I think this is going to be my last Disney post, mostly because I’m sick of talking about it and unless you just came from Pinterest and this is your first post you’ve read, you’re probably sick of me talking about it too! But I wanted to make sure and share the other “tips and tricks” that I wrote down before we left. Some of them we didn’t try and some of them we did but knowing about them gave me a greater confidence to explore the parks without fear of missing something.
-Ariel’s Grotto is the only place to see Ariel as a mermaid (all other meet and greets are with Princess Ariel)
-Tom Sawyer Island – if you’re one of the first over to it look for big paint brushes and take them to a cast member for a special surprise
-Watch parades in Frontierland – they either start or end there (usually – check the parade route) and it’s less crowded than other places
-Rapunzel, Tiana, Fairy Godmother, Wendy, and Peter Pan are exclusively in this park for character meet and greets so you can’t see them anywhere else.
-There is an Opening ceremony 15 minutes before the park opens that is great to see. If you’re there you might get to walk up main street with the characters as they go to their stations. Make sure that you can see the clock on the train station in order to get the best view.
-If you have snack credits at the end of your trip, go to the Main Street Confectionery and get goodies to go
-Be Our Guest is a good last minute lunch spot if you don’t have reservations. Be there between 10:30 and 10:45 and you should be able to get in.
-The restrooms in the new Fantasyland near Belle’s Castle are very nice and new with large stalls.
-Beauty and the Beast stage show is great but you should get there early for seats. It’s a great place to get lunch and eat it in your seats while watching the show.
-Several times during the day characters will emerge from Sorcerer Mickey’s hat and spread around and meet guests
-Epcot character spot has all original Mickey characters
-Innoventions has science and discovery centers inside which is good for kids and when it’s raining
-Holidays around the World: Candlelight Processional – held in the American Gardens Theater and includes the Christmas story being read by a celebrity reader and a huge choir. Reserve a Candlelight Dinner package as this is the only way to get guaranteed seating and VIP fireworks viewing (must book 180 days in advance with specific Epcot restaurants). If you don’t have reservations plan on being in line hours before the shows start to possibly get a seat. This is the one thing that we didn’t get to do that I wish we had been able to.
-The only place to see Mulan is in China
-Epcot is the best place to meet princesses during the day with little to no lines. We saw Mary Poppins, Belle, and Aurora there with little problems.
-Typical character spots: Aurora (France), Belle (France), Mary Poppins (UK), Winnie the Pooh (UK), Aladdin (Morocco), Elsa and Anna (Norway), Snow White (Germany), Mulan (China)
-If you need/want to see characters, go to Camp Minnie Mickey first since everyone else will be going elsewhere
-If the line to the Safari is 15 minutes or less don’t use a Fast Pass on it — it takes about that long to walk to the front at which point you’ll typically get to walk right on with little waiting
-Wilderness Explorers is a notebook to collect badges throughout the park. Get it on Discovery Island.
-Camp Minnie Mickey is the only place to see Pocahontas throughout the parks.
-The Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Jingle Jungle Parade during the holidays) starts and ends in Africa. It’s best to watch the end of it in Africa to avoid the crows. It takes about 20 minutes to go through the park so get to the parade route about 10-15 minutes after the parade starts.
-Times Guides are available at most (all?) resorts and at the front of all parks to show which characters will be where when.
-Cast members wearing blue shirts are character handlers. Ask them if you’re looking for someone.
-Check the times guide or ask handlers when the characters will take breaks so that you’re not stuck in line while the character breaks. We found that most handlers cut off the line around snack break time and then let you restart the line after the character left.
-Photopass photographer’s or handlers standing in random places might be waiting on characters, ask them!
-Only face characters like princesses speak. Make sure you let your kids know that so that they won’t be disappointed that they didn’t get to hear what Mickey sounded like, etc.
-Bring “thicker” pens to accommodate those characters will gloves on and make sure the pen is open and ready to go before handing to the character.
-Check in 15-20 minutes early for reservations. They might seat you early if they have room.
-If you like a recipe, ask for it! Sometimes the chef will come out and speak to you personally. Sometimes they will email you the recipe if you have a card on you.
-You can ask for just part of a meal — i.e. for Pizza meals that come with a side salad ask for it without the salad for less cost.
-Refillable mugs can only be refilled at your resort.
-You can ask for a cup of ice water or hot water at each counter service place throughout the parks for free. If you bring your own hot chocolate packets or flavoring packets this is an easy way to keep hydrated without spending money.
-Tipping is NOT included in your dining plan. The recommended amount is 18%.
-You can bring in food and drinks to the park but you can’t bring in glass containers or alcohol.
-Give your kids a disposable camera or an old digital camera to allow them to capture their own memories.
-PhotoPass – it’s more affordable to pre-order this and it’s fully refundable if you don’t like the pictures or don’t think it’s worth it after the trip. But PhotoPass photographers are happy to take pictures with your camera as well.
–Disney’s Enchanted Call – you can set up a character to call your child before you go
-Make sure to recharge all batteries every night
-If possible, empty all memory cards to your computer every night so that you have enough room. Or bring extra memory cards so that you won’t run out of space.
-Bring the camera that is best for where you’re going and what you’re doing. Most days I took my Nikon J1 during the day because it’s great in full sun without a flash and is small, and I took my Canon Rebel at night because it’s better with a flash.
-If a souvenir breaks while you’re still on vacation, Disney will replace it for you. Just go to a store that has that souvenir and explain the situation.
-You can have purchases sent to the front of the park to be held for you that day or sent to your resort for next day pickup. This is free and allows you to purchase without having to walk around with your packages.
-Glow bracelets/necklaces on your kids and stroller make them easier to identify at night.
-You can get buttons at guest services for “first visit”, “birthday”, etc. Write your name and number on the back with a sharpie in case your child gets lost.
-If your child gets lost tell them to go to the first cast member that they see and ask them to call their parents. Your child should know your number, have it written on the back of a button, or have a bracelet/necklace with it on it.
-It’s recommended to tip housekeeping $5/day. Put it in an envelope so that they’ll know that it’s for them.