Disney World tips


One that apparently was a real thing, but you wouldn’t see while standing in line: rich families hiring a handicap person to go to Disney with them.

We took my in-laws a few years ago. Mother-in-law doesn’t have a parking placard or anything, but in no way could walk around the Magic Kingdom. We rented one of the park’s rental wheelchairs, and were treated to all sorts of preferential treatment from the staff. I did give an “Oh, that is cold!” to the girl helping us go in the handicap queue at the Haunted Mansion, after she said “wait here a moment while we make your Final Arrangements”.


My daughter and three of her teammates went to Disney World and Animal Kingdom last summer a couple of days after they finished up their volleyball tournament in Orlando. I had bought tickets online, and they had fast passes for a couple of pre-defined rides at pre-defined times. Their first use went perfectly, but the second time they tried to redeem their passes it didn’t work correctly. One of the park employees let them on the ride via the Fast Pass line anyway, but told them to go to Guest Services to have it checked out so they wouldn’t have more problems on the next ride.

At Guest Services, the employee there wasn’t sure what the deal was, so he basically just asked them what rides they were still interested in riding, and issued them new unlimited fast passes for those rides. Then he noticed one of the girls was sitting down, nursing a sore ankle she’d tweaked during the volleyball tournament, and he asked about it. When the girls told him she had hurt her ankle playing volleyball, he whipped up a wheelchair and some lanyards, and the girls got to skip lines the whole rest of the time at both parks. They had a complete blast, and referred to themselves as “Tessa (the injured girl) and her Entourage” the entire rest of the trip.

Basically, if you have any sort of problem at Disney, and you’re honest and sincere about it, the staff will bend over backwards to make sure you feel taken care of. They have pretty much the best customer services of any entertainment venue on the planet.


They got rid of this. It was a well known lie. I am not exactly sure how they handle it now but dear lord the boomers have a ton of scooters out there. It’s an issue with the buses. They can only take two at a time and you only get part of your group as a guarantee go with them if it’s a large group.You’ll still probably not see a place on the planet with more strollers, but the scooters are crawling up there too.


Last year, I was leaving Animal Kingdom with my 7yo daughter, in torrential rain. A cast member was walking the same way, caught up with us and shared her umbrella, walking with us and chatting happily with my daughter. When we got to the row I’d parked on, she insisted on giving us the umbrella, to get to the car - it was a Disney umbrella that apparently they give away to staff who forget theirs, and she promised she didn’t have far to go herself, but I was blown away by such a kind gesture.

The 3hr wait for the Avatar ride is something we went through twice during our holiday, but the ride itself is worth it. The second time round we were a bit more prepared, and we all brought books to read to help pass the time, which helped a lot.


That’s a great idea. Although it would be a regularly interrupted reading, in a two hour line I’m sure you made some progress.

I really like the idea mentioned above where you go early to the park, bail for lunch and a swim at the hotel, then come back at 4 when lines start to thin. That’s awesome and if I ever go back I’ll try it.


Boma is really great!


So going back to the line cutters discussion. We were at Disneyland on Sunday and these cute little >5 year old girls make their way through the line with purpose as if they were meeting their family. Which I thought was weird because what kind of parent let’s their really young kid wander alone. 5 minutes later a really mad dad makes his way through the line. Apparently the little con artists just bluffed their way to the front.


Hit the parks over Presidents’ Day weekend, which is apparently the most crowded part of February (kid’s marching band made the trip to perform - we chose to not chaperone the bus ride and flew on a civilized airplane…)

Had not been to Animal Kingdom in forever. There’s still not a whole day’s worth of activity there, unless you count waiting 3+ hours for Flight of Passage. We bailed out at about 4 and took a bus to Disney Springs for some shopping and eating (Amorette’s Patisserie is excellent). We did Flight by substituting getting up really early for standing in line for hours - sort of. Park opened at 8, with early-hour starting at 7. We arrived at the front gate about 6:45 and (only?) waited a bit over an hour for Flight. It is really really cool. By putting your face right up into the 3D screen they made it far and away the most immersive of that sort of ride. I was also really impressed by how well they integrated the CGI projection elements into the River dark ride. The amount of money and effort that went into the whole Pandora-land experience is really impressive.

We made good use of the single-rider lines at Everest and Test Track (did not hit Hollywood Studios this trip). Turned a 75 - 90 minute wait into more like 20 minutes.

I know many people try to do sit-down at Epcot, but we stick to a couple of favorite counter-service spots. Had lunch at the one in Morocco. Was pleasantly surprised to find the Kringla Bakeri basically deserted at dinnertime, despite the large crowd at the park. They have a couple of sandwiches that are good and as good a value as you can expect.


