Looking for the best way to do Disney? The year I turned 21, I worked at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I did an internship through the College Program at Walt Disney World and worked at Soarin’ Over California, in Epcot. Of course, it was magical.
I learned all of the Disney Cast Member secrets, like why to always point with two fingers (because it’s impolite in some cultures to point with only one), how to make Magical Moments, where to find Hidden Mickeys, the correct answer to “How many Mickeys ARE there?” (ONE), and I even lived with a very good friend of Mickey & Minnie Mouse! *wink*
One very useful thing I learned from my time as a Disney Cast Member was what I call Disney Parks Strategy (“strat” for short, because it makes me sound like a spy or someone very important). I’ll never visit Disney World or Disneyland the same way ever again. And I want to share all of my insider Disney tips with you, too!
Here are the things you need to know before you go to the Disney Parks!
Table of Contents
Hey, if you’re looking for a magical way to bring your next Disney World trip to the next level, check out our epic Disney World Scavenger Hunt!
With 250 points at stake and 75 challenges designed to help you discover and experience Disney World like you never have before, this game will bring a whole new level of fun (and friendly competition – or unnecessarily aggressive competition, in our case) to your next Disney World trip.
Oh, and heads up: this game is designed to be played primarily by adults … and there’s quite a bit of overlap with our Disney World Resort Bar Crawl. Complete them together for a pretty freakin’ magical day.
Intrigued? Subscribe in the box below and we’ll send you a FREE printable containing sneak peeks of BOTH Disney Parks Scavenger Hunts, PLUS a Disney Packing Checklist, the Disney Resort Bar Crawl instructions AND even more insider Cast Member tips for your next visit! Dannnnng, that’s a lot of free stuff!
Planning a Disney trip? Check out our other Disney posts (we’ve got a bunch)!
- What to Pack for Disney: The Ultimate Disney Packing List (for Adults)
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl
- The Disneyland Scavenger Hunt & How to Next-Level Your Disneyland Trip
- 18 Magical Disneyland Picture Ideas: The Ultimate Disneyland Photography Guide
- 10 Tips for Soothing Your Post Disney Depression
Psst: Planning on visiting a few Disney Parks? Check out these Disney Passes, which offer great savings on parks passes to all Disney Resorts.
Disney for Adults
Here’s the thing: I know everyone thinks of visiting the Disney parks as a thing to do with kids.
But I didn’t really appreciate trips to the Disney parks until I was an adult – especially after I was a Cast Member. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one who didn’t crack the Disney code right away.
I can’t tell you how many screaming children, exhausted parents, and miserable people of all ages that I’ve seen at Disney.
How can you be miserable in the happiest place on earth? Easily, actually.
After a few hours of baking in the hot sun, spending hours on your feet, hemorrhaging an insane amount of money, and pushing past thousands of equally grumpy people, it doesn’t take much to turn your Disney excitement into hatred for every bubbly, happy person you see enjoying their stupid magical day.
As my old Soarin’ manager would say, that’s when you could really use a little sprinkle of Pixie Dust. (Note to my old manager: nothing makes a sour mood worse than being sprinkled with imaginary Pixie Dust. And yes, we’re all pretty sure Pixie Dust is supposed to be Disney crack.)
But don’t worry: Disney is NOT just for kids, and frankly, it’s often best enjoyed as an adult.
Why I love Disney (and how you can too)
I’m about to reveal a whole new, wonderful world of Disney for you, so that you too can skip through the parks like you’ve had one too many churros, Mickey Bars or Dole Whips, spending your time shrieking with glee on ride after ride rather than waiting in line feeling sorry for yourself and nursing your aching feet.
These days, when I visit Disney and implement my Disney Parks Strategy (strat), I never wait in any line for longer than 20 minutes, I see a TON of attractions and rides, I spend much less money, and generally have an amazing at Disney … yes, as an adult!
Without further ado, let me teach you my ways. Here are the things to know before going to Disney World or Disneyland!
Disney Tips & Hacks
Dress for comfort, not to look cute.
There is no looking cute at Disney. There is only inner thigh chafing and sore feet.
I learned my lesson the hard way: I landed myself in a wheelchair with a stress fracture after attempting a long day at Disney World in cute sandals. Oops.
