50 Hacks to Make Your Disney World Vacation the Best Ever!

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, there are a lot of decisions to be made: when to go, where to stay, which Fastpass+ to book, whether or not to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. Honestly, the decisions are endless. But we’ve got your back with 50 Hacks to make your Walt Disney World vacation the best you’ve ever taken!

Hotel Hacks

1. The fuller a hotel is, the more it costs to rent a room there. Book earlier to save more money on the standard rate.

2. Keep an eye out for discounts that appear as you get closer to your date. Walt Disney World and Disneyland release room-only discounts and package discounts at regular intervals. If your dates are included, speak to your travel agent (we recommend MouseFanTravel.com!) or call the Disney Travel Company to see if your reservation can be discounted with the new promotion.

3. If possible, visit your room before you head to the theme parks. Accidents happen, and even the most magical place on Earth isn’t immune. If your room has a scent that bothers you or you need first floor access due to a disability and they’ve placed you in a fourth floor room — it may take a little while to work out. Better to do it while it’s early and not when you want to go to sleep.

4. Most Walt Disney World hotels have microwaves available to those who request them, if your room isn’t already furnished with one. These are first come, first served, so if you need one be sure to request it immediately.

5. Didn’t get the hotel your heart was set on? Perhaps you had to settle for Port Orleans: Riverside instead of Port Orleans: French Quarter. Keep checking back! People change their plans all the time. This includes cancellations. And, if it’s not possible to stay exactly where you want, you can still visit! Take the bus to your favorite resort from any theme park, then simply reverse the trip to return back to your home resort. Resort-hopping is a great way to spend a quiet day away from the theme parks, and it’s completely free until you make a purchase.

Theme Park Hacks

6. Use your My Disney Experience app. Not only will this keep you up to date with your dining reservations, your FP+, and when stage shows start, but this app will tell you when rides break down. It will also tell you how long wait times are and help you navigate busy walkways — for instance, when parades are in guest areas.

7. Bring your phone charger. The wifi at Walt Disney World can be unsteady in some of the far flung areas of the parks. This means that your phone will be using power trying to reach it. Fuel Rods chargers are available in various locations around the parks and great if you don’t want (or forget!) to bring a charger from home.

8. Be ready for all of your plans to go out the window. Perhaps you have a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FP+ for right at park opening… but it breaks down while you’re in line. Your entire day was set around having Frontierland explored and conquered by lunch, but now you’re all heading to Tomorrowland. Plan ahead and know what you can do in Tomorrowland if you get there before your Fastpasses. That My Disney Experience app will help.

9. Take a walk off the beaten path. Instead of following everyone to Soarin’ Around the World when Epcot opens, head for Test Track and FP+ Soarin’ instead — or vice versa based on what the crowd seems to be doing. Afterward? Don’t rush to your Soarin FP+. Go ride Journey into Imagination with Figment or Mission: SPACE. Remember, just because you don’t follow the same circular path around the theme park as everyone else doesn’t mean that your path need not be circular. Consider alternate ways to do things, and you’ll be surprised at how few guests you encounter, especially in the early hours of the day.

10. Ask a cast member. Want to see the Green Army Squad in Toy Story Land but you can’t seem to find a show time chart? Ask any cast member in the area, and they should be able to fill you in. Cast members love to help, so don’t be shy!

Kids’ Hacks

11. If your little ones are still small enough to get sticky every few moments, try bringing baby wipes instead of just hand sanitizer into the parks. Even when we travel without kids, we still bring baby wipes along! They’re useful for cleaning just about everything — not just your sticky hands! 

12. Keep their tummies full. This means that even if you only have five minutes until your FP+ for Toy Story Mania expires, it might be worth it to take a two-minute break for a quick snack. The only exception is for kids that are woozy after rides like Tower of Terror; they can snack afterward.

