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Thursday, July 19, 2018

102 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin


102 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018  

Disney World vacation tips are truly a dime a dozen in many cases. Your friend tells you one thing, your second cousin tells you another thing, and countless websites tell you something different. Of course, not all of those are going to be good tips for a Walt Disney World vacation, while many of them may very well be excellent recommendations. However, in what I see as a continually innovative move in the right direction, the Disney parks and resorts are always changing. As we embark on a new year, a few things have changed (as always), but quite a bit has remained the same so we're taking a look at a vast assortment of tips we've shared with guests traveling to the parks and even a few new recommendations that apply to planning your vacation for this year in particular. (Updated July 2018 - Additions start at number 75!



In the past, we've narrowed our tips down to strictly categorical lists, but today we thought we'd venture beyond the list (for lack of a better word) and just share an unveiling of tips based on our experience traveling to Disney throughout our entire lives. As the year unfolds, we hope to keep this list updated and continually improve the tips shared while removing some that may no longer be accurate. At the time of posting (July 2018) each and every tip on the list should be easily accessible and useful during your vacation! 


Our Top Walt Disney World Tips! 


So, with the overall premise of today narrowed down, we'll jump right into it with #1. As a bit of a heads up, these are in no particular order and were not intended to be ranked in the list format:
  1. If you're going to venture into Pandora at Animal Kingdom, you'll want a fastpass+ for Flight of Passage, similar to how you still need a fastpass+ selection for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train long after it's debut. The attraction regularly reaches wait times well beyond 2 hours, so be prepared to wait, and reserve a fastpass well in advance (at the 60 day out reservation window if at all possible). Also, be sure to check out the new counter service location, Satu'li Canteen for an adventurous meal but one that guests tend to really enjoy. Many have called it the best counter service location on property. Concerned about riding Flight of Passage? Be sure to check out our An Honest Analysis: Flight of Passage From A Motion Sickness Perspective post. 
  2. Buy your tickets in advance. No matter if you are buying a package from Disney of buying everything independently (see tip 24 for more on that), buy your tickets early. If you wait until you arrive at the park or very late in your booking process you'll loose out on the opportunity to book fastpass+ selections far in advance. Want some more fastpass tips? Check out our 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience 
  3. Don't worry about planning every little detail. So many guests over plan their Disney trip by creating a down to the minute list of what attractions they want to ride and at what time. To be quite honest, this strategy can lead to a ton of stress and you'll likely miss out on the joys of "the little things" of Walt Disney World. Of course, plan the big things, and even what days you'll visit what park, etc. but avoid the play by play itinerary and take some time to just take it all in. Here's a closer look at what we recommend planning and some extra tips on that topic in depth. Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018
  4. Avoid the mid week meltdown. Without a doubt, at some point in your vacation you'll get overwhelmed and reach that point where everything seems to be going wrong (especially if you travel with children). Avoid that meltdown moment by taking a mid afternoon break from the parks. Head back to the resort and cool off in the room, head to the pool for a few hours, grab a table service meal at your resort, and simply relax for a few brief moments. You'll be genuinely shocked at the difference it can make! 
  5. Prepare for the heat no matter what season you're visiting the parks. Orlando weather is truly unpredictable at times but you always face the chance that it will be extremely warm during your vacation at some point. We traveled to the parks around Christmas last year and faced a day of heat in the mid 90's. Sometimes it seems impossible to beat the heat at Walt Disney World but it's quite possible if you plan accordingly. Make sure to read 5 Ways To Beat The Heat At WDW for our tips on that. 
  6. If you're thirsty in a park, simply head to a counter service location and request a cup of ice water. It's completely free and saves you quite a bit of money in the long run by avoiding bottled water costs and soft drink prices. 
  7. Book dining reservations at resorts. Resort dining is excellent at Walt Disney World and even if you're not staying at that resort, parking is free or you can easily hop on that resort's bus at any of the four parks to catch a ride to your desired resort dining location. One of our favorites over the years has been Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. We've had excellent interactions with cast members in the past which we wrote about in our Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks - "Sunshine" From Whispering Canyon  post.
  8. Sticking with Disney dining, save some money and try a few of the more budget friendly entrees on property. No matter what your budget, we recommend that you schedule at least one table service meal during your vacation, even if you're just going to be in the parks for a single day. A select few of our main recommendations pop up in our 5 Excellent Entrees Under $15 at Walt Disney World.
  9. Get to the parks early. For seasoned guests, this likely seems obvious, but if you arrive in the parks early you'll be surprised how many attraction you can enjoy without waiting in line more than around 10 minutes. This simple concept is a huge part of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+!  article.
  10. Read up on your Walt Disney World history. This is a tip you wont find anywhere else but I see it as fundamental in touring the parks and developing a greater appreciation of their past and how it has affected what you see in the parks to day. Our The "Western River Expedition" - The Walt Disney World Attraction That Almost Became A Reality is an excellent place to start! 
  11. Book a breakfast reservation mid-morning. If you've yet to schedule your dining reservations for your upcoming trip, be sure to pick up a reservation for around 10:30am. When you do, it allows you to hit key attractions at low wait times at rope drop opening, then as the crowds start to build you get to head inside for a hot meal. Our main breakfast suggestion at Magic Kingdom is Crystal Palace which we recently named One of the Best Table Service Breakfasts on Property.