These days, I basically dress like I’m going on a long hike, which makes sense because according to my FitBit I average around 14,000-25,000 steps per day when I go to Disney (the 25k days are when we stay at a Resort and take advantage of Extra Magic Hours! They’re called Extra Magic Hours because you get to spend 3 extra hours running from ride to ride like you’re going for the Goofy in the Disney Marathon).
You’re going to be hot and walking all day long, so dress accordingly.
Don’t forget to bring a rain jacket or umbrella!
Florida weather can be unpredictable, particularly in the winter (which, incidentally, is also the only time it rains at Disneyland). Plus, you can protect yourself from a Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids deluge!
My favorite rain jacket weighs nothing and packs away into a fist-sized bundle so I can carry it all day long – and my husband has the same one. Make sure to check out the essentials to pack for Disney!
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks with you.
I actually bring a hydration day pack filled with 100oz of water and stuffed to the brim with snacks, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
I may look like a dork (and barking things like “let’s talk strat!” at my husband certainly doesn’t help), but I’m also a well hydrated, not-sunburnt dork who isn’t spending all of her money on expensive Disney food! Always use SPF 50+, and re-apply frequently.
Psst: Want more Disney packing tips? We’ve created a whole post about what to pack for Disney!
When, not if, you get grumpy because you’re tired, hot, thirsty, or hungry, attend to those needs immediately.
If you don’t, you will be miserable all day long.
It is inevitable that you will hit a point in the day when you just want to sit down and do nothing. DO THAT.
Do not feel guilty about spending an hour or so just relaxing in the parks. Better yet, time your break with your indulgent restaurant meal of choice for a perfect pick me up!
Finding Hidden Mickeys are a fun game that makes even standing in line manageable.
What’s a Hidden Mickey, you ask?
The official definition is “a partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas.”
AKA, the funnest game of I Spy ever!
All over the parks are secret, hidden Mickey ear shapes. They’re everywhere! Start spotting Hidden Mickeys and you’ll never be bored in the parks again.
If you want to really up your Hidden Mickey game, these are the best Hidden Mickey books for everything from Disney World and Disneyland to Disney cruises.
Cast Members are there to help.
We’re all Disney loving Magical Moment obsessed nerds and we just want to make your day. In fact, making guests happy is the entire reason we took the job.
If you need help, or anything at all, just ask a Cast Member.
Dropped your ice cream cone? Ask a cast member. Need some advice about rides or food? Cast member. Looking for Hidden Mickeys? Cast member. Confused about what time the 3 o’clock parade is at Magic Kingdom? We get asked that so often that some of us have t-shirts that say “what time is the 3 o’clock parade?”
All joking aside, just approach your nearest friendly Cast Member – but remember that they’re a person too, and please be respectful.
And if they go above and beyond to make your day, please get their name and go to Guest Services to let them know! We get huge warm fuzzies when a guest gives us kudos, and sometimes we get rewarded in other ways as well.
How to Skip Lines at Disney World & Disneyland
Don’t wait in line at Disney! We all know waiting in line is the worst part of visiting the parks.
Why can’t we all be famous celebrities and just rent the whole park? Or at least pull a Johnny Depp and show up in a Captain Jack costume just to run around doing whatever we want? I bet he never has to wait in line! (By the way: that’s not just a rumor. He does it whenever he’s preparing for a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and I’ve spoken to many a Cast Member who’s met him in character in the parks!)
Disney minus all the people is my personal idea of heaven – which is why I LOVED closing and opening the parks! A silent, empty Disney park… ahhhh. Peace.
But since I’m not a Cast Member anymore, nor am I a famous celebrity, here are the best ways for regular folks to avoid lines at Disney World and Disneyland.
Time your trip to Disney to avoid seasonal crowds.
Use the How Packed Is It? site for your park and plan to go whenever it’s less crowded.
January and February are my favorite months to visit Disney World. The park is almost empty and there are practically no lines for anything!
The 2nd best months are August and September, when kids are back in school and the Food & Wine Festival is in full swing at Epcot.
Arrive at the Disney parks before they open in the morning.
For starters, there’s a little opening ceremony which is cute and gets you PUMPED to hit the parks. But the real reason is so that you can hustle to your first ride of the day and have NO line, without wasting a precious Fast Pass!
Sometimes you can even get in a few more rides before the rest of the crowds start showing up. Most people who show up early have a ride in mind – usually a very popular one – and will make a mad dash for it the second they’re allowed to.