13. Listen to the cast members when they announce that things may be dark, scary, or very loud. I have known adults to be taken by surprise on rides or at shows—and if adults get a scare, you can imagine the surprise for the little ones. Cast members always announce good ways to take frightened kids out of theaters and dark areas. Watch where they point, and be ready to skip the show if the younger members of your party get frightened or overwhelmed.

14. Let them sleep. Even if this is your last night at the Magic Kingdom, and it’s the only time you’ll see Happily Ever After: don’t wake up your kids for it. If they wake up, that’s great! If not, maybe in 40 years they’ll let you nap through it, too.

15. Reconsider renting a stroller if your child is particularly attached to theirs. It is difficult to get them on planes, but familiarity can mean a lot to a sensitive kid. If your child is more adventurous, rental strollers are available from a wide variety of sources, including Disney Parks and off-site rentals.

Dining Hacks

16. It costs nothing to reserve a typical restaurant meal and then cancel it up to 24 hours in advance. If you know that you are going to Walt Disney World but aren’t yet ready to book your hotel room, you can still book your dining reservations far in advance.

17. Use online menus to price shop the restaurants. A good for instance is French onion soup. Be Our Guest serves French onion soup for a little less than Chefs de France. If you intend to visit both during your vacation, you may want to order the French onion soup at Be Our Guest and try something else at Chefs de France.

18. Trying to get into a hard-to-book place like Cinderella’s Royal Table? Special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are ideal times to try to get in! Be Our Guest dinner is another tough reservation to grab. Both of these are typically available during events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party—and what better time for your little princess to meet the Beast than when she’s dressed as Belle?

19.Are you taking a party of six to Yachtsman Steakhouse? Did you just find out one of your party is a vegetarian? Don’t worry. Ask to speak to a chef. Walt Disney World restaurants try very hard to compensate for any possible allergy or eating preference, and they do an incredible job at it.

20. Bring your own collapsible Tupperware if you want to take your leftovers home with you. Some Disney restaurants do offer doggie bags, but it’s so much easier to stow a box with a tight-fitted lid in your park bag.

Fastpass+ Hacks 

21. Always try for the Fastpasses at the end of your stay first. It’s much easier to get Slinky Dog Dash FP+ at 68 days from your FP+ window than at 60 days. If you’re staying on-site at a Walt Disney World resort, you can book your FP+ for up to 10 days starting 60 days from your first day.

22. This goes along with talking to cast members, but if you really enjoyed a ride or a show—say something! Grin, beam, cheer them on, and tell them how awesome their attraction is. If you’re just full of joy for being on an amazing ride and obviously a fan, sometimes they’ll slip you an extra paper FP+ so you can come back and see them again real soon. Don’t count on this happening, but be extra excited if it does.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom

23. Use the in-park kiosks for the hard-to-find FP+ (if you’re nearby). For some reason these sometimes refresh faster than the app does. Though it may only be by a few seconds, that may be the difference between you and someone else being on Frozen Ever After today. We don’t advise that you cross the park just to find the kiosk, but if you’re dining near them or passing by, pause and take a look.

24. Trading up FP+ can work to make your park day better. If you’ve redeemed FP+ for Test Track and Living with the Land, you’ll need another FP+ before you can book tier one rides like Soarin’ or Frozen Ever After that same day. Try redeeming fast or typically no-wait rides like Journey into Imagination with Figment or Spaceship Earth (in the afternoon). You should be able to pick up your next FP+ while walking through the line.

25. Don’t use placeholder FP+. It’s fine to take a FP+ at a time that you aren’t enthusiastic about, such as an Avatar: Flight of Passage during the Rivers of Light show. If that’s all that’s available, grab it! You can keep checking back for different times and hope you get a better one. However, don’t feel obligated to book “it’s a small world” FP+ just to  round out the three initial FP+.  You can leave it open if you want Peter Pan’s Flight and it’s not yet available, then fill in that FP+ when you find a reservation you really want.