  12. Order your Magic Bands early on in your planning process. After you book your resort reservations, you'll be asked to select colors for each member of your family before your magic bands are shipped and customized to your preferences. If you dont do it right away, it's easy to forget them entirely. 
  13. If you're driving or renting a car, be sure to head over to the outlet shopping centers near Disney property. There are two locations, one is less than 10 minutes from Disney Springs, that feature discounted Disney parks merchandise. If you arrive on the right day, you'll be surprised at some of the clearance merchandise you'll find!  
  14. Book your dining reservations carefully. When you start booking table service meals, especially on the dining plan, it's easy to overlook a fastpass+ selection or book a meal at an inconvenient time. Be sure to check and double check your plans to make sure everything aligns properly. For more on Dining Plans be sure to read Disney World Dining Tips For 2018
  15. Be advised that the dining plan may or may not be your best case dining scenario. A vast majority of the time, you are going to pay more for the dining plan than you will purchasing meals out of pocket. If you're curious of the details, here's a breakdown of the meal plan for last year in our Is The Dining Plan Truly a "Good Deal" From a Cost Perspective? - A Closer Look. The plan is certainly convenient but if you're on a budget, you'll want to consider what it will cost you in the long run.  
  16. When booking Epcot fastpass selections, you may want to book Test Tack as one of your 3 selections. The attraction has been known to break down from time to time, but if you have a fastpass and it starts back up you're typically given a free ride at any point after your original designated window. 
  17. Sticking with Epcot, if you pick Test Track as your top tier pass (unfortunately Epcot's selections are tiered) be sure to book it about an hour after park opening. In doing so, you'll provide yourself time to jump on Soarin or Frozen Ever After before their lines grow and still make it to your first fastpass selection. If you're curious on how this works out, check out our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan 
  18. Book your fastpasses for early on in the day. If it works out just right, you'll be able to activate your fourth "revolving fastpass" as early as possible to use for a longer duration of time if you don't plan on park hopping. For more on that, be sure to read 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience
  19. Check out hidden Mickeys across property. Unfortunately, the hunt for hidden Mickeys at Disney World has faded away for many guests, but Imagineering continues to push out some of the most elaborate hidden details of the park in the form of the iconic character that started it all! Personally, I've used Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets in the past and in my experience it's been the most helpful guide to finding these iconic hidden gems of the parks. 
  20. Explore the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk resort area is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks to enjoy a meal, grab an ice-cream or even catch an unconventional view of Epcot's Illuminations nighttime spectacular
  21. If you're staying on property, have your packages (in the form of any souvenir purchases in the parks) delivered to your room. Not only will it save you the trouble of carrying it around, but it will likely arrive the very next day at your resort hotel completely free of charge. 
  22. If you plan on riding Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom, ride it early in the day to see the animals at their peak level of activity. 
  23. If you end up eating at Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom, be sure to head upstairs when you're looking for a seat. In the very back of the second floor there is a bridge style overlook that allows guests to eat their meal with a perfect and quaint little view of Liberty Square and a portion of Fantasyland! 
  24. If you're looking to buy tickets, avoid the scams and consider buying from the Official Ticket Center to catch an occasional free park hopper upgrade or extra free ticketed day with the purchase of certain tickets! 
  25. Head to Epcot on really crowded days. Epcot holds crowds better than any other park.
  26. Looking for a perfect Illuminations viewing location? We recommend the bridge between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the France Pavilion. Watch the wind, if it's blowing towards you, pick a different location on the other side of the lake to avoid the debris and smoke that will fall from the sky during the show.
  27. If you like to chew gum, pack it in your park bag or suitcase. You will not found it sold on property (with the possible exception of the gas stations). 
  28. Camp out at the counter service location outside of the Mexico pavilion or at the Rose and Crown table service location at the United Kingdom Pavilion for an excellent view of Illuminations from select seating locations. 
  29. If you're looking to eat a counter service lunch in the air conditioning, stop by La Cantina de San Angel outside of the Mexico pavilion. While a majority of seating is outdoors, if you round the corner by the large circular seating area on the water, you'll see two big doors, At lunch time, you can open those doors and sit inside of the adjacent table service location until they open for their first meal of the day.
  30. When booking a vacation with a travel agent, make sure they are a part of Disney's Authorized Vacation Planners. The somewhat rare ranking means that Disney works hand in hand with the agency and holds them to certain standards and qualifications that many other agencies may or may not. The link will take you to our recommended agency's quote request form (we do not own it).
  31. To get the best view of Happily Ever After, choose a spot near the castle but far enough back near the hub that you can still catch an unobstructed view of the fireworks from the rear launch site. I personally recommend standing on the left hand side of the partners statue. 
  32. If you want to visit the Contemporary Resort, take the walking path. Along the right hand side of the Magic Kingdom entrance (if you're facing the main entrance) you'll find a small path that leads directly to the lobby of the Contemporary and is much faster than waiting on a monorail. Don't forget to check out the five legged goat!   
  33. Want a neat little break from the parks? Catch a boat over to Wilderness Lodge and check out some true Disney history in the Carolwood Room. To be quite honest with you, it's one of my favorite hidden gems in all of Walt Disney World. 