Don’t get trampled – throw some elbows if you have to. (Kidding! Everything at Disney is magical and nobody throws elbows. At least, not unless you’re a Cast Member. But that’s a story for another post…)
Cast Member Tip: You’re actually not allowed to run into the parks when they’re open, so if you take off at a full sprint, you’ll get (politely) yelled at. Instead, perfect the art of incredibly aggressive speed-walking, like, old ladies at the mall style. Practice makes perfect!
Use Fast Passes religiously.
NEVER waste a minute of time in the park without having a Fast Pass.
Whether you are using a magic wristband at Disney World or have to run from ride to ride to pick up a paper Fast Pass at Disneyland, ALWAYS have one lined up.
Fill the time between Fast Passes with rides that have shorter lines.
Parades are for shmucks. Yup, I said it.
If I want to meet characters, I go to character dining, so I can stuff my face with delicious food while they come to me.
And while you might catch me busting a move to some catchy parade songs on my way a ride, I’m not into watching characters wave repeatedly while I’m getting shoved around in a crowd of people.
If that’s your thing, awesome – and I know that kids go nuts for parades – and I’m glad, because you help make this tip possible: parades are the BEST time to ride rides! Everyone lines up to watch the parade and nobody’s in line for rides.
3pm at Magic Kingdom? Rides. Electric light parade? Rides.
If I wasn’t a big softie for fireworks shows I’d recommend rides during those too, but they make me bawl like a baby and I can’t resist them. Although it is freaking magical to ride Big Thunder Mountain during the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom in Disney World – you have a perfect view of the castle!
Cast Member Trivia: What’s the most frequently asked question in Magic Kingdom? Answer: “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” You think I’m joking??! Google it. Disney Cast Members have the patience of saints. (If you’re wondering, the 3 o’clock parade is at 3 o’clock.
To figure out which rides have shorter lines, use the smartphone app for your Disney park.
All of the apps have wait times that are updated live. After you exit a ride or pick up a fast pass, pull up the app to figure out where you’re going next based on whatever nearby has a line under 20 minutes.
As a bonus, this will guarantee that you experience an attraction that you’ve never done or didn’t put on your must-try list, which is a great way to make new favorites.
Disney Cast Member Secret: Usually, ride times are totally accurate. But sometimes, just sometimes, a ride with a certain wait time actually has no line at all, like in the case of the Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror. If either of those rides have a wait time of 13 minutes, guess what? There’s no line! Spooky.
How to Save Money at Disney
We like to play a fun game: it’s called buy a house and pay off our student loan debt, or keep going to Disney World regularly? It’s a silly game because the first option isn’t possible. No, YOU’RE crying!
We all know going to a Disney park is expensive. And we all suck it up and pay it because oh my goodness, it’s so worth it. But it doesn’t always have to be “We can’t afford a resort so all 6 of us are staying at the Buena Vista Motel 6 in a single room.”
The last time I visited Disney World, we stayed at a resort like ballers (I love you Pop Century!) but we also brought packets of oatmeal and ramen for our meals like broke college students. Why Oatmeal and Ramen? Because our room had a coffee maker to heat up water for us … but nothing else.
Saving money at Disney World or Disneyland is all about striking a balance. Read on for our best budget-friendly money saving tips for Disney.
There are definitely ways to score a deal at a Disney Resort, if you know where to look.
The difficult part is figuring out which discount hotel sites the resorts are listed on.
Luckily, we have a trick up our sleeve for that: HotelsCombined! You can use it to search a bunch of hotel deal sites at once, so you know for sure you’re getting the best possible deal. Check out deals on Booking.com for Disneyland and Disney World before you book.
And yes, don’t worry – these bookings are legit, and you can connect it to your online account once you purchase your park tickets to make sure you get your resort benefits ASAP.
Pick only 1 Disney restaurant per day to have a really good meal, and 1 Disney snack.
Disney food is well worth the expense, and the time will come when you will need an ice-cold Mickey bar, or a delicious meal and a long sit-down in A/C.
But, only buy 1 meal and 1 snack in the parks – choose wisely and make them count – and bring snacks for the rest of the day to save money.
Disney Cast Member Tip: My favorite snacks to bring to Disney parks are also my favorite high-energy hiking snacks: tuna fish packets with crackers, protein bars (these are my favorite), string cheese, apples or apple rings, nuts, beef jerky, and peanut butter pretzels.
If you have a credit card that gets you points at certain stores, use it to buy Disney Gift Cards to get a little cashback.