Flight Hacks

26. Use the largest airport in your area if possible. Flights are often cheaper from hub airports if they are in your area—Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, etc.

27. If at all possible, have someone take you to the airport or use Uber/Lyft or a shuttle service. These may cost a little extra, but it is well worth not having to drive in airport traffic when you’re already trying to remember if you left the stove on.

28. If you are unable to use Disney’s Magical Express, see if your hotel has a shuttle from the airport. A lot of Disney’s Good Neighbor hotels have them, and your flight may even garner you a discount on those charges if the hotel and airline have an affinity program with one another.

29. Are you an AAA member? A member of the military? Remember to check for discounts from the airlines when searching for the best fare you can get. Use Google to check for discounts that you may not think of—such as credit cards with huge travel bonuses.

30. Some airlines offer discounts for booking the entire Walt Disney World vacation through them. When getting your flight in order, see if yours is one that does this and what perks they offer. Participating airlines change frequently, so it’s worth it to check!

Avoiding Crowds Hacks

31. Avoid restaurants during peak hours. These are the typical dining hours of the day—8-9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., and 5 – 7 p.m.. Choosing to dine at another time may save you some time (and your sanity while trying to find an empty, clean table!).

32. The busiest times at the parks, historically, are during the lunch hours. If you need to take a break, ask if the first aid station has a quiet room available. Not all of the first aid stations are large enough for this, but some may be able to give you a place to collect your thoughts and relax.

A very crowded day!

33. Avoid the parks during the holidays—any holidays. While the Christmas season is notorious for being one of the most heavily visited times of the year, Presidents’ Day is pretty busy too! And let’s not even talk about Easter, which is now often connected to Spring Break week!

34. Do not go to Epcot during the first or last weekend of its festivals. This includes Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden Festival, Food and Wine Festival, and International Festival of the Holidays. These are usually the busiest times for these festivals.

35. Don’t assume that because October was less busy one year that it will be just as quiet the next. The days of fall being the quiet season are long gone. Visitors do not hesitate to take children out of school to visit Walt Disney World, especially with so many educational opportunities in Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Date-based pricing is likely to exacerbate this fact, too. And if you intend to stay less than a week, arrive on a Sunday and leave on Saturday morning. Weekends are always busiest, no matter what time of the year you’re visiting.

Line Hacks

36. If available, use the single rider line. This counts even if you’re in a group, so long as you don’t mind riding separately. As of this writing, single rider lines are available at Expedition Everest, Test Track and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Expedition Everest at Twilight

37. Child swap is an excellent way to ride those thrill rides that your little one may just not be quite large enough for yet. This allows a parent (or any guardian) to take care of the child while one guardian gets a child swap tag and rides. Without going through the line again, the first guardian departs the ride to take care of the child while the second guardian rides, using the child swap ticket. This often means the second adult will go through the Fastpass+ line to save time.

38. If you are a small party of under four people, allowing someone to wait in line for you while you use the restrooms or grab a bottled drink is typically acceptable. Larger groups should not do this in respect to those waiting behind them.

39. Using rope drop (when the park opens) to rush to very popular attractions is likely your best line hack. If you are intending to rope drop Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin’, Pandora, or Toy Story Land, arrive about a half-hour early (minimum). Even if you’re part of a large flow of people to the ride or land, you’ll still save time versus arriving even30 minutes after park opening, when lines have had time to swell.

40. If an attraction is near the front of the theme park, it is very likely going to be less busy during the evening or afternoon hours. For instance: Future World is usually a ghost town in the afternoon, minus Soarin’ and Test Track. Adventureland in Magic Kingdom is usually pretty quiet, too. Try to tour away from the crowd, and you’ll find shorter lines.

Chilling Out Hacks

41. Overheating is a serious danger during the hotter months of the year. Dipping into one of the many indoor shows in the theme parks offers a quick place to get out of the heat. Since most of these are dark shows, it’s also a great way to get out of the sun. (Some guests even use this time to grab a quick cat nap!)

