One of my most asked questions on IG is for Disney tips. Ya'll are always asking me what are the top things to do, see and eat! I wouldn't call myself a Disney pro, but since moving to FL and having an annual pass for about 5 years now I have learned A LOT!! I've learned so much from friends that have lived in FL all their lives, from one of my fave Youtube channels DisneyFoodBlog and from the experience of being blessed to be able to go so often. I want to put a plug in here to say that I don't take getting to go to Disney World so often lightly either!
The first time I went to Disney World was when I was 21. Growing up I watched all of the movies, knew the songs by heart, dressed up as my favorite princesses and had several books and toys but we never could afford to go. When I was a kid my mom always talked about saving up for a trip to Disney World. She had a milk jug she would add her change to. I remember the excitement and hope of saving up and ✨one day✨ going on a magical trip together. Getting to go to Disney World was this HUGE thing in our house- like one of THE coolest things you could ever do in your life. For me, it was always this dream that seemed so far off but that I was still always so excited about. Thinking back to that time and how my life is now, it makes me feel so thankful and makes me tear up!
Flash forward to being deployed in Iraq- I saved up a big portion of my salary and decided that I was going to take my family to Disney World since we had never been able to afford to go. I was able to take my mom, step dad, little sister and my boyfriend, at the time, now my hubby. (He paid his own way of course! haha.) We had such a magical time. It was such a special thing for me to be able to help make my mom's dream come true. 🥺
I also went with my best friend since 6th grade and her family not too long after my first trip. It was so fun to experience Disney with her and her family. Now here I am living in FL with an annual pass to Disney World. That same best friend lives here in FL too and she's who I always go with! We talk about how our teen selves would've freaked out if they knew what the future held for us! 🥰
Okayyyy so let's start with one of my BEST secrets that I've never heard anyone else talk about!!
1. Try to get a breakfast reservation before the park opens!
I never even knew this was a thing until I was planning a birthday trip for my niece. She loves Beauty and The Beast so I wanted to get a reservation for us at The Be Our Guest restaurant (that's the only way to see inside The Beast's Castle). It's a pretty expensive restaurant but the plan was to just get a Grey Stuff cupcake and eat it in the Ballroom (YES a replica of THE BALLROOM from Beauty and The Beast!) I saw a reservation for the restuarant BEFORE the park even opened so I snatched it uppp!! We got to the park, they scanned our breakfast reservation and let us in before anyone else. Talk about feeling super special!! :D
It was really cool the see the park literally empty. We had a cupcake for breakfast and finished up about 20-30 min before the park opened. We hopped right in line for Seven Dwarves mine train- which back before all the new precautions, would have a wait time of 2 HOURS on the regular. We were able to ride it before the park even opened!! As we were headed over to Thunder Mountain, we literally saw the crowd of people coming into the park so we ran! haha! We literally got to ride all of the "big" rides before 11 am! It was amazing!! haha!
2. I never pay for water.
You can get a free cup of ice at any place that has a fountain drink machine, and even at Starbucks (and you can get a venti!) Something I like to do in the summer to stay hydrated is get a venti water from Starbucks on my way out of a park, and drink all of it on my way to the next park (when I'm park hopping). You can also bring in a reusable water bottle or a plastic one! I just hate carrying around things. haha! The water fountains are closed right now but you could just ask for a water and fill it up throughout the day.
3. CHILL OUT!
The fist time I went to Disney World I felt like I needed to get it all done in one day. But let me tell you from experience, trying to do that will only make your Disney trip kinda miserable. I understand the feeling though. The first time I went I felt like it was my ONLY CHANCE to see all the the things. I felt like we were just mad dashing around and stressing out about trying to see it all that we actually missed a lot! I've learned now that it's pretty much impossible to do everything at a park in one day. Unless you get super lucky and there's hardly anyone there. I suggest making a list of a handful of rides and must do's! (I shared my faves below). That way if you at least get those done you will be excited and if you are able to do more, then that's even more exciting! But that way you won't be feeling like your day was a let down because you had such high expectations.
I've also always been one to only want to ride the thrill rides, but seriously ALL the rides and attractions at Disney World are good! Ones I thought were going to be boring were actually WAY better than I thought. Like the Country Bear Jamboree, it’s hilarious. The Enchanted Tiki Room is cool because it's one of the few rides left that Walt had a huge hand in! I also love the Carousel of Progress because I'm an old soul and I just love vintage things! So don't feel like you are missing out if you can't do all of the big, most popular rides.
