How to Have a Perfect Solo Trip to Disney World

Many people are worried about taking a solo trip to Disney World. They think they might stand out or won’t have any fun on a solo Disney trip.

I’ve been to Disney World alone a number of times, and it has always been a really fun experience.

In some cases, going to Disney World alone was more fun than going with family or friends!

You have so much freedom on a solo trip to Disney World. You choose what you want to do and when you want to do it.

And if you want to completely change your plans on the drop of a dime, you can! You don’t have to consult with the rest of your group.

It can be very liberating!

However, there are some important things you need to know before going to Disney World alone.

A few things you have to consider and a few extra tips to get the most out of your solo Disney trip.

Luckily, I’ve compiled everything I’ve learned through my many, many solo Disney experiences and am sharing them with you!

You’re guaranteed to have a magical trip!

Tips for flying alone for the first time

Stay at a Disney Hotel

Okay. Okay. You may hear the phrase stay at a Disney hotel and start to hear your wallet crying.

Disney hotels are notorious for being expensive, but I think they are well worth the price- especially when you’re alone at Disney World.

The main reason I think staying on property is a great decision for people visiting Disney World alone is the free transportation provided by Disney.

Disney free transportation that you can take from your hotel to each of the four theme parks and Disney Springs.

Every hotel has buses, and some hotels have one or two other modes of transportation (either the monorail, skyliner, or boat).

You can easily get around the entire Disney World property without much hassle. You don’t have to rent a car and drive yourself or worry about paying for an Uber every time you want to go somewhere.

I’ve heard some people complain about Disney buses specifically saying they’re too few and far between and take ages to get anywhere.

I’ve never ever had that issue, and I’ve stayed at a number of hotels across Disney World property.

I prefer to be at the parks early for rope drop and come home before park closing, so that’s probably why I’ve never had an issue.

If you like to get a later start or stay later at the park, you may want to consider a hotel that has access to transportation other than the buses.

There are other perks that come with staying at a Disney hotel that are just the cherry on top!

Extra magic hours, coupons for mini golf, and the ability to book individual Lightening Lane passes before the park opens.

All things considered, the extra cost of staying at a Disney hotel is well worth it in my opinion.

Boardwalk Hotel Disney World

Photopass is Essential

I love love love Photopass. I’ll scream it from the rooftops and never stop talking about it.

I tell everybody I know who is going to Disney World to invest in Photopass. A lot of people are hesitant, but they always tell me how much they loved it after their trip and how they’ll never do another Disney trip without out.

And I don’t blame them! I’m the same way!

Photopass is an additional add-on feature you can add to your Disney trip. You get unlimited photo downloads of the photos Photopass photographers take of you.

There are countless photo opportunities throughout the park, and most people walk away with hundreds of photos after a week-long vacation.

You get photos in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, throughout the World Showcase in Epcot, with characters, and sometimes there is a Photopass photographer wandering around Disney Springs.

The possibilities are truly endless.

As someone taking a solo trip to Disney World, you don’t have a friend or family member to take your photo during your trip.

You either have to take selfies, not have any photos of you on your trip, or invest in Photopass.

And Photopass is without a doubt the best option.

Oh! I totally forgot to mention there are even magic shots included with Photopass when the photographer adds an extra little something something into your photo. Most of the time it is a Disney character joining you!

If you want to get Photopass, be sure to purchase it before the start of your trip. If you decide you want to purchase it once your vacation begins, the price goes up quite a bit.

But, seriously, invest in Photopass. You can thank me later. 😉

Tiana Magic Kingdom Characters

Consider Getting a Park Hopper Ticket

When I visit Disney World with friends and family, we tend not to park hop very often. Maybe once a trip if at all.

There are so many things everybody wants to do in each park, and it is often easier to dedicate an entire day to a single park.

Either that or we lose track of time and don’t end up park hopping because it is so late in the day!

But, that isn’t the case when I’m on a solo trip to Disney World.

I park hop like nobody’s business and visit multiple parks per day pretty much every day I’m at Disney World.

There is something about having the freedom to do what I want when I want that ends up in me popping over to Epcot for a quick bite to eat or to Hollywood Studios to ride a thrill ride.

Having a park hopper ticket certainly isn’t essential if you’re going to Disney World alone, but you may want to consider it more than you do on other Disney World vacations.

If there is one trip you’re going to park hop on, it will be a solo Disney trip!

Click here and use code TRAVELSWITHERICA for 10% off my favourite Instagram presets!

Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines

Single rider lines are a huge time saver. Even if you’re at Disney World with a group of people, taking advantage of single rider lines is still a good idea.

A single rider line is a special line you can use to save time at Disney World. People in the single rider line are used to fill empty seats on a ride, so the ride is always at capacity.

For example, if a ride allows three people per row, and the group in the regular queue only has two people in it, someone from the single rider line will be used to fill the empty seat.

You cannot choose what seat you get, and you will be separated from the rest of your party using the single rider line.

Not that that’s an issue when you’re on a solo trip to Disney World!

Some single rider lines move quite quickly (like Test Track) and some move quite slowly (like Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster), but they should all save you at least a little bit of time compared to the regular queue.

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to walk onto a ride like Test Track through the single rider line and skip the 90-minute wait!

Unfortunately, not may rides at Disney World offer single rider lines, but if you see one, jump into it!

These are the rides that currently offer single rider lines:

  • Test Track at Epcot
  • Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
  • Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at Hollywood Studios

Of the rides that offer single rider lines, using them at Test Track and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will save you the most time.

Those single rider lines move very quickly and save you a ton of time.

Rock 'n' Rollercoaster (Disney Hollywood Studios)

Don’t be Afraid of Table Service Restaurants

Sometimes it can be intimidating to have a sit down meal at Disney World. Many solo travellers choose to only eat at quick service restaurants and skip table service restaurants altogether.

That is a huge mistake!

Disney World has incredible table service restaurants, and you’re missing out if you skip eating at them.

Plus, cast members are so kind to solo travellers. They often go above and beyond to make sure you feel comfortable.

Anything you need or want, they’ll do their best to do for you.

At a lot of table service restaurants, you can ask to sit in a corner or at a table facing the window.

This will help you feel more comfortable and better ignore the other people dining.

And remember! The other people are paying no attention to you. I know solo travellers hear that all the time, but it is even more true at Disney World.

The poor suckers around you are busy wrangling their children or resting their exhausted feet.

They don’t give a hoot what is going on around them and won’t bat an eye at you eating alone.

Unique tips for eating alone

Don’t Discount Epcot Festivals

If I didn’t sell you on eating alone at table service restaurants, don’t discount the Epcot festivals as the perfect place to try unique food without having to eat at a traditional restaurant.

Epcot hosts four festivals every year:

  • Festival of the Arts
  • Flower and Garden Festival (my personal favourite)
  • Food and Wine Festival
  • Festival of the Holidays

Each festival includes food booths that feature special items from different countries. The serving sizes are small (often only a couple of bites), so you can easily try a whole bunch of different things from various countries.

It is a super fun way to have a unique meal at Disney World.

Just be sure to make a budget and stick to it! It is super easy to get carried away and spend way too much money sampling all the food.

You can load money onto a gift card at Epcot. It makes for a super cute souvenir and the perfect way to stop yourself from going bankrupt.

Once the money you loaded onto the card is gone, you have to stop sampling all the food!

Flower and Garden Festival

Take the Time to Meet Characters

Meeting characters may not be at the top of your list of things to do on your solo trip to Disney World, but you shouldn’t miss out on them.

Meeting characters was never my jam until I started taking solo Disney trips. I randomly started meeting characters the first time I went to Shanghai Disneyland as a way to pass the time during the middle of the day when the ride longs were way too long.

Ever since then, I’ve taken the time to meet a few characters on every solo Disney trip.

It is kind of fun, and you get some amazing photos when you have Photopass.

You make some great memories meeting characters, and the characters often spend a few extra seconds with you to make it an even more special experience.

The best park to meet characters in without a long wait is Epcot. Many characters wander around the World Showcase and don’t have more than a five-minute wait to meet them!

Tips for meeting characters at Magic Kingdom

Chip and Dale Main Street USA

Consider Buying Tickets to a Special Event

Disney World offers guests a number of add on experiences you can purchase including special events like Mickey’s Not-So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

These two events give you an extra taste of the holiday season.

You see the characters dressed up in their special Halloween customs or Christmas outfit, there are special parades and shows, an exclusive firework show, and you either get to trick or treat or collect Christmas cookies.

There are great fun and well worth the extra money.

If you have the chance to go to one of these special events, I highly recommend it.

However, the very best events you can attend at Disney World are the After Hours events.

Disney only sells a few thousand tickets to these events, and you get VIP access to either Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios for three hours.

Every ride is basically a walk-on, and you can ride everything you want multiple times during the events.

Some rides even let you go around again without getting off (like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin). Others you have to get off and go back into line again, but you walk right onto the ride when you get to the front of the queue.

I’ve been to the Magic Kingdom After Hours event many times and have had nothing but an amazing experience.

You can easily ride every single attraction in the park and can even ride a few of them multiple times if you want!

I recommend considering an extra event like the parties or an After Hours event because they are special.

You either get a unique experience at the party or get to ride a million rides at the After Hours event.

They can save you a lot of time and leave you with amazing memories.

Yes. They can be expensive, but if you have the money to afford them, they are well worth the cost.

Especially as a solo traveller.

Have a Distraction for Lines

No matter what, you’re going to have to stand in some rides at Disney World. Even with Genie+ and Lightening Lanes, it is impossible not to spend at least a little bit of time in line waiting for rides.

It is during these times that being alone at Disney World starts to feel like you’re alone. You don’t have anybody to talk to, and the time seems to pass by painfully slow.

The best way you can combat the tedious line waiting is to pre-plan and have something to keep you entertained while you’re in line.

You can read a book (which is sometimes challenging in dark lines), listen to a podcast, play games on your phone, or explore the queue in the My Disney Experience app.

There are many ways to make the time in line go by faster, but you need to have a plan before your solo Disney trip starts!

Just be sure you’re being internet safe while in lines (and everywhere at Disney World). You’re connected to a public wifi network, and it is very easy for anybody to hack into your phone and steal your personal information (like you’re banking numbers).

You don’t want to deal with that headache while you’re on a magical Disney vacation. And you especially don’t want to deal with it when you’re alone at Disney World.

The best way to keep your online data safe and private is by installing a VPN on your phone. It essentially puts a forcefield around your phone that makes it impossible for hackers to get in.

A VPN makes using public wifi networks just as safe as your home internet where you’re the only person who knows the password.

It is a small but important thing to do when travelling. It is irresponsible to travel without a VPN protecting your devices.

Right now it may not seem important, but you’ll be cursing yourself if your data is stolen.

The truth about wifi at Disney World

Slinky Dog Dash (Disney Hollywood Studios)

Conclusion

Taking a solo trip to Disney World is one of the best travel experiences you can have. If you love Disney parks, then you’ll love going to Disney World alone.

Taking a solo trip to Disney World gives you complete flexibility and control over your trip. It is unlike any other Disney experience.

As long as you keep the tips in this article in mind when planning your Disney World vacation, you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life on your next solo trip to Disney World!

Just be sure to say hi to Mickey and Minnie for me!

Wifi at Disney World: A Complete Guide

Luckily, we live in a time where there is free wifi at Disney World. You may laugh, but I remember a time where you had to either pay for wifi, use your data, or go without internet!

And I’m not that old, so it wasn’t that long ago!

Disney World has created a world where you need to access the internet and use the My Disney Experience app in order to have a good Disney World trip.

Everything is on the app.

Attraction wait times, your Lightning Lane attractions, photopass, restaurant reservations, maps, showtimes. The list goes on and on and on.

Essentially, if you’re going on a Disney trip, you’re relying on wifi at Disney World and the My Disney Experience app.

This has it’s ups and downs.

On one hand, it makes your Disney trip really easy to navigate. On the other, you’re basically glued to your phone for every little aspect of your trip.

Since you’re going to be using wifi at Disney World a lot, I figured I would do you a solid and give you all my top tips and tricks to using the free wifi at Disney World.

Know Where You Can and Cannot Access Free Wifi at Disney World

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know is where you can access free wifi at Disney World.

The answer is pretty much anywhere!

Free wifi can be found:

  • In all four theme parks
  • Disney Springs
  • Both water parks
  • Public spaces at Disney hotels and in the rooms
  • Some Disney buses (with the goal of having wifi on all of them)

You cannot find free wifi at these places:

  • Mini golf courses
  • The monorail and skyliner
  • Parking lots and other parts of the outside of theme parks
  • Some walkways between parks and hotels

As you can see, there are more places you can access free wifi at Disney World than places you can’t.

For the average guest, you’ll be able to access wifi about 99% of the time you’re at Disney World.

Plan the perfect day at Magic Kingdom

Festival of Fantasy Parade Magic Kingdom

Download the My Disney Experience App Before Arriving

The My Disney Experience app is your lifeline on your Disney World vacation.

I’m not exaggerating when I say you do everything on the app. It is your handy little personal assistant in your pocket, and you need to get familiar with it.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for your next Disney World vacation is install the My Disney Experience app and create your profile before you arrive at the parks.

If you’re travelling with a group, you should link everybody’s accounts before you arrive as well.

This speeds everything up and makes your experience with the app seamless.

You don’t want to waste any time linking accounts when you’re trying to get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance!

Spend some time exploring the app.

Get to know what you can and can’t do in the app and explore all of its amazing features.

Pretend to mobile order a meal, make a reservation at a table service restaurant, scroll around and look at wait times and showtimes.

The less time you have to spend fiddling with the app trying to understand the ins and outs of it while you’re in the park, the better!

Add Your Credit Card to Your Account for Mobile Order and Shopping

If you plan on mobile ordering quick service meals or using digital checkout at stores, you should consider adding your credit card to your account before you make your first purchase.

It is super easy to do and speeds things up when you’re in the park.

I can tell you from personal experience that you don’t want to be messing around trying to add your credit card to your account while standing around mobile ordering food. It can become a bit chaotic and frustrating- especially if you’re a hangry person like I am.

So, take a minute out of your life and add your credit card to your account before you arrive at the parks.

The My Disney Experience app uses encryption, so it is safe to add your credit card information to the app.

Your card information will not be stolen.

Secret Epcot tips and tricks

Spaceship Earth Epcot

Be Internet Safe

Think about it. You’re connecting to the free wifi at Disney World just like tens of thousands of other people that day.

That’s a lot of people using the same public wifi network, which means you’re at risk of having your online data and information compromised.

All it takes is one person with bad intentions connected to the wifi at Disney World, and your banking information is stolen.

Yes, it is extremely rare that this would happen, but I can’t think of a worse thing to happen on your Disney World vacation than having to call your bank and cancel all your credit cards because you weren’t safe when connected to the internet.

The only way you can stay safe when using public wifi networks is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

It essentially puts a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for prying eyes to see your online history, data, and personal information.

It is a small but important step you can take to protect you and your loved ones when connected to the free wifi at Disney World.

Donald's Dino Bash Animal Kingdom

My Favourite VPN

It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that I’ve used a lot of different VPNs during my many years of travel.

Most of the time I hate them and get so frustrated using them that I turn the off and leave my information exposed.

Don’t be like me!

That all changed when I discovered NordVPN.

It is the fastest VPN on the market, which is why I always recommend it to my fellow travel lovers!

There is nothing worse than having a VPN on your phone that slows down your devices to a crawl, and that is one thing NordVPN will never do.

It is so fast that it doesn’t even seem like there is a VPN installed on my phone!

One subscription protects up to six devices, so you can protect your entire family’s phones at Disney World for one low fee.

NordVPN costs less than the price of a single latte per month when you purchase a two-year subscription, which I recommend doing.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information with a VPN.

It is just the responsible thing to do!

Use Data to get a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass

Rise of the Resistance is the hottest ride at Disney World and everybody is rushing to get a boarding pass the second they become available.

This means everybody at Hollywood Studios is connected to the wifi at Disney World at the exact same time.

Having so many people connected to the network slows it down, which means you have less of a chance of getting a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass.

If possible, it is best to use your cellphone data to try to get your boarding pass. It is oftentimes quicker than the congested wifi at Disney World and gives you a better chance of getting a boarding pass.

As a Canadian, I know that not everybody can use their data and relies on the free wifi at Disney World.

If you’re like me and don’t want to pay to access your data just to get a boarding pass, try to get away from the crowds and find a quiet place.

This gives you a better chance of finding a stronger and faster wifi signal to hopefully get you a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass.

I wish you luck!

Are after hours events worth the money?!

Fantasmic! (Disney Hollywood Studios)

Conclusion

As you can probably tell, you’ll be using the free wifi at Disney World a lot on your next Disney vacation.

The good news is that there is free wifi at Disney World pretty much everywhere. It is fast, reliable, and easy to use.

Just be sure to download the My Disney Experience app and link your entire party before you arrive for your vacation.

You may want to disconnect and live in the moment while at Disney, but the wifi system at Disney World combined with the My Disney Experience app makes it essential that you access the internet throughout the day.