42. Heat- and moisture-wicking clothing, such as shirts and socks, can help to lower your body temperature by several degrees. Specially designed cooling towels that are activated by water can be a lifesaver, too!

43. Personalized fans operated by battery can be purchased at department stores for a dollar or two. These are great ways to beat the heat in outdoor lines or while walking through areas with very little shade.

44. Stay hydrated. Your best option to stay hydrated is to drink water and occasionally embrace Walt Disney World’s wonderfully salty popcorn.

Hot, fresh popcorn!

45. During the hottest hours of the day, seek FP+ or attraction lines with indoor queues such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Dinosaur.

Packing Hacks

46. Bring along an insulated thermos. Not only are these wonderful additions for the airport once you’re past security, but Walt Disney World has lots of water fountains where you can fill up. This not only saves on water bottle cost, but it saves plastic as well. If you can’t find a water fountain or simply prefer cold water, counter service locations will give you free cups of ice water that you can pour into your thermos.

47. After your necessary items like toiletries and clothing, make sure everything in your pack serves at least two purposes. For instance, a poncho can keep you dry and be wrapped around a wet swimsuit to help keep the rest of your pack dry. This way you can minimize the items you need to pack.

48. Vacuum bags will save incredible amounts of space in your luggage. With airlines charging for every bag, this is incredibly important.

49. The less you pack, the more room you have for souvenirs. Can’t cut down on what you pack? Walt Disney World offers shipping directly to your home for many souvenirs, making it much easier to grab your favorite memory makers without having to pay for another bag on the plane.

50. Along with making your optional items work double-time, try to make your luggage do the same. Bags that transform from rolling bag to backpack are excellent theme park day bags as well as carry-on luggage.

There you have it! Our 50 hacks that will make your next Walt Disney World vacation better than ever!

50 Hacks to Make Your Disney World Vacation the Best Ever!

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17 Replies to “50 Hacks to Make Your Disney World Vacation the Best Ever!”

  1. “18. Trying to get into a hard-to-book place like Cinderella’s Royal Table? Special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are ideal times to try to get in! Be Our Guest dinner is another tough reservation to grab. Both of these are typically available during events.”

    That is quite an expensive “hack”! So you pay over $100 to go to the Christmas Party, and then use 2 of the 5 hours of the party spending another $80 to dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table or $60 to dine at BOG.
    Maybe if you have excess money, and don’t really want to go the party.

    1. Expensive. Yes. But certainly cheaper than buying into the Disney Vacation Club which will eventually be the only way anyone is going to get Fast Passes, Advanced Dining and all of the other perks.

  2. Great post! Between crowds and prices its getting to where you have to have a bunch of “hacks” just to get everything you want to see in during your trip.

  3. I would add fly into Tampa and rent a car. Flying into Tampa is cheaper than Orlando and it is only approximately 60 minutes to WDW. The ability to go to Walmart and stock up on essentials and also eat outside of WDW is worth the price of the rental car. I do not use Disney Dining because they have ruined it. Renting the car lets you eat outside of the parks and you will save a lot of money.

    1. I considered this for my last trip, but I could not find a flight into Tampa cheap enough to offset the cost of a rental. Especially now with a parking fee at the resorts, it would have to be a substantial difference from landing in Orlando. With Uber so prevalent, I would probably use them to get to offsite dining and still be cheaper than a rental car, parking and dining inside the Parks / Resorts.

  4. “If you are a small party of under four people, allowing someone to wait in line for you while you use the restrooms or grab a bottled drink is typically acceptable.”

    Can you usually get away with it? Yes. But that does not make it “acceptable”. Doing this will make the people around you angry (particularly people who are behind you, especially if the only reason they’re behind you is because they followed the rules and didn’t get on line until their group was together – this happens to me almost every trip). And they’ll be right.

