Disney Vacation Hacks You Need to Know

Disney Vacation Hacks You Need to Know
Let’s 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 are 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. Double-check where you are on the Disney Timeline for deadlines.

how to unplug, digital detox at disney

Disney Vacation Hacks- Disney Vacation Planning

Early Theme Park Entry is a perk for Disney Resort Guests and we highly recommend you take them up on the offer. Resort guests can arrive 30 minutes earlier than non-resort guests and have the best chance of getting on favorite rides. 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 10-12 bucks for 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, and 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 on 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 4 pm, 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. 

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- Rides and Attractions

Want to get on the BEST Rides? Make sure you have the My Disney Experience App loaded on your phone. This gives you the option to use the Disney Genie Service. Disney Lightning Lane passes are available for certain rides and can be purchased. You can also have a Rope Drop Strategy for the busiest rides.  Such as 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. Check out the Best Rides at Walt Disney World. 
Don’t waste a Lightning Lane pass on anything before 11 am. Since most crowds arrive between 10 am and 11 am if you arrive at the parks early enough and beat the crowds, you won’t need a 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 Muppets 3D Theater, Star Tours, and Frozen Sing-Along Shows. Meet and Greets inside the Star Wars Launch Bay and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Rise of the Resistance and Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run are also indoors. 
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 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 guest’s 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 60 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 for your free night. Afterward, just call Walt Disney World Guest Services and have them connect your hotels.com reservation to your Disney account. 

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, or 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. Check out all our Disney Photography Tips!

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 Free Souvenirs.

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 every day. This will help you fend off 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. Check out all our tips on how to have an Eco-Friendly Disney Vacation. 

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 help you get away from the crowds for some much-needed downtime.

Can’t really justify the cost of Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours 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 them 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

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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