  34. If you're at Epcot (or Hollywood Studios), make the short walk or boat ride over to the Dolphin resort for the best soft serve ice cream on property at the Fountain. I know that sounds like a bold claim, but try it yourself and you'll love it! It's incredibly creamy soft serve in a waffle cone that kids and adults alike will love! Just look for the line at the ice cream counter and you'll know you're at the right place. 
  35. If you want a Dole Whip but don't want to head to Magic Kingdom or don't have a ticket for the day, head over to the Polynesian (or Pop Century - Now), grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai, and take to the beach for an excellent view of Happily ever After across the water. 
  36. On Main Street there is one single lightbulb that is made with the similar tools and processes used to create the original light bulb created by Edison. The bulb resides in the car barn, but is visible to guests for the sole sake of authenticity. It's a simple touch but one that only Disney would go above and beyond to include. 
  37. If you're looking for a particular resort room location, call your resort the day of your check in and request a location on the property. It is far from foolproof but can work in your favor if they can make it happen. Unfortunately there are select room categories that are reserved for specific reservations but you can always request a location within your room category. 
  38. If you know you're going be back at Walt Disney World for a second trip the same year of your vacation, you'll want to look into a annual pass. The upfront cost is expensive, but it will save you a massive amount of money on the second trip. For similar ticket tips, check out our 2018 Discount Disney World Tickets article to compare a few options.
  39. If you're looking to book a vacation this year, you'll want to look into dates in the early to mid summer. I say that for one main reason. Toy Story Land is set to open in the summer of 2018. The expansion will end about half of the construction at Hollywood Studios and really open that park up to hold more guests and develop a better theme park experience. Plus, this discount is still available! Disney Discounts Are Here For Spring and Early Summer - Up To 20% 
  40. If you're on the dining plan (or not) you'll want to check out Floatworks at Port Orleans French Quarter. The food is excellent for a counter service location and rivals the quality of many table service locations.
  41. While you're at Port Orleans, be sure to try the Beignets! They're one of the best kept secrets (ok... maybe not so secret) desserts in all of Walt Disney World.
  42. Port Orleans, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach are some of the very best resorts for the money on property. 
  43. Schedule a dining reservation at select table service locations in each park that offer breakfast up to an hour before the park even opens for a very unique view of the park with very few guests inside the gates.
  44. Stay late at night to experience the Kiss Goodnight to see the park near empty and to catch a short heartfelt show as you end your night in the perfect way.  
  45. Book with an official Disney Travel Planner! Here's a closer look at why. Disney Travel Agents - Who Do I Recommend?  You'll be surprised at the difference it can make in your overall vacation experience.
  46. Don't carry water bottles in your backpack if you can avoid it! Water bottles get heavy after a long day in the parks in the Florida heat. If you really want your own personal water bottle, take the bottle into the park empty and ask for a cup of free ice water at a counter service location and fill your bottle with it in order to keep the water cold and replenished anywhere you go. 
  47. Pack Sunscreen for you vacation. Sunscreen is horribly expensive in the parks and available at limited locations on property. Bring it with you or buy it off property.
  48. If you pick up a cup of water from a counter service location (for free), carry flavor packets to flavor your water and cover up that Florida water taste.
  49. If you aren't willing to carry around a jacket with you in the case of a pop up rain storm, head to the dollar store before your trip (or order on Amazon) a few disposable ponchos. Not only will it save you a ton of money in the parks if you end up having to purchase them there, but it may be a good option if you want to stay remotely dry on a water based attraction. For more on this one check out our Disney Packing List - What I Take to Disney World
  50. To avoid delays at bag check, try and pack a park bag that does not have 100 different pockets that will each have to be opened and checked before you get to head into the parks. The people behind you in line will be grateful!  
  51. Use the Magical Express if your flights line up with the timeframes when it is offered. It is not available at all times of day and it may not be the quickest option due to stopping at other resorts along the way, but it will save you quite a bit of money over taking a town car, Uber, or a taxi to your resort. 
  52. If you're looking to save some money when paying for your vacation, watch out for deals on Disney gift cards from certain retailers like Target, Kroger, Costco, an others. It may not be a huge savings but every dollar helps! For more on that plan, be sure to look into our 10 Easy Ways To Save Money At Disney World in 2018.
  53. If you're an Annual Passholder or looking to become one, look into the practice of "ticket bridging." Its not a fool proof solution but can make a big difference for larger families. 
  54. Pack a Sharpie marker if you are looking to get autographs from characters. They write way better than a typical ink pen and leave a much more solid signature in your autograph book. Additionally, they are much easier for many characters to write with.
  55. If you are planning a dining reservation at a park or other location, give yourself at least one hour to get there from any point on property. Transportation can be slow at times, so don't risk losing a reservation just because you arrived a few minutes late by accident. Disney recommends giving yourself even more time than that but I don't find an hour+ necessary.  
  56. If you're looking to eat at or stay at the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, or Yacht and Beach Club, take full advantage of the back entrance of Epcot. It's largely overlooked and a great way to get in the park quickly and effectively without a majority of the crowds. 
  57. If you have allergies, be sure to tell Disney before you get to your dining location or when you arrive at counter service locations. Typically, Disney will allow you to talk to the Chef who will then create an item you can eat or at counter service locations bring you a book of ingredients for each menu item so you can find something that will work for you. 
