Disneyland Los Angeles, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, Disneyland Tokyo, and now Disneyland Shanghai. We have so many choices Ex Perth to fulfil the Disney experience! Is it just for families with young children? The answer is, most definitely not. I just spent a week of my five week honeymoon in Disney World, Florida, where my husband and I had the time of our lives. Imagine a 6’4” man in a basketball jersey on the tea cup ride in Fantasy Land, Magic Kingdom... Disney is for any age and any gender, it is magical and where dreams truly do come true.
From personal experience, here are a few tips and tricks to survive the papa bear of Disney… Disney World, Florida U.S.A.
1. Get the My Disney Experience App
Make sure you download the My Disney Experience app onto your smart phone when you arrive, as it will be your new best friend. Wi-Fi is available throughout the parks so the app is always available (Wi-Fi is no extra charge). This app holds everything you need while visiting Disney World; Fast Pass selection, Restaurant reservations, Parks operating hours, ride waiting times, show times and much, much more!
Our favourite part was the Fast Pass; you can select your fast pass ride options and time selection to beat the wait times! You also have the flexibility to change them throughout the day. The staff at each park are very helpful, if it wasn’t for a lovely staff member who took time to help us with the app we would have been wandering around like lost puppies.
2. Stay at the Disney World Resorts
Staying at a Disney themed resort is truly a part of the experience. It is also much more economical as there are free Disney shuttles available to the Disney Resorts to take you to and from each park all day, every day.
My husband and I stayed at Port Orleans, Riverside. This is classed as a ‘moderate’ hotel and was absolutely beautiful as well as very well priced for the week we stayed there.
My favourite touch was the small ferry that departs from only the two Port Orleans Resorts and takes you up river to Disney Springs every evening for dinner. No other Disney resort offers this service and the ferries run until quite late into the evening (you can still get the bus back to your resort at any hour). The faint sound of the ferry horn and the slow pace up the river sets you in the mood for a relaxed dinner at Disney Springs after such a long day of being a big kid! You will also receive a magic band if you stay at a Disney Resort, you wear these everyday all day. They are the key to your room, the entry into the parks and your fast pass entry.
3. Try and be an ‘early eater’ or an ‘early booker’.
Although there are plenty of restaurant/café/takeaway options, Disney Springs is the go-to place for meals. As for as the specialty restaurants in the parks and resorts, you need to book months in advance or be an early eater, especially if you have small children and they want to have breakfast with the Disney Characters.
My husband and I didn’t book any restaurants but we are early eaters. We showed up at the most popular restaurants at 5pm-5.30pm each evening and it was never a problem to get a table. Just avoid peak hours if you didn’t book, and reservations aside, the fast service options for breakfast and lunch are perfect.
4. You don’t need to carry around your souvenirs
How annoying is lugging around souvenirs that the kids begged for when they went into the Disney store half way through the day? The good news is that Disney shops within the parks will happily send your purchases back to your hotel. If you see that Disney Princess mug or Walt Disney picture frame and just have to have it but don’t want to carry it with you all day on rides and through the park? Have no fear, Disney is here!
5. Ride the free Disney Shuttle service
Disney World offers free shuttle buses from each resort that run on a very regular basis to each Disney Park and other Disney Resorts. Again, it is always best to arrive early morning to be one of the few to get on the first round of buses as they fill up fast! Don’t panic, as they are very regular and you will not miss out on getting on a bus.
Some resorts are very large and you will only see the shuttles departing and disembarking at the front of the hotels. We found there was actually another shuttle drop off and pick up zone at the back of our resort (and much closer to our room). Just a little something to keep an eye out for! You also have the Walt Disney Monorail to utilise whilst staying at Disney World.
6. Arrive to Magic Kingdom early for a show
Some people are not aware of the park opening countdown which is hosted by the park staff and Disney Characters themselves. It’s a beautiful show to start your day and a real novelty for the kids, and grown up kids also.
7. Purchase the Park Hopper ticket
The Park Hopper gives you the freedom to visit multiple parks on the one day, as well as visiting a park on more than one day of your stay at Disney World. We found we needed two days at the Magic Kingdom, but on another day we spent half the day at Hollywood Studios and then hopped back to Epcot for some incredible chocolate pudding we had discovered the day before.
8. Specialised T-Shirts for large groups and families
Another great idea we saw was people traveling in large groups of families had specialised t-shirts made all in the same bright colour and all stating “THE ______ FAMILY” on the front. It is a fun and effective way to find your group in the crowds.
9. Take advantage of your Extra Magic Hours
You will receive Extra Magic Hours if you are a Disney Resort guest, these are fantastic as you receive exclusive Disney Resort guest ONLY access. I find the extra hours work best in the evening as you may have started your day early and then ducked back to your resort for a nap or a swim. The humidity in Florida can sometimes be intense so the extra time in the parks in the evening when the sun has gone down can be much more comfortable. Day guests have departed by this time, so ride queues are usually quicker.
10. Let it be known if it is a special occasion
Disney World loves special occasions, be it your birthday, anniversary or honeymoon. Make it known and you will receive a button that states what you are celebrating. You can receive anything from a “Happy Birthday” from all the Disney staff members as you walk by to a free Fast Pass because you are on honeymoon!
These tips and tricks for your special visit to Disney World are from personal experience, and Disney World is truly where dreams come true! And just to think… “It all started with a mouse” – Walt Disney.