You won’t have as good of an experience if you put away your phone and never access the internet.

Just be sure you bring an external battery pack because the app sucks the life out of your phone battery super quickly!

9 Secret Epcot Tips & Tricks for a Magical Day!

Epcot is my favourite Disney World park and has been since I was a child. I’ve learnt so many secret Epcot tips in my time, and I’m spilling them all today!

Epcot has a bit of a reputation of being the adult park, but Disney is working hard to create a more family friendly park and draw more kids and parents to it.

And with the push to bring more families to the park, Epcot is busier than ever.

You need to know the Epcot tips and tricks on this list to maximize your time in the park.

These Epcot tips save you money, time, and steer you towards some hidden truths about the park.

It is your one-stop guide to conquering Epcot and having a Magical Day!

1. No Need to be at the Park for Rope Drop

If you’ve read any of my other Disney World guides, you know I love rope drop and tell you to get up early for rope drop as much as possible.

Epcot is the only Disney World park where being at the park for rope drop is not necessary.

Let your Epcot day be your sleep in day!

I suggest arriving at the park between 10am and 11am. There will be lines at the most popular attractions, but that is what Fastpass+ is for!

The World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am, so if you’re at the park for rope drop, you kind of run out of things to do once you’ve ridden Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track.

So, my suggestion is to either sleep in on your Epcot park day or hit up another park for their rope drop and head over to Epcot mid-morning.

I suggest visiting either Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, so you can use the monorail or Skyliner to quickly hop over to Epcot.

Spaceship Earth Epcot

2. Be Internet Safe

This is an unconventional Epcot tip, but it may be the most important one on the list!

You need to be internet safe when you’re at any Disney World park or hotel.

You’re hooked into a public wifi network that thousands of other people are connected to as well.

That puts you at risk of having your online personal information and data stolen.

99.9% of the people who connect to Disney wifi are using it in the same way you are, but it only takes one person who is interested in hacking phones and stealing personal data to ruin your day.

How awful would it be to find out your credit card information was stolen while you’re at Disney and have to deal with calling the bank and cancelling all your cards?!?!

The only way you can protect your personal online information and data is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts an invisible forcefield around your devices that hackers can’t get through.

It makes using public wifi as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my years of travel.

And hated every single one until I discovered NordVPN.

It is the quickest VPN on the market, which is why I love it so much!

I’ve personally used NordVPN for over three years now!

Not only is NordVPN super fast, but it is also very affordable!

The price per month on a two-year plan is less than the price of a single latte at Starbucks!

There isn’t an excuse for not protecting your online data while travelling. It is just an unnecessary risk you don’t need to take!

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online privacy by installing a VPN on your devices!

3. France and Norway Open Earlier than the Rest of the World Showcase

Okay. I’ll admit that this headline is a bit misleading.

Not everything in Norway and France is open before 11am when the World Showcase opens, but the most important stuff is!

If you’re unfamiliar with how the opening of Epcot works, the World Showcase opens at 11am, and the other parts of the park open earlier in the morning.

The exact opening time depends on the day, so be sure to check your times guide or the Disney World website!

There are two exceptions to this 11am opening rule though:

  • Frozen Ever After in Norway and
  • Les Halles Bakery in France

Both of these locations open at the same time Future World and the non-World Showcase parts of the park opens.

This means you can get in line for Frozen Ever After as soon as you enter the park or grab a lovely French breakfast before starting your day.

Technically, you’re supposed to head straight to either Frozen Ever After or Les Halles because the rest of the World Showcase isn’t open.

But I wouldn’t judge you if you stopped to take a few photos of the World Showcase while it is empty!

Epcot

4. Hit Up Garden Grill for Breakfast

This may seem like the oddest of all the Epcot tips on this list but hear me out!

Garden Grill is a restaurant in The Land Pavilion that offers character dining.

You get to hang out with Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale.

It is super fun and cute.

But that’s not the best part!

The best part is that the food is fantastic and every time I’ve been there for lunch, it has been super quiet.

I’m talking maybe ten tables in the entire restaurant were filled!

This gives you more time to interact with the characters, and you get to see each character more than once during your meal.

You never feel rushed, and you can enjoy your meal in relative peace and quiet.

If you’ve ever done character dining before, you know that it tends to be a loud and chaotic scene!

As I mentioned, the food is delicious!

You get all the classics: Mickey waffles, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and so on.

But the star of the show is without a doubt the cinnamon pull aparts! You’ve been warned that they are highly addictive!

The food is served family style, which means it is brought to your table, so you don’t have to get up and deal with a buffet.

You can get refills on whatever food you want and eat as much as you want!

It is by far my favourite character dining experience in Epcot and one of my favourites in all of Disney World!

Oh! And the fresh fruit and vegetables are all grown in the greenhouse in The Land Pavilion!

Pluto Garden Grill

5. Set a Budget and Stick to It

This and being internet safe are probably the two most important Epcot tips on this list.

If you’re only paying attention to a few of my Epcot tips, let this be one of them!

It is so easy to spend a lot of money at Epcot without realizing it.

A snack here, a festival treat there, doesn’t seem like much, but you’ll be shocked when you look at your credit card statement the next day!

If there is any park where you really need to set a budget and stick to it, it is Epcot.

Especially if you’re sampling a bunch of festival food!

One of the best ways to stick to your budget is pre-load a certain amount of money onto a Disney gift card and just use that while you’re at Epcot.

Don’t pull out your credit card or tap your Magic Band at all! Just rely on your pre-loaded gift card.

This will force you to stick to your budget!

Once the money on your gift card is gone, you’re done spending for the day.

You don’t want to get yourself in a financial hole because you weren’t paying attention and went way over budget having too much fun at Epcot!

6. Anna and Elsa Normally Have a Short Wait Time

This is probably the most secret and hidden of all the Epcot tips on this list!

Anna and Elsa are hugely popular characters and everybody wants to meet them!

They hang out in the Norway Pavilion right next to the Frozen Ever After ride.

Makes sense!

The posted time at the entrance normally says between 30 and 60 minutes.

Every time I’ve jumped in line, I’ve gotten to meet Anna and Elsa in about 10 minutes!

So fast!

Now, I can’t guarantee that you’ll have the same luck I’ve had.

But, from my experience, the wait time posted at the entrance is quite a bit longer than the actual wait time.

If you don’t like lines and are hesitant about waiting 30 or so minutes, I suggest jumping in line.

It may be a quick wait, and if it isn’t, you can always leave the line and get on with your day.

The one time I don’t suggest you take this risk is if you have to hurry for a Fastpass+ reservation.

It isn’t worth the risk of missing out on a ride!

But, if you have some free time, hop in that line because you might be amazed at how quickly you get to meet the iconic ladies of the Frozen franchise.

Everything you need to know about meeting characters at Epcot

Epcot

7. Pass on the Night Show Fastpass+

I’m never not shocked that the evening firework show at Epcot is considered a first tier Fastpass+ option!

The nighttime firework show at Epcot is good, but it isn’t worth spending your one and only tier one Fastpass+ on.

I always suggest you use your tier one Fastpass+ on Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, or Test Track.

After you use your first three pre-booked Fastpass+ options, then go into the app and get a Fastpass+ for the nighttime show.

That is what I think is the best Fastpass+ strategy in Epcot.

I’ve never been at Epcot and not been able to get a same-day Fastpass+ for the nighttime show.

If you’ve visiting during the busiest times of the year (e.g. 4th of July), this strategy probably won’t work, but it will work 99% of the time.

Read my full Epcot Fastpass+ strategy

8. Indulge in at Least One Table Service Restaurant

The food choices at Epcot can be overwhelming.

To put it lightly!

Between the food booth at festivals, all the quick service dining, and the table service restaurants, it is hard to decide what to eat.

One of the best Epcot tips I can give you is to eat at least one meal at a table service restaurant.

Preferably in the World Showcase.

The food is always outstanding, and it just doesn’t seem right to go to Epcot and not have a nice sit down meal.

Reservations go quickly so be sure to book your reservation 180 days in advance. Or as close to that as possible.

My personal favourite table service restaurant at Epcot is Teppan Edo. It is incredible!

9. Make Time to Explore the Festivals

Last but not least on the list of Epcot tips and tricks is to dedicate time to explore whatever festival is on while you’re at Epcot.

Because chances are pretty good that you’ll be there during a festival!

The festivals at Epcot are so much fun! They really increase the atmosphere of the park, and it would be a shame if you didn’t get to explore all they have to offer!

So, be sure to allocate some of your park day to exploring the festival.

Take in the food, entertainment, and shopping experiences.

It is well worth not rushing through the park and experiencing the festivals. It is always a new experience even if you’ve been to the same festival in years past.

Flower and Garden Festival

Tips for the Perfect Solo Disney Trip

Conclusion

Whew!

There are my top Epcot tips and tricks to help you plan the most magical day in the park.

There is so much to do at Epcot, and it is by no means only an adult park anymore. You’ll fall in love with the park no matter how old or young you are!

I hope the Epcot tips on this list give you a better idea of what to expect on your next trip to Epcot.

And potentially save you some money! We all know how expensive Disney can be.

If you were on the fence about visiting Epcot, I hope this post swayed you to give the park a try.

It is unlike any other theme park in the world, and I personally don’t think any trip to Disney World is complete without exploring Epcot.

10 Magical Magic Kingdom Tips for the Best Day Ever!

Magic Kingdom is the star of Disney World. It is the most popular park and sees the most guests each year. Magic Kingdom is very busy to say the least, but with these Magic Kingdom tips, visiting the park is a breeze!

Knowing these 10 Magic Kingdom tips will help you maximize your time in Magic Kingdom, avoid the longest lines, get the best views, and keep you safe. It is so important to have a Magic Kingdom strategy before arriving at the park. You will end up wasting a lot of time and wandering around aimlessly without one!

Get your pen and paper out. This post is packed full of pixie dust you won’t want to miss!

PS- You can check out all my Disney World posts here if you want to explore more!

1. Rope Drop is Worth Getting Up Early For

Rope drop is what us Disney nerd call park opening. Essentially, rope drop means you’re at Magic Kingdom ready for some magic the second it opens.

I love rope drop, and I Magic Kingdom is my favourite park to rope drop. It is amazing how much you can done first thing in the morning when there are no lines!

This is one of my top Magic Kingdom tips.

It is 100% worth waking up early and getting to Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning. You can ride the most popular attractions with little to no wait!

The only attraction that has any substantial wait is Seven Dwarves Mine Train. The line at rope drop is still the lowest it will be all day.

If you managed to snag a Fastpass+ for Seven Dwarves Mine Train later in the day, you can skip the line and hop on the rest of the rides with little to no wait time!

For example, when I rope drop Magic Kingdom, I can normally ride two or three popular attractions (like Peter Pan’s Flight) and meet a handful of characters (including the princesses) before I have to wait in a line longer than 5 minutes!

This is one of my Magic Kingdom tips that isn’t for everybody.

Lots of people don’t enjoy waking up early and want to relax a bit on their Disney vacation.

But, if you’re like me and are a morning person, being at Magic Kingdom for rope drop is the best way to get a lot done at Magic Kingdom without paying for premium access to the park.

Peter Pan's Flight

2. If You’re Not a Morning Person, Consider an After Hours Event

Carrying on from the last sentence of tip one, if you’re not a morning person, it is well worth the money to pay for an After Hours ticket.

After Hours is a three-hour event put on by Disney where you purchase a ticket and get access to the park with very few people in the parks.

Literally so few people that you never have to wait longer than 5 minutes to get on any attractions other than Seven Dwarves Mine Train. That line is normally 10 to 15 minutes long, which is still a super short line!

The hours for the even vary depending on what time of year it is. Sometimes the event starts at 8pm and sometimes it starts at 10pm.

Tickets cost $129, so they are not cheap.

It is expensive, but what you get out of the event is well worth the price of admission!

You get so much done in those three hours. Way more than you get done in an entire day in the park.

I will acknowledge that me as a single person visiting the parks is much more likely to be able to afford a ticket than a family of four or more. A lot of families don’t have an extra $500 to shell out for three hours in the park.

You definitely have to look at your finances and see whether or not the event is worth it for you.

Oh! And did I mention that as part of the event you get unlimited complimentary popcorn, ice cream, and pop?!

That’s a nice addition to the event!

PS- if you want to learn even more about Magic Kingdom After Hours, I have a full post on it you should read.

3. Everything You Need to Know About Wifi

This may seem like an odd thing to talk about in a post about Magic Kingdom tips but hear my out!

There is a lot you need to know about wifi in Magic Kingdom, and it can have a major impact on your day at Magic Kingdom.

There is complimentary wifi

Disney World provides guests with complimentary wifi in all four parks!

This is amazing and so helpful since the Disney World app is an essential part of any Magic Kingdom visit.

You use the app to check wait times, as a map, to check show and parade times, and order food.

So connecting to wifi is essential.

The downside

There are thousands of people connected to the wifi at Magic Kingdom at any given moment.

This means the wifi tends to be slow.

This can be a bit frustrating, but Disney is figuring out ways to speed up the internet all the time. It is getting better and better each time I visit Disney World!

Please be internet safe

The wifi at Disney World is public.

You don’t need a password to access it, and anybody who is within range of the signal can use it.

This makes it not the safest internet network to use.

You are exposed, and anybody who wants to can access your personal online data.

It is the same case no matter what public wifi network you are using. It isn’t just a Disney thing.

The only way to protect yourself when using a public wifi network is to install a VPN on your devices.

It essentially puts a forcefield around your phone, tablet, or laptop, so nobody can get in and steal your data.

A VPN makes using public wifi as safe as using your own personal wifi where only you know the password!

The best part is that the cost of protecting 6 devices with a VPN is less than the cost of a single latte a month!

I always say if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information with a VPN!

Mickey would want your phone to be protected while you’re enjoying Magic Kingdom!

4. Mobile Order is Amazing

Disney World launched mobile order in 2017, and it changed the quick service game!

It allows guests to order and pay for their food on the Disney World app and collect their food at a dedicated window once it is prepared.

Taking advantage of mobile order is one of my top Magic Kingdom tips because it saves you a lot of time!

A lot of quick service restaurants and snack stands in Magic Kingdom have painfully long lines.

I’ve stood in food lines for well over 30 minutes before, and it can be a real time suck!

Mobile order completely eliminates those long lines and gets you your food way faster than standing in the normal line.

Most people haven’t caught on to mobile order yet, so not many people are using the service. This means there aren’t many orders in the queue, and you get your food lightening fast.

Just about as fast as Lightning McQueen!

Most, but not all, Magic Kingdom quick service restaurants and snack stands offer mobile order as an option.

Be sure to check the app before you hop into the regular line to see if that restaurant offers mobile order.

You can use your passholder discount on the app, so it works for annual passholders as well!

The major flaw in the mobile order process is that you have to pay with a credit card.

This means people who don’t live in the United States and don’t have a US dollar credit card have to pay their bank fees for using USD rather than their normal currency.

It also eliminates people who don’t have credit cards for one reason or another.

Hopefully in the future they add the ability to use a gift card for mobile order!

5. You Need a Parade Strategy

Magic Kingdom has the best parades in Disney World.

I said it, and I’m not taking it back!

Whether it is Festival of Fantasy parade or one of Magic Kingdom’s special parades for Halloween or Christmas, they are top notch and not to be missed!

They are also very popular, so you need a parade strategy.

This is one of those Magic Kingdom tips I don’t think enough people are talking about!

The first thing you need to decide when coming up with a parade strategy is deciding how important the parade is to you.

Form there, you can come up with a parade strategy.

If parades are very important to you, you should get a spot to watch Festival of Fantasy 30 or so minutes before the parade starts.

This will ensure you get a good view of the parade and don’t have anybody blocking your view.

For the Halloween or Christmas parades at the parties, you can purchase a special ticket that gives you a priority spot to watch the parade.

It is fairly expensive, and I don’t think it is completely necessary seeing as there are two parades a night, and the later parade is normally pretty quiet.

If you’re not super into parades, you can normally show up about 5 minutes before the parade starts and find a decent spot.

You might have to walk around and find the perfect spot, but it can normally be found.

No matter what your parade preferences are, you need a strategy, so you’re not disappointed.

PS- You can learn all about meeting Magic Kingdom characters here!

Festival of Fantasy Parade Magic Kingdom

6. Special Event Tickets are Worth the Splurge

There are two special events at Magic Kingdom you can buy a ticket for (other than the After Hours event we already discussed).

Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not-So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

They are both hard ticket events.

This means you have to buy a separate ticket to attend the event. You cannot use your regular park ticket.

Tickets for these special events are normally under $100, and you get access to exclusive entertainment, snacks, and the characters wear special outfits.

They are super fun for children and adults alike!

At the Halloween Party, you get to go trick-or-treating, and you can collect as much candy as you want. You get holiday cookies and warm beverages at the Christmas Party.

This is all included in the price of admission!

The parties are quite busy, so I don’t recommend them if your goal is to ride a bunch of attractions with a shorter wait time.

But if you want to celebrate the season, try some exclusive snacks, and enjoy special theming and costumes, then the parties are for you!

I personally love them and go to them whenever I have the chance.

