Hannah’s Walt Disney World Tips for Non-Resort Guests

Your Disney trip is almost here – YAY! You have opted to stay off-property which has some disadvantages, but I have included my pro tips to help make your vacation as seamless and stress free as possible. (updated February 14, 2022)

Pro Tips: 

  • Keep an eye on park hours. Disney might extend the hours and or even change them on a daily basis.
  • Take advantage of Mobile Ordering at Quick-Service locations! Try to avoid peak rush hours (11:00AM-1:00PM and 5:00PM-7:00PM). Try to eat before or after those times! Mobile order early to reserve your slot. This can always be modified.
  • Most Table-Service restaurants allow you to check in for your reservation on the My Disney Experience (MDE) app. This will alert the host that you are there and ready to be seated.
  • You are going to be waiting in line for SOMETHING so it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to pass the time like:
    • Play Disney Parks app 
    • Heads Up or other mobile based games
    • Activities or toys for children 
    • Speak to other humans
  • Make a list of your must do’s in the parks and make a plan based on those.
  • Plan to rope drop to maximize your park time.
  • Do long air-conditioned theater shows in the afternoon to avoid heat and rain during the summer.
  • Always pack your rain gear.
  • Leave and get some relaxation time outside the park in the afternoon.
  • Choose your fireworks spot early.
  • If the park doesn’t close right after fireworks – stay and squeeze in another ride or two to avoid long transportation lines. 
  • Get to the park early regardless of whether you’ve purchased Genie+ or not. 
  • Get in line for popular rides last thing at night. As long as you are in line one minute before the park closes, you can still ride no matter how long the line is.
  • If you don’t want to wait in the long Starbucks line, mobile order Joffrey’s coffee from select locations! 
  • Wait times are fairly accurate; however, it is an approximate wait time so there is always the chance of times swinging in either direction.

Park Specific Tips

  • Magic Kingdom: The best way to have a great Magic Kingdom experience, whether you purchase Disney Genie+ or not, is to go in with a plan.
  • Epcot: Non-Resort Guests might actually be worse off by Rope Dropping Epcot. Try the front half of the park later on in the afternoon while others are eating and drinking around World Showcase. If Frozen Ever After is a priority for your family, make sure you have a plan if you don’t want to purchase the Lightning Lane. 
  • Animal Kingdom: As the day goes on, Avatar Flight of Passage and Kilimanjaro Safaris can get very long waits, so getting them done early will usually save you time. Even if you are purchasing Genie+, the animals are generally more active in the morning hours and it can make for a better experience to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris when you first arrive at the park. 

Disney Terminology:

  • Rope Drop = arriving at a Disney park prior to the official park opening for the day.
  • Disney Genie = a free service in the My Disney Experience app offering things like the Tip Board and customizable itineraries.
  • Disney Genie+ = the paid version of FastPass+. It costs $15/ticket/day and allows you to skip the line at 40+ attractions across all four parks.
  • Individual Attraction Selections = two rides in each park that are not included in Disney Genie+ that are an additional fee. 
  • Single rider = a separate entrance at select attractions. Your party WILL be split up as you fill in with odd-numbered groups. It’s usually faster than standby, but possibly not during peak season.
  • Early Theme Park Entry = a perk of staying in a Disney Resort hotel – allows you early access to the parks and select attractions. 

Other things you should know about Walt Disney World:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are no longer using a virtual queue. You can experience the attraction using a traditional standby queue or by purchasing access to the Individual Lightning Lane.
  • Fireworks have returned to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Hollywood Studios has two projection shows at night.
  • In order to enter a park, you must have valid ticket admission AND a Park Pass reservation.
  • Character meet and greets are now called “Character Sightings” and are available in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. This allows you to have one on one time with a character from a distance.
  • The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is running January 14 through February 21 and is included with your ticket.
  • If you have little ones, take advantage of the Rider Switch Service. Rider Switch allows an adult Guest to wait with a child unable to ride an attraction and then board the attraction without waiting in line again.
  • Enhanced cleaning and housekeeping modifications are still in place.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will continue to be available.
  • If you are staying in a Disney Good Neighbor Hotel, be sure to pick up your physical tickets from the front desk and scan them into your MDE account.
  • Parking lot booths at the theme parks open about 45 minutes before the park officially opens. I recommend arriving about an hour before the park opens. If you arrive any earlier than that, they will turn you around.
  • Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas, outdoor attractions, outdoor queues, and outdoor theaters. Face coverings are still required while indoors and on enclosed transportation, regardless of vaccination status. 

Quick-Service Recommendations:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Columbia Harbour House
  • Casey’s Corner

Hollywood Studios:

  • Baseline Taphouse
  • ABC Commissary
  • Woody’s Lunch Box

Epcot (I recommend eating at the festival booths, but have included quick-service options, as well):

  • Boulangerie Pattiserie les Halles
  • Sunshine Seasons
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse

Animal Kingdom:

  • Satu’li Canteen (best quick-service in all of WDW)
  • Nomad Lounge
  • Flame Tree BBQ

Hannah’s Walt Disney World Tips for Disney Resort Hotel Guests

So your Disney Vacation is almost here… YAY! You’ve come to the right place. I have included everything you need to know regarding your upcoming vacation. (updated February 14, 2022)

Pro Tips: 

