People are always looking for Disney Tips, especially when they find out that I’m a former Walt Disney World Cast Member!
I learned a lot during my time working there in 2009-2010 and so when asked, I’ll gladly impart my wisdom and knowledge with those that ask for it.
Which is why I want to share it all with you! So here are my top 8 tips!
1. How can I get cheap Disney tickets?
This is the number one thing that I get asked when it comes to Disney Tips. We all know that Disney tickets aren’t cheap and without fail it’s a trending topic when they decide to raise their prices again. Everyone hopes I can let them in on a secret that tells them how they can get into Disneyland or Walt Disney World for a fraction of the cost.
But I’m here to tell you that if it seems too good to be true on the price, then it is.
When working for Walt Disney World, one of my roles as a cast member was as a “ticket taker” letting people into the park. I can tell you how heart breaking it was to watch people who bought tickets from scalpers, eBay, or Craigslist hoping to save a buck, only to be told their ticket wasn’t valid and they had to spend even more to buy tickets on site. (And on site is even MORE expensive than buying ahead of time, even from Disney themselves!)
I know that Disneyland has this same issue with invalid tickets being sold to unsuspecting families who just want to take their family to Disney. Disney tickets are non-transferable so it’s best to buy from those who are actual retailers.
My favorite go to for Disneyland tickets is Get Away Today. They’re really the most affordable way to go to Disneyland. And if you use my code TwoGeeks to buy your Southern California Vacation Package, you get an additional $10 off! (Extra Churro money perhaps?)
2. Where should I stay?
Walt Disney World:
I recommend staying on site to take advantage of the Free Disney Busses and Magical Express that will take you from the airport to your hotel. The close proximity is great and you can actually say you’re staying in Walt Disney World. Plus the hotels onsite are all themed so magically and there are hotels to fit everyone’s budget! My dream hotel at Walt Disney World would be the Grand Floridian.
But I also want to stay at Art of Animation! Polar opposites but both fantastic!
But one place that is oft overlooked but not to be missed are the Fort Wilderness Cabins. It’s great for families and the trees make it feel like you’re actually going camping as a family together, well at least camping in a cabin!
You can definitely stay onsite at one of the Disney owned hotels at Disneyland, but what I love about the Anaheim park is that there are some great hotels offsite within walking distance or a short shuttle ride away and at great prices too!
If you’re looking for just a place to sleep and won’t be spending too much time at your hotel, then don’t worry about extra frills like a swimming pool or free breakfast. Especially if you’re like me and want to get to the park at opening! You really can’t go wrong because there’s something for everyone!
3. Take advantage of the Fast Pass system
Disney has this great FREE way to skip the longer lines at their parks called Fast Pass (or Fast Pass + at Walt Disney World). And yes, I really mean FREE! You can’t believe how many times people would ask me how they could buy a Fast Pass and would be so happy when we told them it was free and included with their admission!
If you don’t know how it works, it works like this: instead of waiting in the long main line, you get a return time to come back later to have a shorter wait in the Fast Pass line.
The biggest difference right now between Disneyland and Walt Disney World is that at Walt Disney World you can make reservations for Fast Pass + ahead of time, before you even get down there. This makes it a lot easier so you don’t have to scramble to the attraction in the mad dash of the morning to get a Fast Pass for the popular rides. It’s important to plan ahead though so you don’t miss out! Disney only issues a set number of Fast Passes for the rides so once they’re gone, if you want to ride that ride, you’ll have to stand in the stand by line.
But don’t be dismayed! At Walt Disney World, they’ve added some fun interactive sections to the main lines! I remember when they reopened the refurbished Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, there were games you could play while standing in line. Many times the line got backed up because people were having so much fun with these games! They’ve since added similar features to other rides that I think would be fun to experience. Mostly because we’re a gaming family!
4. Park Hoppers
I know I talked about tickets above, but I didn’t mention what kind of tickets to get. My personal favorite passes are the Park Hoppers and here’s why:
It is definitely cheaper to get the one park per day passes and skip the Park Hopping feature which allows you to go to more than one park in a day. But what happens if you’re on your last day of vacation and you bought an extra day thinking you could just use that instead as it was cheaper in the long run?