This is a tip from my credit card point churning days! You can use Disney gift cards everywhere in the parks, including for your tickets.
For example, I have an American Express Blue Cash preferred card that gets me 6% cash back at grocery stores. So I buy Disney Gift cards from the grocery store for a 6% discount on my Disney World trip! You can also buy Disney Gift cards from Target, which offers a 5% discount card.
Pick up a free button for a budget-friendly souvenir.
Get your souvenir needs filled at Guest Services and other select locations throughout the park. They have a variety of free buttons that they’ll give out to anyone who asks for one!
There’s everything from First Visit to Happy Birthday to Just Married, and a bunch in between. As an added bonus, cast members will congratulate you all day long while you’re wearing the button! It’s my favorite way to celebrate my birthday.
Utilize the First Aid stations.
The First Aid stations in the Disney parks give out ibuprofen, band-aids, and other health supplies for free – even though you can also buy them in stores throughout the Disney parks.
Why pay money for something that you can get from a friendly nurse for free? They also have water and A/C if you just need a place to sit down and chill out!
Disneyland Secrets & Tips
Every Disney park is different. For example, Orlando weather makes my hair frizz out like a balloon, but Anaheim’s dry, comfortable weather means I can wear my bangs down like a normal person!
Here are some Disney Hacks that are specific to Disneyland and California Adventure.
Never wait more than 20 minutes – even for the most popular rides at Disneyland.
Want to ride the most popular rides at Disneyland without waiting more than 20 minutes? You know, the ones that always have an hours-long line? How about 2 or 3 of those popular rides? Yes, it’s possible.
Here’s how (psst: this strategy works even better – and is much easier – when you buy a MaxPass):
- Arrive before the park opens.
- As soon as you’re allowed inside, hustle to Popular Ride #1. Pick up a fast pass. Or, if you have MaxPass, reserve it on your ap.
- Then, hustle to Popular Ride #2. If you got there fast enough (and if it’s nearby), you should get there before the line builds up.
- After Popular Ride #2, either use your Fast Pass – it should be for pretty early in the day – and get a fast pass for Popular Ride #3… OR check the line at Popular Ride #3 using the Disneyland App and you might be able to do StandBy for under 20 minutes.
- I typically get in all of my top 3 popular rides this way before noon!
Get a park hopper, and start your day in California Adventure.
Most people start in the other park, and there are less lines but just as many great rides in California Adventure (like, Soarin’, where I used to work, which will always make me cry).
A park hopper will let you switch back and forth all day long depending on the ebb and flow of the crowds – use your Disneyland app to help guide you.
Take your Disneyland trip to the next level with an epic Disneyland Scavenger Hunt.
We created an epic Scavenger Hunt game with 50 challenges designed to show you a side of Disneyland you’ve never experienced before!
It’s chock full of Cast Member secrets, little details you’ve never noticed, and challenges that will help you interact with the park in new and fun ways. And of course, it will shower you in Magical Pixie Dust.
What’s Magical Pixie Dust, you ask? Well, you’ll find out in one of your challenges…
Curious? Sign up for a free Disney Starter Kit and we’ll send you a sneak preview of the game!
Get a Dole Whip without waiting in line.
Yep, it’s totally possible to enjoy a delicious Dole Whip without having to stand through a 20-minute long line!
Just walk into the Tiki Room like you’re going to watch the show, but instead of going inside, go directly to the right. There’s a perfectly good Dole Whip stand RIGHT THERE that never has a line.
After you’ve got your Dole Whip, just walk through the Tiki Room before the next show right through to the exit! (O you can stay and watch the show, as long you’re OK with having the song stuck in your head for the rest of your life.)
Need a spot to sit and cool down?
At some point, you definitely will. The Turtle Talk with Crush building has A/C and couches to relax on during the heat of the day – all while enjoying 3 different attractions or just watching the giant screens showing scenes from your favorite Disney movies.
It’s a great place to eat some snacks and get your energy back up!
Want a free snack?
The Boudin Bakery Tour and Ghiradelli both give out free samples, tucked into a little corner of California Adventure.
Besides, they’re both from San Francisco, so that makes them automatically a must-do in my eyes!
Trying to snap some photos for the ‘gram?
Check out our guide to magical Disneyland picture ideas. You’ll never miss the perfect shot!
Score a deal at a Disneyland resort.