7. Leave Extra Time to Get to and from Magic Kingdom

A lot of people don’t realize that the entrance to Magic Kingdom is not right next to the parking lot.

It is wayyyy across a lagoon, and it takes a fair amount of time to get from the parking lot to the entrance of Magic Kingdom.

One of the best Magic Kingdom tips I can give you is to factor the time it takes to get from the Magic Kingdom parking lot to the entrance of the park.

Of course this tip doesn’t apply to use if you’re using Disney transportation from your hotel. You will be dropped off right at the front of Magic Kingdom, and you don’t have to factor any extra time into your day.

But if you’re driving your own car, you need to add an extra 15 to 20 minutes to your schedule to get from the parking lot to the park entrance.

It is a bit annoying- especially during busy times when everybody is either leaving or going to Magic Kingdom.

You can either take a ferry to Magic Kingdom or ride the monorail.

My preference is to take the monorail. It tends to be the quicker of the two.

Minnie Mouse Magic Kingdom

8. Make Dining Reservations 180 Days in Advance

Magic Kingdom is home to some of the most popular restaurants in all of Disney World.

Restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest are incredibly difficult to get reservations for.

You can make dining reservations through the Disney World app or Disney World website 180 days in advance.

I highly recommend you figure out when you can start making dining reservations and make Magic Kingdom dining reservations as early as possible to ensure you get the dining reservations you want.

You won’t be very successful if you try to try to make reservations at these restaurants a week or even a month in advance.

For other less popular (but still amazing restaurants) like Skipper Canteen, you can make reservations closer to your arrival date.

But if you only listen to one of my Magic Kingdom tips, let it be this one. Make your dining reservations for popular restaurants as soon as you can!

You don’t want to regret procrastinating and missing out on a restaurant you really wanted to try.

9. Your Fastpass+ Strategy will Make or Break You

Disney World is unlike any other Disney park in the world, and you get to make your Fastpass+ reservations between 30 and 60 days in advance.

You select three attractions and times per day in a particular park, and you get a Fastpass+ for those rides at that specific time.

It requires a lot of planning and some intense strategy to maximize your Fastpass+ options.

The good thing about Magic Kingdom is it is the only Disney World park that doesn’t have Fastpass+ tiers.

This means you can get a Fastpass+ for any three rides and don’t have to choose one popular ride and two less popular rides like the other parks.

You can read my Fastpass+ strategies for Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom if you want to learn more about those parks!

I’m not going to go too in depth about different Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ strategies in this post because I have an entire post you can read here that goes way more in depth than I can in this post.

The long and the short of it is you have to get your Fastpass+ selections in advance to have any shot of getting a Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions.

I suggest scheduling your Fastpass+ selections for the morning to early afternoon, so you can potentially get a fourth Fastpass+ after you use your first three.

Be sure to read my Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ post to learn what a bonus fourth Fastpass+ is!

Outside of booking your Fastpass+ selections for earlier int he day, be sure to get Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions.

You want to limit the amount of time you wait in line, and there are certain attractions that you simply don’t need a Fastpass+ for.

I’m looking at you Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor!

The biggest tip I can give you for making Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ selections is to figure out what is most important for you to ride and get a Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions on your list!

Monsters Inc Scare Floor Magic Kingdom

10. Have a Fireworks Strategy

Having a fireworks strategy is one of the most talked about Magic Kingdom tips and for good reason!

The firework shows are extremely popular, and a huge percentage of everybody in Magic Kingdom watch them every night.

Thanks to the projection shows on the castle during the fireworks, gone are the days where you can stand behind the castle and get a good view of the fireworks without being crowded.

Now to get the full experience of the show (and you should because they are awesome!) you have no choice but to stand at the front of the castle.

There is less room for people to spread out and watch the fireworks, so you are often crammed in like sardines.

You often leave very sweaty from the humidity and being so close to thousands of other people.

Viewing Options:

You can pay to attend a fireworks dessert party, and this is the best way to get a good view of the fireworks without staking out your spot in advance.

They are expensive, and they aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. You can find out more about dessert parties here.

If you’re not prepared to splurge on a dessert party, you need to decide how important the fireworks are to you.

People start claiming their spot on Main Street USA at least 30 minutes before the fireworks start. Some people are there even earlier to get the best spots!

If you’re like me and aren’t too keen on standing on Main Street USA for an extended period of time, I suggest showing up 10 minutes before the show starts and weaselling your way into a gap.

This strategy doesn’t work the best for larger families, but you can split up for the show and meet at a designated spot afterwords.

I must warn you though. You probably will have a slightly obstructed view if you show up just a few minutes before the show.

You might have a tall person standing in front of you or a lamp post blocking part of the castle.

It is a risk you have to be willing to take if you don’t claim your spot early!

I personally think either splurging for a dessert party or showing up a few minutes before the fireworks start is the best strategy.

It isn’t fun standing on Main Street USA for upwards of half an hour waiting for the show to start.

You often get in people’s way and feel awkward.

It can be a bit of hassle, and there are better things you can do with that half hour!

Conclusion

There you have it! My top Magic Kingdom tips for the best day ever!

Each and every Magic Kingdom tip on this list is essential an helps you have a better day in the parks.

You now know how to avoid lines, get food quicker, and have a strategy for fireworks, parades, and making your Fastpass+ reservations.

You’re all set for an epic day in Magic Kingdom!

The other bonus tip I’ll give you is to make time to meet a few characters!

It is so much fun, and you make life-long memories whether you’re there alone or with a group.

The only thing I ask of you is that you say hi to Mickey for me next time you’re at Magic Kingdom!

10 Epic Tips for Meeting Epcot Characters

Epcot characters are some of the most fun to meet in all of Disney World. There are tons of rare characters hanging out at Epcot, and you never know who you’ll stumble on.

If you love meeting less common characters or characters in special outfits, Epcot is the place for you!

Meeting Epcot characters is a bit trickier than meeting characters at other Disney parks. Many characters are in obscure locations, only greeting guests for 30 minutes at a time, and the majority of Epcot characters offer a Fastpass+ option.

Add all those factors together, and you can clearly see you need a strategy for meeting Epcot characters.

Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time chasing down characters and probably missing them by a few moments. You don’t want the disappointment of not meeting your favourite Epcot characters because you weren’t prepared and didn’t have a plan!

But worry not!

You’ll be an Epcot character expert by the end of this post!

You’ll know all the tips and tricks, and you’ll be able to meet every Epcot character on your list (and possibly more)!

PS- Check out my post about meeting Magic Kingdom characters to learn how to meet a few super rare characters in that park!

1. Don’t Neglect the Characters at Epcot’s Entrance

Most people enter Epcot and rush straight to Soarin’ or Frozen Ever After. They power walk through the entrance and past Spaceship Earth without looking around them.

That is a huge mistake because they miss one of the best and quietest opportunities to meet Epcot characters.

Basically any time of day you can mind a couple of characters meeting with guests at the entrance of Epcot.

Normally, Daisy is meeting guests on the right-hand side of the entrance and Pluto is meeting guests on the left-hand side.

The characters can change, but Daisy and Pluto are the most common characters meeting guests at the entrance to Epcot.

They can be a bit difficult to see at times- especially if you don’t know to look for them!

They’re tucked away almost in a corner on the sides of the walkway leading to Spaceship Earth.

There normally isn’t a line, so you can’t even use that as a tip-off that characters are meeting with guests.

You should definitely keep an eye out for the characters at Epcot’s entrance though! There is hardly ever a line, so you can get in and out with a great photo and new memory in just a few minutes.

Seriously!

A lot of the time it takes less than five minutes to meet the characters meeting at the front of Epcot.

It is one of the best places to meet Epcot characters because there is little to no line and doesn’t set you too far back time wise!

Spaceship Earth Epcot

2. Character Spot is the Perfect Choice for Your Bonus Fastpass+

Character Spot is one of my favourite places to meet Epcot characters. You meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy all in one spot.

It is great fun, and the perfect way to knock a bunch of characters off your list really quickly.

There are two major problems with Character Spot though:

  • It is extremely popular and normally has at least a 45-minute line
  • It is considered a tier one attraction and is so not worth using your only tier one Fastpass+ selection on

That is where the bonus Fastpass+ comes in!

If you don’t know what I mean by a bonus Fastpass+, check out this article on the Epcot Fastpass+ system. It goes in depth about what a bonus Fastpass+ is and how to maximize it.

The sparks note version of the bonus Fastpass+ is that you can make a same-day Fastpass+ reservation after you used your original three pre-selected Epcot Fastpass+ selections.

Character Spot is the perfect attraction to use your bonus Fastpass+ on because it always has a line and 9 times out of 10 you’re able to snag a same-day Fastpass+ for Character Spot.

You get to meet the Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at Character Spot without the long wait and without using your Epcot tier one Fastpass+ on it.

It is the best of both worlds and one of my favourite Epcot character hacks!

Mickey at Character Spot

3. Characters Meet Behind the Tea Caddy in the England Pavilion

I have a bit of an embarrassing confession to make! The first time I wanted to meet Mary Poppins in the England pavilion, I almost missed out because I couldn’t figure out where she was meeting guests!

The sign showing when Alice and Mary Poppins are meeting guests is at the front of the Tea Caddy near the garden.

I assumed that since that is where the sign was, that is where they would be meeting guests.

So I got to the tea garden early hoping to be near the front of the line and waited and waited and waited.

Nobody else showed up for the meet and greet- including Mary Poppins!

This led me to wander around the Tea Caddy in search of Mary Poppins. Turns out the characters meet behind the Tea Caddy and not in the tea garden near the sign!

It was a silly mistake, but I wouldn’t be surprise to learn that a lot of other people have made the same one!

Learn from my mistake and go to the back of the Tea Caddy for the character meet and greets in the England pavilion.

It would be awful to miss out on meeting such amazing and rare characters just because you were waiting in the wrong place!

So close yet so far.

PS- Be sure to check out this post if you’re planning a solo Disney trip. It has some great tips for interacting with characters when you’re on your own.

Mary Poppins Epcot

4. Plan to Meet Elsa and Anna in the Early Afternoon

I don’t have an explanation for it, but the line to meet Elsa and Anna is normally significantly shorter between 12pm and 2pm.

It may be because people are eating lunch or it is a popular time to schedule a Fastpass+, but whatever the reason, it is awesome!

I’ve used this trick three times, and I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes to meet Elsa and Anna.

The posted wait time was around 30 to 40 minutes each time I used this trick, but the actual wait time was nowhere near the posted wait time.

It may be a bit of a gamble to hop in line when there is a 30-minute wait time posted because it might be accurate.

Always make sure you have enough time in your schedule to wait the entire posted time just in case it is accurate.

I can’t guarantee that you will have a short wait time to meet Elsa and Anna between 12pm and 2pm, but, in my experience, it is the best time of day to meet the ladies of Frozen.

Meeting Anna at Epcot

5. The Disney World App is Your Best Friend

Most people don’t use the Disney World app to its full potential. They use it to check wait times, and that’s it.

There is so much more you can do inside the Disney World app including tracking down Epcot characters.

The Disney World app has an entire section dedicated to characters. You can filter it to just show Epcot characters, and it is a game changer!

It shows you everything you need to know to plan and strategize about meeting Epcot characters.

The app shows you where different characters meet with guests and when they meet with guests.

It is essential to know when and where Epcot characters are meeting. Most of the characters that meet guests in World Showcase only meet a couple times per day and for a limited amount of time.

You need to know when and where your favourite character is meeting guests, so you don’t miss them!

The app gives you so much more information than the paper park guide does. Download the app before you arrive at Disney World. It makes your trip goes so much smoother and saves you a lot of time.

But the app does have its downsides.

It doesn’t tell you where and when every Epcot character is meeting.

The app doesn’t tell you about the characters that roam around the park or greet guests in the super secret location (see tip seven to learn where that is!).

But, all things considered, the app is an essential addition to your Disney World trip and is one of the best resources to use if you plan on meeting characters at Epcot.

China Pavillion Epcot

Let’s Talk Internet Safety (because you’re probably not as safe as you think)

Disney offers guests complimentary wifi all across Disney property. Some of their buses even offer wifi now!

This is amazing.

Being able to connect to the internet and access the Disney World app (and social media) is essential.

But you are putting yourself at increase risk when using Disney’s complimentary wifi.

It is a public wifi network that tens of thousands of people access each and every day.

Most people use it for nothing but personal use, but there is a small percentage of people who are using the wifi to try to steal your online information.

It is shockingly easy to access and steal personal information when you’re logged into a public wifi system.

You can easily have your banking and other personal information stolen.

Nothing will dampen the Disney magic more than having to deal with your bank and locking all your cards because your banking information was compromised.

The only way you can effectively protect yourself from hackers is by installing a VPN on your phone and other devices.

It puts a private shield around your devices that makes it impossible for a hacker to access your online data.

A VPN makes public internet as safe and secure as your wifi at home where you’re the only one who knows the password.

You can protect up to six devices with one NordVPN subscription. I’ve been using their VPN for years and am nothing but happy with the product.

NordVPN often runs sales where you can save 68% off your two-year subscription, so you have no excuse not to protect your personal online information!

Seriously! What are you waiting for? Head over to NordVPN right now and start protecting your devices before you get to Disney World and leaving yourself vulnerable by using their complimentary wifi.

6. Character Dining is a Great Option

Character dining can be hit or miss, but the character dining at Epcot is some of the best in Disney World.

There are two character dining options at Epcot: Garden Grill and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

You get to meet Mickey and friends at Garden Grill and the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

They both offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they are quite different.

Garden Grill is a family-style restaurant where a platter of food is brought to your table. You share the food with your group and can get seconds (thirds or fourths) of any food item you run out of.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a traditional buffet where you get up, go to the buffet to fill your plate, and return to your table.

The family-style service of Garden Grill is much better in my opinion. You don’t have to time when you go to get food based on how near or far the characters are from your table. It is also a much more relaxing experience because you don’t have to stand in line for food or interact with the other guests dining at the restaurant.

I think Garden Grill is the best character dining option at Epcot. The food is better and it is a more relaxed experience.

But if you have a princess lover in your group, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is the place to go!

It is a significantly less expensive princess dining meal than Cinderella’s Royal Table. You still meet the princesses in a castle like at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but the cost is more reasonable and more people can afford the experience.

No matter what Epcot character dining meal you choose, it is a great experience. You won’t regret it!

Pluto Garden Grill

7. The Top Secret Place to Meet Rare Characters

Between the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions is the World Showcase Events Pavilion.

Hardly anybody visits that pavilion, but you should always take a peak down the walkway when you’re passing by.

The walkway to the World Showcase Events Pavilions is the best place in Epcot to meet rare characters.

Characters that you hardly ever seen anywhere else in Disney World like King Louise from The Jungle Book and the penguins from Mary Poppins!

You truly never know who you’ll run into, and you don’t want to miss out on anybody who meets in this walkway.

It is a treasure trove of joy for people who love meeting Disney characters!

Disney uses the walkway to the World Showcase Events Pavilion as a way to train new cast member or test out new costumes. It is super quiet and the perfect place for new cast members to get the hang of interacting with guests without being overwhelmed.

If you’re super lucky you might even catch Jack and Sally training before Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

They don’t come out very often, but they’re out there a couple of days every summer.

The Epcot characters meeting along the walkway aren’t listed on the Disney app and don’t have a set time schedule.

You never know who will show up when, but please promise me you’ll stop if you ever see characters meeting there!

They’re some of the best character experiences you can have at Epcot and shouldn’t be missed!

King Louis at Epcot

8. World Showcase Characters Meet for a Very Short Period of Time

World Showcase is where you can meet some of the best Epcot characters, but it can be fairly difficult to be there at the right time if you don’t have a plan.

Characters like Aurora, Snow White, Belle, Mary Poppins, and Alice all meet in World Showcase pavilions but only for about 20 minutes at a time.

And only meet guests three to fives times a day!

That means you really have to have a plan and know what time characters are meeting in World Showcase.

Additionally, because these highly popular Epcot characters only meet for such a limited amount of time, people start lining up way in advance.

This is especially true for Snow White. I’ve seen people start lining up 45 minutes before she was scheduled to meet guests.

She’s the most popular World Showcase character, but people start lining up about 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

Be prepared to show up a little early if you want to meet any of the World Showcase characters.

They aren’t out for long, but they’re well worth the effort to meet!

Epcot characters

9. Joy and Sadness and Baymax are Quietist in the Morning

Epcot is the only Disney World park where you can meet Joy and Sadness from Inside Out and Baymax from Big Hero 6.

If you’re a fan of these characters and want to meet them, the best time of day is in the morning.

Most people rush to the popular Epcot attractions like Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After and never give meeting these Epcot characters a second thought.

Don’t be that person!

There isn’t a Fastpass+ option for either Joy and Sadness or Baymax, and the lines can get painfully long.

They also move incredibly slow, so the entire waiting experience is dreadful (at best). The line can look short, but it can be deceiving. I jumped in a short(ish) line to meet Joy and Sadness one afternoon, and it took over 45 minutes.

It was painful, and there were so many better things you can do with your time!