  58. If you're looking for a good parade spot at Magic Kingdom, head to the front of the park near the entrance of the Harmony Barber Shop. On a normal day, that area of the park is the last spot to fill up and offers great views of the parade in a somewhat shaded area.
  59. Send purchases back to your resort from any shopping location in order to avoid carrying the purchases around the parks. The service is completely free of charge for on property resort guests and while your packages will arrive the next day, it's much better than hauling around an extra bag.    
  60. Don't pack beach towels for the pool. The Disney World resorts provide towels for guests and it's one less thing you have to pack in your luggage if you're flying and attempting to conserve space.
  61. If you're looking for a cheap and unique souvenir, grab a post card and mail yourself or a friend a postcard directly from Main Street USA! "Hidden Disney" - The Functional Mail Service Within The Disney Parks!
  62. If you're headed to Epcot during your stay, be sure to try something you've never tried before at the World Showcase dining locations. You may be surprised what's offered and what you may end up loving! 
  63. If you're a repeat visitor to the parks and looking for something new to try, look into the abundance of special tours available to guests ranging in topics from Disney history to aquatic life, and just about everything in between.    
  64. If you want to escape the parks for a day and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, consider a round of golf on property! It even made it onto our 4 Unconventional Ways to Enjoy Disney That You May Have Never Considered.
  65. If you want to save some money, look into splitting a villa with another family or a group of friends to find a way into a deluxe resort at a more budget friendly price. 
  66. If your birthday is on the same day as a counter service reservation, have a member of your party make a note on your reservation and you'll likely arrive at your restaurant to a small display of confetti and a special treat at some point during your meal. 
  67. If you're looking to book dining reservations for counter service locations during your stay, don't put that off until the last minute. Walk ups are possible but by no means a guarantee. Book early for the best variety of dining options, especially for large parties. 
  68. When you're making that iconic walk down Main Street towards the castle, be sure to look for the Osh Pophum connection among many others on the window of Main Street! The Main Street Emporium's Osh Popham Story
  69. If you love the history of the parks, or just want a deeper understanding of the parks during your journey, be sure to look at a few of the Disney Legend connections cleverly displayed on the windows of Main Street USA. One of my favorites is the connection to Jack Olsen casually tucked away high above guests. Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks: Jack Olsen and His Influence On The Disney Merchandise Experience
  70. Just a short ways away from the Magic Kingdom, I highly recommend all guests make a trip over to the Grand Floridian to pay respects to a legendary cast member of Walt Disney World, Richard Gerth. He created lasting memories fo iso many guests and unfortunately passed away a short time ago.  Legendary Cast of The Disney Parks: Richard Gerth and His Lasting Impression On Guests - Looking Back - Legendary Cast of The Disney Parks: Richard Gerth and His Lasting Impression On Guests
  71. In a similar way, head to Port Orleans Riverside for a show that is unique to Disney and incredibly entertaining performed by YeeHaa Bob. If you've not heard of Bob, his show is a little bit out off the ordinary but fun for the whole family. Just be sure you check what days he's performing so that you don't accidentally arrive on a day that he's not there.  
  72. When preparing for departure, use the scale at the resort to check the weight of your luggage in order to avoid over weight bags at the airport.
  73. If you're planning on staying in the parks for 4 or more days, be sure to take advil with you to the parks. It's a simple tip but you'll thank me for that one when your joints and feet hurt from walking around the parks all week. 
  74. If you're flying with children, avoid balloons at all cost. When you arrive at the airport, your child (or adult) will not be able to take the balloon on the plane. As a result, a tough situation tends to unfold with younger children and that's not always the best way to end a Disney vacation. 
  75. Don't be so concerned about getting everything done at Walt Disney World that you forget to take the time to enjoy the little things. Step back for a few minutes, find a quiet place, and just take it all in!    
  76. Take a break at Epcot and go eat at Cape May Cafe for a hidden gem dining experience that far too many guests overlook. It's just steps from the back entrance! 
  77. If you're looking to dine on a budget and like eating at Rainforest Cafe and other Landry's properties on Disney property, sign up for their loyalty program to get a free $25 reward on your birthday and a $25 reward just for singing up! We ate for $15 after the credit was applied!               
  78. Fully utilize all transportation options available to you. Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere at a specific time, or are simply really pushed for time, don't pay for transportation when staying on property. Every Disney resort has complimentary transportation. If your resort offers boat or monorail transport they will likely be far quicker than bus transportation. 
  79. If you plan on visiting Toy Story Land (in Summer of 2018), book your fastpasses early on in your booking window. If you've waited too long, there's still hope. The best way to overcome not getting the fastpasses you want is repetitively checking one or two days before your stay on the My Disney Experience site. If you constantly refresh the page while watching TV or doing something else, you may be surprised what pops up. 
  80. If you want a unique view of the Happily Ever After fireworks, plant yourself in the staircase of the Contemporary for this view!
  81. Something bad will happen during your vacation. Unfortunately it is inevitable but don't let it discourage you or ruin your day. Roll with the punches and be FLEXIBLE. So many guests get so bent out of shape over the simplest moments of bad luck or something going slightly "wrong." When that moment arrives, step back, look at things from the big picture, and make the most to the situation. 
  82. If you're a Target card holder, buy Disney gift cards to pay for your trip. That 5% discount doesn't sound like much but may save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
  83. If you're not a Hilton Honors American Express card holder, get one! If you're willing to stay offsite or in the Disney Springs area there are quite a few Hilton owned hotels that you can easily rack up enough points to snag at least one free night when booking with points.