  • Keep an eye on park hours. Disney might extend the hours and or even change them on a daily basis.
  • Take advantage of Mobile Ordering at Quick-Service locations! Try to avoid peak rush hours (11:00AM-1:00PM and 5:00PM-7:00PM). Try to eat before or after those times! Mobile order early to reserve your slot. This can always be modified.
  • Most Table-Service restaurants allow you to check in for your reservation on the My Disney Experience (MDE) app. This will alert the host that you are there and ready to be seated.
  • If the line for Disney transportation looks longer than you want to wait, consider Uber/Lyft.
  • Food delivery services do deliver to Disney Resort hotels. 
  • You are going to be waiting in line for SOMETHING so it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to pass the time like:
    • Play Disney Parks app 
    • Heads Up or other mobile based games
    • Activities or toys for children 
    • Speak to other humans
  • Make a list of your must do’s in the parks and make a plan based on those.
  • Plan to rope drop to maximize your park time.
  • Do long air-conditioned theater shows in the afternoon to avoid heat and rain during the summer.
  • Always pack your rain gear.
  • Consider taking a break in the middle of the day when lines are at their peak! It will leave you feeling refreshed and able to take advantage of shorter lines later into the evening.
  • Choose your fireworks spot early.
  • If the park doesn’t close right after fireworks – stay and squeeze in another ride or two to avoid long transportation lines. 
  • Get to the park early regardless of whether you’ve purchased Genie+ or not. 
  • Get in line for popular rides last thing at night. As long as you are in line one minute before the park closes, you can still ride no matter how long the line is. 
  • If you don’t want to wait in the long Starbucks line, mobile order Joffrey’s coffee from select locations! 
  • Wait times are fairly accurate; however, it is an approximate wait time so there is always the chance of times swinging in either direction.
  • Take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry. If you are staying in a Deluxe Resort, take advantage of Extended Evening Hours.

Park Specific Tips

  • Magic Kingdom: The best way to have a great Magic Kingdom experience, whether you purchase Disney Genie+ or not, is to go in with a plan.
  • Animal Kingdom: As the day goes on, Avatar Flight of Passage and Kilimanjaro Safaris can get very long waits, so getting them done early will usually save you time. Even if you are purchasing Genie+, the animals are generally more active in the morning hours and it can make for a better experience to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris when you first arrive at the park. Do Kilimanjaro Safaris twice because it’s awesome. 

Disney Terminology:

  • Early Theme Park Entry = a perk of staying in a Disney Resort hotel – allows you early access to the parks and select attractions. 
  • Rope Drop = arriving at a Disney park prior to the official park opening for the day.
  • Disney Genie = a free service in the My Disney Experience app offering things like the Tip Board and customizable itineraries.
  • Disney Genie+ = the paid version of FastPass+. It costs $15/ticket/day and allows you to skip the line at 40+ attractions across all four parks.
  • Individual Attraction Selections = two rides in each park that are not included in Disney Genie+ that are an additional fee. 
  • Single rider = a separate entrance at select attractions. Your party WILL be split up as you fill in with odd-numbered groups. It’s usually faster than standby, but possibly not during peak season.
  • Mobile Order = order and prepay using the My Disney Experience app. Select “+,” then choose “Order Food.” Pick an available restaurant, select your arrival time, make selections. Then skip the line!

Other things you should know about Walt Disney World:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are no longer using a virtual queue. You can experience the attraction using a traditional standby queue or by purchasing access to the Individual Lightning Lane.
  • Fireworks have returned to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Hollywood Studios has two projection shows at night.
  • In order to enter a park, you must have valid ticket admission AND a Park Pass reservation.
  • Character meet and greets are now called “Character Sightings” and are available in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. This allows you to have one on one time with a character from a distance.
  • The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is running January 14 through February 21 and is included with your ticket.
  • If you have little ones, take advantage of the Rider Switch Service. Rider Switch allows an adult Guest to wait with a child unable to ride an attraction and then board the attraction without waiting in line again.
  • Enhanced cleaning and housekeeping modifications are still in place.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will continue to be available.
  • If you are celebrating something special, be sure to stop by the front desk of your Disney Resort hotel to pick up your free celebration buttons.
  • If you do plan to drive, there is a per night parking fee at the resort. It is $15/night for Value Resorts, $20/night for Moderate Resorts and $25/night for Deluxe Resorts. You can still park for free during the day at the parks which is a great perk when staying on site if you plan to drive to the parks.
  • Parking lot booths at the theme parks open about 45 minutes before the park officially opens. I recommend arriving about an hour before the park opens. If you arrive any earlier than that, they will turn you around.
  • Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas, outdoor attractions, outdoor queues, and outdoor theaters. Face coverings are still required while indoors and on enclosed transportation, regardless of vaccination status. 

Quick-Service Recommendations:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Columbia Harbour House
  • Casey’s Corner

Hollywood Studios:

  • Baseline Taphouse
  • ABC Commissary
  • Woody’s Lunch Box

Epcot (I recommend eating at the festival booths, but have included quick-service options, as well):

  • Boulangerie Pattiserie les Halles
  • Sunshine Seasons
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse

Animal Kingdom:

  • Satu’li Canteen (best quick-service in all of WDW)
  • Nomad Lounge
  • Flame Tree BBQ

Disneyland Disney Genie Tips

Disney Genie is a new service that is now being offered in Disneyland. This new technology will help manage your dining, experiences, and rides. Disney Genie+ is the paid replacement of MaxPass+. Learn more about these new options and the best way to utilize them in this post. (updated February 14, 2022)