However, if you take the time to meet these Epcot characters in the morning, you will have a significantly shorter line to contend with.

It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. Getting there at 10 or 11 works just fine!

Joy and Sadness and Baymax are neighbours, so you can quickly meet them back to back!

Joy, Sadness, and Baymax are some of the most fun Epcot characters to meet! I highly recommend you add meeting them to your Epcot itinerary!

Joy and Sadness Epcot

10. A Lot of Characters Don’t Have Photopass Photographers

Some Epcot characters- especially characters that meet in World Showcase pavilions- don’t have photopass photographers accompanying them.

It is unfortunate, but it is a fact of life.

You never really know who will and won’t have a photographer with them.

Sometimes Mary Poppins has a photographer and sometimes she doesn’t. The same can be said for basically every other World Showcase character.

Jasmine and Aladdin and Elsa and Anna are the only World Showcase characters that are guaranteed to have a photopass photographer with them.

But fret not!

Every character has a character attendant with them.

In addition to managing the line and helping the character with anything they need, the character attendant is more than happy to take a photo of you and the character on your personal camera or phone.

They might not have the same photography skills as a photopass photographer, but you’ll get a nice photo of you and the character.

That’s what matters most!

Daisy at Epcot

Conclusion

There you have it! I’ve spilled all my top Epcot character secrets.

You’re in the know now and are officially an expert in all thing Epcot characters.

It is so fun to meet characters at Epcot.

There is a mix of classic characters like Mickey and Minnie, popular characters like Elsa and Anna, and rare characters like Alice and Baymax.

Epcot is without a doubt the best park to meet characters. No other park has such a variety of characters or has as many characters you can meet as Epcot.

Magic Kingdom is close, but Epcot has a few more characters.

No matter who you are or what Disney characters you love, there is a character at Epcot you’ll love.

It is so much fun to meet Epcot characters, and it is worth taking the time out of your day to meet a few of them!

10 Super Secret Epcot Fastpass+ Tips

You need an Epcot Fastpass+ strategy. It is essential and will make your day at Epcot go so much smoother than if you don’t have a Fastpass+ strategy!

It might be the most important park to have a Fastpass+ strategy for!

The Epcot Fastpass+ system isn’t as well designed as the other three Disney World parks. It is partially due to the lack of big attractions, but it still causes a problem for guests. If you don’t have an Epcot Fastpass+ strategy, you end up waiting in long lines for even the less popular attractions. The Epcot tier systems makes it nearly impossible to walk onto any attraction. They are being filled with Fastpass+ holders who just got a Fastpass+ because they had to use a tier two Fastpass+.

In my opinion, the Epcot Fastpass+ system needs an overhaul to cut down on the congestion at rides that shouldn’t have more than a 5-minutes wait.

Because of the congestion, it is essential to have an Epcot Fastpass+ strategy, book your Fastpass+ reservations as early as possible, and be strategic about how you ride the big attractions you weren’t able to get a Fastpass+ for.

PS- If you’re looking to learn about Fastpass+ strategies for the other Disney World parks, click this link! It takes you to my Disney World archive where you can find all my Disney World posts (and secret tips).

1. Understand the Epcot Tier System

Epcot Fastpass+ works on a two tier system.

You pick one tier 1 Fastpass+ and two tier 2 Fastpass+ selections.

All the top attractions are in tier 1, and it is a way to make sure more people get a Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions.

The less popular attractions are in tier 2.

Spaceship Earth Epcot

Epcot Fastpass+ Tier 1 Attractions

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Test Track
  • Character Spot
  • Epcot Forever Nighttime Show

Epcot Fastpass+ Tier 2 Attractions

  • Spaceship Earth
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Living with the Land
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival

Epcot Fastpass+ Strategy

It is quite difficult to choose what ride to get a tier 1 Fastpass+ for.

If you’re okay with using single rider (scroll to tip 3), then you essentially have to choose between Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ Around the World.

This is a very difficult decision if you have kids in your group. They probably want to ride both.

Frozen Ever After has a long line all day everyday. Soarin’ Around the World, on the other hand, has dips and peaks during the day. If you pay attention to the app (scroll to tip 7), you may only have to wait half an hour for Soarin’ Around the World.

In this scenario, Frozen Ever After should be your tier 1 Fastpass+ choice.

Spaceship Earth and Mission: SPACE are without a doubt the best tier 2 Epcot Fastpass+ choices.

They have the longest lines and are the best tier 2 attractions.

Epcot is one of the hardest parks to make Fastpass+ selections for. You need to think about what attractions you really want to ride and prioritize them.

2. Don’t Need to be at Epcot for Rope Drop

I’m a huge advocate for being at the parks right when they open for rope drop. You get so much done, and the lines are a fraction of what they are the rest of the day.

Epcot is the only park I don’t rope drop, and you should consider skipping it too!

The upside to rope dropping isn’t as high as at the other parks.

Everybody rushes to Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World, and Frozen Ever After. The lines get fairly long very quickly.

In every park, there are major attractions the guests flock to at rope drop, and the line starts to pile up pretty quickly. That’s normal.

The problem is that Epcot doesn’t have many (or really any) attractions outside of the three main ones that guests will go to instead of the main ones or after they ride a major attraction.

People run from one major attraction to the next with nothing to distract them in between.

The result is very long lines at every popular attraction within a very short period of time.

How quickly every attraction forms a long lines negates the benefits of dragging your butt out of bed super early to be at the park for rope drop. Within less than an hour of the park opening, wait times are pretty much where they’ll be for the rest of the day.

Use you Epcot park day to sleep in and catch up on some much deserved sleep!

Or if you want to take advantage of every moment you have a Disney, rope drop at Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios and take the monorail or skyliner to Epcot mid-morning.

China Pavillion Epcot

3. Take Advantage of Test Track’s Single Rider Line

Test Track is the only Epcot attraction that offers a single rider line.

It is in your best interests to not get an Epcot Fastpass+ for Test Track and use the single rider line instead!

The single rider line is used to fill empty seats in a ride vehicle. This ensures the ride is operating at full capacity, and the line moves as quickly as possible.

Test Track has three seats per row, so it is the perfect ride to take advantage of the single rider option.

When a part of 2 or 4 gets to the front of the regular line, a person from the single rider line is used to fill the empty seat. Most people who visit Disney World come as a part of 2 or 4, so there are a lot of empty seats to be filled with single riders.

The Test Track single rider line moves quicker than any other single rider line in Disney World.

The single rider line moves significantly quicker than the regular line, and it is one of the best ways to save time at Epcot and still ride all the major attractions.

There was a time not too many years ago before most people knew about single rider lines where you could basically walk onto Test Track as a single without any wait!

Those times, unfortunately, are a thing of the past.

Test Track’s single rider line is quite popular, and you are probably still going to have to wait in line. But the wait is still much short than the normal line.

On average, the single rider lines takes about a third of the time as the regular line.

You still have to wait, but it is a much shorter wait.

Mission: SPACE Epcot

Bonus Secret Test Track Single Rider Tip

I’m going to tell you my super secret strategy for Test Track single rider line, but only if you promise to keep it between you and me!

There is a portion of the single rider (and regular) line where you can make your own car to race.

It takes a long time to design your car, and you’re forced to stay in that area for the allotted time if you’re in the regular line.

But you can skip that area and continue to the next portion of the line if you’re in the single rider line.

You don’t have to design a car if you don’t want to. If you want to design a car, then by all means stay in that area for as long as you need before you have the perfect car.

But if you’re like me and don’t give a hoot about designing a car and just want to ride Test Track, just keep walking when you get to that area.

You’ll go into another hallway and join up with the rest of the single riders.

Not designing a car is a huge time saver!

Skipping this portion of the line cuts down on your wait time even more and allows you to get even more done at Epcot.

PS- if you’re going on a solo Disney trip, you’ll want to read this!

4. Frozen Ever After Opens Before World Showcase

World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am, but Frozen Ever After opens as soon as the park does.

You don’t have to wait until World Showcase opens to ride Frozen Ever After!

There are signs at the entrance of World Showcase saying it isn’t open yet, but you’re free to walk to the Norway Pavilion to ride Frozen Ever After.

None of the stores or restaurants (excluding Les Halles in France) are open, and you’re not supposed to stop for photo ops and the such.

Essentially, Disney wants you to walk to Frozen Ever After and not stop for anything else on the way there.

The quickest way to Norway is by entering World Showcase at the Mexico Pavilion.

If you arrive at Epcot at the International Gateway, you’ll have longer to walk, but it is quickest to turn right towards France and walk to Norway that way.

Frozen Ever After Epcot

5. Don’t Forget About Attractions Inside World Showcase Pavilions

World Showcase has some of the most underrated and least busy rides.

A lot of people don’t know they exist, and they’re missing out!

Mexico has the best World Showcase ride. The Grand Fiesta Tour is a slow boat ride that takes you on a journey through Latin America with the Three Caballeros.

It is adorable, never has a line, and severely underrated.

France, China, and Canada all have short movies that run continuously. They’re a great way to get out of the heat and experience something new.

I’d been to Epcot about a dozen times before I watched any of the films. That was a big mistake, and I watch at least one every time I’m at Epcot now.

Taking the time to experience the attractions inside Mexico, France, China, and Canada is a great way to get more out of your Epcot day.

You feel more accomplished, see a side of Epcot lots of people miss, and learn something new along the way!

6. Even the Least Popular Attractions Have Lines

The Epcot Fastpass+ tier system has its pros and cons. It gives more people the ability to ride the most popular attractions by making it impossible for someone to get a Fastpass+ for them all.

Without a doubt the worst thing to come out of the Epcot Fastpass+ tier system is every single attractions is busy now.

It wasn’t many years ago that Spaceship Earth never had a wait longer than 5 or 10 minutes. You could show up at basically any time of day and ride it within minutes.

Now, thanks to the Epcot Fastpass+ tiers, you’re lucky if Spaceship Earth has a wait time until 30 minutes.

You have to select two tier 2 Fastpass+ options, so every ride has a long wait now with the Fastpass+ line being prioritized.

Even Living with the Land can get to a 30 minute wait now. That should never be the case.

It is frustrating, and it can really put a damper on your day.

There aren’t many attractions at Epcot, so people flock to the few choices they have.

Disney is trying to rectify this, and they’re building more high-profile attractions in Epcot. This issue should be solved in the coming years, but, for now, be aware you have to wait longer than you should have to for nearly every attraction.

7. The App is Your Best Friend

The Disney World app is an essential part of having a good day at Epcot.

Your Epcot Fastpass+ selections are on the app. You can view them, change them, and make your bonus Epcot Fastpass+ selection right on the app.

It tells you real-time wait times for every attraction. You can easily see which rides have a long wait and which ones are quieter. This helps you strategically decide what to do next and not waste your time walking to one ride only to find out it has too long of a wait.

One of my favourite features is you can see what characters are meeting guests and where.

Epcot has some of the best character meet and greets, so it is important to know when they meet guests. They often only meet for about 20 minutes, so you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity.

This post is about Epcot Fastpass+ tips, and this one may not seem directly related to Fastpass+, but it is.

The Disney World app makes your entire day go smoother. It helps you with scheduling, remembering when your next Epcot Fastpass+ reservation is, and it even helps you plan your food.

Dining reservations can be made on the app, and you can see the menu for quick service restaurants on the app. You don’t have to wander around to each pavilion to see what you might like to eat.

It is all on the app!

Download it before you arrive at Disney World, and you’ll be thanking me later!

The Seas with Nemo and Friends Epcot

Make Sure You’re Being Internet Safe!

Disney World offers guests complimentary wifi in the parks.

This is amazing and helps you stay connected during the day.

It also leaves you exposed to having your online data stolen.

Disney World wifi is a public wifi network, and it doesn’t have any passwords.

This means anybody can access it for any reason. Including using it to steal online information.

The only way to protect your online data, privacy, and security is to install a VPN on your phone.

A VPN makes it so even a public wifi system as safe as your home wifi where only you know the password.

Nobody is able to spy on your online activity, and nobody is able to steal your online data.

A VPN costs less than the price of one Starbucks drink a month, and you can protect up to six devices on one account.

There is no excuse not to protect your online safety at Disney World with a VPN!

8. Character Spot is the Perfect Bonus Epcot Fastpass+

Character Spot used to be a tier 2 attraction, but it moved to tier 1 in 2019.

That move took away one of the best Epcot tier 2 attractions. Disney moved Character Spot into tier 1 to try to disperse the number of people using their tier 1 Fastpass+ for Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’ Around the World.

It didn’t work as well as they hoped, and it has resulted in very few people choosing Character Spot at their tier 1 Epcot Fastpass+.

Character Spot isn’t worth using your tier 1 Fastpass+ on!

It is, however, the perfect use of your bonus fourth Epcot Fastpass+!

Your chances of getting a same-day Fastpass+ for Character Spot is really high. You may not be able to get one on the busiest days of the year (Christmas, New Years, Spring Break, etc.). If you’re at Epcot on an average day, your chances of getting a Character Spot Fastpass+ mid-day is pretty high.

I always use my bonus fourth Epcot Fastpass+ at Character Spot.

The lines at Character Spot are normally extremely long and slow. It is crowded and uncomfortable, so I avoid the regular line at all costs.

Having a Fastpass+ makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable.

It is still cramped and crowded, but you get through it so much quicker.

One of the best parts of Character Spot is that you get to meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy back to back to back. You knock three popular characters out with one line, and it is a great use of your time.

I highly suggest you use your bonus Epcot Fastpass+ at Character Spot and then maybe the nighttime show if there are still availability once you’re done at Character Spot.

PS- Be sure to check out my Magic Kingdom characters post!

Character Spot Epcot

What the Heck is a Bonus Epcot Fastpass+?

If you don’t know what a bonus Fastpass+ is, you’re probably a bit confused right about now.

Every Disney World guest is allowed to make three Fastpass+ reservations for every day they have a park ticket.

Guests staying at a Disney hotel can make their Fastpass+ reservations 60 days before their arrival. Guests staying off-property are able to make their reservations 30 days in advance.

After you use your first three pre-reserved Fastpass+ selections, you can make additional Fastpass+ reservations the same day you’re in the park.

You can make your bonus Fastpass+ selections for any park, but you can only make them one at a time. Once you use your fourth Fastpass+, you can make a fifth. And so on and so forth.

I always recommend you make your original three Fastpass+ reservations for earlier in the day. Ideally, your last Fastpass+ reservation will be before 2pm.

This gives you the best opportunity to get a good bonus Fastpass+ on the day you’re in the park.

It is nearly impossible to get a same day Epcot Fastpass+ for Test Track, Frozen Ever After, or Soarin’ Around the World. Those are booked well in advance, and most people don’t give them up.

Character Spot is a different story.

It is the least popular Epcot tier 1 attraction, so it is your best choice when it is time to get your bonus Fastpass+.

9. Visit World Showcase During Peak Hours

World Showcase is the best place to go when the attraction lines get long in the middle of the day.

One of the best parts about World Showcase is that it is a move at your own pace attraction.

You can take as long in each pavilion as you want, and there are no lines (except for possible lines for food items).

I like visiting World Showcase mid-afternoon.

That is when the traditional attractions have the longest lines, and World Showcase tends to be quietest because most of the guests are in line for attractions and Orlando locals haven’t arrived at the park yet.

There are lots of stores to duck into when you need a break from the heat. And lots of places to grab a drink or snack as you’re exploring.

It takes a couple of hours to walk through World Showcase if you explore all the pavilions. The best strategy is to start at one end and make your way around.

There is actually quite the debate within the Disney community about whether starting at Mexico or Canada is better.

I’m team Mexico.

Let me know in the comments below whether you’re team Mexico or team Canada!

Japan Pavillion Epcot

10. Extra Magic Hours are a Waste of Time

This pains me to say because I’m a huge fan of Extra Magic Hours.

Extra Magic Hours at Epcot aren’t worth your time.

The same logic applies for morning Extra Magic Hours as with rope drop. The lines fill up too quickly, and you don’t get much of an advantage from Early Morning Magic Hours.

Late Night Extra Magic Hours are even worse!

There is such a bottle neck of regular guests clogging the queue for the most popular attractions that most Extra Magic Hour guests go to the less popular attractions first.

This means the less popular (but still great) attractions end up having a fairly long line. You’re not benefiting from that much either!

I haven’t been to an Epcot Extra Magic Hours event since 2018. I stayed for less than an hour and left because the lines were too long.

Extra Magic Hours are supposed to benefit the guests, but the structure of Epcot doesn’t make it easy for guests to take advantage of them.

You expect the most popular rides to have a decently long wait at any Extra Magic Hours event, but you can normally get a lot of the less popular attractions done in a short amount of time.

Not at Epcot unfortunately.

Sleep in, go back to the hotel, or visit Disney Springs.

I personally don’t see the value in Epcot Extra Magic Hours.

You Lost Me Again. What are Extra Magic Hours?

Extra Magic Hours are a lovely little benefit guest staying at Disney hotels get.

Everyday one park has Extra Magic Hours. The park either opens an hour early for Disney hotel guests or stays open to hotel guests two hours after park close.