  84. Along the same lines as number 84, if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of that (Disney bubble) feel, on select occasions and times of year staying at the Double Tree by Disney Springs can be super cost affective. I wouldn't recommend it for a first time Disney guest but if you go quite often (like we do) it can save you a lot of money over time. If you're an annual passholder parking will be free at the parks so transportation wont necessarily be an issue.
  85. Cut some costs during your stay and skip one park day. You can do so much outside of the parks that you'll likely never miss that time. It'll save you hundreds of dollars depending on your family size and length of stay. We typically have one non-park day on each of our longer trips. It breaks up the trip a bit and creates sort of a rest day for lack of a better word.      
  86. Speaking of rest, don't over do it in the parks and make yourself miserable. Take breaks. An hour or two spent at the pool may give you 3 hours of extra time in the parks later that night. 
  87. Don't forget your budget. Too many guests over spend during their trip or leading up to their trip and end up with a massive bill hanging over their head. Truthfully any on-property Disney resort will be great accommodations so don't go too overboard.  
  88. If you plan on visiting Disney Springs, don't feel obligated to book a dining reservation. Most table service restaurants will take walk ups at Disney Springs and if all else fails, The Polite Pig, D-Luxe Burger, and the array of other quick service options are great alternatives.
  89. If you plan on carrying a bag into the park, try your best to take the absolute minimum amount of stuff that you can. At about 3:00 in the afternoon in the 90+ agree weather that lighter bag will be your best friend. Too many guests pack around 30 pound backpacks and likely only use about half the stuff in their bag.
  90. If you have an emergency of some type in the park, don't hesitate to ask a cast member for help. Often times first aid or even the medical team can help solve the most elaborate problems faster than you would expect. They see things happen every day and know the usual causes and how to overcome the problem.
  91. If you ever can't find your way in a park, ask a custodial cast member. As strange as it may sound they likely know the park better than anyone and they're always close by and willing to help first time and even returning guests find their way.
  92. In reference to autograph books (also mentioned briefly in number 54), consider bringing an autograph book with you. The Disney ones are nice but unfortunately yours will look like thousands of other guests' books. Picking up a nice notebook or one with your child's favorite character on it is a great solution to save some money and set your book apart from all the rest. If you do happen to lose it, it will be that much easier to identify.
  93. Speaking of lost items, if you ever forget something in the parks or lose something along the way, don't hesitate to head over to lost and found. Disney has a rather mind blowing setup designed to help guests find their lost items. You may be surprised at what they can find. 
  94. If you really need to get someplace in a hurry on property, Minnie Vans are a great option. Not only do you get the best in service by a Disney cast member driver, but it is a flat rate $25 fee to get anywhere on property.
  95. If you've already been to WDW and seen the fireworks shows from typical viewpoints, consider an "off the beaten path" spot to watch the various nighttime shows. A new perspective can really change the feel of the show and often times take away a little bit of the stress of finding that perfect spot. For Magic Kingdom check out Our Top Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations for 2018
  96. If you plan on going to see Illuminations, don't worry about staking out a spot hours in advance. There's enough land around the lagoon that you can easily find a fairly good spot within 30 minutes of when the show is scheduled to begin. (Pro tip: the second floor of the Japan pavilion is a great option.) 
  97. If you need a plan for your days in the parks, or even just a large overview of what we would do on each day of our trips, be sure to check out our itineraries here on the site! Disney World Itineraries and Trip Planning - What We Recommend
  98. Dont be afraid to ask questions on social media. Most social media platforms have hundreds of Disney fans on them and the vast majority of us are more than happy to share some recommendations or tips for your stay. 
  99. On the flip side of number 98, don't take advice from just anyone. Chances are you'll run into at least one person who is the self-proclaimed "expert" who has only been to the parks one time.... 10 years ago. Typically that same person is the coworker who thinks they know everything about everything so just be careful about who you ask for tips from. 
  100. Take some time to relax and view a sunset somewhere on Disney property. It seems simple but it's so important to us that we devoted a full article to it! 4 Places to Experience a Sunset At Disney That You Wont Want to Miss
  101. If you can avoid it, try not be that guest who only plans to spend one day at Disney World. If you try it, you'll be quite overwhelmed and while you will still have a great day, you'll be disappointed that you don't have more time to explore other parks and resorts. If you do get boxed into one of those 1 day stays, here's what we recommend: Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018
  102. Tip number 102... don't try to use all of these tips in one trip! Pace yourself and enjoy every moment. Sometimes the most seemingly trivial experiences are the ones you'll remember years down the line. You can't do it all in one trip so enjoy the time you have and plan a return trip when you get home. Or... consider booking a bounce back offer by calling reservations from your resort hotel to try and catch a discounted room rate for your next trip! We booked done of those offers in order to make staying at the Boulder Ridge Villas a little more affordable.     
So, that's our list of Disney World Tips. It's a bit random, but hopefully these tips share a little bit of Disney knowledge to shed light on any given Disney parks vacation planning experience. Amazingly, these 102 tips barely scratch the surface of information we could share with you and many of you may have excellent tips of your own you may want to share with us. If so, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comments of your favorite social media site. Don't forget to use those share buttons to invite a friend into this community of Disney fans by Disney fans. Want to share this article on pinterest? We'd truly appreciate it!