  • Disney Genie – free service with the tip board and customizable itinerary.
  • Disney Genie+ – the paid replacement of FastPass+/MaxPass. $20/ticket/day. Gives you access to the Lightning Lane at 19 different attractions across both parks.
  • Individual Attraction Selections – these attractions are not included in Disney Genie+. 3 attractions that you can purchase access to the Lightning Lane for an additional fee. 
  • Disney Genie/Genie+ = the service
  • Lightning Lane = the queue
  • The 120 Minute Rule (does not apply to Individual Attraction Selections) – you can book a second Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane pass:
    • As soon as you use the one you have
    • If your window expires
    • 120 minutes from the time you booked that pass
    • …Whichever comes first!
    • Example: If you book a Lightning Lane at 9:15AM for 1:00PM, you can make another selection at 11:15AM (120 minutes after you made the first one). 

PRO TIPS:

  • Full Photopass is included with your purchase of Disney Genie+. 
  • You cannot purchase Disney Genie+ or make any reservations until you are in the park so you get to sleep in!
  • With fewer guests purchasing Disney Genie+ in Disneyland, the service can be easier to navigate. 
  • In non-peak seasons you could potentially get on every attraction in one or two days with the help of Disney Genie+!
  • Redemption Recovery passes can work on attractions that don’t normally include a Lightning Lane. 
  • Disney Genie+ can be a nice addition to ease the stress of planning a trip to Disneyland!
  • Disney Genie+ is still a very new service and there will likely be many issues that will be worked out over time, including with the standby line.
  • Cast Members will prioritize the Lightning Lane so your greatest chance of waiting in the least amount of lines will be with Disney Genie+.

Walt Disney World Disney Genie Tips

Disney Genie debuted at Walt Disney World in October 2021. I have tested out the system and have some pro tips that you will find helpful for your next trip and it’s all included in this post! (updated February 25, 2022)

Disney Genie is a complimentary service that helps create your perfect Disney day. You can let it know what your priorities for attractions and dining are as well as your interests and it will create a customizable itinerary for you. Your top picks will be pinned at the top of your Tip Board so they are easy to get to.

Disney Genie+ is the paid replacement of FastPass and costs $15/ticket/day. Purchasing this gives you access to the Lightning Lane at more than 40 different attractions across all four parks.

Individual Lightning Lanes are pay per ride at an additional fee. There is one in each park and they are not included in Disney Genie+. Individual Attraction Selections in each park:

  • Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Epcot: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Hollywood Studios: Rise of the Resistance
  • Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage

Disney Genie / Disney Genie+ = the service 

Lightning Lane = the queue 

Everyone can book their first Genie+ attraction starting at 7AM. Genie+ can be purchased at midnight on the day of your Park Pass reservation. It’s best to have it bought before 7AM so you can start booking attractions as soon as possible. Disney Resort hotel Guests can book their first Individual Lightning Lane at 7AM. Non-Resort Guests can book their first Individual Lightning Lane at park open. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance usually sells out before Non-Resort Guests have a chance to purchase. 

The 120 minute rule (this does not apply to Individual Attraction Selections). You can book a second Genie+ Lightning Lane Pass:

  • As soon as you use the one you have
  • If your window expires
  • 120 minutes from the time you booked that pass
  • Whichever comes first!

If you book an attraction at 7AM the 120 minute rule doesn’t go into effect until the park opens. For example: if you book Slinky Dog Dash at 7AM for 12PM and the park opens at 9AM, you’ll be able to book another Lightning Lane at 11AM.

PRO TIPS:

  • Hollywood Studios is currently the hardest park to navigate with all of the big ticket attractions. Make sure to plan ahead! The first two hours of your day are THE MOST IMPORTANT in this park.
  • Get to the park early regardless of whether you’ve purchased Genie+ or not. Even with Genie+, it’s important to arrive early and prioritize those big attractions.
  • Have a plan for when you activate the 120 minute rule and set an alarm for when your 120 minute are done!
  • Prioritize using Genie+ for the popular rides. 
  • Use standby for the shows. 
  • The size of your party won’t matter when booking Lightning Lanes. 
  • Disney Genie+ is still a very new service and there will likely be many issues that will be worked out over time, including with the standby line.
  • Cast Members will prioritize the Lightning Lane so your greatest chance of waiting in the least amount of lines will be with Disney Genie+. 
  • If at first you don’t succeed… keep refreshing! If you don’t see a time that you want, keep refreshing your screen and new times can pop up. Use transportation and line times to refresh. 
  • Book your next attraction after scanning in at the second touch point. With Genie+ attractions, you are booking the next available time so you are unable to choose when you would like to ride. You can customize who is riding what attraction. Not everyone in your party has to hold the same Lightning Lane at the same time.
  • Which Disney Genie+ selections should I make first?
    • Magic Kingdom: Jungle Cruise or Peter Pan’s Flight
    • Epcot: Test Track
    • Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash
    • Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari or Na’Vi River Journey

Did You Buy the Wrong Disney World Park Ticket?

There are several ticket options to choose from at Walt Disney World and it can be confusing. I am here to help you choose the right Disney Theme Park Tickets – with the right options – so that you can make the most of your Walt Disney World Vacation. (updated on Feb. 11, 2022)

Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus Options

Park Hopping returned on January 1, 2021. You once again have the chance to visit more than one Walt Disney World Theme Park each day, when you purchase Disney Theme Park Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus Options.