There are 3 Disneyland resorts, and they’re ALL listed on hotel deal sites such as Expedia or Priceline – particularly for off-season dates. Save yourself time and $$ by using HotelsCombined to search through all of the hotel deal sites at once!
Check out deals for Disneyland resorts before you book. And yes, don’t worry – these bookings are legit, and you can connect it to your online account once you purchase your park tickets to make sure you get your resort benefits ASAP.
Need some more Disneyland tips? We gotcha covered! Check out this post: 12 Ways to Next-Level Your Disneyland Trip (& Disneyland Scavenger Hunt).
Disney World Secrets & Tips
Ah, Disney World: my old stomping ground. My old home. I miss it so much!
Let’s start with a freebie tip: to see backstage at Disney World, all you need to do is get really lost while driving around trying to find the entrance to your resort.
Similarly, if you’re running late for work at Disney World, you’ll probably end up in a resort parking lot (no? just me???).
Haha, I’m just kidding. To see backstage at Disney World just look around any hidden corner or down any empty alley and walk right through the disguised doors. Keep going and pretend you have somewhere to be. I didn’t tell you that, so when they kick you out, it’s not my fault.
Here are some Disney World secrets & tips for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
Ride Everest, Test Track, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster over and over again – without waiting in line.
How? Use the single rider line!
There’s usually very few folks in the single rider lines at Disney World, and they move pretty fast – often even faster than the Fast Pass line.
From experience, I can tell you that these rides do NOT get boring after riding them alone for the 25th time in a row.
Save money on transportation in Disney World.
Don’t rent a car when you go to Disney World – you don’t need it!
Save on the rental, gas, AND $20 per day parking. If you’re flying into Orlando, and staying at a Disney World resort, you can get the Magical Express to take you to and from the airport. Then, Disney shuttles will take you all over Disney World for free!
If you’re staying at a non-resort hotel, make sure they have a Disney Shuttle to get you onto Disney property – most hotels near Disney do. Take an Uber to your hotel from the airport and then Disney shuttles will take you anywhere you need to go throughout Disney World.
Yay, now you can save that extra $200 you were going to spend on a rental car on Disney stuff instead!
Check authorized budget ticket sellers, like Best of Orlando, for Disney World ticket discounts.
Yep, you can actually save money on your park tickets by buying from an authorized outside vendor. Crazy, right?
If you’re wondering, like I was, don’t worry: buying park tickets from authorized sellers is totally legit. What’s NOT legit? Buying partially used tickets or purchasing from Craigslist or Ebay.
Purchase your discount Disney World tickets brand new from verified sellers ONLY!
Depending on your trip dates, you can score some major discounts. Buying a few tickets at once means you’ll rake in even bigger savings. Like for example, this Disney World Park Hopper Buy 4 & get 1 Day Free deal!
Here’s a guide to buying discount tickets to Disney World that’s really helpful.
Want a free soda?
How about 8 different types of soda, in an unlimited quantity, all for free?
Stop by the Club Cool Epcot and sample different kinds of Coke from around the world. So refreshing on a hot day!
Psst – a Club Cool Taste Test bonus round is one of our Disney World Scavenger Hunt challenges!
Take your Disney World game to the next level with an epic Disney World Scavenger Hunt.
We’ve created a massive Scavenger Hunt for Disney World that will bring a whole new level of fun to your next Disney World trip!
With 75 challenges and 250 points designed to help you experience Disney in a whole new way, it’s the perfect excuse to brutally compete with your loved ones while seeing Disney World in a whole new light.
We’ve stuffed it full of Cast Member insider secrets, hidden details you’d never notice on your own, and unique ways to get you out of your comfort zone and seeing Disney like never before.
Curious? Sign up for a free Disney Starter Kit and we’ll send you a sneak preview of the game, PLUS our epic Disney Resort Bar Crawl instructions and some Cast Member insider tips and hacks for your next Disney World trip.
Take a Backstage Tour for cheap.
You can either look pitiful and hope a cast member offers you a Magic Moment backstage pass, OR you can head to The Land Pavilion in Epcot and pay around $20 for the Behind the Seeds tour.
It’s educational and you get to sample some free food. Maybe I’m biased – being a former Soarin’ cast member and all – but The Land is highly underrated! (Psst: you’ll get to see my old work area on this tour!)
Staying at a Disney World resort is surprisingly budget-friendly.