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Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 


Ready to Plan?


Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

3 Nostalgic Magic Kingdom Backstories Many Guests Overlook

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

3 Nostalgic Magic Kingdom Backstories Many Guests Overlook

It's been quite some time since I wrote an article strictly about Disney history, so today I'm bringing it back and sharing a few stories that long time Disney fans may know and love but other guests may completely overlook. Disney is a surprisingly unique property. Thankfully, with the gift of time and the blessing of space things have always been growing and changing since the very beginning of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately as things change, a few stories and experiences are also left behind. As true as that statement may be, the legacy those attractions and experiences develop for guests have created stories that have been passed down for years on end. 

As many of you may know, I was not there in the early years of Walt Disney World. Unfortunately that was before my time, but I've always been and likely always will be fascinated by the stories friends and family share with me of the years before my recollection of the parks. You could call it nostalgia or perhaps an appreciation of history and the little details of Walt Disney World, but to me it's more an appreciation of story in the most basic sense. 

You see, Disney is a living history book at times and the stories it has created for guests often transcend the made up stories within the attractions and carry over into the "real world" stories of how these attractions and experiences developed. That's what I hope to share with you today.           


1. The Orange Bird

The Orange Bird has had a unique rise and fall within the parks locally and internationally over the last 14 years. Today, the character and Sunshine Tree Terrace of Adventureland are a newly iconic piece of the Magic Kingdom lineup. However, it hasn't always been that way. In the early 1970's and very early years of Walt Disney World, the Orange Bird was created in partnership with the Florida Citrus Commission as a sponsorship agreement for the Enchanted Tiki Room. At that time, the character was more of a PR item than anything else and a way to back the attraction (in my opinion). In typical Disney style, every character had to have a story and the Orange Bird was no different. 

The bird was incapable of singing but ironically had a song that accompanied the years it spent in the parks written by none other than the legendary Sherman Brothers. If you remember the song or have heard it pop up years later, you inevitably and unashamedly started singing it as soon as you saw this character on our list. For those of you who may have never heard it, here's a quick clip from youtube to get stuck in your head. Sadly after years of the Orange bird being in the parks and in that prominent Sunshine Tree Terrace roll, the character disappeared from the Magic Kingdom.

Rather strangely, in 2004 Orange Bird arrived at Tokyo Disneyland as a correlation with a Japanese holiday and a series of simple festivities the park developed for the occasion. In kind of an odd way, the Orange Bird character was an instant hit and grew to mass popularity in the international park. So much so that around 5 or 6 years ago the Orange Bird made a welcomed return to Magic Kingdom. At first the characters re-introduction almost felt like a "test" to see how it would be received by guests, but it quickly grew in popularity. Today, Orange Bird merchandise can be found all over the parks and while Sunshine Tree Terrace isn't in the exact same place that it once was, the history the character brings to the park is greater than many may realize. 

2. The PeopleMover (Tomorrowland Transit Authority) 

The details and history of this attraction are truly mind blowing. So much so that I could never share the whole story here in this short article, but I'll happily share a brief rendition. 

