KINGDOM 

If you’re entering the Animal Kingdom and there’s a long line at the turnstiles, try going through the Rainforest Café: there’s a park entrance at the rear of the gift shop.

Each morning, 15 minutes before the schedule opening time, you can go through the turn styles and head to the Tree of Life area.  Soon, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy arrive to welcome you to the park!  Soon Mickey appears and gets on the truck and you can follow them into Harambe as the Adventure Begins in the Animal Kingdom!

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

Camp Minnie Micky has a variety of characters in safari gear.

If you see a tree creepin’ down the walkways at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, stop and watch. It’s actually DiVine, an incredibly talented (and camouflaged) performer.

On the Discovery Island Trails, look for a hidden, shaded rock. In the rock are small holes – look through to see animal carvings on the Tree of Life.

At Raffiki Planet Watch in the men’s room where all the animal faces are, you can take a Whiz Quiz. While standing at the urinal you can entertain yourself pondering random questions that are posted about other animals’ bathroom habits. The curiosity won’t kill you: you will get the answers when you wash your hands.

Stop and look down at the walkway under your feet.  Did you know, for example, that the leaf prints and mud cracks were made by a mold?  The Imagineers actually took a large patch of mud, made a cast of it, and then reproduced it for the walkways of Disney’s “Africa.”  They even distressed and widened the naturally occurring cracks by squirting them with a hard stream of water from a hose.

In Animal Kingdom, there is a bridge near Kali River Rapids. There are buttons that cause the elephant statues to spray water on the riders in the rafts below.

Animal Kingdoms centerpiece and icon, the Tree of Life, is not only built on top of an oil rig, but it is covered in hundreds of hand carved animals. And to top it all off (literally), each of the 103,000 artificial leaves on the tree were attached by hand.

ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE, 

ANIMAL KINGDOM 

Take it all in, go for a walk around, it’s huge! Straight out back from the main entrance is an entire African savannah, complete with viewing areas. You’re guaranteed to catch Giraffes, Zebra, maybe an elephant and all kinds of birds and flamingo!

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has a very nice play structure and on certain nights, they have a camp fire going where you can roast s’mores.

If you go for an evening meal to AKL (Jiko’s or Boma’s), go early to view the animals, around 5pm, because that’s when the feeding troughs are filled, and it tempts the animals nearer the viewing areas.

DINOLAND USA, 

ANIMAL KINGDOM 

As guests enter the loading area for DINOSAUR, you’ll notice a series of red, white, and yellow utility pipes running along the walls, with chemical compound formulas written on them to indicate their contents. This is a secret for the scientists out there, because those formulas are actually for ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard!

The highway sign in Dinoland is route 498 (park opened in April 1998).

In Animal Kingdom, in Dino-Land, as you go under the gigantic dinosaur and head toward Tarzan Rocks, look under the dinosaur to see if it’s male or female.  Nothing gross, just the way the lights are presented tells you what it is.

  KILIMANJARO SAFARI, 

ANIMAL KINGDOM 

The lions on the Kilimanjaro Safari have come a long way to be with guests at Walt Disney World no, they’re not from Africa, but they are originally from Oregon! The change of climate and the intense Florida heat made the adjustment to their new home so difficult that Imagineers decided to air condition a portion of their safari habitat.

The animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari are most active first thing in the morning.