Unfortunately that won’t work. It happened more often than not where someone would try to come into The Magic Kingdom and the ticket would read that it was already used at another park and we couldn’t let them in unless they added Park Hopping to their ticket.
Now of course, if you know for a FACT that you won’t be going to more than one park in a day, then by all means, you can skip this section of my Disney Tips. But as someone who had to deliver the bad news that they couldn’t use that extra day they bought, and all they wanted to do was go watch the fireworks on their last night at Disney, it was brutal.
But that’s the beauty of Park Hoppers is you CAN do that! You can be in one park and decide that you’ve done all you wanted there and then go to another one! This is most useful too at Disneyland because you can be in a new park in literally minutes! It’s so fast and easy that it’s almost crazy to not add Park Hopping to your tickets at Disneyland!
5. How many days should I go?
You could spend months at Disney and not do everything that there is to do. In fact, that’s what happened to me! I went to the parks any chance that I could during my off time, but there is still so much that I I didn’t get the chance to do.
But really the amount of days to spend in the parks depends on your needs. Do you want to do everything there is to see and do or do you want to only hit the highlights?
You should also factor in when you’re wanting to go. During the Summer, crowds are a lot higher because of all the kids on summer break. You may not get to do everything you want because of the long lines. Choosing more days in the summer time will help you to get to experience more in the parks.
With the same sense, going in the Fall or other slow times when kids are in school, will mean that the lines are shorter and you’ll get more bang for your buck. But of course that means taking the kids out of school and that’s not always feasible.
Thankfully Disney makes it affordable to add on a day or two extra. The more days you buy, the more you save per day!
If you really want to know how many days I recommend, I recommend going at at least 4 days to Walt Disney World if you want to hit all the parks (1 day per park).
For Disneyland, I recommend at least 2 days, again, 1 day per park. 3 is probably the ideal number in my mind for a Disneyland trip.
6. Where should I eat?
Disney food is amazing! I ate in the parks a lot when working there because I would get cravings for a certain treat or meal. My favorite thing to do was put on a jacket over my costume and head “on stage” to Casey’s Corner and get some corn dog nuggets and fries to eat on my lunch or when my shift was over.
Disney has really worked hard to provide a variety of different offerings from full service restaurants to quick cafeteria style food down to carts to get popcorn and other sweet treats.
While Disney does allow you to bring in your own food, I can’t help but love to eat in the park! Disney also does great at accommodating different food sensitivities, allergies, and diets!
What’s also great about Disney is that you can share most of the bigger entree’s from quick service locations (at full service restaurants there is a fee to split an entree). The portions are so big that many times the food ends up going to waste! I also found as well when working there that I typically ordered from the child’s menu in the quick service restaurants as it was enough of a fill for me, and cheaper too! If I was still hungry, then I would get myself a snack from one of the carts to fill me back up.
If you’re planning to eat at one of the full service restaurants, you’ll want to make sure to make reservations. Many of these restaurants book up months in advanced, especially if they’re really popular. Walt Disney World allows you to make reservations 180 days in advanced. For Disneyland you can make them 60 days in advanced. You can always try for same day reservations, but be prepared to have a backup if that doesn’t pan out!
7. Do your research!
Gone are the days where you could just buy tickets and go to a Disney park and go with the flow. The park is brimming with guests, even during the slow season, and if you want to get the most bang for your buck, then doing a bit of planning beforehand will help you have a great experience! But guess what? Just by reading this post you’re already doing research!
Thankfully there are a lot of great resources out there like this blog post, Pinterest, or even friends and family! Just make sure you know for a fact that it’s something that can actually be done. There are a lot of Disney Myths out there. For example, if you’ve ever seen the post shared about yelling “Andy’s coming” at the Toy Story characters, just know it’s not actually true!
My last piece of advice is to relax. Too many times I see families rushing to get it all done that they miss what’s around them! I know I had the luxury of people watching as much as I wanted while working as a Cast Member, but sometimes the best moments at Disney comes from when you’re just sitting there.
You can take in the atmosphere at the parks or you can soak up some rays at the pool! But what’s important is enjoying those little moments that really make the magic to me.
So the next time you go on a Disney Vacation, if you follow these 8 tips, you can be rest assured that you’ve been helped by a former Cast Member to have the best vacation ever!
Got a favorite Disney Tip? Let me know in the comments below!