    1. I completely agree with you, and the author should reconsider and remove this “#38” addition to the list as I have even seen physical altercations over those cutting to “meet up” with their “party”.

      Sorry, but your entire party should be together when entering the queue. Most lines are cramped and long. This practice of sending someone ahead to get in line is rude and dangerous.

      Shame on the author for encouraging this behavior.

      1. Hey Steve,

        I think perhaps the intent of that tip is being misconstrued. It says, “If you are a small party of under four people, allowing someone to wait in line for you while you use the restrooms or grab a bottled drink is typically acceptable.” To me, that’s saying that your party IS all already in line, but someone in the group has realized they need to go for a pit stop. I don’t think it’s encouraging you to have one person hold the spaces of an entire large group.

        1. I always pick up a homeless guy on my way to the park and pay him to stand in lines for me while I catch up on some shopping or enjoy a relaxing meal. For the price of his admission and $20 for him, it’s a bargain.

        2. Hey Debra,

          Thanks for the reply. I know you are the Big Kahuna here now with Deb’s retirement so I don’t want to offend you as I have been a loyal reader since the very beginning. This said,I still have to respectfully but strongly disagree.

          The queues at Disney World are not designed for repeat exit/entry. With the heat and crowds, people are very prickly and having people push and crowd back and forth through the lines is a powder-keg. I had my little girl knocked down in a scuffle between two people in just such a scenario.

          While I see your point in theory, it really does not work. People game the system and try to find all of the loopholes, so unfortunately keeping your party together throughout the entire attraction is extremely important.

          If you have a disability that would require you to use the restroom of have a snack/beverage, Disney has a system to assist you with that disability. If you simply do not want to stand in a line for the amount of time that it takes to get on the attraction…Do not get in that line.

          Being within the Disney bubble may make us all feel like we are entitled to be treated as royalty, but we must respect societal rules and not push through the lines. If you must exit the line, meet your party after they have experienced the attraction without you.

          I firmly stand on my comment above (with the exception of the ‘shame’ part now that I have read your reply)

          1. Steve, at 5’1″ I’ve never been called “Big” anything, Kahuna or otherwise, so thanks for that, and please don’t worry about offending me. I appreciate your thoughtful response and the considered responses of all on this matter. I do ask, though, that we try to keep the tone here civil and not attack each other, while we agree to disagree. Thanks.

          2. Steve–wonderful response, as I have also witnessed scuffles that ended badly due to line holding. As someone who IS disabled and DOES need to get in/out of line at times, I just meet my party afterwards as to not create these conflicts. I also think that you spoke quite respectfully and politely, so Debra’s response to you was a bit puzzling to me.

            Thank you so much for being a considerate Disney enjoyer!

        3. I don’t think that changes very much. The tip reads like if you have four or fewer people one can wait on line and the other three can join them after using the bathroom or whatever. If you change it so that three are on line while one goes to the bathroom, that one is still cutting the line. And again, while you can probably get away with it, that’s not the same as it being “acceptable”.

          1. It certainly is “not acceptable” to make two conflicting advanced dining reservations knowing that you will cancel one at the last second. This blocks someone else from making one. That’s as socially unacceptable and rude as cutting line. But I bet everyone here has done that, or would do that because they “can get away with it”. Point being that everyone outraged and offended by line holders have, themselves, “got away with something” pertaining to their Disney vacation.

          2. Here in Ohio, there is an ordinance that makes cutting in line at amusement parks illegal. You will be expelled from the park if caught line cutting. It is posted all over Cedar Point.

        4. Once upon a time, Disney did eject people for cutting in line like this. It has been a few years since I’ve seen it, but they do keep the fine print on the ticket contracts reserving the right to remove you from the parks.
          It’s just not worth it to try to force your way through the like to catch up with another member of your party. Have that member wait on the side of the line for you to get to them with the natural flow of the line.

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