Normally it is a great way to ride the most popular attractions with a shorter wait time.

Early Morning Extra Magic Hours are the best. There are hardly any lines, and you get so much done.

The night time Extra Magic Hours are less desirable. More people are willing to stay in a park late than get up early, and they’re much busier.

The wait times are longer, and you don’t get as much done.

You find the parks that have Extra Magic Hours on any given day by visiting the Disney World park calendar. There is also a printout of the park hours in the your hotel room, and it includes Extra Magic Hours.

The Land Epcot

Conclusion

Whew. There is a lot you need to know to maximize your Epcot Fastpass+ selections.

It can be a difficult park to navigate, but now that you know these 10 tips, you’re a pro!

If you take advantage of Test Track’s single rider line, World Showcase attractions, and your bonus Fastpass+, you’ll see and more at Epcot than you ever thought possible.

Epcot is often thought of as a boring, educational park, but it is so much more than that!

It has amazing attractions, amazing food, amazing characters, and it is a great place to learn something new.

Epcot is my favourite Disney World park, and I hope you fall in love with it too!

Oh, and if you’re at the Germany pavilion, be sure to have a bit of caramel popcorn for me!

10 Life Changing Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Tips

Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ can be difficult to navigate. There are tiers and rules and, frankly, not a ton of Fastpass+ options that suit an entire family’s interest.

This post is dedicated to helping you plan and execute the perfect Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy, so you can make the most out of your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is the youngest Walt Disney World park and is often overlooked by guests and not given the attention it rightfully deserves. It is a gorgeous park that you should dedicate an entire day to.

It can be difficult to figure out which Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options are worth it and which ones aren’t.

Hopefully these 10 tips will help you figure out exactly what Fastpass+ options you want to select at Animal Kingdom.

Selecting the right Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options will either make or break your day, so you really need to know what you’re doing.

The good news is that you’ll be an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ expert by the time you’re done reading this post!

P.S.- if you’re looking for more information on all things Disney World (especially Fastpass+ information), be sure to check out my other posts to help you plan the most magical Disney trip possible:

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

1. Get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris

I always recommend you get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

It should be a no brainer!

There are 3 main reasons I recommend everybody get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris:

  • It always have a really long long
  • The queue area can get uncomfortably hot
  • The animals decide how quickly the line moves

The Line is Always Quite Long

It is rare to see a wait time of less than 45 to 60 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of the most popular attractions in the entire park, and I would argue it is the most popular attraction behind the Pandora ones.

It is also great for families with small children because there is no height limit. I’ve been in the same car as babies, so literally anybody can ride Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Which is a great thing, but it also means that it is an extremely popular Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ option, often runs out of Fastpass+ availability relatively quickly, and the stand-by line is super long as a result.

If you loath standing in lines like I do, you need to get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It will save you a lot of time in line.

The Queue Area Can Get Super Hot

The queue for Kilimanjaro Safaris is 100% outdoors.

It has a room but no walls, and there are fans on the ceiling throughout to help cool you down a little bit.

Even with the fans, I often find the line uncomfortably hot and unbearable. This is especially true if you’re in the queue in the heat of the day.

The Fastpass+ line is the same, but it is significantly shorter and moves quickly.

I often find that I move through the Kilimanjaro Safaris Fastpass+ line so quick that I don’t have time to start getting uncomfortable from the heat.

I love Disney World, but as a lady from Northern Canada, I’m always disgustingly sweaty and try to limit the amount of time I’m standing around in an outdoor line.

The Animals Determine the Wait Time

This may be an odd concept, but it is 100% true.

The behaviour of the animals can increase your wait time, and increase it significantly.

If an animal decides it wants to stand in the middle of the road, then all the safari trucks have to wait until the animal moves off the road.

This essentially stops the entire attraction until the animal feels like moving and finds another place to hang out.

There have been many cases where a safari truck I was in was stopped waiting for an animal to move.

In many cases, it doesn’t take more than 5 or so minutes, but there are still times where it takes a long time for an animal to move.

The longest time I’ve personally been stopped in a safari truck was for about 25 minutes when a wildebeest decided to take a nap in the middle of the road.

It took an animal trainer bribing the wildebeest with food to make it finally move.

I cannot imagine how long we would have been stopped if the cast members had allowed the wildebeest to move at its own free will rather than encouraging it to move off the road.

And this can happen multiple times a day every day, and you could be stuck in a long, hot line just waiting to get on a safari truck.

In addition to both the stand-by line and Fastpass+ line having to wait for the animal to move before the attraction starts up again, people in the Fastpass+ line are given priority and are the first to get on a truck.

If you’re in the stand-by line, you’ll have to wait even longer to get on a truck because they need to speed up the Fastpass+ line and get those people on a truck quicker than people in the stand-by line.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Animal Kingdom

The Bottom Line

There are so many pros to getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It ultimately saves you time, heat exhaustion, and gets you on a truck quicker if an animal interrupts the regular flow of the attraction.

There really is no downside to prioritizing Kilimanjaro Safaris and getting a Fastpass+ for it.

2. Know What Days Have Extra Magic Hours in the Morning (& Avoid if You’re Not Staying on Disney Property)

Extra Magic Hours are a nice benefit Disney gives to guests staying on Disney property (or with a select few partner hotels in the area).

Hotel guests are able to be in the park without the general public. Extra Magic Hours take place either 1 hour before the park opens or 2 hours after the park closes.

Extra Magic Hours are spread out across the 4 Disney World parks, and not every park has Extra Magic Hours on any given day.

You’ll be given a schedule of Extra Magic Hours when your check into your Disney hotel. They’re also displayed on the home page of your room television when you turn your tv on.

You can also view the Extra Magic Hours scheduled here if you want to plan your Fastpass+ selections around which park has Extra Magic Hours on any given day.

Advice for Guests with Access to Extra Magic Hours

It is 100% in your best interest to go to Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. They’re only offered in the morning at Animal Kingdom, but they are worth waking up early for!

This is especially true if you weren’t able to get a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage.

The line for both Pandora rides will be the shortest during Extra Magic Hours, and the wait time will only increase from there.

The line for Flight of Passage looks intimidatingly long during Extra Magic Hours. They don’t have the entire queue open, so the line normally stretches all the way to Africa.

The wait is normally less than 20 minutes. even though the line is so long.

If you were lucky enough to get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage, Extra Magic Hours is still worth attending.

Most people will be in Pandora, so you basically have the rest of the park to yourself.

A typical Extra Magic Hours morning where I have a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage looks like this for me:

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest at least 3 to 5 times
  • Dinosaur 1 to 2 times

You get a lot of bang for your buck during Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours!

Whether you have an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage or not, Extra Magic Hours is well worth it. You get so much done it is unbelievable.

You could basically knock out the entire park (excluding Pandora) during Extra Magic Hours.

If you were lucky enough to get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ in the morning, you could do everything else in Animal Kingdom during Extra Magic Hours, go on Flight of Passage, and then hop to another park for the rest of the day.

Pandora Animal Kingdom

Advice for Guest Without Access to Extra Magic Hours

You should try to avoid Animal Kingdom at all costs on days with Extra Magic Hours!

The park will be filled with hotel guests, and the waits are often longer than on an average day.

Most hotel guests end up staying at Animal Kingdom the entire day after Extra Magic Hours, so it is normally quite crowded.

In addition to the park being crowded, you’ll also have a more difficult time getting the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections you want.

The hotel guests will have snatched up the most popular Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options, and you won’t have much to choose from when it is your turn to make your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections.

It is a lose-lose scenario for guests who don’t have access to Extra Magic Hours.

I suggest going to Animal Kingdom the day after Extra Magic Hours.

This is likely the day the park will be least busy since so many people were there the day before.

3. The Shows are a Bit Overrated

When you’re researching Animal Kingdom and what Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options you should prioritize, a lot of people tell you that the shows are incredible and you’re missing out if you don’t see them.

You’re also told that you need to get a Fastpass+ for them in order to see them.

I disagree with that line of thought.

The shows are good, but they’re not life changing.

If you have a choice between a show and another attraction you really want to get a Fastpass+ for, you should probably get the Fastpass+ for the other attraction over the show.

I think The Lion King show is the best choice if you want to get a Fastpass+ for a show.

It is the most popular, and you have to get in the stand-by line at least 20 minutes before the show starts to ensure you get a seat.

The Finding Nemo show, on the other hand, isn’t worth getting a Fastpass+ for. The theatre is only full during peak times (like mid-Summer and the holiday season). The rest of the time you can walk up 5 minutes before the show starts and get a seat.

As a side note, most people say The Lion King show is the best show at Disney World, but I actually like Finding Nemo better.

Whether you decide to use one of your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections on a show is totally up to you.

You should do what works best for you and your interest.

Just know that you’re not missing out on a superb experience just because you choose not to get a Fastpass+ for a show.

Lion King Show Animal Kingdom

4. Mickey and Minnie are a Good Use of an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+

There are a lot of fun characters to meet at Animal Kingdom, but Mickey and Minnie are the only characters that offer a Fastpass+ option.

I think meeting Mickey and Minnie is a great use of one of your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options. They always have a really long line- like 45 to 60 minutes long. Mickey and Minnie are also wearing the most adorable costumes. I think their outfits at Animal Kingdom are the absolute best and cutest out of any of the Disney World parks.

I highly recommend everybody meets Mickey and Minnie at Animal Kingdom at least once in their lifetime.

Getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ to meet them is the most time efficient way possible. You’ll be in and out in no time.

5. Take Advantage of Rope Drop

Rope drop is what Disney nerds call the moment the park opens. Essentially, doing park drop at a park means you get to the park at least 30 minutes before it opens and are one of the first people in the park.

Rope drop is the perfect time of day to get to Animal Kingdom.

It allows you to get to the most popular attractions and visit them before the lines get outrageously long. I’m looking at you Pandora!

You save so much time at rope drop. You get all the benefits as Extra Magic Hours, but anybody can participate in rope drop unlike Extra Magic Hours.

The biggest mistake you can make when planning Animal Kingdom rope drop is not looking at the calendar. You do not want to plan to be at Animal Kingdom for rope drop on a day with Extra Magic Hours.

The completely defeats the purpose of being at the park for rope drop.

But as long as you plan it properly and avoid days with Extra Magic Hours, you’ll get the amazing benefits of rope drop.

I don’t always recommend rope drop, but for Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, I think it is the best strategy to get the most out of your day at the park.

Mickey and Minnie Animal Kingdom

6. Know the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Tiers

Anybody who is researching the Walt Disney World Fastpass+ system has heard of the tier system.

The tier system was put in place to limit the number of Fastpass+ reservations a person could make for the most popular attractions. Every park except for Magic Kingdom has a Fastpass+ tier system.

The Fastpass+ tier system can get a little bit difficult to understand at times, but the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tier system is incredibly easy to understand.

You get one Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ option for a ride in Pandora and two Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options to use for any other attraction that offers Fastpass+ in the park.

Essentially, you have to choose whether you want to ride Flight of Passage or Navi River Journey. Then you choose two additional non-Pandora Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options.

I love how easy the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tier system is!

My Recommended Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Selections

I pretty much book the same Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections every time I visit the park.

I’m a creature of habit and like what I like. But I think I also have a pretty good Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy that allows me to get the most out of my day without waiting in many lines.

My Ideal Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Selections

  • Flight of Passage
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Meet Mickey and Minnie
Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom

If I’m able to get the Fastpass+ options I wants, I go to the park for Extra Magic Hours and ride Everest and Dinosaur a number of times. Sometimes I’ll even ride Navi River Journey if I’m in the mood.

If I’m not able to get my ideal Fastpass+ options and get a Fastpass+ for Navi River Journey rather than Flight of Passage, I make sure to be at the park a few minutes earlier, so I can have as short of a wait to ride Flight of Passage as possible.

I find that if I’m able to get on Flight of Passage within 20 minutes of the park opening, I can still ride Everest a time or two before it starts getting to be a 10 minute wait.

7. Take Advantage of the Walking Trails Between Your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Return Windows

The walking paths are one of the most underrated parts of Animal Kingdom.

They’re the perfect place to kill some time before your Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safari Fastpass+, but so few people take advantage of them.

It isn’t that they are quiet, but they could certainly be busier.

There are 3 trails in Animal Kingdom you can explore:

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (the busiest)
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek (my personal favourite)
  • Discovery Island Trails (the least busy)

All 3 trails give you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife.

You get to see gorillas, tigers, bats, zebras, and so much more!

They don’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to walk through, so they’re perfect if you get to an attraction before your Fastpass+ return window opens.

You can wander through the trails and see some animals. It is a much more enjoyable way to kill the remaining time before your Fastpass+ than standing around near the entrance to whatever attraction you’re riding next.

Jungle Trek Animal Kingdom

8. Get a Bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+

I always recommend that you try to get a bonus 4th Fastpass+ no matter what Disney World park you’re visiting.

You’re allowed to make 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day (they all have to be in the same park) in advance. You can make your Fastpass+ selections 60 days before your arrival if you’re staying on Disney property and 30 days in advance if you’re staying off-property.

A lesser known secret is that you can continue to book Fastpass+ selections after you have used your original 3 Fastpass+ selections.

You can only make one additional Fastpass+ at a time, but you can book as many bonus Fastpass+ as possible as long as they are available.

In order to get the most out of this strategy, you should try to book your original 3 Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options as early in the day as possible.

This is easier said than done because you’re at the mercy of Pandora and whenever you can get a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage or Navi River Journey.

Nevertheless, you should try to book your original Fastpass+ options as early in the day as possible.

Once you’ve used those 3 Fastpass+ options, jump on the My Disney Experience app as quickly as you can and book a bonus Fastpass+ for whatever you want.

Getting a bonus 4th Fastpass+ is easiest in Magic Kingdom where there are far more attractions to choose from. It is much more difficult at a smaller park like Animal Kingdom.

You most likely won’t be able to get a bonus Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions, but it is worth a try.

You’re most likely to get a bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Finding Nemo the Musical or Dinosaur. But those are still great options!

You may even get super lucky and snag a last-minute Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safari or Flight of Passage.

A Note About Online Safety

When you’re booking your bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+, you’re likely going to be using the complimentary wifi provided by Disney.

I love that Disney provides complimentary wifi! It makes it extremely easy to check wait times, book your bonus Fastpass+, and post all the fun you’re having on social media.

But using public wifi puts you at risk of having your data stolen and possibly sold.

You need to protect yourself from prying eyes when you’re using public wifi (like Disney’s wifi), and that is where a virtual private network (VPN) comes in!

A VPN protects you and your data by putting up an invisible forcefield around your devices that keeps any prying eyes away from your information.

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs in my time, and the only one I’ve every really liked is NordVPN.

NordVPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices with one account, so you can easily protect your entire family with one account!

Plus they often run huge sales where you can save up to 70%, so you can protect your family for an entire year for less than $50!!

So there is no excuse not to sign up for NordVPN before you start using Disney’s public wifi!

Lion King Animal Kingdom

9. Take Advantage of Rider Switch

Rider switch is a great program to take advantage of if you have younger children.

It allows one parent to ride an attraction while the other stays behind with the child. After the first parent is done riding, the second parent is able to ride the same attraction without waiting in the stand-by line.

You simply speak with a cast member at the entrance to the attraction and tell them you want to use rider swtich.

The cast member will scan your magic band or ticket and get you all set up to use the program. When it comes time for the second parent to ride the attraction, they enter through the Fastpass+ line and not the stand-by line.

You can also use the rider swap strategy if you have a Fastpass+ for a certain attraction. When you’re making your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections ahead of time, simply book a Fastpass+ for half the group or however many people want to ride a specific attraction.

When you go to redeem your Fastpass+, make sure your entire party goes with you, and they can arrange the rider switch there.

That is the best way to maximize your time.

But please don’t abuse this system! Disney has this system in place to help people travelling with young children who can’t or don’t want to ride everything. Don’t try to scam the system or hack your way into a shorter wait time. It isn’t worth it. Disney will probably figure it out, and you may even get in trouble or kicked out of the park.

Donald's Dino Bash Animal Kingdom

10. Visit Pandora at Night if You Didn’t Get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage

Here we are again talking about strategies to ride Flight of Passage.

It is such a difficult Fastpass+ to get, and it often isn’t even available to people 60 days in advance it is so popular.

A lot of people can’t get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ and need to figure out the best time to ride it.

Outside of rope drop or Extra Magic Hours, right before park close if the best time to ride Flight of Passage.

Animal Kingdom is least busy in the evening, and Flight of Passage will have a fairly short wait time compared to the rest of the day.

This is the perfect time to pop in line and ride this fabulous attraction.

The time posted outside of Flight of Passage may not be entirely accurate at park close. Sometimes the wait time displayed is significantly longer than the actual wait time, so it shouldn’t deter you from jumping in the queue.

I suspect Disney show the wait time slightly longer than it actually is as a way to deter people from jumping in the queue moment before the park closes.

But jump in that line!

If you’re in the queue for a ride before the park closes, you’ll be allowed to ride it. You can get in line one minute before the park closes and will still be able to ride Flight of Passage.