The PeopleMover story essentially begins at the 1964 World's Fair many years before it would become a reality at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The project was, in a rather simple description, a creation developed for the Ford Motor Company's pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. That particularly world's fair was an incredible turning point for Disney in the realm of creativity and ingenuity and the Ford project was no exception. Ford had a grand idea of sending guests through their pavilion along a track in one of their forward thinking vehicles of that time, but they had to find a way to make the process more guest friendly opposed to simply driving them around. As a result, the WEDway PeopleMover system was born. The design allowed a vehicle to move along a fixed track with a wheel embedded within the track to move the vehicle without having to have a driver of motor for the car itself. 


Later on, this same concept was brought to Disneyland as an attraction towering over Tomorrowland transporting guests on a seemingly non-stop basis. The ride vehicles were far smaller than a Ford automobile and the track proudly featured "Goodyear" tires as a means of propulsion. Just as before, the vehicles themselves had no motor. It was an incredibly creative concept and one that was set to revolutionize transportation. Sadly, that obviously never became a reality and the Disneyland iteration of this attraction closed in 1995, but the system we enjoy today in Walt Disney World is quite similar. It is different in that it uses a linear induction system opposed to a tire based rotating wheel but the ride itself is the closest thing to the original iteration you can enjoy today. Will it ever be re-introduced at Disneyland? I doubt it... but anything's possible. 

3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has created kind of a love-hate relationship among Disney enthusiasts. The great "debate" over this attraction stems from the attraction it sadly replaced in 1998, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Out at Disneyland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was a day one attraction and part of that nostalgia carried over to the Walt Disney World iteration. The attraction itself was the definition of a near perfect dark ride. It took you through a story, had a fun and adventurous pace, and while incredibly simple, the simplicity is part of what made it great. 

Truthfully I can only go off of what I've been told about this classic attraction. Sadly, I have yet to experience the Disneyland iteration (that trip is on my list!) and the Walt Disney World iteration closed before my 3rd birthday rolled around. As true as that may be, Mr Toad and his legacy can be found throughout Walt Disney World today hidden in plain sight. If you've ever ridden the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh you may have seen a tribute to Mr. Toad in the form of a painting or if you've ever checked out the pet cemetery of the Haunted Mansion you've also come across a tribute to Mr. Toad hiding in plain site. Part of me believes these little elements were intentionally added to calm fans who protested the closing of the attraction, but another part of me still feels as if Imagineering also shares in a bit of disappointment thinking back at "what was."



These are just a few simple stories to touch the surface of all the hidden backstories of Walt Disney World and I share them for a reason. Perhaps you've been to Disney hundreds of times or maybe you're a first time guest. No matter what, I believe that there's a certain level of deeper appreciation that can be recognized when we know not only what we see today but also when we know the stories of how it got there and where it came from. The people who put it there and the people who made it a reality make up a far greater story than the attraction itself portrays. It's not a story that you'll see written outside the attraction or one that Disney will throw up on their website but those hidden stories hiding in plain site are often what make an attraction different and unique from all other theme park attractions across the country. If nothing else, I hope these little snippets of much more elaborate attraction backstories encourage you to "dig a little deeper" (I can't be the only one who just sang the song...) and to enjoy the stories that make these attractions great.   

I'm not the perfect Disney historian, and sadly didn't get to experience too much of this first hand, so if you have thoughts to share or a story to tell, don't hesitate to leave it in the comments or shoot me a message on your favorite social media platform.    

Check out a few of our recent articles for even more Disney content:




Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.

Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.          




Tuesday, July 17, 2018

4 Places to Experience a Sunset At Disney That You Wont Want to Miss

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

4 Places to Experience a Sunset At Disney That You Wont Want to Miss 

If you've been to Walt Disney World many times (as many of you have), chance are you have a few go-to spots for more "out of the way" entertainment. Sometimes you just want to escape the crowds for a few minutes and relax in a setting that so many overlook entirely. In my opinion one of the very best options for things to do to get that feeling of "relaxation" is to find a comfortable spot and enjoy a sunset over one of the many iconic landmarks across Walt Disney World property.

I know for many guests that are not die hard Disney parks fans this sounds like a waste of time when your time in the parks is already so limited. Here's the thing, the few minutes you spend relaxing and taking in the view will likely be one of the most memorable moments you'll share with family. I do recognize that this would be rather tough with young kids, but at the same time it is a great way to grab a snack, enjoy the views, and recharge for your night exploring the parks.

As crazy as it sounds, to me there's just something different about a Florida sky. The daytime skies are almost always picture perfect blue at some point throughout the day, but as the sun starts to fade over the horizon (especially in the summer months) the reflection of light off of the clouds and the colors produced high above are something that at times seem like an impossibility. You can grab a bench, sit there looking at the sky, listening to the sounds around you in the parks, and for the briefest of moments let the worries of life fade away.    

Of course, no article I post would ever be complete without sharing a few spots I consider hidden gems! So, here's what I came up with and a quick look at why I see these as some of the top spots to catch a sunset in or around the parks.