I know that Disney is expensive, but I've heard a lot of Disney pro's say that having a day or 2 extra in your vacation where you don't plan to go to the parks is the way to go. Especially if you have kids since the parks are typically hot, crowded and it's such a LONG day since you are trying to get as much in as you can.
4. Mickey Waffles
You HAVE to get a Mickey waffle at least once in your life!! There's something magical about Mickey waffles. You can get mini mickey waffles at table service restaurants, but it's A LOT more expensive and you have to get a reservation which isn't always easy. My favorite place to get a Mickey waffle is from Sleep Hollow. It's a small little quick service place at the outskirts of Liberty Square. You order at a window and they have out door seating with some views of the castle! You can also get Mickey Waffles at the Grand Floridian Cafe as well (which is a table service restaurant but it’s really close to Magic Kingdom). That’s where the picture below is from. :) That Mickey latte. 😍
5. Save money on food
When I eat at a quick service restaurant, I like to order a kids meal! They are cheaper and obviously have less food but I find that it works perfectly because I'm usually wanting to save room for some snacks anyways. You are also allowed to bring outside food into the parks. That can help you save even more money so you won't be tempted to buy extra snacks because they add up fast!
6. Get one last ride in
My best tip for getting to ride one of the rides with the longer wait times, like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is to hop in line at the end of the night. You can get in line even 5 minutes before the park closes and still get to ride the ride! Also, my experience has been that the wait time is no where near what it says it is at night!
7. Extra time
The shops and the ice cream parlor stay open about an hour or so later than when the park says it's closing! Browsing the shops or getting some ice cream is a great way to let the mad dash of people leave so you don't get stuck in a long line for the ferry or monorail. When I first had my pass, I went with a friend from church who had grew up going to Disney World. Before the park closed, we got ice cream, sat on the hub grass facing the castle and ate our ice cream. It was so magical and sooo much nicer than standing in line with the crowd trying to leave!
8. Extra magic for FREE
One of my most favorite things about Disney World is all the attention to detail. That's part of why I say to chill out and slow down while you are there or you will miss sooo any cool little details. Some of my faves are the hidden mickeys on all the rides and around the parks. Keep your eyes open for Mickey icons (Mickey heads). Sometimes they are 3 flowers grouped together, a hidden mickey icon in a pattern, etc etc!! You can even ask one of the cast members before you get on the ride for some hints to find any hidden Mickeys!
Another one of my favorite things to add some extra magic is to get sprinkled with some pixie dust! You can get glitter sprinkled on you by a fairy godmother in training for FREE!! I haven’t done it in awhile so I'm not 100% sure if it's available right now with all the precautions. (I'll have to try it on my next trip). last time I checked it was at Sir Mickey's behind the castle.
You can get a free button to show off what you are celebrating at the ticket office before you enter the park - your birthday, wedding, or 1st visit! It's so fun to get a button and wear it on your birthday! It lets the cast members know so that they can celebrate with you! It will add a little extra magic to your day.
The other question y'all always ask me is, what are my must do's & top picks for the parks!
My top picks at Magic Kingdom (in order!)
∙Mickey Waffle with strawberries at Sleepy Hollow
Classic snack-you've never tasted a waffle like a Mickey waffle
∙Fresh fruit waffle sandwich at Sleepy Hollow
SO GOOD!! It's a waffle with hazelnut spread & fresh fruit. It's massive so I always share it!
∙Kakamora float with coconut Dole Whip at Aloha Isle
Yummy & refreshing
∙Grilled Shrimp skewer at Columbia Harbor House (temporarily closed)😔
My FAVE meal in MK
∙Starbucks at Main Street Bakery
Afternoon pick me up!
∙Corn nuggets meal at Casey's Corner (temporarily closed)😔
Affordable & fun
∙Kids single scoop ice cream cone at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (temporarily closed)😔
It's like $4 and they put chocolate Mickey ears on it!
∙The grey stuff cupcake at Gaston's Tavern
You have to try the grey stuff at least once in your life!
Rides: (in order)
∙Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
∙Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
∙Pirates of the Caribbean
∙Carousel of Progress
∙Peter Pan (even the queue line is magical)
∙Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid
∙The People Mover (you to ride through Space Mountain!) (temporarily closed)😔
I hope you found this helpful!!! If you have anymore questions please leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram! If you are going to Disney World soon I hope you have the best time!!!