“Hacking” a Disney World vacation doesn’t mean that you found some way to get a huge room discount or free tickets. It usually means that you found some way to get more value out of your vacation and your time in the parks. Here are our Top 5 Hacks that will save you time, money, and frustration at Walt Disney World!
1. Eat Two Meals a Day
When we are at Disney we only eat two main meals a day. One in the 10AM-11AM hour, and one in the 4PM-5PM hour. Why? Because everyone else is eating three meals a day, of course!
Here are the main advantages of planning two meals a day and snacking any other time you are hungry:
- Restaurants are less crowded during these times, meaning better service, more relaxation, and possibly more character interactions.
- The parks are less crowded when everyone else is eating at “normal” times, meaning lower ride wait times. This is especially true if you Rope Drop the parks and don’t eat until 10AM.
- It’s easier to achieve the full value of the Disney Dining Plan with only two meals.
2. Get Your FREE Celebration Button
How special would you feel if every Cast Member you meet wished you a happy birthday? Wear a Happy Birthday button in the parks and find out! It might sound silly, but it really is special and it will almost always catch you off guard.
A variety of buttons can be obtained at all of the resort front desks, as well as most restaurants and shops. Standard buttons include 1st Visit, Happily Ever After (engagement/wedding/honeymoon), Happy Birthday, and I’m Celebrating. Cast Members will help you customize the buttons too.
The real hack here is that you should wear the button AT ALL TIMES on Walt Disney World property. Cast Members may strike up a unique conversation or give you a special treat. You never know what magic may be in store for those sharing their celebration!
3. Avoid the Parks with Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours are when the parks are open for set times before or after normal operating hours on select days. They are only available for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, and are different from Special Ticketed Events.
So how is it a hack to AVOID the parks that are offering Extra Magic Hours? Because those are the days that EVERYONE ELSE is going to the parks too. Despite the notion that Extra Magic Hours is an extra value to resort guests only, they actually end up making the parks more crowded.
If you are interested in parks with low crowd levels, you should:
- Check a Crowd Calendar
- Visit parks on days WITHOUT Extra Magic Hours
- Visit parks on days WITH Special Ticketed Events like the Halloween and Christmas parties at Magic Kingdom. Since these parties start at 7PM, guests without tickets believe they will get less value if they go to that park on that day. Therefore the crowds are lower!
4. Kids are FREE Under Three
Families often ask us if taking their infant or toddler on a Disney trip is worth it. We say YES! Plenty of people argue that the child won’t remember it later (ours did), but we argue the trip is more about the parents’ memories of the child than anything.
That is why it is so amazing that children are “Free Under Three” at Walt Disney World. This means that children under 3 years old as of the date of travel do not need a park ticket. They can also eat off their parents’ plates at all restaurants without an extra charge! The restaurant policy is especially awesome at character buffets like The Crystal Palace, and expensive reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table.
If you didn’t know about this hack before, then we might have just made your next trip considerably less expensive!
5. Didn't Get a FastPass? Ride it Last!
Even with the 60-day booking window for Walt Disney World Resort guests, it can still be pretty difficult to get some FastPass+ attractions. Avatar Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, even Space Mountain in the busy season can be tough to get!
So does that mean you need to brave a 3-hour line just to ride these? Of course not! You just need to come back at the right time of day. Ride queues vary over the course of the day and there are various strategies to picking the right time for the right ride. However, the one consistent rule is the “Last Ride of the Day” policy.
So long as you are in line for a ride before a ride officially closes for the day, then you will ride that ride! Remember that some rides close before the rest of the park. Wait times are often exaggerated at the end of the day so that this isn’t abused. But if you couldn’t get a Flight of Passage FastPass+, head over to Pandora about 30 minutes before Animal Kingdom closes and jump in line. You will get a ride, and it definitely won’t take 3 hours!
What are some other Disney World hacks that you love? Do you disagree with anything on this list? Let me know in the comments!