Know before you go: 7 tips that will make you a Walt Disney World pro

Before you head on your next holiday to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, take heed of these 7 hot tips that will help make you a pro, as you embark on your voyage to the theme park destination of the world.

1. If you’re staying at an on site hotel, you may get early park access. 

If you’re lucky enough to be staying at one of the 25+ on site Disney resorts, you likely get special early access to one of the parks. Not every day is exactly the same, but for the most part, parks will let resort guests arrive 30 minutes before the rest of the population. So be sure to check with your hotel to see what your access is on the days you’re there.

For more details, head HERE.

2. You don’t need to leave the park by closing time. 

While a park may list itself as closing at, say, 9pm, this isn’t necessarily when the park is shutting its doors.

In most instances, it is actually the time that access to ride queues will close off. So if you jump in a line at 8.59pm, they’ll keep the ride going until you’ve had a chance to ride it.

I’m sure this doesn’t apply for some of the most popular rides in the park – they may close their lines down a bit earlier – but this is a safe rule of thumb for the majority of attractions at any of the Walt Disney World parks. And chances are all the merchandise stores near the park exit will still be open when you are ready to head home.

3. EPCOT hosts nightly concerts of bands you’ve actually heard of.

Even regulars to the parks may not be aware of this, but EPCOT hosts concerts year round – and it’s not just cover bands doing Mickey Mouse songs. You’ve actually heard of these bands.

In the coming months, EPCOT will be playing host to live, free performances from the likes of: Switchfoot, Kool & The Gang, Rick Springfield, Plain White T’s, Simple Plan, The Commodores and many, many more.

It’s currently sitting under the banner of “Garden Rocks”, which runs until 5th July 2023, as part of their “International Flower & Garden Festival”. When I was there in November, I caught Sugar Ray under the “Eat to the Beat” concert series. So if you’re reading this after July, you may need to look up a different name for the series.

In the meantime, for the full 2023 “Garden Rocks” lineup, head HERE.

Space 220 Restaurant offers the “height of dining” at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

4. Certain restaurants require bookings well in advance – take the time to research before you get there!

From the out of this world experience at Space 220, to the Star Wars Cantina, Walt Disney World has some exciting restaurants and watering holes to enjoy – for all ages.

But what many don’t realise is that if you haven’t booked them ahead of time, you won’t have much luck in getting a seat while you’re on ground.

Once you have booked in your Walt Disney World holiday, have a look through the options and get some reservations in via the WDW website.

All this said, if you forget to do this, or if your chosen you can always head to the restaurant and see if there are any options. Sometimes they’ll have a seat at a bar, or be able to offer a spot in the event of a last minute cancellation.

5. Is there a parade or fireworks on? Now’s the time to get in the queue…

This is a tip for any Disney park in the world, but if there is a major show like Fantasmic! (at Hollywood Studios), a parade or fireworks, that will be the time to jump in the queue for some of the biggest attractions in the park.

By waiting until the end of the day to jump on Rise of the Resistance in the Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios, and coinciding it with the performance of Fantasmic!, we avoided having to queue up at all. And this was a day where “Individual Lightning Lane” passes were a complete sell out. So you know it was in hot demand until that point.

6. Single ride queues still exist. Use them!

While you can purchase a Genie+ add on to your ticket to access the Lightning Lanes (learn more about that HERE), select rides still will let you partially skip the queue by way of a single rider line – for free!

Basically, you’ll get any empty seat on a any ride that has one. You can line up with friends, but you’ll more than likely be split up once you get to the front of the queue.

There are only 4 rides across the parks that still have single rider queues:

  • Aerosmith Rock n’ Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (Hollywood Studios)
  • Test Track (EPCOT)
  • Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom)

7. There’s usually more than one way to get from one park to another.

The systems they have in place to get around at Walt Disney World are nothing short of extraordinary. There’s boats, buses, monorails and even ski-lifts (which they call the “Skyliner”)! They’ll take you between parks, Disney Springs, and all the resorts. And best of all, they’re all free.

But they don’t necessarily come constantly, and at peak hours (just after closing time, for one), you may end up stuck in queues or waiting for a while – especially for buses that will take you back to your resort.

So, if you’re ever stuck, services like Lyft and Uber operate freely and easily throughout the resort. Lyft even have a service called the “Minnie Van” (pictured above), which is operated by Disney cast members, and there’s an Accessiblity option for those passengers who need the extra help. More details can be found HERE.

Now the only question really from here is how long do you need at the parks? I’ve outlined a longer answer to that question HERE.

To book your next holiday to Walt Disney World, visit their official website.

All images supplied by Disney Parks unless otherwise noted. The author visited Walt Disney World as a guest of Disney Parks. While at Walt Disney World we stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.