Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re planning on going alone to do whatever you want, when you want to do it.
While you think you know everything there is to know about going to the four theme parks, picking a hotel, and securing those hard-to-get dining reservations there are things that the experts don’t tell you about going to Walt Disney World.
I’m pulling back the curtain to let you in on five expert secrets that aren’t usually revealed about going to Walt Disney World.
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1. Never buy water when you can get it for free
It’s important to stay hydrated while exploring Walt Disney World, but you should never be paying for expensive bottles of water. Instead, head to any quick service restaurant around the theme parks and ask for a cup of water.
It’s likely that they already have some on standby waiting for guests to come up and ask. You can take as many as you want, which is also a great way to refill your reusable water bottle if you brought one into the park.
Not only will this save you a ton of money throughout your trip but it’s also way better for the planet since you won’t be throwing away so much plastic.
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2. Take time to enjoy your hotel
You spent a lot of money to likely stay at an official Walt Disney World resort, so you should be taking time to enjoy all of the amenities and activities at the hotel.
We love taking a break in the middle of the day from the theme parks and going back to our hotel, whether it’s a value resort like Disney’s Pop Century or a deluxe resort like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
During this time you can take a nap in your room, head to the pool, or grab a snack from the quick service locations. This is also a great time to recharge your phone after snapping photos all morning, and plan out what you want to do at the parks later in the evening.
If you plan to head back to your hotel early in the evening and skip the afternoon break you might find cast members playing trivia out by the pool or setting up an inflatable screen for movie nights. All of this is free, and everyone is welcome to participate.
3. Don’t fight crowds
This seems a little counterintuitive because Disney is filled with crowds all the time, right? Well, not exactly.
Even though you’re on vacation you’re going to want to get to the parks at least an hour before opening to have the shortest wait times for big attractions like Frozen Ever After at EPCOT and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom.
You can also get low wait times during firework showings and late at night just before the parks are set to close.
One major tip for EPCOT is to start on the Canada side of World Showcase when you decide to go to the back of the park.
Most people start with the Mexico pavilion because there are two pavilions with rides in a row, but if you’re just looking to explore World Showcase you’ll have better luck starting with Canada.
You likely won’t hit major crowds until you get to America or Germany after groups have gotten off both attractions and started their “Drink around the world” escapades.
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4. Know how to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance
Getting a boarding group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of the top priorities people have when going to Walt Disney World.
The new attraction has been drawing crowds into Hollywood Studios since it opened in December 2019. To actually get on the ride you’ll need to secure a boarding group through the My Disney Experience app.
You can make boarding groups at 7 a.m. from anywhere, including your home or the airport, and at 1 p.m. from inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Your best bet to get one is to try for the 7 a.m. drop, then if you are not successful try again for the 1 p.m. drop.
Hipster Power Tip: To increase your chances try using two devices, one to actually make the reservation through the Disney app, and another as a countdown clock to know exactly when you should be hitting the “join” button on the app.
5. Learn how to get last minute dining reservations
Getting dining reservations that you really want, even at 60 days out is incredibly challenging. One way to almost guarantee you get to eat where you want while visiting Walt Disney World is to look for last minute dining reservations.
This means you’re checking the My Disney Experience app a few times a day for the three to four days leading up to your trip and the day you want to eat somewhere for something to pop up.
Reservations typically show up closer to your trip because people cancel plans the closer they get to their vacation too.
Another way to eat where you want to eat and not compromise is to dine at the restaurant bar, where they likely serve the entire regular menu plus a few additional bar dishes.
I love doing this at hotel table service restaurants like Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort and the lounge at Citrico’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
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After days of planning your vacation and finally getting to Walt Disney World be sure to use these tips and tricks to ensure you have a fantastic trip. And keep in touch with the experts at ThemeParkHipster on social media.
About the Author
Megan is a theme park expert and frequent traveler to magical places. She covers all things Disney and Universal and runs marathons for fun.
She thinks you can tell a lot about someone by the name of their signature lipstick, and hers is NARS Dragon Girl.
Planning a trip soon? If so, read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!