Tickets or passes that include Park Hopper benefits provide same day admission to all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks, and are perfect for those who would like the chance to see and do more during your visit – whether that means a morning on the savannah at Animal Kingdom, an afternoon ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom; or starting the day living your Star Wars adventure at Hollywood Studios before an evening traveling around the world at Epcot.

At this time, there are specific hours when the Park Hopper benefit can be used. During these hours, those with a ticket or pass that includes Park Hopper benefits are able to move between Theme Parks, subject to capacity. This modification is designed to help continue managing attendance in a way that fosters physical distancing. Here’s how Park Hopping currently works:

  1. Reserve – you must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first Park you plan to visit for the day. At this time, you do not need additional reservations to visit other Parks later that same day; however, reservation requirements are subject to change. Should the Park Hopper benefit be unavailable at a Theme Park, you will receive a push notification on your mobile device from the My Disney Experience (MDE) app.
  2. Enter – to use the Park Hopper benefit of your ticket or pass, you must first enter the Park you reserved for the day. You can enter that Park at any time during regular hours.
  3. Hop – after you’ve entered the Park you reserved, you will be able to visit other Parks during the posted Park Hopper hours for that day, subject to that Park’s capacity limitations. You may utilize the Park Hopper benefit of your ticket or pass to visit multiple Parks that same day.

Park Hopper hours start by 2:00PM each day and end at each Park’s scheduled closing time. You can check the Park Hours calendar and the MDE app for the most up to date Park Hopper hours, as they may vary by day and Park. Click here to see the Park hours calendar.

Be sure to check the Know Before You Go site for the latest information on the Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus Options. Click here to see the Know Before You Go website.

Water Park and Sports Option

For those of you who are looking to enjoy Disney Magic beyond the Theme Parks, you may want to consider the Water Park and Sports Option. When you add this option to your Disney Theme Park Tickets, you get a certain number of visits to Disney Water Parks, miniature golf, and more, based on the length of your ticket.

With this option, you can spend a morning playing nine holes of golf or a round of FootGolf at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, an evening at an imaginative Disney miniature golf course, or a day in the sun at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.

And remember, the Park Hopper Plus Option includes all of this, as well as the ability to visit more than one Theme Park on the same day, giving you the greatest freedom to explore Walt Disney World Resort at your own pace.

Remember to check the Know Before You Go site for the latest information on health and safety guidelines, as well as which venues are available for you to enjoy with the Water Park and Sports Option or Park Hopper Plus Option. Click here to view the Know Before You Go website.

Military & Florida Resident Offers

From time to time, special tickets may be available to select groups, such as Florida Residents or active/retired members of the U.S. military.

Click here to sign up for my newsletter where each week you will receive an email with the latest special offers available.

I am here to recommend the right Disney Theme Park Tickets and options for you so that you can have the most magical Walt Disney World vacation possible. Click here to request a free quote so we can start working on your Disney vacation today!

The Best Things To Do at Walt Disney World Outside of the Theme Parks

There are activities and experiences for you to discover beyond the Theme Parks! Let’s talk about what’s available at Disney Springs and Walt Disney World Resort recreation. (updated Feb. 11, 2022)

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Donut from Everglazed

Magic awaits you at Disney Springs, where new shopping and dining locations have recently joined an already long list of restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment options. Here’s what’s new:

  • M&M’S – This state of the art store offers 10,000 square feet of colorful fun dedicated to the popular chocolate candy. M&M’S at Disney Springs offers a signature chocolate wall, as well as exclusive, co-branded Disney and M&M’S apparel, housewares, and more.
  • Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew – Tried and true classics and over the top creations join cold-brew pick me ups, sandwiches, and more at this modern spin on the classic donut shop.
  • Gideon’s Bakehouse – An Orlando area favorite, Gideon’s Bakehouse offers ingredient rich, from scratch, almost half pound cookies, as well as cake slices, iced drinks, and more.
  • Fit2Run – now in a new location, The Runner’s Superstore features a wide range of name brand athletic walking and running footwear, technical running apparel, and accessories like performance eyewear, tech socks, and GPS wrist personal trainers.
  • Lululemon – This popular athletic brand now offers their yoga inspired, technical athletic apparel at Disney Springs. Their comfortable clothing collection was created to inspire today’s active men and women.

Recreation

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon have both reopened. You can find frosty fun for the whole family at the polar opposite of other water parks. Here are some of the popular attractions at Blizzard Beach:

  • Summit Plummet – With a 350 foot drop, this is one of the world’s fastest free fall water slides.
  • Teamboat Springs – Family fun awaits on one of the world’s longest group whitewater raft adventures.
  • Tike’s Peak – Little ones love this polar themed play area with pint sized activities just for them.

Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course offers something unique alongside traditional golf: FootGolf. In this precision sport, players “tee off” on shortened length holes and attempt to kick a regulation #5 soccer ball into 21″ diameter cups, in as few shots as possible. It’s a great way for families to get some fresh air and exercise, and enjoy some friendly competition at the same time!

Magical Extras

Make the most of your Disney vacation with Magical Extras: a variety of discounts and offerings on dining, entertainment, shopping, and more. Let’s look at a few of the Magical Extras that await you when you book a Walt Disney World Vacation package!

  • 10% off at Basin and Splitsville Luxury Lanes
  • 15% off at the Coca-Cola Store and House of Blues
  • 20% off at SANUK and Terralina Crafted Italian

Plus, you can receive four vouchers for mini golf for use during your stay. These are just a few of the available discounts.

There’s more to a Walt Disney World Resort vacation than just the Theme Parks. As we plan your next vacation together, let’s make sure to include enough days to enjoy the areas beyond the Theme Parks, too. Click here to request your free quote!

Walt Disney World Theme Parks

The Walt Disney World theme parks have inspired Guests for over 50 years (50th anniversary October 1, 2021). Each of the four Theme Parks has its own personality and you can find something you’ll love at each one of the Parks. Experiences in the Parks may look a little different than they did in the past, but there’s still plenty of magic for everyone to enjoy! (updated Feb. 11, 2022)

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has classic Disney attractions, storybook Characters, and family-friendly thrills. It’s the place most people think of when they remember Walt Disney World Resort. Cinderella Castle, the treasured icon of Magic Kingdom, now features bold, shimmering, regal enhancements befitting its royal status, making for great photos with family and friends.

There are plenty of ways to see Disney Characters at Magic Kingdom. Here are some of the characters you can find in the park:

  • Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
  • Cinderella, Elena, Princess Tiana, and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall

Why Magic Kingdom? Here are four reasons:

  • Magic Kingdom “feels” – These are the things that make Magic Kingdom, Magic Kingdom. The magic in Magic Kingdom is something you have to experience to fully understand.
  • Disney Characters – you will have plenty of opportunities to spot your favorite Disney friends.
  • Classic attractions – from the classics to new favorites, there is something for everyone.
  • Iconic snacks – you don’t have to pick between savory or sweet to find the perfect treat.

EPCOT

Epcot is a place that changes with the times, just like Walt Disney wanted it to be. It has always been an amazing place for you to celebrate the world and become immersed in the wonder of attractions and festivals. Now, as Epcot continues the biggest transformation of any Disney Park in history, you can enjoy a new journey dedicated to inspiring you with the magic of possibility.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a new family-friendly attraction that debuted in the France pavilion on October 1, 2021. Based on Disney and Pixar’s hit film, “Ratatouille,” this attraction invites you to shrink down to the size of a rat for a culinary adventure with Remy, while racing across Gusteau’s kitchen floor.

“Harmonious” is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney Park. The show is a beautifully crafted nighttime dreamscape of Disney music and images, reimagined by diverse cultural musicians and artists from around the world.

Cultures and cuisines from around the world come together at festivals that are held at various times of the year. More often than not, you will be able to experience a seasonal festival during your visit to Epcot. Here are the 4 festivals:

  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts – This festival, which typically starts in January, will inspire you by immersing you in the culinary, performing, and visual arts. The festival is known for bringing together artists from these fields, with unique demonstrations and special galleries.
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Each spring, Epcot blooms to life with beautiful flowers, brilliant gardens, unique Disney topiaries, and Outdoor Kitchens that serve up creative cuisine that features the season’s freshest flavors.
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – sip, savor, and stroll. For more than 25 years, this fall favorite festival has kept Guests coming back for its blend of delicious food and fun entertainment.
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays – The holiday season is extra festive at Epcot. Celebrate with merry decor, holiday entertainment, and indulgent recipes from around the world.

Here are the Disney Characters you can see at Epcot:

  • Mickey Mouse inside the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival building
  • Joy and Vanellope von Schweetz inside ImageWorks

Why Epcot? Here are 3 reasons:

  • Inspiring Festivals – Seasonal festivals are a great way for you to get more out of your visit to Epcot.
  • Unique Attractions – Classics like Soarin’ Around the World are popular for their innovative technology paired with Disney Magic, while on Frozen Ever After, you can see familiar faces from the wintery wonderland of Arendelle.
  • Disney Character Moments – Attractions and cavalcades are fun ways to create memories and seek out favorite Disney Characters.

Hollywood Studios

You will have plenty of fun as you step into epic adventures from your favorite Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars films at Hollywood Studios. It’s the perfect place to explore together.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is one of the newest additions at Walt Disney World. Zip away on a zany adventure through a cartoon universe that’s crammed with surprises! Like any good movie or show, step into the ‘toon world and prepare for unexpected twists.

Disney Character Cavalcades are in style at Hollywood Studios. Throughout the day, these cavalcades start on Hollywood Boulevard and travel past Echo Lake. You won’t want to miss the “Mickey and Friends Motorcade” and the “Pixar Pals Motorcade.”

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is where you get the chance to live your Star Wars story as you explore the remote Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu, in a galaxy far, far away. No matter whether you choose allegiance to the First Order – where Kylo Ren reigns supreme – or the Resistance, with Rey and Chewbacca, you may spot those characters throughout the day.

Animal Kingdom

Rare animals and wild entertainment allow you to behold the magic of nature. African safaris, treks to a world beyond belief, and adventures to the prehistoric age are just some of the experiences to discover here.

A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King returned last summer. The Harambe Theatre once again hosts the fan-favorite troupe of musical storytellers, along with Simba and his friends. It is presented in a modified format to be mindful of the current environment. Adjustments to the show have been made on stage and backstage, including updates to choreography to allow for appropriate physical distancing. Disney has adjusted how the audience is seated, in line with other theater-based experiences at Walt Disney World. It’s a moving, immersive theatrical experience celebrating music that has touched generations of Disney fans, and a festival you will want to be part of again and again.

Discovery River connects the various lands of Animal Kingdom. Most of the day, this calm waterway provides a great backdrop for photos of the Park icon, the Tree of Life, but at various times throughout the day, special cavalcade flotillas sail by with favorite Disney Characters on board. On the Discovery River Character Cruise, you can catch a glimpse of Characters from Disney’s “Pocahontas” or Disney’s “The Lion King.” On the Mickey and Friends Flotilla, you will see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and other familiar friends. You may also see – and hear – the Discovery Island Drummers as they perform live while sailing down the river.

Why Animal Kingdom? Here are 3 reasons:

  • For the awe – the floating mountains, bioluminescent plant life, and two incredible attractions inspire awe in Pandora – The World of Avatar.
  • For authentic adventure – Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Expedition Everest are authentic adventures that feature animals both real and legendary.
  • For discovering Disney Characters – Flotillas cruise around Discovery River, featuring unique and favorite Disney Characters.

There is SO much to do at the four Theme Parks alone. I am here to help you decide which Parks to visit, which tickets to include in your vacation package, and how to make the most of your days. Click here to request your free quote!

How to do Walt Disney World in 2022

Since the theme parks reopened in July of 2020, Disney has taken a measured and deliberate approach to implement a number of health and well-being measures based on guidance from various governmental authorities and health agencies. (updated Feb. 11, 2022)

To help you plan and prepare for your visit, be sure to check out the Know Before You Go website. Here, you will find important information such as:

  • Current health and safety measures
  • What you’ll need to enter a Theme Park, Water Park, or Disney Springs
  • Which attractions and entertainment are currently operating
  • Updates to services, amenities, and transportation
  • Which dining locations are available

Theme Park Reservation Availability Calendar

The new systems that you use to book Park reservations is called the Disney Park Pass system. You can use the Theme Park Reservation Availability Calendar to help you choose which Park to visit first on a given day, before you begin the Park reservation process. Click here to see the Theme Park Reservation Availability Calendar.

Park Hopper Option

If you have a ticket or annual pass that includes Park Hopper benefits, you can visit more than one Park per day with some new modifications as part of Disney’s ongoing focus on health and safety.

You can use the Park Hopper benefits of your ticket within specific hours each day that will start no later than 2:00PM and end at each Park’s scheduled closing time. You should check the online Park hours calendar or the My Disney Experience app for the most up to date Park Hopper hours, as they may vary by day and Park. Click here to view the Park Hours Calendar.

To use the Park Hopper benefits of your ticket, you must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first Park they plan to visit each day, and you must also enter that first Park prior to visiting any others that day. At this time, a Park Reservation is not required after the first Park each day; however, reservation requirements are subject to change.

On the day of your visit, you should check the My Disney Experience app, as well as posted signage, for availability of other Parks that you may wish to visit. You should be prepared to present your ticket or annual pass prior to boarding complimentary transportation between Theme Parks. If you wish to drive your own vehicle you should be prepared to present your ticket or annual pass at the Auto Plaza for the next Theme Park you wish to visit.

My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience (MDE) plays a key role for visiting Walt Disney World Resort. The helpful technology behind MDE can provide you with the most efficient experience possible if you follow these steps:

  1. Disney Account – you must have a Disney account to access MDE. This is the same account you use for other Disney services such as Disney+ or shopDisney. Access to MDE is required to book Park reservations.
  2. Travel Party – Register for or sign in to MDE by visiting StartYourDisneyExperience.com. Then, you should create a Family & Friends list that includes the members of your travel party.
  3. Link Reservation – you must link your reservation to your MDE account by entering the confirmation number provided by me, your Travel Professional.

Disney Park Pass System

Once you have purchased your tickets or vacation package, and have created your MDE account, it’s time for you to make your Park reservations. Here’s how to make a Park reservation:

  1. Confirmed Linked Tickets – you must have valid Park admission that’s been linked to your Disney account.
  2. Create Party – after signing in to MDE, you create your travel party from your Family & Friends list.
  3. Select a Date and Park – choose the date, and the Theme Park that you wish to visit first on that date. Park reservations are subject to availability.
  4. Review and Confirm – carefully review and confirm your selected Park and date.

You must repeat this process to book addition Park reservations for each day they wish to visit a Park. Only one Park can be reserved per day.

My Disney Experience Mobile App

My Disney Experience (MDE) is available as a website, and also as a mobile app for Apple and Android mobile devices. The app offers many of the same functions as the website; however, the app has additional features that make it very useful for you once you’re on your Walt Disney World vacation. For example, the MDE app can give you reminders of any reservations and experiences you’ve planned by way of push notifications, and it can help you make updates, manage your tickets, and make additional plans.

Let’s take a look at some of the features that are available exclusively in the MDE app:

  • Online Dining Check-In – during your visit, you may enjoy dining at Table-Service restaurants, and a new mobile check-in feature allows you to bypass the host stand upon arrival at select locations. The dining check-in feature also allows you to adjust some aspects of your dining reservation, such as noting seating and accessibility needs, making dining and allergy requests, and providing updates to special celebrations. When your table is ready, you will receive a push notification from the MDE app.
  • Mobile Order at Quick-Service Restaurants – you can also use the MDE app to enhance your Quick-Service dining experiences and minimize your wait time by browsing menus and ordering meals in advance, from virtually anywhere, with cashless transactions. Orders are then prepared when you arrive at the selected Quick-Service dining location and check in using the MDE app.
  • Check Dining Availability, Wait Times, and More – you can check dining availability, filter wait times by Theme Park, and more, and can choose to view results as a list or as pins on a map. You can also determine the best route from one location to another within Walt Disney World Resort by seeing Disney transportation options, complete with estimated travel times. You an continue to use the MDE app even after your visit, to purchase and download memories you created using Disney PhotoPass service.

Disney MagicMobile

As technology and the needs of humans evolve, Disney continues to invent and innovate ways to ensure that you can enjoy the magic. Now, you will be able to experience your visit to Walt Disney World Resort with a new option: Disney MagicMobile.

Disney MagicMobile is a digital pass that you can create using the MDE app, which then is added to your smart device’s digital wallet. To use a MagicMobile Pass, you can hold your iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android phone near an access point, just like you would with a MagicBand. You can use a MagicMobile Pass:

  • At Theme Park and Water Park entrances
  • At attraction access points
  • With Disney PhotoPass photographers

Although a MagicMobile Pass may act much like a MagicBand, you can choose to use your MagicMobile Pass or a MagicBand – whichever option works best during your visit. You can even use both and alternate between the two for added flexibility.

Click here to request your free, no obligation, Walt Disney World vacation quote.

The Best Hotels in Walt Disney World

For the first time since March 2020, all Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World are finally open! There are so many perks to staying on property in a Disney Resort hotel when you are visiting Walt Disney World. Check out my blog post about it here. (updated April 18, 2022)

There are four hotel category types: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas.

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Value Resorts

These are your standard hotel room. They are the smallest (around 250 square feet) of all the categories and can sleep up to 4 people. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s All-Star Music Resort offers suites that can sleep up to 6 adults. The prices start at about $140/night for standard rooms.

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Fantasia-Themed Pool
    • World Premiere Food Court
    • Movies Under the Stars
    • Resort Area: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Pool with surfboard motif
    • End Zone Food Court
    • Resort Area: Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Guitar-Shaped Pool
    • Intermission Food Court
    • Family Suites that sleep up to 6
    • Resort Area: Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
    • Transportation: Disney Skyliner and Bus
    • Pool with Water Jets
    • Merchandise Store
    • Food Court
    • Resort Area: Wide World of Sports
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
    • Transportation: Skyliner and bus
    • Family Suites that sleep up to 6 adults
    • Largest Resort pool in Walt Disney World
    • Food Court with 5 stations
    • Dog-friendly accommodations
    • Resort Area: Wide World of Sports Resort Area

I recommend Disney’s Art of Animation Resort in the Value category. It has direct Skyliner access, a super fun theme, a good value for the space in the Family Suites, and it’s a short walk to Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Moderate Resorts

These rooms are typically about 300 square feet. They sleep up to 4 people, but there are select rooms that sleep 5. There are suite options at Coronado Springs. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness are larger at about 500 square feet and sleep up to 6 people. These rooms start at about $265/night.

  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Brand new Gran Destino Tower (opened August 2019)
    • Pool with a waterslide
    • Fitness center
    • Resort area: Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
    • Transportation: Disney Skyliner and Bus
    • Pool with a Waterslide
    • Pirated themed rooms
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Cabins and campgrounds available
    • Feels like you are camping in the middle of Walt Disney World
    • Pre-order groceries and have them waiting when you arrive
    • Rent golf carts
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Dog friendly accommodations
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Scat Cat’s Club
    • Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
    • Resort Area: Disney Springs
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Pool with Waterslide
    • Boatwright’s Dining Hall
    • Royal Guest Rooms
    • Pet-Friendly Accommodations
    • Resort Area: Disney Springs

I recommend Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter in the Moderate category. The Resort is small and quaint, you can take a relaxing boat ride to Disney Springs, and you can’t beat the homemade Mickey beignets that are only available here.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Deluxe Resorts

There are many different types of rooms and sizes in Deluxe Resorts. They range from standard size rooms (about 350 square feet) to suites of more than 1,000 square feet. Most of the rooms will sleep up to 5 people. They start at about $400/night.

  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Close to Skyliner
    • Shares the water recreation area at Beach Club
    • Health Club
    • Dog friendly acommodations
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
    • Transportation: Monorail, Boat, Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • California Grill – very popular rooftop restaurant
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
    • Transportation: Monorail, Boat, Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Exquisite dining
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • 2 Pools
    • Deluxe Villa options
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
    • Transportation: Boat, Bus, Monorail
    • Pool with a waterslide
    • Brand new Moana-themed rooms
    • Taste the culinary magic of the islands at several restaurants
    • Deluxe Villa options
    • Seven Seas Lagoon
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
    • Transportation: Boat, Bus
    • Disney Skyliner transportation
    • Outdoor water recreation area with a life-size shipwreck, pools, lagoons and more.
    • Beaches and Cream – boardwalk-style ice cream parlor.
    • Ship Shape Health Club
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
    • Transportation: Boat, Bus
    • Disney Skyliner Transportation
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Trattoria al Forno – Italian eatery serving breakfast and dinner.
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Pool with Waterslide
    • Award-Winning Dining
    • Exotic Animals
    • Resort Area: Animal Kingdom

I recommend Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in the Deluxe category. The theming is amazing, the lobby is beautiful, it has fantastic restaurants, and has prime Magic Kingdom location.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

Deluxe Villa Resorts

These are the highest rated rooms at Walt Disney World. Most of the Villas are attached to a Deluxe Resort and share all the amenities. Villas range from studio to 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom options. They range in size from about 300 square feet to 2,500 square feet. Almost all of the Villas have a kitchen, washer, dryer, and separate bedrooms. Most studio rooms sleep up to 4 people. The 3-bedroom villas sleep up to 12. The studios are your standard Deluxe Resort room, except they have a kitchenette. The other Villa options are much larger and have more than one bathroom. They start at about $400/night.

  • Disney’s Riviera Resort
    • Transportation: Skyliner and Bus
    • Captures the magic of Europe
    • Topolino’s Terrace – breakfast and dinner rooftop dining
    • Full range of accommodations
    • Several pools and kid’s splash pad area
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Golf course
    • Resort Area: Disney Springs
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Olivia’s Cafe – American/Caribbean table-service restaurant
    • Fitness Center
    • Sauna
    • Tennis court
    • Resort Area: Disney Springs
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Sanaa – restaurant with view of African animals
    • Resort Area: Animal Kingdom
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Kitchen, washer, dryer, separate bedrooms
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Access to 2 pools
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Outdoor water recreation area (3 acres)
    • Close to the Skyliner
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
    • Transportation: Boat and Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Close to Skyliner
    • Walking distance to Epcot
    • Resort Area: Epcot
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
    • Transportation: Monorail, Boat, Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
    • Transportation: Monorail, Boat, Bus
    • Feels like an island paradise
    • Delicious restaurants
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
    • Transportation: Monorail, Boat, Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Exquisite dining
    • Resort Area: Magic Kingdom
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
    • Transportation: Bus
    • Pool with waterslide
    • Award-Winning Dining
    • Exotic Animals
    • Resort Area: Animal Kingdom

I recommend Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House in the Deluxe Villa category. It has rooms with views of animals on the savanna, 3 of the 10 highest rated restaurants in Walt Disney World, and the theming is amazing.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

There are more reasons than ever to stay at a Disney Resort hotel, where a wide variety of amenities, programs, and exclusive benefits help make a Walt Disney World Resort vacation fun, relaxing, and worry free. To request a free Walt Disney World quote, CLICK HERE.

Perks of Staying On-Property at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort is “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” You can come stay in the magic with the Disney Resorts Collection. These unique Disney Resort hotels feature the same legendary storytelling, detail, and Guest service found in the Theme Parks. With room types that can accommodate intimate getaways for two, extended family gatherings for 12, and everything in between, there truly is something for nearly every family size and budget. You can also enjoy the ease and convenience of getting around Walt Disney World Resort, and receive more enchanting perks, with a stay in the Disney Resorts Collection. Plus, you will be surrounded by the World’s Most Magical Celebration! (updated on Feb. 11, 2022)

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Guests that are staying at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, and Waldorf Astoria Orlando are also able to take advantage of some of these benefits.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village

From unique accommodations to distinctive dining options, themed rooms and more, Disney Resort hotels offer you a variety of options that exemplify the Disney Difference.

  • Get Around with Ease – Complimentary transportation makes it easy and fun to get around Walt Disney World Resort. You can zip about on the Monorail, glide across the sky on the Skyliner, and cruise along the waterways aboard a water taxi. Some Disney Resort hotels are even within walking distance to some of the parks. If you drive your own vehicle or rent a car and are staying in a Disney Resort hotel, you can enjoy complimentary standard parking at the Disney Theme Parks and Water Parks.
  • Magic Around Every Corner – You will be immersed in fantastical worlds both real and imagined – including some favorite Disney and Pixar tales. Whether you are taking in views of an African savanna, swimming alongside Nemo and friends, or savoring the flavors of the Polynesian isles, you will find fun and surprising Disney touches in every detail. The fun never ends at the Disney Resort hotels. There are themed pools with waterslides, poolside activities, and delicious dining experiences. You may even spot some familiar Disney friends palling around together.
  • Early Theme Park Entry – As part of the World’s Most Magical Celebration, Disney Resort hotel Guests can get a 30 minute head start on their Disney day with Early Theme Park Entry – available at all four Walt Disney World theme parks. This allows access to select attractions, shops, and dining before regular hours. You can enjoy this benefit on each day of your stay – in any park.
  • Extended Evening Theme Park Hours – Guests staying in a Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa can enjoy extended evening hours – experiencing select attractions, shops, and dining after regular park hours – in select theme parks on select nights. Combined with Early Theme Park Entry, you get to arrive earlier AND stay later so you can maximize your time in the parks!
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Rooms That Make Dreams Come True

  • Disney Themed Rooms – Stay in rooms with the same fantasy and adventure that bring Disney stories to life! Disney Story Rooms are inspired by your favorite films and are at select hotels. At Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, there is The Little Mermaid room and family suites inspired by The Lion King, Cars, and Finding Nemo. There are Pirate Rooms where the beds are pirate ships at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The theming of the Disney Resort hotels is like no other and really immerses you and gives you the full experience.
  • Sleep Under the Stars – Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground allow you to relax and unwind. There are rustic campsites and cabins close to the pools, theme parks, shopping, trails, and more. The cabins are fully equipped and spacious and feel just like home. The campsites at the campgrounds accommodate tents as well as RVs.
  • Options for 5 or More Guests – If you want to stay somewhere beyond a regular hotel room, I’ve got the perfect place for you. Disney has Family Suites, Cabins, and Deluxe Villas that are perfect for parties of 5 or more. Separate bedrooms/sleeping areas are perfect for some extra space and privacy. These rooms have a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen. They also have a living and dining area.
Disney’s Riviera Resort

To begin planning and creating your dream vacation, request a free quote here!