Currently at WDW right now. We did the Magic Kingdom today. This was also the day of the Princess half marathon. This meant that many of the roads leading to the parks were effectively closed. There were multiple detours that eventually led us to the Epcot parking area. So we parked there and took the monorail over to the MK. I think because it was next to impossible to drive to the park until around 11, it was not at all crowded for the entire morning.

Did most of the headliners and a bunch of other stuff in around 3 hours. The crowds picked up after noon but it still wasn’t all that bad. All told, a good day.

I sprung for the “memory maker” photo package for the first time on this trip and I think it’s definitely worth the price. My daughter and her friends buzzed all around the park getting pictures with Disney characters. And I made a really stupid face on Splash Mountain that we will cherish forever.

Next stop, Epcot.


Cool. The guides all say to avoid the Half Marathon weekend, but they’re obviously not seeing the whole picture. If you were staying on property and taking the bus to the park it would be even easier.


Report from Epcot on Monday. Pretty standard crowds. We hit Soarin’ right at the start of the day and only waited about 20 minutes. The family in front of us had a 10 or 11 year old who was in full meltdown mode (at 9am) :/

Bopped around the park for most of the day and managed to do all the attractions. Mission Space was a 15 min wait. I’m prone to motion sickness but for some reason this ride (the intense version) doesn’t bother me. We fastpassed Frozen. Cute ride. Not at all worth the 60-90 min wait. Those poor people in the standby line looked miserable. Went over to Test Track and the wait was 85 min. So my son and I got in the Single Rider line and waited less than 5 min to ride. We even ended up in the same car.

Late lunch in the Germany Biergarten. Pricey but fun. And it is all you can eat.

Wandered around the countries and noticed they were selling alcohol everywhere. Disney must be making a killing on the markup. This was the last day of the Festival of the Arts so there were lots of specialty food stalls selling small plates and expensive drinks.

Stayed for the night show. “Illuminations” will end its run this summer so it was nice to see it one more time. It’s got a predictably future-positive message about sharing the planet and getting along. I wonder what the guy with the MAGA hat we saw thought of the show.

Tuesday is our break day. Off to Hollywood Studios on Wed.


Report from Hollywood Studios. Moderate crowds. Right off the bat we decided to head to Toy Story Land to try the new attractions. This was a mistake. Everyone goes here first, it seems. Plus, Midway Mania was down leaving the Slinky Coaster and the Spinning Saucers to absorb the crowds. We got on the Saucer Ride easily (cute… for smaller kids) but Slinky Dog was 85min. So we left that part of the park and decided to hit some other attractions. Tower of Terror (30 min wait) was excellent as always. I think it’s my favorite ride in the park. We also got the drop pattern that tricks you into thinking the ride is over only to shoot you up to the top again. Lost my Magic Band on the ride. So we waited with some cast members for our car to come around again, and sure enough, there it was.

Then on to Star Tours (no wait with Fast Pass). This is just a great attraction with all the new patterns and destinations.

Then lunch at the 50s Prime Time Cafe. The premise is you’re having dinner at your parents house. Everything is decorated to look like a kitchen from the 1950s complete with black and white TV showing old programs. The waitstaff are rude and get upset if you put your elbows on the table or if you don’t finish your green beans. My son almost couldn’t stop laughing long enough to order.

Then we Fast Passed Rock n Roller Coaster where the cast member in the pre-show quipped, “Aerosmith… it’s like they haven’t aged in 20 years”. Probably Disney’s most intense coaster. Fun!

My son and I went back over to Toy Story Land to wait it out for the Slinky Dog Coaster. It’s actually a really nice, smooth steel coaster with an excellent view of Galaxies Edge. Not worth the wait but still fun. Then over to Midway Mania. Not a bad wait. And when we got out… Rain.

Just a light rain, mind you but it was enough to start clearing out the park. It lasted for maybe and hour and afterwards the crowds were mostly gone. We did Star Tours 2 more times (no wait) and got completely different adventures. Then Tower of Terror (short wait) and then Rock and Roller Coaster again (single rider line… no wait).

Then light dinner and drinks before Fantasmic. Seen it before, but it’s quite a show. My daughter’s friends mouths were agape through most of it.

A good day. Next stop, Animal Kingdom.


I’ve heard rumor that they cheaped out on Slinky Dog and are already having problems with it, like they took his tail off. I road it when I was there and the tail was on… did you happen to notice he still had his tail?


The tail was on.


Report from Animal Kingdom. Slightly heavy crowds today. Or maybe it just felt that way because The World of Pandora is constantly swamped with people. We got to the park before open because it’s impossible to get Fast Passes to Flight of Passage and that’s the one attraction I really wanted to experience. I heard that the wait time rarely goes below two hours, so the “get in line right when the park opens” seemed sound.

