As a former Cast Member, I’m a huge fan of learning through personal experience. This means that although I’ve got a website FULL of articles about Orlando…there’s a number of tips that you can just classify as common knowledge.
Expect some humorous things for folks who have been to Disney before, but my hope is that you can use these tips and avoid mistakes that you don’t have to make.
Insider Tips about Walt Disney World from a Former Cast Member
YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ALL OF WALT DISNEY WORLD UNTIL YOU’VE LEFT THE PARKS
Most people think that doing the theme parks is the only way to “do Disney”, but there’s so much more to offer. This includes Disney Springs, Disney Resorts, Disney Water Parks and even golf! (Mini golf and regular golf)
I can’t tell you how many times people share their “Disney vacation” and it involves a trip 10 years ago where they spent one day at the Magic Kingdom.
DISNEY TRANSPORTATION IS SLOW DUE TO TRAFFIC
Very seldom will you walk to a transportation hub and find a waiting bus. This is because you’re dealing with hundreds of buses going in circles between 25+ resorts, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs.
Side Note: If you walk up to the bus stop and see that your bus has just left…you’ve got two choices. Wait a possible 5-25 minutes OR order an UBER and save time.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ISN’T AN OPTION
When you visit cities like New York City or Toronto, folks will recommend taking the subway or public transportation….this isn’t an option around Disney & Universal. They exist, but why waste time when you’ve only got a limited time on vacation.
DON’T BRING YOUR CAR
In general, there’s very little reason to bring your car, unless you’re driving down. With the extra charges that you’ll find on your bill to park at the resorts and the theme parks, in addition to the crazy long walks through miles and miles of parking lots…just do your research and know that the fees add up quickly.
WALKING IS EXHAUSTING
Even if you want to walk 20-25k steps a day, there are times during the day that you’ll want to get off your feet. Take your own advice and find a good chair to relax and use some free Disney Resort WiFi!
My favorite spots to grab Air Conditioning are at the resorts:
- Magic Kingdom – Walk over to the Contemporary Resort
- Hollywood Studios & EPCOT – Head to the Yacht/Beach Club Resort
- Animal Kingdom – Hop on the bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
The other thing to take note of is the distance between your hotel and the nearest bus route. If you’re at a Disney Springs Resort Hotel…calculate the walking time on Google Maps and then double it (because of the heat and the possible torrential downpours).
AVOID RUSH HOUR
Wait, there’s a rush hour at Walt Disney World? ABSOLUTELY!
The busiest times of the day are between 11am and 5pm, as that’s peak “family time”. If you’re planning on riding attractions during that time, make sure that you’ve got FastPass+ reservations because if not…you’ll be stuck in huge lines during the midday heat.
That being said, there are things that only happen during the middle of the day.
- Certain character experiences, like meeting princesses around World Showcase
- 3pm parade at the Magic Kingdom
EAT AT DISNEY RESTAURANTS AND TRY TO AVOID CHAIN RESTAURANTS
There are hundreds of spots on Disney World property to grab a meal and although there are new restaurants opening up constantly…it’s important to eat where you want to!
Food lovers consider the Walt Disney World resort as being home to some of the best eats in the USA. You know what’s usually not on the list? Chains and duplicates.
Try to choose spots that work well within your budget and enjoy! Please note that Blaze Pizza at Disney Springs is 100% worth it!
GIVE DISNEY WORLD ENOUGH TIME
Wondering how long you should spend at Disney World? Because the property is the size of San Fransisco…you’ll want to try to experience it all without leaving stuff on the table. I usually recommend that 5-7 days in Disney is usually the minimum, just for the theme parks and a single day at Universal Orlando.
I do have an itinerary for a first time vacation, but it comes down to budget and vacation time.
THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS MAGICAL, BUT INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE
Spending time at the Walt Disney World during Christmas is magical, but it’s definitely not the MOST magical due to the crowds.
Generally, heading down for the holidays anytime between the 2nd week of November and the 2nd week of December will give you the best experience without the premium prices and higher crowd levels.
Always remember to check out the Disney Resorts, as they go all out with the decorations and events.
DON’T OBSESS OVER SEEING EVERYTHING
There are still things that I’ve never done at Disney! It’s actually part of the fun of planning more vacations, as you don’t want to see everything in one trip.
I think this is the most important thing that I can share as a former Disney World Cast Member – Disney continually grows and expands. No trip will ever be the same:)
DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON RANDOM STUFF
Want to create memories? Find experiences and add-ons that you can splurge on. Another shirt or a plush toy won’t make your vacation more special…but maybe a unique dinner will!
Remember that we’ve got a list about the 10 Things We Regret Buying at Walt Disney World, so knowing ahead of time that a budget is important to stick to because there’s always more things to buy.
CAST MEMBERS ARE GREAT RESOURCES
If you want insider info, just ask.
For more insider tips to Disney World, keep reading: