Over the years, I’ve converted some friends and family members into Disney theme park experts.
They evolved from noobs who didn’t know their way around the parks into experts who know all the best spots. It’s been gratifying to watch.
During a recent conversation with one of them, I realized how far they’d come and had the epiphany that I should share some of the ideas with you.
Here are eight Disney park tips that only the pros know.
Don’t Wait More than 90 Minutes for a Ride
I’ve watched people who run marathons get wiped out at Disney after three hard hours.
The parks, while the stuff of dreams, can sometimes prove overwhelming for even the best of us.
I mean, I’ve had my ankles swell a couple of times to the degree that I looked like I was hulking out. That’s what comes from 35,000 steps in a few hours.
What makes the problem worse is spending too much standing in long lines. Attraction lines rarely include seating. So, you’re swaying on your feet for a long time.
The feeling can grow uncomfortable after a while. After that, you’re in a downward spiral of misery. This feeling is avoidable, though.
The first step involves picking your battles. For example, when you notice a ride comes with a wait time of 90 minutes, just say no!
Alternatively, if the attraction is extremely important to you, buy Lightning Lane or Disney Genie+ instead.
You’ll save yourself so much aggravation and your body so much needless stress.
Eat at the Wrong Time, Especially at Quick Service Restaurants
This tip applies in two different ways. First, you don’t want to eat early in your park visit.
I don’t need to tell you how the human body works. When you eat something substantial, nature will take its course.
That leaves you scrambling to find a nearby public restroom, which isn’t ideal.
Second, Disney parks have cycles, just like anything else. One of them is that people generally eat lunch from 11 am to 1 pm Then, they have dinner from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Friends, these are terrible times to frequent a quick service restaurant. You’ll face large crowds and competition for seating.
Instead, you should plan your day around the behavior of others. Either eat early enough that you’re seated by 11 am or wait until after 1:30 pm
You’ll avoid plenty of aggravation this way. Please have an exit strategy in mind for the bathroom aspect, though.
Immediate Table Service Restaurant Availability Exists
Over the years, I’ve played a hand in training people to book Advanced Dining Reservations. I feel strongly that doing so ensures a smoother park visit.
However, Disney changed a tone during the pandemic. As a result, some of the hard rules from 2019 no longer apply today.
In fact, you don’t always need a dining reservation. The My Disney Experience app has added a (relatively) new menu option.
When you choose the Check Dining Availability screen, the place where you book reservations, you’ll notice a new option.
Historically, you’ve had brunch, lunch, and dinner. However, Disney has introduced the Now option as well. It’ll show places with open tables!
This tactic’s not foolproof, as you’ll often encounter a message that nothing near you has a walk-up table waitlist. But, when it does, you’re in business!
You can eat at one of Disney’s most popular restaurants right then without a previous reservation!
Don’t Be THAT Parent
I always feel hypocritical in offering parenting advice since I don’t have any children of my own. I’ve been an uncle since I was 10, though.
So, I’ve had a (small) hand in raising several kids, and, like everyone else, I have a few buttons about proper etiquette.
To wit, nothing drives me crazier at Disney than seeing a parent demand that a kid do something, believing it’s fun or important.
In a way, such behavior is telling. It’s a way of identifying that a parent is at Disney for themselves, not for their kid.
If your kid doesn’t want to pose for that photo with Mickey Mouse, please allow for the possibility that your child is frightened by the five-foot-tall mouse.
Even at the age of two, you can tell that’s abnormal. Similarly, don’t force your child to stand, sit, or smile a certain way for a picture.
Honestly, you’ll like the picture more down the road if one of your kids is making a face or looking at a balloon or something.
When you’re at a Disney park, please accept that your child is experiencing sensory overload. They’re not going to be fully controllable, and that’s okay!
Lightning Lane Isn’t One Size Fits All
Here’s one that makes more sense when you’re actually at the parks.
When you’re planning your vacation, you’ll likely think that you should order Disney Genie+.
Then, you’ll spend days at EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and you’ll recognize your mistake.
While you’re at these parks, you’ll wonder why you used some of your Mouse Ears money on Disney Genie+.
In short, some parks justify the expense. At others, you’re throwing away cash by ordering Disney Genie+.
Never Trust the Listed Wait Times
This one may surprise you, but experienced Disney veterans are nodding knowingly.
The trick here comes down to park management. Management wants an even distribution of park guests at various attractions.
So, Disney sometimes puts its thumb on the scale by driving traffic toward specific attractions.
You’ll realize this when you’re standing in line for something. The posted wait time will say something totally different than how long you actually spend there.
Instead, you should research attraction wait times and learn the park’s overall crowd behavior. Speaking of which…
Ride the Park Waves
Did you know that parks usually claim the most traffic during the early afternoons?
Also, are you aware that parks grow more crowded as lunchtime approaches?
Did you know that people tend to leave the parks later in the afternoon as they seek to freshen up after a long day?
You can and should learn and take advantage of all these behaviors. But, then, you should use them to your maximum benefit.
In fact, I’ll list an easy one. Spaceship Earth at EPCOT is often more crowded when the park opens than at 4 pm in the afternoon.
What’s the cause of this discrepancy? Most people enter EPCOT through the front gate. Then, they naturally head to the giant shiny golf ball in the sky.
So, a staggering percentage of EPCOT visitors choose Spaceship Earth as their first attraction.
Meanwhile, savvy park pros walk right past this ride to do something else instead. Then, we circle back to Spaceship Earth at 4 pm, when it’s less crowded.
Little bits of knowledge like this can make a significant impact on your vacation!
Stay at an Official Disney Resort
This tip’s the most important one out of everything I list here.
Guests who stay at official Disney resorts earn extra amenities, one of which makes all the difference during a park visit.
Disney hotel guests receive Early Theme Park Entry, which allows them into a park 30 minutes early.
That may not sound like much, but Disney opens almost all its attractions for these guests.
So, you could feasibly ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure before the parks even officially open!
For this reason, you should speak with a Mickey Travels agent to book your next Disney vacation!
They’ll help you find the best deal for your trip, one that ensures you’ll have the time of your life!
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Feature Photo: orlandoattractions.com