And sure enough, that was the right call. They had a standby line started before the park officially opened and while the estimated wait time was 95min it ended up being only 45min. It helped that the queue is fantastically themed. There’s just a lot to soak in as you shuffle along. It also helps that once you’re officially onboarded, there are 2 preshows that move your group through a couple of rooms where they “link your DNA to an avatar”. It’s cool and entertaining, provides context for the attraction, and cleverly covers that fact that you’re basically waiting another 10 minutes for the ride to start.

And what a ride it is. Absolutely amazing full sensory experience. Worth the wait.

Then we walked the two Expedition Trails to see the animals. It is a fuctioning zoo after all. I’ve always like these and think other zoos could learn a few things from how Disney sets these up. Great views of the Gorillas and especially two tigers who were stalking each other and play sparring.

Then off to “It’s Tough to be a Bug”. Fun show with lots of surprises. I’ve seen this a few times and every single time there are people who hightail it to the exit when a certain event occurs during the show. Can’t say they weren’t warned.

Then we Fast Passed the Safari. Great views of giraffe, elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions and more. I very much appreciate they finally stripped all of the story elements out of the attraction and now it’s just a straight up tour.

Then lunch at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora. They mostly do customizable bowls with a protein, a base, and a sauce. I had steak, with rice and beans, and a black bean sauce. Tasty, filling, and fairly healthy. My son had the Cheeseburger Bao. Thumbs down from him (and he loved the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls at Magic Kingdom… as did I).

Next Fast Passed Dinosaur. This is a somewhat maligned attraction which uses the same technology and track layout as the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland but with a cut construction and theming budget. It’s decent with a couple of good jump scares. My son’s favorite ride at the park.

Then we Fast Passed Expedition Everest. Fun, intense Coaster. Not worth a long wait.

Finally, our group all met up. My daughter and her friends said they were going to walk the trails. I told her to contact us when they were done and we’d plan one last thing before leaving the park. After about 45 minutes of sitting around at a table we discover that they ditched the trails (because they close early) and got in line for the Navi River Journey with out telling us first. So my wife, son, and I were stuck waiting another 45 minutes while they made their way through the queue and the ride. Not too thrilled about that. But at least Pandora at night is really cool to see.

Not a bad day.


So when I went to Disney I spent too much trying to figure out how to exploit the Fastpass system. Turns out if you are willing to walk around with your head buried in your phone instead of enjoying the atmosphere… you can basically never wait for anything and ride as much as you want.

The trick is to burn your fast passes as quickly as possible, and you can only do this if you make them on the spot rather than ahead of time. This is because the web site won’t let you sign up for fast passes that are too close together, it’s really aggressive in blocking you. So even if you plan really hard in advance you would be unlikely to burn your 3 passes before noon. But each fast pass is an HOUR window, and there is a secret 5 minutes before, 15 minutes after, grace period.

So get one fast past as early as possible in the day, or don’t bother, just show up early and spam refresh until you get a decent ride in the next 10 minutes. Then, as soon as you swipe your pass (while you are walking or waiting in the fast line) start spam refreshing for the next fast pass. Because you cleared out your first pass, now you can anything that pops up and the system won’t consider it a conflict. Once you burn your three passes you can keeping one at a time, doing the same trick – start spam refreshing as soon as you swipe into the first line. In general I was always able to get another ride in the 10 minute Fast line.

This mostly works in the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the day. That’s because everyone has scheduled fast passes in those periods, so you aren’t fighting a million refreshers. But at the end of the day everyone has used up their three, so everyone is spam refreshing and it’s super hard to get rides. Also you can park hop fast pass once you use three in the same part in the same day, so if you got nothing to do, you can snag Flight of Passage in a totally different park even.

Caveat, I was with one other person and it wasn’t a super crowded time of year. May not work with bigger groups?


My sister had to do this with my nephew. Some kids just get terrified of the show. They do warn you but you just never know with young kids. It’s a good show though.


My only memory of it’s tough to be a big is in the Disneyland one when I was a kid and some effect pinched the hell out of one of my balls. It was the first time I ever really experienced a nut shot. It’s forever etched into my soul.


That’s really excellent advice, Quaro. We implemented that a bit on our final day and it worked pretty well so long as the app cooperated. I also noticed that if I tried to reserve for our full party of six I didn’t have much luck. But when my daughter and her friends went off on their own and I was reserving for three things worked a lot better.

I’ll be writing up a list of Do’s and Don’t’s based on our experience once we’re back home.


Is the dining reservation system broken or pointless? I was supposed to start making reservations yesterday. I’m checking now and there’s pretty much nothing available from 6-8pm for any restaurant you’d actually want to make a reservation at. I’m going the second week of September, which, based on the resort rates, is as dead as WDW gets. Yet there are no reasonable dining reservations available.

I’m checking O’hana and there’s nothing until 9/14, but just to stick it in my eye, there’s a reservation available today. wtf.