Disney Vacation Hacks You Need to Know

Disney Vacation Hacks You Need to Know
Lets face it, a vacation to Disney is anything but simple. When it comes to Disney Vacation Planning, you practically need a toolkit. From which restaurants to book, to which resort to choose, to which rides in which park are best, the answers are many. We’ve broken these bigger tasks down in our Bucket Lists posts before. But what about the Disney Vacation Hacks you need to know that will actually make your vacation enjoyable? Believe it or not, a Disney Vacation is more than just a checklist. Make sure you read up on these Pro Tips and Tricks so you can get the most out of your vacation.

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Disney Vacation Hacks 101

First things first. Before you tackle this Disney Pro list of hacks here’s a few things to do first to make sure you’re on track.

  1. Download the My Disney Experience App on your phone.
  2. Read through the 12 steps of Planning a Disney Vacation.
  3. Grab a print or excel version of our favorite Disney Planning Tool.
  4. Double check where you are on the Disney Timeline for deadlines.

Lets dive in!

how to unplug, digital detox at disney

Disney Vacation Hacks- Disney Vacation Planning

Extra Magic Hours are a perk for Disney Resort and Select Hotel Guests that allows you EARLY entry into the parks. Check Disney’s Calendar to see when EMH are planned both in the morning and evening so you can make the most out of your park days. Disney Pro Tip: Check this BEFORE setting up fast passes and dining reservations. Especially if you don’t have the park hopper ticket. See our best days for each park to help with your planning.

If you’re heading to Florida, at one point it will RAIN! Instead of paying the 10-12 bucks on a Disney poncho, grab a pack of ponchos on amazon ahead of time. And keep them in your day bag the entire trip. There is always a little storm when you least expect it. 

Trying to find the cheapest way to get to Disney? If you’re lured by the idea of the Free Dining Plan Offer, be sure to make sure Disney isn’t offering room discounts at the same time. When rooms are discounted at 25-30% depending on the hotel, the room discount may be better than the dining offer. Check the math before booking.

Book with a travel agent. Yes! You read that right. If you’re new to Disney planning or feel overwhelmed by all the variables involved consider an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They are FREE and will catch every deal, every offer, talk you through restaurant and dining reservations and make the process easier.

Disney Vacation Hacks- Transportation

One of the best ways to avoid the crowds at the buses and make the most of your time is to combine Hollywood Studios and Epcot into one day. These two parks are connected via the Disney Boardwalk and a short walkway. This gives you the chance to bypass the waiting and get right into the parks. Bonus points if you choose to stay at any of the Disney Boardwalk Resorts, then you can be close to both parks. 

Want to head to Disney Springs from the parks? Since buses to Disney Springs don’t run until 4pm, you can take the bus to Saratoga Springs and depart at the Congress Park stop. From here it’s a 5 minute walk down the path to Disney Springs. Perfect if you’re hoping to add some shopping to your Disney day. 

Staying at a Disney Resort gets you access to the Magical Express. Free transportation to and from Orlando Airport. This perk alone saves you money and saves the environment!

Are you at the Ticket and Transportation Center staring down a REALLY LONG LINE at the Magic Kingdom Monorail? Hop over to the Resort Monorail instead. Yes- it takes you to 3 monorail resorts, but Magic Kingdom is the 3rd stop and you can hop off there without fighting the crowds. 

Disney Vacation Hacks- Fast Passes and Rides

Want to get the BEST Fast Passes? Make sure you book a Disney Resort. Guests staying on property can book Fast Passes 60 days before their vacation. Non-resort guests only have a 30 day window, so you get 30 days ahead of time if you stay at Walt Disney World. The toughest Fast Passes to get? During busiest times aim for the following. Frozen Ever After in Epcot, Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, Snow Whites Mine Train in Magic Kingdom and Star Tours  and Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios.
 
Are you visiting Magic Kingdom during busy times and can’t get a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean? Take a break and play A Pirates Adventure- Treasures of the Seven Seas. Three rounds of this game earn you and everyone in your party a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean. 
 
Don’t waste a Fast Pass on anything before 11am. Since most crowds arrive between 10am and 11am if you arrive at the parks early enough and beat the crowds, you won’t need a Fast Pass. 
 
Is it raining at Walt Disney World? Head to Hollywood Studios. With more indoor experiences and connected gift shops you have a better chance of staying out of the rain. Try for Muppets 3D Theater, Star Tours, The Little Mermaid and Frozen Sing Along Shows. Meet and Greets inside the Star Wars Launch Bay and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. New rides inside Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge are also inside. 
 
Did you miss out on the best fast passes? No worries! Keep checking the My Disney Experience app throughout the day for fast passes  (after you use your initial 3). Disney releases a small amount of fast passes for last minute guests. So before you wait in any lines, check to see if there is a fast pass available in the app you can snag first. 
 
polkadotsandpixiedust.com mine train at disney

Disney Vacation Hack- Crowds

Need a break from too much Disney? Head to the Disney Boardwalk. Accessible from the back of Epcot through the International gateway, this area includes resorts, beaches, and restaurants. Complete with street performers, character dining and movies on the lawn in the evenings. Check out our quick guide to the Disney Boardwalk for more free and fun ideas. 
 