Some of the benefits to staying at a resort:
- Extra Magic hours (less lines! More park time!)
- Ability to set up Fast Passes and restaurant reservation months in advance (allowing for serious strat advantage)
- Free transit to and from the airport as well as throughout the parks (a HUGE saving)
- Even more Hidden Mickeys to find
- Discounts on park tickets for multi-day trips
- Less standing between you and your bed at the end of an exhausting day.
With all those benefits, you’d think Disney Resorts would cost an arm and a leg, right?
But surprisingly, you can stay at a Resort for very reasonable prices! If you book early enough and visit Disney World during the off-season, there are some fantastic and affordable resorts to be had at around $100 a night, like the All Star resorts or Pop Century, for example.
There are definitely ways to score a deal at a Disney Resort if you know where to look.
Our favorite way to score a resorts deal is to use HotelsCombined to search for deals on multiple hotel booking sites at once. That’s how we once booked a stay at Port Orleans for under $150/night. Whee!
Wondering what deals await you on your next Disney trip? Use this handy dandy search box to compare prices across all major hotel booking & deals sites at once!
Spend a day exploring the Disney Resorts!
You guys, the resorts are AWESOME. They're chock-full of Disney magic and secrets and fun, and you can spend a whole day at the resorts having Disney adventures WITHOUT paying for a park ticket! (And no, you don't need to be a Resort guest, either!)
Our favorite money-saving Disney tip is to take a day off (or 2) in between full days in the Parks and explore the Disney World Resorts. It's really easy to see the resorts by using free Disney transportation to get from place to place.
We've also designed an entire Disney World Resort Bar Crawl which makes spending a day in the parks fun, budget-friendly, and SUPER easy! Check it out:
How to Help Keep the Disney Magic Alive
Part of being a Disney fanatic is buying into that magical feeling that you can only get in a Disney park. As a former cast member, I still get goosebumps remembering how good it felt the first time I helped cheer up a grouchy kid and their desperate family. I walked on air all day.
As a Cast Member, keeping the magic alive is an everyday part of the job.
It's not just something you do in your regular interactions with park Guests, it's literally assigned to you in the form of Magical Moments, which are given as part of a typical ride rotation.
You're essentially given complete freedom to make somone's day: you can take them backstage, skip them to the front of the line, give them a coupon for something free - there are all KINDS of tricks and tools that Cast Members can use to improve someone's vacation by making Magic happen for them.
Getting a Magical Moment is the most exciting part of a Cast Member's day!
There's a reason why giving Magical Moments is the assignment that every Cast Member wants to get on rotation - it's incredibly gratifying and fun. And honestly, everyone who suffers through the many exhausting challenges of working at the happiest place on earth is really just there for one reason: because they love the magic, and they want you to love it, too!
You can share in that fun and magical excitement as a Guest. Here are some ways that you can help keep the magic alive as a guest (and to fend off that post Disney depression!)
Help preserve the magic for kids.
Cast Members are given a lot of answers that are meant to help maintain some of the Disney illusions for kids. Like, if a kid asks you "how many Mickey Mouses are there?" you say "there's only 1!" That's literally like, rule #1 in the Disney Handbook, and any other answer is absolutely a fireable offense.
Look, it's not technically lying, persay ... okay, maybe it is ... but unless it's YOUR kid (and you're kind of a dick), don't spoil the fun.
You wouldn't tell some stranger's kid that Santa wasn't real, so don't point out that cable running between Tinkerbell and the Castle during Celebrations (don't worry kids, that's just Prince Eric's ESPN antenna! It connects his TV directly to the ESPN Wide World of Sports park).
Instead, if you want to interact with a little Prince or Princess - at Disney, every child is a little Prince or Princess, and referred to as such - try pointing out something magical - a hidden mickey, a walking tree, a talking trash can, or one of these gems.
If you have a paper Fast Pass you aren't going to use, find someone to give it to.
It's your very own opportunity to make a Magical Moment.
Maybe you're leaving the parks, maybe a ride broke down and you got a 6-person paper pass but your party is only 3 people... if you ever find yourself with a Fast Pass you won't use, find someone that looks like they could use a pick-me-up and give it to them.
It'll make both of your days, trust me.
Say Congratulations to everyone wearing a button.
This is another Cast Member move. If you see someone wearing a button that says "Happy Birthday," tell them Happy Birthday!