My ideal hierarchy of when to ride Flight of Passage is:

  • Get a Fastpass+
  • Be there for Extra Magic Hours or rope drop
  • Get in line right before the park closes

I don’t recommend trying to ride Flight of Passage during the height of the day. The line is always super long, and it isn’t the best use of your time.

Pandora Animal Kingdom

Conclusion

Animal Kingdom is the most unique park in Disney World. It is part zoo and part theme park, it has one of the most popular attractions in all of Disney World, and doesn’t have a ton of attractions with Fastpass+ options.

It is a perfect storm, and you need to make sure you have a strong Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy in place before it is time to make your Fastpass+ selections.

The tips in this post are designed to get you thinking about how you need to approach making your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections.

There are a lot of things to consider.

You also need to be flexible in your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy. Your entire strategy basically relies on whether or not you’re able to get a Fastpass+ for the Pandora attraction of your choosing.

Not being able to get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ will completely change your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy, and you need to be prepared to be flexible.

No matter what Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options you end up getting, you’ll have an amazing day at Animal Kingdom.

It is such a fun park and has a vibe unlike any other theme park I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to a lot of theme parks.

Let me know in the comments below what your favourite Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tip is and whether you’re team Flight of Passage or team Navi River Journey.

Oh. And don’t forget to say hi to Mickey and Minnie for me!

10 Secret Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Tips

Let’s talk Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ tips and tricks that’ll make sure you have the best day in Hollywood Studios!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has undergone a huge transformation in the past few years. It went from a half-day park to a park that has some of the most sought after rides in all of Disney World!

Now that Hollywood Studios is an incredibly popular and busy park, you need to know the best Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ secrets.

You’ll waste a lot of time standing in line if you don’t use these Fastpass+ secrets! You may not even be able to ride all the attractions you want to!

So read on to become a Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ expert!

1. Know What You Don’t Need a Fastpass+ For

Just like in every Walt Disney World park, there are certain rides in Hollywood Studios you need a Fastpass+ for and some you don’t.

It is important you understand what rides don’t need a Fastpass+ for.

Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections are difficult to make, so if you know exactly what you don’t need a Hollywood studios Fastpass+ for, it will make your life easier.

Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Tiers

The first step in figuring out what you do and don’t need a Fastpass+ for is understanding the Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ tiers.

Hollywood Studios has two Fastpass+ tiers.

You’re allowed to select one Fastpass+ for a ride in tier one and two rides in tier two.

So what rides are in each category?

Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Tier One Rides

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Tier Two Rides

  • Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Star Tours
  • Muppet 3D Vision
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Disney Junior Dance Party!
  • Fantasmic!
Slinky Dog Dash (Disney Hollywood Studios)

Deciding What You Don’t Need a Fastpass+ For

There are certain attractions that you simply don’t need a Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ for.

I don’t suggest you get a Fastpass+ for the following attractions:

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Disney Junior Dance Party!
  • Muppet 3D Vision
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that all of the attractions that you don’t need a Fastpass+ for are in tier two.

You can often walk up to these attractions and get on them within a few minutes. For the shows, you can show up 5-15 minutes before and generally get a seat.

It isn’t worth using your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections on these attractions when the rest of the attractions in Hollywood Studios always have a long line and are a much better use of a Fastpass+.

2. Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines

Hollywood Studios has the most single rider lines of any of Disney World parks. Technically, it is the same number of single rider queues as Animal Kingdom, so both parks are tied for the most single rider lines.

Fun fact: Magic Kingdom is the only park in Disney World that doesn’t have any rides that offer a single rider line?!

Check out this post if you’re interested in learning about how to perfect your Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy since you can’t take advantage of single rider lines!

Single rider lines are one of the best ways to get a lot done in a short amount of time. They are often way shorter than the regular lines.

What Exactly is a Single Rider Line?

A single rider line is a queue that is used to fill vacant seats on popular rides.

Let’s say a ride vehicle seats three people, and there is a party of two in line. One person from the single rider line will be sat with that group of two, so the ride vehicle is always filled to capacity.

This helps the line move quicker and the ride operate efficiently.

You’re able to use the single rider line if you’re a party of two or more, but you will be separated when you reach the front of the line.

You will not be able to sit with your group if you use the single rider line. You will ride the attraction with a group of strangers.

Hollywood Studios Rides that Offer a Single Rider Line

  • Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

How Do I Know if the Single Rider Line is Right for Me?

The single rider line is a great option, but it isn’t for everybody.

I personally love it and use it all the time, but I also have friends who hate it. It really comes down to personal preference.

Rock 'n' Rollercoaster (Disney Hollywood Studios)

You may not enjoy using the single rider line if:

  • It is the first time you’re riding the attraction, you’re a bit scare, and you would feel more comfortable riding with a familiar face rather than a stranger
  • You have small children in your group that you don’t want riding alone
  • You want a ride photo of you with your group rather than with strangers

How Exactly is this a Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Tip?!

Good question! You may have read this entire section and been like thanks for the valuable information, but how exactly is this a Fastpass+ tip?

Well, if you take advantage of the single rider lines, you’re able to use your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections on attractions that don’t have single rider lines.

I’ve found the Millennium Falcom: Smugglers Run single rider line moves very quickly and is significantly shorter than the regular standby line.

If you want to ride all three rides in tier one and are comfortable using the single rider line, then you can use your tier one Fastpass+ selection for either Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Slinky Dog Dash.

Using the single rider lines strategically will help you make better Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ choices.

3. Get a Bonus Fastpass+

Every Disney guest is allowed to make three Fastpass+ selections per day.

Most people think that once they use their three pre-chosen Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections, they’re out of luck and have to use the standby line the rest of the day, but that isn’t true.

You can book a fourth bonus Fastpass+ as soon as you’ve used up your original three Fastpass+ selections!

Yup. You read that right! You can keep making additional Fastpass+ selections one at a time after you’ve used your three pre-selected Fastpass+ options.

This is a great way to see more of Hollywood Studios without spending a lot of time in line.

How to Make a Bonus Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Selection

It is incredibly easy to make your bonus Fastpass+ selection!

You can either book it directly through the My Disney Experience app or use one of the Fastpass+ kiosks around the park.

You can book a bonus Fastpass+ for any attraction. It doesn’t have to be an attraction from tier two. You can book an additional Fastpass+ for a tier one attraction (if there are any left)!

Tower of Terror (Disney Hollywood Studios)

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Bonus Hollywood Studios Fastpass+

As with all things Disney, there is a way to get the best bang for your buck.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your bonus Fastpass+:

Book Your Bonus Fastpass+ as Soon as You Scan Your Last Fastpass+

The best way to get the most out of your bonus Fastpass+ is to book it as soon as you’ve scanned your magic band or park ticket to use your last Hollywood Studios Fastpass+.

Book your next Fastpass+ while you’re standing in the Fastpass+ queue waiting to get on the ride!

This will allow you to maximize your time in Hollywood Studios, and you’re more likely to get a bonus Fastpass+ for the ride you want.

You’re Able to Book More than One Bonus Fastpass+

You can make as many bonus Fastpass+ selections as you want!

You can only book one bonus Fastpass+ at a time, but once you use it, you can book another one right away.

The competition to get a desirable Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ is fierce. It is difficult to get a bonus Fastpass+ for a tier one attraction or some of the more popular tier two attractions.

But keep trying as soon as you use your last Fastpass+, and you might just get lucky!

Book a Bonus Fastpass+ for an Attraction with a Nearby Return Time

One of the best ways you can get the most out of your bonus Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ is by choosing a ride that has a return window that is close to the time you’re booking it.

If you have the choice to book a bonus Fastpass+ for a ride that has a Fastpass+ return time in an hour from when you’re booking versus a ride that has a return time that is five hours from when you’re booking, it is in your best interest to book the Fastpass+ for the ride you can get on in an hour.

This will help you get the most done in Hollywood Studios, and you can potentially book an additional bonus Fastpass+ for the ride that has a later return time once you’ve used your first bonus Fastpass+.

Be Strategic When Making Your Original Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Selections

You’ll have a better chance of getting a good bonus Fastpass+ selection if your’e strategic about when you book your original three Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections.

The earlier in the day you’ve used your original Fastpass+ selections, the earlier in the day you can get a bonus Fastpass+. The earlier in the day you can get a bonus Fastpass+, the better your chances of there being a Fastpass+ available for the ride you want.

It is a win-win!

I suggest trying to book all your original Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections for before 2pm.

And even earlier than that if possible, but it can be difficult to get an early Fastpass+ return time for the attractions in tier one.

4. You Can’t Get a Fastpass+ to Meet Characters

Hollywood Studios is the only Walt Disney World park where you can’t get a Fastpass+ to meet your favourite characters.

You can get a Fastpass+ to meet Mickey and Minnie in Animal Kingdom and a Fastpass+ to meet Minnie, Mickey, and Goofy in Epcot. There are tons of characters in Magic Kingdom you can get a Fastpass+ to meet. They include Mickey, Tinker Bell, and the princesses.

But no such luck in Hollywood Studios.

If you want to meet any characters in Hollywood Studios, you have to wait in line, and the line can get really long for popular characters.

You need to be strategic about when you book your Hollywood Studio Fastpass+ selections if you want to meet characters.

To have the lowest wait time to meet characters, you’ll want to meet them either right when they start greeting guests at 10am or wait until the end of the night and try to sneak into the line when everybody else has left for the day.

Mickey Mouse (Disney Hollywood Studios)

5. Fantasmic! Isn’t a Great Option

Fantasmic! is one of my favourite nighttime Disney shows (although the Disneyland version is way better), but it isn’t the best use of your Fastpass+.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • It prevents you from being able to get a bonus Fastpass+
  • You still have to show up fairly early to get a decent seat
  • A lot of the time you can get a Fastpass+ for the second showing of Fantasmic! in the afternoon as a bonus Fastpass+

I’ve used one of my original three Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections for Fantasmic! in the past, and it wasn’t a great experience.

I got to the Fastpass+ line half an hour before the show starts (as it said to do on my Fastpass+), entered the theater, and discovered that nearly all the Fastpass+ seats were already filled.

The only seats left were in the very last section, and it was difficult to find a place for two people to sit.

The standard advice people tell you about Fantasmic! is that if you’re using the stand-by queue, to be there an hour early, so I don’t see the value of using a Fastpass+ selection for Fasntasmic! unless it is a bonus Fastpass+ I get the day of.

From my experience, you have to show up about 45 minutes early if you have a Fastpass+, so you’re not really saving that much time by getting a Fastpass+ for Fantasmic!.

There are much better ways you can use your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections. You can save a lot more time by using your Fastpass+ for a ride that normally has a queue that is an hour or longer than for Fantasmic!.

But you should still try to see Fantasmic! while you’re at Hollywood Studios. It is a lot of fun!

Fantasmic! (Disney Hollywood Studios)

6. Adjust Your Fastpass+ if You’re Running Late

It is easy to lose track of time and then realize that your Fastpass+ window for your favourite attraction is nearly over!

It is an anxiety-inducing moment, but there is a sneaky way around it!

You simply go into your My Disney Experience app and alter the time of your Fastpass+. You can push it back (or even change what attraction it is for) in the app, and you don’t have to worry about losing your Fastpass+.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to push your Fastpass+ back and get a later Fastpass+ for the same ride, but it is worth a shot.

You probably won’t be able to push back your Hollywood Studios tier one Fastpass+ and expect to get another tier one Fastpass+ (there won’t be any left), but this strategy often works for the rides in tier two.

Even if you’re not able to get a Fastpass+ for the same ride, it is better to push your Fastpass+ if you’re going to miss your window.

It is better to have a Fastpass+ for something rather than for nothing!

What if I’m Only Running a Little Late?

Good question!

It is super easy to be running five minutes behind- especially when there is a kid in your group!

Disney World has a very short grace period. You can normally use your Fastpass+ five minutes before the start of your return time and 10-15 minutes after your return time has ended.

This is not guaranteed, and you should not rely on this policy.

A lot of the time it is up to the discretion of the cast member to decide whether or not you’ll be able to use your Fastpass+ once your window is over.

You can explain why you’re late and hope you win over the caste member.

The very best way to solve this issue is by not being late in the first place! You work hard to book your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selection in advance, and it would be a shame not to be able to use them!

Muppet 3D Vision (Disney Hollywood Studios)

7. Book Your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ ASAP

You need to book your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections as soon as your selection window opens!

Of all the parks in Disney World, I think the Fastpass+ competition is the most fierce at Hollywood Studios. It can be extremely difficult to get the Fastpass+ selections you want, and you often have to be very flexible about what time you book your Fastpas+ for.

Basically, you need to scoop up the Fastpass+ selections you can even if they are at a less desirable time.

You can make your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections:

  • 60 days in advance if your’e staying on Disney property
  • 30 days in advance if you’re not staying on Disney property

Your Fastpass+ booking window opens at 7 am EST.

This is true whether you’re allowed to book your Fastpass+ 60 days or 30 days in advance.

You have to be on your computer (or in the My Disney Experience app) at exactly 7 am EST, know what you want a Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ for, and make your selections as quick as possible.

It is quite the rush first thing in the morning!

Your chances of getting the Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections you want are way better if you’re on the computer at 7 am EST making your selections 60 days in advance.

You’ll still be able to get some good Fastpass+ selections if you book 30 days out, but you may not be able to get a Fastpass+ for every ride you want and certainly not at the times you want.

Your chances of getting a good Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ significantly decreases the longer you wait to book your Fastpass+. There will be basically no tier one Fastpass+ options 29 days before your vacation, and you’ll have trouble booking a Fastpass+ for some of the more popular tier two attractions.

Star Wars

8. Take Advantage of Park Closing

That last section may have scared you a little bit, and you may be thinking that trying to get the very best Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections is a lost cause. But is isn’t.

You’ll be able to get some great Fastpass+ selections whether you book your Fastpass+ 60 days or 30 days in advance, but not matter what you do, you’ll never be able to get a Fastpass+ for everything you want to ride.

This is where taking advantage of park closing comes in.

It is similar to my tip about taking advantage of single rider lines. It isn’t really a direct Fastpass+ tip, but it helps you make good Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ choices.

What’s so Special About Park Closing?!

Park closing is one of the best times to take advantage of short wait times.

Not many people stay until Hollywood Studios closes, and if they do, most of them are watching Fantasmic! or the fire works.

This means the ride lines are very short!

And that is great news for you!

You’re able to ride one of the most popular rides in Hollywood Studios (typically a tier one ride or Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster or Tower of Terror) with little to no wait time.

If you know that you want to stay until the park closes, you can plan to visit one of the most popular attractions at night and plan the rest of your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections around that.

I suggest trying to ride Slinky Dog Dash at the end of the evening because it is really fun to ride under the pitch black sky. The rest of the rides are indoors, so you won’t get a special experience by riding them at night.

Liar! The Wait Times Always Seem Just as Long at Park Closing

This is a sneaky tactic used by Disney to deter a lot of people from jumping in a ride line just as the park closes.

A lot of the time rides will display a long stand-by wait time right at park close, but the wait is never as long as it says.

Sometimes it is only half as long, which can still be fairly long in some cases.

I once jumped into the Slinky Dog Dash line about five minutes before Hollywood Studios closed. The wait time was displayed at 60 minutes, but, in reality, it was only about 30 minutes.

That’s a pretty substantial difference!

It may not always be the case, but I’ve never had an experience where the wait time displayed just before park closing was completely accurate.

The wait was always shorter in reality. It just depends on the day how much shorter it is.

But you can guarantee that it will be shorter than if you were waiting in line in the middle of the day.

Slinky Dog Dash (Disney Hollywood Studios)

One Final Note on Park Close

You will be allowed to ride a ride if the park is officially closed as long as you’re in the line before the park closes.

If Hollywood Studios closes at 9 pm, you can get in the Tower of Terror line at 8:59 pm and be able to ride it no matter how long the wait is!

So don’t think that just because a wait time is 30 minutes and the park closes in 15 that you won’t be able to get in line.

You can get in line, and you will be able to ride the ride!

It is a great little trick to squeeze just a little bit more out of your Disney day!

9. Show are a Time Suck

There are a number of different stage shows in Hollywood Studios that you can get a Fastpass+ for, but I don’t really recommend any of them.

The problem with them is that they are a time suck.

You have to show up to the show at least 15 minutes early, watch a 30-minute show, and then go about your day again.

I have nothing against watching the stage shows (some of them are quite fun!), but they aren’t the best use of your Fastpass+ for two reasons.

You Can Show Up at the Same Time and Use the Stand-by Line

This is the same complaint as I have with the Fantasmic! Fastpass+.

You’re not really getting an advantage by having a Fastpass+ for a stage show.

You have to show up at the same time as people in the stand-by line. The only difference is what part of the theater you’re allowed to sit in.

In some cases, you can even show up just a minute or two before the show and get a seat in the stand-by line.

The fact that you have to dedicate extra time to take advantage of your Fastpass+ doesn’t seem like a very good deal to me.

In fact, I think it is a bit of a rip off.

It Makes Planning the Rest of Your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Selections More Difficult

You’re dedicating at least 50 minutes of your time to watching a stage show by the time you get there 15 minutes early, watch the show, and then get out of the theater.