1. The Boardwalk Resort 

There is only one location I can put higher on my personal "favorites" list than this spot and for good reason (we'll get to my top spot below). The Boardwalk Resort and Crescent Lake resort area as a whole lends itself to the most perfect unveiling of colors you'll find on Disney property. Obviously it's the same sunset you'll find anywhere else around Disney, but there's just something a touch different about viewing it from this location. As the sun slips out of sight, the lights of the Boardwalk turn on, the off white color of the resort and surrounding resorts reflect the colors, and the water of the lake expertly showcases the colors presented in the sky above. The combination is hard to put into words but is so vastly simple while extraordinary to experience first hand. 

Grab a slice of pizza from the pizza window, plant yourself in a chair by the railing near the water, and just take in the colors as the slight breeze rolls off of the water, the friendship boats pass by, and the performers start their shows! It's a night worth remembering and the photos below really do it no justice. 


Believe it or not, these two photos were from the exact same night, and the exact same spot just minutes apart!  

      

2. The Contemporary Staircase 

If you've ever been to the Contemporary to watch the fireworks from a new perspective, you likely already know this spot and why it is on our list. The fireworks observation deck of the Grand Concourse of the Contemporary is a great place to catch a few unique views of the fireworks, but the real bonus is a few flights of stairs up the tower. 

A few weeks ago I shared a couple photos from this spot and received tons questions about how I got the angle and so on and so forth. Well, here's the answer to that question. If you go out to the observation deck of the Grand Concourse, on the far right hand side you'll find a staircase just past the bridge over to Bay Lake Tower. If you head up that staircase two or more flights, you end up with a virtually unobstructed view of Magic Kingdom and Happily Ever After in the distance. However, if you pick your spot early enough, you can view the sunset in an incredibly unique way that may exceed your wildest expectations. 

As day turns into night, the light falls over Magic Kingdom and the lights of attractions flip on for the night time festivities. It's a view of things as they happen that you may or may not have ever paid attention to. The castle prominently sits in the distance and from this angle you can really appreciate the layout of the park. Inside the park, everything feels so distant and separated by theming but outside the park looking in from many stories up perspective really starts to change and it becomes apparent how close some attractions are to each other. It's weird to think about, but couple the new perspective with Monorails slowly entering and leaving the tower below you and the audible sounds of the experience and you may be surprised at how much you enjoy this seemingly simple moment.     


3. The Boats of Bay Lake 

Without a single doubt, this is my favorite place to catch a sunset on Disney property. I know I talk a lot about reflections here on the site from time to time, but they set the scene better than just about anything else. Water, in this case is a show stopping piece of the scene as it unfolds before your very eyes. Honestly, there's nothing I'd rather do than ride around Bay Lake on one of the open sided boats at sunset. The experience is truly perfect and one that I don't believe could ever be replicated anywhere else in the world. 

At points, as the suns sets, you can catch a glimpse of the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, the Castle, Monorails, and so much more simply by turning your head. Couple that with the incredibly brilliant colors that can develop in the Florida sky and you have a setting that will exceed your wildest expectations as a Disney fan. 

The breeze keeps you cool on even the warmest of days, the views are honestly second to none, and your end destination could be the fireworks viewing spot mentioned above at the Contemporary Resort. The photo below was even taken on the same night as the images from the Contemporary above! 


4. Pandora 

Last, but certainly not least, we have Pandora. Pandora is a surprisingly unique place to catch a sunset. Inevitably, it will be the busiest spot on this list by a good margin, but the atmosphere and theming lends it to some of the most unique views you'll find on Disney property. The shadows fall over the floating mountains and the light creates a rather unique glow to the land before day transitions to night and the area "comes alive" after the sun fades away. 

The experience here isn't all about the views or the colors portrayed in the sky but rather about the sounds and moments that surprise you. For lack of a better word, the land feels more alive and sounds more alive as the night draws closer. You can hear it in the bushes around you and you feel like you've really entered a place far from earth on an entirely different planet. You don't know quite what to expect and no matter how many times you visit this space there's always something new to notice that you overlooked on your last trip into the land. 

Wrapping Up


You see, when it comes right down to it, a Disney sunset isn't about that perfect view of Cinderellas Castle or even the incredibly vivid colors in the sky, but more about the moments you get to share with those around you. At this point I probably sound like a broken record but to me a Disney vacation isn't measured by what attractions you get to ride or even the shows you get to witness, but rather those little moments with family or friends that you never expected to occur. Those moments are the ones that are most memorable years down the road and those are the moments we talk about day after day. 

It's not about the place, it's about the people. Truthfully, if I had to give you one piece of advice for your next Disney vacation it would be to enjoy the little moments that seem so trivial at the time. A moment relaxing on a bench watching the sunset, a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom, or even something as simple as going to fill a refillable mug at your resort can create a memory that you never expected and a story that you'll share with family and friends for years to come.          
 

Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Need a Travel Planner?


If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They'll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you'd like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.


Ready to Plan?


Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.   



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