If you’ve ever been to Magic Kingdom you know that everyone leaves the parks right after the fireworks show. To avoid spending the better part of your evening standing in the bus line, you can instead stay a little bit later and watch the Kiss Goodnight. This goodnight wish twinkles on Cinderella’s Castle for 2 minutes, repeating every 30 minutes after the park closes. This allows the last of the guests something to see on their way out and the bliss of an almost empty park at the end of the day.
 
polkadotpixiedust.com first day disney

Disney Vacation Hack- Restaurants, Dining and Treats

Did you know you can mobile order your food at Walt Disney World? Why wait in that lunch line when a quick 10 minute order via the My Disney Experience App will have your food waiting on the counter in no time! Now available at many quick service restaurants across the parks.
 
Dining reservations open up 180 days before your vacation. But which restaurants really require an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR)? Here’s the lineup of the top 10 most booked restaurants at Walt Disney World. California Grill, Ohana, Victoria and Alberts, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Narcoosse’s, and Artist Point. 
 
Want to save some money on dinner? Adults are ALWAYS allowed to order off the kid’s menu. Or you can grab one adult sized dish for you and your child to split. 
 
Want an extra special caramel apple crafted just for you? Head to Goofy’s Candy Company in Disney Springs to get one custom made for an extra special treat. Or wait on a special homemade s’more made just for you at the Ganachery.
 
Food at Pandora World of Avatar

Disney Vacation Resorts and Hotels

Are you a hotels.com loyalty member? You can book Disney Resort hotels at cheap rates and still earn points towards your free night. Afterwards just call Walt Disney World Guest Services and have them connect your hotels.com reservation to your Disney account. You’ll get all the same perks like fast passes, advanced dining reservation access and the ability to book Magical Express transportation to and from the airport. 

Don’t believe in traveling light? Or can’t stomach the high baggage fees on the airline?  If you’re heading to Disney but plan on taking tons of luggage, or groceries, or birthday gifts, whatever, think about sending them to the resort ahead of time. Guests can send packages up to two weeks in advance to their Disney resort for a 5 dollar fee.

Disney Photography

Want great photos but don’t want to pay for the Memory Maker package? Photographers are stationed throughout the park and will take a pic with your own camera or phone. And then one you’ll see in the app as well. That way you can later purchase the best pics if you want, while still having pretty great pics on your own devices.

Need better Fireworks pictures? Instead of fighting with the crowds in front of the castle, head behind the castle towards Be Our Guest restaurant. From here, you get a gorgeous, overlooked view without the crowds. 

Free Stuff

One of our favorite free souvenirs is a Celebration Button. Good for any celebration, these buttons can sometimes get you extra special perks. Honeymooners and birthday guests sometimes get free desserts, room upgrades and extra special treatment. Check out all our favorite Disney freebies here. 

Club Cool in Epcot’s FutureWorld has a bit of a cult following! With international colas, available for free, you can pop in and try a few beverages to hold you over until your next drink stop. 

Disney Vacation Tips

Stuck at Disney and need something fast? Order through Amazon Prime for medicines, hdmi cords, or anything you can’t get in the Disney Gift Shops.  

Bring a water bottle to the parks everyday. This will help you fend of dehydration and crankiness. Plus is Eco-Friendly since you won’t need the plastic cups of water, or bottled water to get your H2O fix. 

Disney Unique Experiences

Want to see the wildlife, but chose not to spring for an Animal Kingdom ticket? Head to Animal Kingdom Lodge. With tons of activities, fun, African culture, great restaurants and wildlife roaming the savanna, an Animal Kingdom Lodge day helps you get away from the crowds for some much needed down time.

Can’t really justify the cost of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party but have it on your bucket list? You can enjoy almost all the party perks the week of Christmas at Walt Disney World. Just be prepared for the crowds; this is the busiest week of the whole year. 

Want to see the welcome show at Magic Kingdom? Plan to be standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle at least 15 minutes before park opening. 

Heard about the Beignets at Disney but not sure where to get them? Head over to Port Orleans Resort ( French Quarter or Riverside) to try this special treat. The Hack? You don’t even need to be at a Disney resort. Just grab the ferry from Disney Springs to the resorts, and grab it back to Disney Springs when you’re done. Parking at Disney Springs is free, so it’s a win-win.

Disney Vacation Hacks To Make Your Trip More Magical

While this is not your typical 101 Disney hacks list, there’s enough on here to keep you busy and hopefully get you the best, most budget-friendly and least stressful vacation possible. Let us know your favorite Disney Hacks and we’ll add em to the list!

Walt Disney World Vacations require lots of planning, tweaking and some hacking! Check out our list of travel hacks for your Disney Vacation. From grabbing the reservation to the secret paths you can take to avoid crowds. Here's all our favorite hacks. #polkadotpixies #travelhacks #disneyworld #disneytips



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