This makes it quite difficult to know when to schedule your other Fastpass+ selections for.

You can easily make the mistake of getting a Fastpass+ for another attraction too close to the time of the show and then either have to run to your next Fastpass+ or miss it all together.

Not a great situation to be in.

If you do decide to get a Fastpass+ for a stage show, you shouldn’t make another Fastpass+ reservation for at least 75 minutes after the show starts.

That gives you 30 minutes to watch the show and then 45 minutes to funnel out of the theater, use the washroom, and get to your next attraction.

My Suggestion for Shows

I enjoy the shows at Hollywood Studios, and I think you should consider taking some time to watch one or two of them.

My strategy when it comes to shows is to be aware of when their show times are and then go to the one that fits best into my schedule.

Maybe I have a multi-hour gap between my Fastpass+ reservations. Maybe I’m exhausted and want to sit for an extended period of time.

There will likely be a chunk of time in your day at Hollywood Studios that needs to be filled, and there is no better way to fill it than by watching a show.

It certainly beats standing in a long queue outside in Toy Story Land or wandering through the shops for hours on end.

Voyage of the Littler Mermaid (Disney Hollywood Studios)

10. Choose What is Most Important to You

You’ve heard me give a lot of advice in this post.

You shouldn’t get a Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ for this ride or shows aren’t a great use of your time. But it all comes down to what is important to you!

You can read every blog about Hollywood Studios Fastpass+, take all the advice, follows everything to exact detail, and have a crappy day in the park.

All because you took the advice of someone on the internet rather than listening to your gut and doing what is the best for you and your group.

You should educate yourself on how to get the most out of your Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections, but you should ultimately do what makes sense for you.

If you adore the Muppets (how could you not?!), then maybe it is worth it to get a Fastpass+ for Muppet 3D Vision on the off chance that there is a short line, and you don’t want to wait.

Or maybe you have a child in your party who adores Elsa and would be heartbroken if they didn’t get to see the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. Then get a Fastpass+ for that.

It all comes down to what will make your day the most magical.

Hollywood Studios

BONUS Rise of the Resistance Tip

Rise of the Resistance is the hottest ride at Disney World right now.

You can’t get a Fastpass+ for it, and it can throw your day for a complete loop!

The only way to ride Rise of the Resistance is to get a boarding group. The only way to get a boarding group is to be inside Hollywood Studios the moment it opens, log into your My Disney Experience app, and pray for a miracle.

If you’re lucky enough to get a boarding group, you will be notified on the app when your boarding group is ready to board the ride.

Once you get that notification, you only have a limited amount of time to get to Rise of the Resistance, or your right to ride the ride is lost.

You never know when your boarding group will be called, so it may unintentionally interfere with the Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections you made in advance.

You have to have a plan in place in case this happens. This is especially true if you’re traveling with children or people (like me) who aren’t great at going with the flow.

Decide ahead of time whether you’re willing to sacrifice riding a tier one attraction to ride Rise of the Resistance. And have a conversation with your group, so everybody knows the plan.

In a lot of cases, you’re able to work around your Fastpass+ selections and Rise of the Resistance to do both, but there are cases where that just isn’t possible.

Have a plan in place and know what is more important to you.

This will help you with any hard decision you need to make on the day you’re visiting Hollywood Studios.

Conclusion

Hollywood Studios is quickly becoming the park where you need a rock solid Fastpass+ strategy in order to conquer it.

Gone are the days where there were hardly any waits, and it had a more laid-back vibe.

Now it is filled with people eyeing up their favourite rides at rope drop, disappointment because you didn’t get all the Fastpass+ selections you wanted, and, frankly, not enough indoor quick service dining locations.

These Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ tips will help you plan the perfect Hollywood Studios strategy for you.

You’re armed with all the knowledge you need. All that is left to do is make the best Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ selections you can and enjoy your day at Hollywood Studios.

May the Force be with you!

Magic Kingdom After Hours: Worth the Price?!

The Magic Kingdom after hours event is quickly growing in popularity. It is a special event that you have to purchase a separate ticket for, and it gives you access to Magic Kingdom with relatively low crowds.

The only downside to the Magic Kingdom after hours event is that it is really expensive and can wipe out a huge portion of your vacation budget.

Especially if you have a larger group and are paying for four or more tickets!

A lot people wonder whether the Magic Kingdom after hours event is worth the price of admission. It is, after all, basically the same price as a normal park ticket, but the event is only 3 hours.

I wondered the same thing as well the first time I attended the Magic Kingdom after hours event.

And I’ve attended a Magic Kingdom after hours event every time I’ve been to Disney World since!

In general, I 100% think the Magic Kingdom after hours event is worth the ticket price. You’re able to go on way more rides during the 3-hour event than you are during a normal park day, and to me that is worth it! You’re paying quite a bit for the after hours ticket, but your return on investment is sky high too!

There are, of course, situations where it doesn’t make sense to attend a Magic Kingdom after hours event, and I’ll go over some of those scenarios in this post.

I’ll also talk about the after hours event in general, how to maximize your time at the event, and answer your frequently asked questions.

So buckle up because this post will help you decide once and for all if attending a Magic Kingdom after hours event is right for you!

What Exactly is a Magic Kingdom After Hours Event?

Before I dive deep into the pros and cons of the after hours event in Magic Kingdom, I want to give a brief overview of the event in case you haven’t heard of it before!

Magic Kingdom after hours is a hard ticket event that gives you access to Magic Kingdom with basically no crowds.

The event lasts three hours, and you’re able to ride as many attractions as you want and meet as many characters as you want.

Included in your ticket price is also complimentary ice cream, popcorn, and bottled soda!

You simply walk to to a cart offering those items, take what you want, and leave. No money needed! It is pretty neat.

Tickets are currently $129 if you purchase them in advance and $139 if you purchase the after hours ticket on the day of the event.

You pay the same price whether you’re an adult or child so be sure to budget that in! You’re, unfortunately, not going to save any money by having a small human with you.

Festival of Fantasy Parade Magic Kingdom

How to Decide if Magic Kingdom After Hours is Worth the Price for You

I am completely aware that the cost of an after hours ticket is really expensive, and a lot of people simply can’t afford to pay for it.

Disney is essentially offering a paid upgrade to people who are affluent enough to afford to purchase time in Magic Kingdom with no crowds.

The company knows that enough people will be able to afford to buy a ticket, and they know they’ll make a fair amount of money on each after hours event. And they don’t really care that it is an elite service that many people can’t afford to participate in.

So the question is how do you decide if purchasing a Magic Kingdom after hours ticket is worth it?

There are a number of main points I think you should consider when deciding if an after hours event is worth it for you:

  • How big your group is
  • How long you have at Disney World
  • Your plans for the entire trip
  • Whether you’re able to stay up to enjoy the entire event

How Big Your Group is

It is a lot easier to have the means to purchase a ticket to an after hours event if you only have one or two people in your group.

It is still a lot of money, but it is doable for a fair number of people if they budget and save ahead of their vacation.

Affording Magic Kingdom after hours ticket becomes a lot more difficult when you have three, four, five, or more people in your group.

At $129 per ticket, a family a four is dropping over $500 on one event.

That’s a lot of money for most people and something that you should consider when deciding if you’re going to attend an after hours event or not.

There are a lot of other experiences you can have at Walt Disney World for $500!

Peter Pan's Flight

How Long You Have at Disney World

The length of time you have at Disney World is another important factor to consider, but it is often overlooked.

If you only have 2-3 days at Disney, going to an after hours event is a great idea!

You get so much done at a Magic Kingdom after hours event that you won’t need to visit Magic Kingdom again during the rest of your short vacation. This allows you to focus your time on other parks and experience more of them.

On the other hand, if you’re at Disney for a week or more, you’re not as rushed, and doing a lot in a short amount of time probably isn’t your deciding factor on whether you attend an after hours event or not.

If you’re at Disney for a longer period of time, you can use the money you save by not attending a Magic Kingdom after hours event and spend it on another experience like a backstage tour or fancy dinner.

Either way, you should take into account how long you’re at Disney when deciding if you want to splurge and go to an after hours event or not.

Your Plans for the Entire Trip

This is another deciding factor that often gets overlooked when people decide whether or not to attend an after hours event.

A lot of people who visit Disney World jam pack their days and go from rope drop to park close every single day while others are more laid back and take time to explore hotels and areas outside the parks.

The type of Disney traveller you are may impact if an after hours event is right for you.

If you’re busy and always going, then you might not have the stamina or need for an after hours event.

If you’re more laid back and spend more time outside of the parks than in the parks some days, you may get a lot out of an after hours event.

This is by no means a huge consideration to include when deciding whether or not to buy tickets to an after hours event, but you should take it into consideration.

You won’t enjoy the event if you’re too warn out from the rest of your busy trip to get the most out of the after hours event.

My recommendation (and what I normally do when I attend an after hours event) is have a resort day the day of the event and go to Epcot the day after the event.

This allows me to be relaxed and rested before the event, and the next day I don’t have to worry about getting up early because there isn’t anything I want to rope drop at Epcot.

Whether You’re Able to Stay Up to Enjoy the Entire Event

This one doesn’t apply to night owls, but if you’re a morning person like me, staying awake for an entire after hours event is difficult.

In my normal life, I go to bed at 9 or 9:30, so attending an event that sometimes doesn’t event start until after my “bedtime” is no easy task.

So you need to know yourself and figure out whether you have the stamina to stay awake and energetic(ish) for the entire event.

There is no sense spending over $100 on a Magic Kingdom after hours ticket if you’re only able to stay up for the first half of the event and then head back to your hotel to get some sleep.

The same goes for people travelling with children.

Is your child able to stay up for the entire event? If you don’t think you kid will be able to stay up for the event, then it probably isn’t worth the price of admission.

Minnie Mouse Magic Kingdom

How to Maximize Your Time During a Magic Kingdom After Hours Event

There are a lot of different ways you can maximize your time during a Magic Kingdom after hours event, and it depends a little bit on your preferences and priorities.

I’m going to share a few of my favourite ways to maximize my time at an after hours event.

I promise that if you follow these suggestions, you’ll get way more done in during the 3 hours the event rans than an entire day in Magic Kingdom.

Even if you’ve scored the best Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ options, you’ll still get more done during an after hours event!

Travel in a U Shape

This is my number one tip on maximizing your time during a Magic Kingdom after hours event.

Start in either Adventureland or Tomorrowland and work your way around the park in a single direction.

Your time during an after hours event goes by so quickly, so you don’t want to waste any of it walking from one ride to the next in no particular order.

Pick where you want to start (I always start in Adventureland) and then head to the ride that is directly next to it. Ride it if you want or keep walking to the next ride.

If you want to ride the same ride multiple times at the event, ride it multiple times when you get to it while travelling in a u shape.

Keep doing that until you’ve made your way around the entire park.

This technique is truly the most effective way to maximize your time. You’ll be able to ride so many more attractions this way than by wandering around riding whatever you fancy at any given moment.

Monsters Inc Scare Floor Magic Kingdom

Have a Plan

You don’t need a super intense plan going into a Magic Kingdom after hours event, but you should have some sort of plans.

Make sure you know the following before you attend the event:

  • What rides you want to ride
  • Any rides you don’t want to ride
  • What, if any, characters you want to meet
  • Where you want to get Photopass pictures taken
  • What land you want to start in

Having the basics of how you want your evening to look will help you maximize your time at the event and stay on track.

As I said, time goes quicker than you could ever image, so it is incredibly helpful to have a skeleton plan before the event begins.

I also recommend you have an exit strategy pre-planned. You’ll be tired at the end of the night, and the last thing you want to do is decide how you’re getting back to your hotel.

Are you going to splurge on a Minnie Van? Take the Disney bus system? An Uber? Drive back to your hotel if you have a rental car?

You’ll thank yourself later if you already have an idea of how you’re getting home after the event. No extra thinking required!

Eat Before the Magic Kingdom After Hours Event Begins

There are complimentary snacks and drinks included in the price of admission, but you should make sure to have your dinner before the event actually begins.

You don’t want to waste any of your limited time grabbing dinner. Your time is much better used by riding rides alllll night long!

Plus many of the restaurants aren’t open during the after hours event.

It is a long night, and you’ll probably get hungry during the event. So it is a good think Disney provides complimentary ice cream and popcorn, but you shouldn’t rely on it to keep you full for the whole evening.

You should plan to have a big dinner on the night of your after hours event. Whether you eat in Magic Kingdom before the event begins, at Disney Springs, or a hotel, you should be sure to carb up!

Just be sure to leave enough time to get to Magic Kingdom if you’re not eating in the park before the event begins. It would be a shame to miss out on even a minute of the event!

Splash Mountain Disney World

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m going to answer all the questions I had when I was preparing to attend my first Magic Kingdom after hours event.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, and I hope you’ll be better prepared for your first Magic Kingdom after hours event than I was after reading this section!

If you have a question about the event that I don’t answer here, please leave a comment below, and I’ll help you out!

What Time Does the After Hours Event Start and Finish?

Magic Kingdom after hours events starts at either 8pm, 9pm, or 10pm.

Every event (no matter when it starts) runs for three hours, so they finish at either 11pm, midnight, or 1am.

The start time of the events depend on the closing time for Magic Kingdom. Events start earlier in during the winter months and later during the summer months.

When Can I Enter Magic Kingdom?

No matter what time your party starts, you can enter Magic Kingdom at 7pm.

Your ticket allows you to enter Magic Kingdom at 7pm even though the event doesn’t officially start for a couple of hours.

You simply enter Magic Kingdom through the dedicated entrance. There will be signs that say after hours entrance, and you’ll clearly know where to go just by the way the entrance is set up.

What Rides are Open During the After Hours Event?

99.9% of the rides in Magic Kingdom are open during the after hours event!

The only rides that aren’t open during the event are:

  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • The Hall of Presidents

If you want to experience any of those attractions, be sure to do them when you first enter the park at 7pm before the official event begins!

Am I Able to Meet Characters During the After Hours Event?

Yes and no.

You’re able to meet the characters that normally have a Fastpass+ option, but there aren’t any characters roaming around the park and meeting guests.

This means you can expect to be able to meet the following characters:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Tinker Bell
  • Cinderella
  • Rapunzel
  • Tiana
  • Elena of Avalor
  • Ariel

You won’t be able to meet the characters that normally meet guests on Main Street USA like Pluto and Minnie or any characters that normally meet in specific lands like Peter Pan.

If you want to learn more about meeting characters in Magic Kingdom, be sure to check out this post. It has all the secret tips and tricks to help you meet characters in Magic Kingdom!

Tiana Magic Kingdom Characters

Are Photopass Photographers Out and About?

Yes! There are lots of Photopass cast members available to take your picture!

It is the perfect opportunity to get a picture in front of the castle with nobody in the background!!

Photopass photographers are stationed up and down Main Street USA, at various locations throughout the park, and with the characters!

You can even get the highly sought after photo with the Tangled lantern in Fantasyland! There is normally still a lineup for that photo opportunity, but it is much shorter than on a regular night.

How Long Can I Expect to Wait in Line for a Ride?

This is the selling point of Magic Kingdom after hours events!

You’re able to walk right onto most rides with absolutely no wait!!!

The only ride I’ve ever had to wait in line for was Seven Dwarves Mine Train and even then the wait was less than 15 minutes. When else are you going to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train with such a short wait time?!

Every time I’ve gone to a Magic Kingdom after hours event I’ve been able to walk onto any ride I want. I rode Big Thunder Mountain Railway 5 times during one event and didn’t wait in line a single time.

Sometimes on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin the cast members don’t make you get off the ride, and you can ride the loop as many times as you want.

That doesn’t always happen, but it gives you a sense of just how quiet Magic Kingdom is during an after hours event!

Where Can I Get My Complimentary Snack?

Before I attended my first Magic Kingdom after hours event, I watched a few YouTube videos reviewing the event who said it was difficult to get your hands on the complimentary snacks.

But I’ve never had a problem getting my fair share of snacks during the event!

There are popcorn and ice cream carts in every land, so you’ll naturally come across quiet a few snack stations while you’re wandering around the park.

Not every station has popcorn, but many of them do. All of the stations offer beverages and all but one of two offer ice cream.

You shouldn’t have any trouble getting your snack on during the event!

Donald Duck

Is There a Limit on How Many Snacks I Can Get?

Nope!

You’re welcome to have as many snacks and beverages as you want!

Nobody is policing your snack and beverage consumption so go crazy!

You can ask for as many drinks and snacks as you want at any snack cart, so your whole group doesn’t need to go up and get snacks together. One person can get everybody’s snacks without a problem.

But Can I Take Snacks Back to the Hotel with Me?

You certainly can. Whatever you choose to do with your complimentary snacks and beverages after you get them is up to you.

I often grab an extra soda or two at the event to drink in my hotel room during the rest of my trip. I’ve even taken a half-eaten box of popcorn back to the hotel to finish the next day.

I wouldn’t recommend taking ice cream back to your hotel though! That would get awful messy once it started melting.

Plan the Perfect Solo Disney Trip

Conclusion

I love attending Magic Kingdom after hours events! They’re so much fun, and I love being in Magic Kingdom with basically no crowds!