Likewise, if it's their anniversary, they just got engaged, or whatever it is that they're celebrating! I totally still say "Welcome!" to everyone I see wearing a "1st Visit" button and I get a lot of weird looks, so I guess that one isn't transferable to non-Cast Members. But the other ones totally are.
There's nothing like having hundreds of people wish you a Happy Birthday to make that day memorable and magical.
Just be considerate.
Everyone at Disney is tired and grumpy at some point. Don't be the one to make their mood even worse.
Help keep Disney a safe haven of magic where dreams really DO come true, by being a kind and considerate person.
- Let the elderly, disabled, and pregnant have your seat or cut in front of you in line.
- Help out tired parents by asking their little Prince or Princess who their favorite Disney character is.
- Make Cast Members happy by staying behind the yellow line at all times, listening to and following directions, never trying to get them to "break character," and letting their managers or Guest Services know when they've done an excellent job - there are cards you can fill out at Guest Services to give props to a standout Cast Member, and receiving them makes our days feel meaningful and magical (and helps us get paid more)!
Keep the magic of Disney alive by being a part of it yourself!
Super Secret Disney World Backstage Photos!
I know you all want to see the secrets hidden behind the scenes at Disney World! And while I'm still writing up a post about my favorite ridiculous Cast Member stories, I can share these super-secret, highly illegal backstage photos with you.
I only have 2 backstage photos, because if someone spots a Cast Member backstage with a camera backstage, they'll be fired faster than they can say "Jiminy Cricket!" Jokes on me, I was fired years ago! JK, you guys, I wasn't fired. But I also haven't worked at Disney in years, so I'm no longer terrified that people in Mouse suits will bang on my door and arrest me for posting these ...
Before you scroll down and look at these, I want to warn you: backstage - unlike the rest of Disney World - isn't terribly cute.
The Utilidoors underneath Magic Kingdom are pretty much just hallways with giant sewer pipes running through them and half-dressed Cast Members scurrying frantically about.
And Epcot, as you'll see below, is mostly just an empty lot. But I totally get the curiosity! If you're dying to see Epcot's backstage for yourself, you can always take the official Backstage Magic tour!
You can also catch a glimpse of Epcot's backstage while riding Test Track - look out over the parking lot while you're riding outside and you'll see the Epcot Cast Member entrance, which leads to a hidden door next to the Mexico pavilion.
Ssssh - don't tell Disney I showed you these!
Get the Disney Starter Kit
Looking for a magical way to bring your next Disney World trip to the next level?
Check out our epic Disney Scavenger Hunts! We created a Scavenger Hunt for each park that’s fun for adults, challenges you to get out of your comfort zone to experience the Disney parks in new & exciting ways, includes plenty of Disney Parks “secrets” & Cast Member insider tips, and of course, showers you in Magical Pixie Dust. What’s Magical Pixie Dust, you ask? Well, you’ll find out in one of the challenges…..
With 250 points at stake and 75 challenges designed to help you discover and experience Disney World like you never have before, this game will bring a whole new level of fun (and friendly competition - or unnecessarily aggressive competition, in our case) to your next Disney World trip.
Oh, and heads up: the game is designed to be played primarily by adults ... and there's quite a bit of overlap with our Disney World Resort Bar Crawl. Complete them together for a pretty freakin' magical day.
Intrigued? Subscribe below and we'll send you a FREE printable containing sneak peeks of BOTH Disney Parks Scavenger Hunts, PLUS a Disney Packing Checklist, the Disney Resort Bar Crawl instructions AND even more insider Cast Member tips for your next visit! Dannnnng, that's a lot of free stuff!
Psst: planning a Disney trip? Check out our other Disney posts!
- What to Pack for Disney: The Ultimate Disney Packing List (for Adults)
- The Disneyland Scavenger Hunt & How to Next-Level Your Disneyland Trip
- The Disney World Resort Bar Crawl
- 18 Magical Disneyland Picture Ideas: The Ultimate Disneyland Photography Guide
- 10 Tips for Soothing Your Post Disney Depression
Feature image original photo credit: "BALLOONS - Magic Kingdom" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by lhbrizzante. And if you need some more Disney help, here's a great post on Inspired by Maps with even more Disney World tips!
Get the Disney World Scavenger Hunt!
Get a FREE printable 50-point Disney Scavenger Hunt to take with you on your next trip to Disney World. Go on: you know you want to get aggressively competitive with your friends & family...