Let me start out by saying this: I love Disney. As a seasoned guest of Walt Disney World and a former employee, I enjoy sharing my knowledge with new visitors to make their trips less stressful. I haven’t wrote much about my time in the Disney College Program, but I feel like spring breakers could benefit from my knowledge of this crazy, magical place! I interned at Disney World back in winter/spring 2013 and was there long enough to watch the huge crowds trickle in week after week to celebrate spring break. I was “stationed” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so most of my information is based on my knowledge of this park.
Walt Disney World Travel Tips
- Get to the parks early. It’s that simple. Be first in line when the parks open and run to the attraction you most want to see. After that, head over to the next biggest attraction you want to see. Within that first hour I can almost guarantee you’ll be able to hit all the major things on your list with minimal wait time.
- Parades are your friend. If you don’t want to see the park’s signature parade, then this is a great time to hop on rides and see a few shows. People flock to the parades and the wait time for attractions goes down, just be sure to be on the side of the park you need to be on because when a parade goes through they shut entire areas down to walking traffic.
- Get the pesky brochures. At the entrance of every park you will find an array of pamphlets and brochures outlining everything there is to know about the park you’re in. I suggest grabbing a map, character meet and greet guide, and a show time guide to minimize the amount of time you spend wandering around trying to find something.
- Understand how character meetings work. As a former character attendant (glorified body guard and time keeper), I can tell you from experience that the characters have incredibly strict schedules. I can also tell you that with certain characters especially in Hollywood Studios, they run on a 25 minute on, 5 minute off schedule. This schedule runs about 8 or more hours a day. The character has 25 minutes to meet his fans and is then given a 5 minute warning from his handler that he needs to finish up with his meet and greet. Then, the character gets a 5 minute break before returning to his line of waiting guests. Also, character will likely not be out during parade times. Why? Because most of them are in the parade!
- Have a schedule. Before heading to each park, make a list of what you want to see and do the most. Schedule out what time you want to arrive at the park and when you want to leave. My advice? Get to the park when it opens and stay until lunch time when everyone is getting tired. Return to your hotel and relax by the pool and take a nap. Around 4 or 5, head back into the parks to enjoy the evening festivities (fireworks every night in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot). Trust me, this saves a lot of stress and fatigue.
- Take advantage of the “Extra Magic Hours”. This particularly applies to the crazy college kids who are used to being up until midnight or later. Every night one park will either open an hour early or stay open 2 hours late. Find out which park is staying open late and enjoy those hours. Typically, the smaller children have fallen asleep and are headed back to the hotel and you can finally enjoy those little kid attractions you’ve been dying to get on (think Peter Pan’s Flight in Magic Kingdom).
- Pack for Florida weather. Florida is unpredictable in the spring. As an attendant, at any given time I had with me a water bottle, rain poncho, sunscreen, and lip balm. You never knew what was going to happen. Take a drawstring backpack with you (not the time to sport your new Kate Spade tote) and throw in some all-weather gear. You’ll thank me for this.
- Do not have melt downs. Do you know how many times I’ve seen people absolutely lose it over something because of stress? This is a vacation. Take everything with a grain of salt and just enjoy the day. The funny thing about Disney World is that you don’t typically walk away remembering every single ride you went on or show you saw, you only remember who you were with and the laughter you shared. If you don’t make it to see a show, who cares? Find something new to enjoy. I promise you that your vacation will not be near as wonderful if you get caught up in the details.
If you have anything to share, please feel free to comment below!