You get soooo much done during a Magic Kingdom after hours event that (for me and many people) it is well worth the extra cost.

It isn’t some scam where you’re promised a quiet park and then have to fight the crowds. Magic Kingdom is truly dead quiet during these events.

I always recommend the Magic Kingdom after hours event to all my friends going to Disney World, and they all come back thanking me for the advice and saying they loved it!

A lot of things at Disney can be overpriced and not worth it, but this isn’t one of them!

I truly believe you get more out of the event than what it costs!

Attending a Magic Kingdom after hours event isn’t for everybody, and I hope this post helped you decide whether it is right for you or not.

Let me know in the comments below whether you’ve been to a Magic Kingdom after hours event before. And if you have been, how did you like it?!

9 Things to Know Before Meeting Magic Kingdom Characters

Magic Kingdom is an essential part of any trip to Walt Disney World! It is the most iconic Disney park, and there is so much to see and do. One of the most fun is to meet all the different Magic Kingdom characters.

You can meet all the classic characters at Magic Kingdom from Mickey to Pluto, Tinker Bell to Cinderella, and a number of characters that are exclusive to Magic Kingdom.

It is honestly so much fun to meet the Magic Kingdom characters, and I recommend everybody take a little time to meet a character or two.

You won’t regret it! It may even become your favourite memory from your trip.

It should be no surprise though that meeting characters at Magic Kingdom is a very popular activity, and the lines can get long. But there are ways to avoid long lines!

I’ll spill all the top tips and tricks for meeting Magic Kingdom characters in this post, so you’re a character expert even if you’re never been to Walt Disney World before!

So read on to learn everything you need to know about meeting characters at the most magical place on Earth!

1. Character Meals May Not be the Best Option

This one is a bit controversial. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people say that characters meals are the best way to meet all your favourite characters.

While that may be true for some people, I recommend you think long and hard before booking a character meal.

So why do I say that?

There are three main reasons:

There are no Photopass Cast Members

This for me is the biggest reason I don’t think character meals may not be the best option for you and your group.

It is really difficult to get a nice group picture with the characters during a character meal.

You can get decent photos of part of your group with the characters, and sometimes you can get group photo by asking someone from another table to take your photo, but that doesn’t happen all that often.

If you really want to get a nice group picture with the characters, then you may want to reconsider paying for a character meal.

The exception to this is the dinner at Be Our Guest. There is a photopass cast member there to take a professional photo of you and your group.

If you’re dining alone, you’ll have to either take a selfie with the characters or ask a nearby guest to take your photo.

It is not ideal at all. I will probably never go to a character meal as a solo traveller ever again. I didn’t enjoy the experience at all, and I felt really self-conscious about being there alone.

Donald Duck

There are Always People in the Background of Your Photos

The background of every single character meal I’ve ever been to is ugly. There are always people and tables in the background. Not cute.

If this is your only chance to meet and get a picture with your favourite character, it is a bit disappointing to not have a really nice background like you would get at a meet-and-greet location.

The dinner at Be Our Guest has a dedicated area and backdrop where guests are able to meet Beast. I love this idea. It allows guests to meet a rare character, get a photo taken by a photographer, and have a really nice backdrop.

I hope this becomes more of a trend in more Magic Kingdom character meals!

It would be a game changer, and I would 100% go to more character meals and dine alone. Please Disney make this change. I’m begging you!

It is Expensive

Character meals at Disney World are expensive! Breakfast for a family of 4 at The Crystal Palace will easily run you $150USD and probably more with the tip.

And the food is pretty mediocre. You are served generic food that is not as good as you would find at any other table service restaurant and some quick service restaurants.

If you’re looking for a tasty meal, a Walt Disney World character meal probably isn’t where you’ll find it.

I would personally rather wait in a line to meet the Magic Kingdom characters than pay $42 plus a tip for a boring breakfast. It is also so loud and rushed at the character meals. They are not the place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing meal in the Magic Kingdom.

Who Should Consider a Magic Kingdom Character Meal?

There are always people who enjoy character meals. That’s why they are normally booked full and hard to get reservations at!

So how exactly should consider going to a character meal rather than waiting in the normal line to meet the Magic Kingdom characters?

  • People with small children who don’t do well waiting in lines. A character meal may be the best option for your group if you have a small child, and you want to meet a lot of characters in one go.
  • Groups that have a limited amount of time at Disney World. A character meal may be the most efficient way to meet all the Magic Kingdom characters on your list.
  • You need to meet one of the characters, and that character doesn’t meet anywhere else in Magic Kingdom. This will be princesses like Snow White and Aurora. You can meet these princesses at other parks, but Cinderella’s Royal Table is the only place you can meet them in Magic Kingdom.

2. Have Your Stuff Ready!

You have at least a few minutes to wait in line before you meet Magic Kingdom characters so use that time to get all your stuff ready!

Have your autograph book and pen out, your ears on, and you camera ready before you meet each character.

It saves so much time and makes the line run more efficiently. The more efficient the line is, the more people can meet the Magic Kingdom characters!

I know it can be difficult to have everything you need in hand and ready to go while you’re watching your children as well, but it is really important! Have everything need in your hand or an accessible place before you get in the line to help you be prepared when you’re closer to meeting the characters.

The people behind you in the line will thank you for being organized and keeping the line moving!

Tiana Magic Kingdom Characters

3. Consider Meeting the Characters on Main Street Later in the Day

One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter Magic Kingdom is that some of your favourite characters are meeting on Main Street USA.

It is very tempting to run into line as see as you see your favourite characters, but you may want to resist the temptation.

The characters on Main Street USA are there to tempt you and make the ride queues a little shorter in the morning. The morning is the very best time to jump on your favourite rides, so you don’t want to waste it standing in line to meet a character.

Magic Kingdom characters meet on Main Street USA for the majority of the day, so you can easily go back to the front of the park a few hours into your day and meet them.

Waiting a few hours to meet the characters on Main Street USA is beneficial becuase:

  • There is normally a shorter line for the characters later in the day
  • You get ride more rides in the morning when they have a shorter line

That is a win-win situation that is hard to beat!

So while it is very tempting to jump in line to meet Pluto at the front of the park, keep on walking! Avoiding the temptation of the front-of-house characters will be beneficial for you in the short term and long term.

Plus you’ll be able to go back and meet them later in the day when the lines for the rides are long!

Be sure to check your times guide to see when Magic Kingdom characters are meeting on Main Street USA.

There are certain times of days (during shows and parades) that the characters don’t meet on Main Street USA.

Chip and Dale Main Street USA

4. They’ll Lead the Conversation (If You Want Them to)

The fact that face characters will lead the conversation is a life-saver for me. Raise your hand if you’re an extreme introvert too!

I enjoy meeting face characters but was intimidated the first few times I interacted with face characters. I’m not great with small talk, and all I really wanted was a quick photo and to get out of there as quickly as I could.

I quickly found out there was nothing to worry about. All the characters were chatty and lead the conversation. I didn’t have to put in any work or feel too awkward about my inability to small talk.

Here are a few of the fun interactions I’ve had with face characters over the years:

  • Rapunzel complimented my Gelatoni (Tokyo Disneyland character) purse, and we chatted about animal sidekicks and how Maximus was still enjoying his apples.
  • Merida begged me to babysit her brothers until she found out I wasn’t terribly found of small children.
  • Anna was talking about how much she loved snow and was amazed to learn I am from Canada. (Note: this was at Epcot not Magic Kingdom.)

It gets easier each and every time you interact with a face character, but it can still be a bit uncomfortable at times if you’re an introvert.

There have been times where I don’t meet a face character because I don’t have enough emotional energy, but the majority of the time, I’ll wait in line to meet a face character without feeling anxious at all! It just takes practice.

If you’re an extrovert, then meeting face characters is probably a lot easier. Extroverts are more prone to being comfortable with small talk and interacting with strangers.

I don’t think my extrovert counterparts will have any trouble hanging out with face characters.

But What About Fur Characters?

Fur characters will lead your interaction as well. No words are said, but you can still communicate a surprising amount!

Communicating with fur characters takes a little bit more work than it does with face characters, but it is worth it.

I much prefer interacting with fur characters than face characters- it is so much fun!

Fur characters communicate with you by pointing, other gestures, walking around, and with the help of their character attendant.

I’ve had some of my most fun interactions with Magic Kingdom characters with fur characters rather than face. Who would have guessed?!

My favourite interactions with fur characters at Magic Kingdom include:

  • Dancing with Chip and Dale on Main Street USA
  • Goofy trying to take some of my Halloween Candy at MNSSHP
  • Mickey Mouse teasing my dad and convincing him to get in the photo with us

Hanging out with fur characters is the perfect first step in meeting Magic Kingdom characters.

It allows you to interact with the characters without the nerves of having to actually hold a conversation. Once you get comfortable meeting fur characters, you can work your way up to face characters!

Whether you’re meeting face or fur characters, they will always lead the conversation if you don’t feel comfortable taking the lead.

You don’t have to worry about any awkward pauses or uncomfortable silences. All the Magic Kingdom characters are great at holding a conversation and making your interaction memorable.

Rapunzel Magic Kingdom Characters

5. Take Advantage of Photopass Photographs while Still Using Your Personal Camera

Photopass is an amazing upgrade you can add to your Disney World vacation. I always purchase the Photopass option and get my money’s worth out of it. But not everybody add Photopass to their vacation package, so they use their own cameras to capture their memories.

Whether you buy the Photopass option or not, I highly recommend you use both the Photopass camera and your personal camera to snap pictures of you meeting Magic Kingdom characters.

There is always a character attendant with the characters along with a Photopass cast member. The Photopass case member will snap a bunch of photos of you and your group meeting the character, and the character attendant is more than happy to snap a few photos with your personal camera.

This gives you twice the opportunity to get the perfect photo and memory!

Be sure to ask the character attendant nicely to take a few photos with your personal camera. Their main job is to make sure the characters are safe, and they’re helping you take photos out of the kindness of their hearts.

Even if you didn’t purchase the Photopass option, you should get your photos linked to your magic band or Photopass card. You never know what photos the photographer caught, and you may fall in love with one.

You can purchase a single photo online through the website if there is one Photopass picture you can’t live without.

The price of a single photo is ridiculously expensive. Almost criminally expensive. Right now, each photo is almost $17USD, and I’m sure the price will only increase with time.

If you think you’ll want to buy more than 10 Photopass photos, I recommend purchasing the Photopass option before you arrive at the hotel.

The price of the Photopass option is slightly discounted if you purchase it before you arrive. You get unlimited photos, so you can really get a good bang for your buck. I normally leave a week-long Disney vacation with well over 200 photos!

If you’re partway through your trip and decide you want to buy a number of different photos, you can purchase a Photopass package. It is a bit more expensive than pre-buying the package, but it will still save you a ton of money compared to buying each photo individually.

The moral of this story is to use both the professional camera and your camera to ensure you get the best photos possible!

Festival of Fantasy Parade Magic Kingdom

6. Consider Getting a Fastpass+ for the Most Popular Magic Kingdom Characters

A Fastpass+ essentially allows you to skip the queue and go right to the front of the line of an attraction or character meet and greet without having to stand in a long line. You’re allowed to pre-book 3 Fastpass+ selection each day you have a ticket, and they’re an amazing way to save a lot of time.

A lot goes into making the perfect Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ selections, and I have an entire post with tips and tricks to make the most out of your Fastpass+ selections at Magic Kingdom here.

I highly recommend you give it a read. It will really help you plan your Fastpass+ selections at Magic Kingdom. It even has some tips even the most experienced Disney World goer might not know.

Is it Worth it to Use a Fastpass+ Selection on Meeting a Character?

It definitely can be!

Characters like Tinker Bell and the princesses can have really long lines. It isn’t unusual for their lines to be over an hour!

If you need to meet one of the most popular Magic Kingdom characters on your trip, you should consider getting a Fastpass+ to meet them. It could save you a lot of time!

Plus the waiting areas and queues to meet the popular characters are always really crowded and loud. I try to spend as little time in them as possible!

What About Mickey?

I mentioned Tinker Bell and the princesses as the two Fastpass+ selections I would recommend for Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Mouse also has a Fastpass+ option, but I don’t think it is the best use of your Fastpass+ selections.

You often have to wait over an hour to meet Mickey, but there are multiple times during the day that his wait is 30 minutes or under.

There have been multiple instances where I’ve waited less than 15 minutes to meet Mickey in Magic Kingdom! It is unreal.

I recommend you keep your eye on the My Disney Experience app and check every now and then to see what Mickey’s wait time is. Once it goes down enough, head over and meet him!

Minnie Mouse Magic Kingdom

7. Magic Kingdom Characters have Unique Outfits During Special Events

There are two special events at Magic Kingdom throughout the year: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP).

MNSSHP runs from August to October and MVMCP runs from November through December.

These parties are special for a number of reasons, but one of my absolute favourite things to do at them is meet a bunch of characters.

Magic Kingdom characters have special outfits at these two parties that you won’t find anywhere else!

It is so much fun to meet the characters during the parties. At MNSSHP they’re all wearing Halloween costumes, and they’re dressed up for the holiday’s at MVMCP. It is so adorable!

The first time I attended MNNSHP, I spent hours meeting every character I could. That is literally all I did! So worth it.

Some of the highlights at the parties include:

  • Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas
  • All Seven Dwarves dressed in either Halloween or Christmas outfits
  • Pooh and friends in the most adorable costumes I’ve ever seen

There are so many Magic Kingdom characters out and about during these parties. It is impossible to meet them all in a single night. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed.

You should do some research before you attend the party and decide which characters you need to meet and make that a priority.

Most of the characters have fairly long lines the entire night so be prepared to wait!

The most popular characters often have multi-hour long lines. Like three hours or more! Oftentimes people enter the park as early as they can, go straight to where the character they want to meet is greeting, and wait in line for hours.

The most popular characters include:

  • Jack and Sally
  • The Seven Dwarves
  • Stitch dressed as Elvis at MNSSHP
  • Pooh and friends

Sometimes these characters start meeting guests before the party officially starts to try to limit the wait time.

There is no guarantee they will start meeting guests early though so don’t plan your entire party strategy around that!

Even if you’re not a huge fan of meeting characters, I encourage you to take some time to meet a character or two at these parties.

It is such a unique opportunity, and you don’t want to regret missing out on it!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party MNSSHP Winnie the Pooh Walt Disney World

8. Dance Parties are an Unexpected Place to Meet Characters

Everyday there is a Move It! Shake it! MousekeDance It! street party in Magic Kingdom. It is mainly meant for children, but it is a great place to meet some characters you can’t meet anywhere else in Magic Kingdom.

MNNSHP and MVMCP also have a number of dance parties you can attend!

Meeting characters at dance parties is different than how you would normally meet characters in the park. There isn’t a queue, and you aren’t guaranteed an interaction with a particular characters.

Characters dance amongst the crowd and interact with the guests they choose.

Most of the time the guests they dance with are younger, but that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Characters at the dance parties will dance with whoever they want for as long as they want!

It isn’t a traditional meet and greet, but it is the perfect place to get an amazing candid photo.

If you are travelling with a small child, dance parties are so much fun! Your children will love it, and you’ll get the most amazing photos and memories from them.

Magic Kingdom Dance Party

9. Know Where to Find Rare Characters

Every park at Disney World is home to rare characters, and Magic Kingdom is no exception. Outside of Epcot, I would argue that Magic Kingdom has the best selection of rare characters you can meet.

You just need to know where to look for them!

Most of the time rare characters aren’t listed in the guide and are wandering around Magic Kingdom rather than in a tradition meet-and-greet location.

This means you have to be on the lookout for them and jump in line to meet them as soon as you see them. They don’t stick around for long!

Some of the best rare characters you can meet at Magic Kingdom are:

  • Fairy God Mother, Anastasia, and Drizella (Cinderella) can be found in New Fantasy Land
  • The Country Bears in Frontierland
  • Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Fox by Splash Mountain
  • Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, White Rabbit by the Mad Tea Party ride

On top of the rare characters you can meet on any ordinary day, the parties feature a number of rare characters are well:

  • Jane, Tarzan, and Terk
  • Lotso the Huggin’ Bear (Toy Story 3)
  • Moana
  • Genie (Aladdin)

The characters at the parties have dedicated meet-and-greet locations, so you don’t have to worry about have to track them down!

I love bumping into rare characters while wandering around Magic Kingdom. It is so much fun, and you never know who you’ll find!

Elvis Stitch MNSSHP

Conclusion

Meeting characters at Magic Kingdom is one of my favourite things to do! It is fun for everybody no matter your age.

Interacting with characters at Disney makes you feel young at heart even if you’re not longer a kid. Or at least it does for me!

I don’t think a Disney trip would be complete for me without meeting at least a couple of characters!

The 9 tips I went over in this post will help you meet and interact with Magic Kingdom characters like a pro even if you’re a newbie. You’ll be able to resist the characters on Main Street USA as you’re walking into the park and know where the rare characters like to hang out.

A trip to Disney really is magical, and the characters make it even more magical!

So say hi to Mickey from me next time you see him!