{Walt Disney World} Secrets of the Kingdom

Throughout all of my research, I kept stumbling across all of these great little tidbits and facts…..Disney World secrets!  So, I compiled everything and I thought that I would share!  Before I even start, can I just say that Your First Visit is by far the best Disney site I have seen, for planning purposes.  It’s full of spreadsheets and different scenarios for crowds, prices and weather….great for all of us Type A’s!

**Update!  Please scroll to the bottom for some updates to our tips!**

Mickey Logo

The first blog I found had a lot of great tips….but that’s because Ally Jean used to be a cast member at Disney!

Disney World Tips from a Cast Member

  • On non-park days, pool hop at the resorts!  You’ll have to park (and pay) at the Ticket and Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom, or Downtown Disney, but then you can walk or take the monorail to several Disney resorts where you can swim in the pools and explore the hotels.**
  • Find one of the {cheesy} but air-conditioned and less populated animatronics shows at the parks to cool off, take a break, or even let little ones take a nap (many have foyer-areas where guests can wait for the next show, which are perfect for parking strollers).
  • Buy a Hidden Mickeys book (available on Amazon too!), which has clues and hints for finding the Mickeys that hidden around the parks (over 1,000 of them)…makes waiting in long lines a little more bearable! Or, skip the book and just see how many you can find on your own!
  • You are welcome to bring food and drinks into the parks (no alcohol though), so pack up those coolers!

Southern Living's Disney Park Tips

Here are some park tips straight from Southern Living.

  • Pick up a guide at the main gate to where all the characters are located at each park.  Remember that they will be wearing gloves for autographs, so big retractable markers are best….always have your autograph book turned to a blank page before approaching!
  • Waiting in line has never been more fun?  Southern Living says that the in-line entertainment for Expedition Everest {The “line” starts at a remote village at the base of Mt. Everest and winds through The Yeti Museum}, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: {There’s a great play area for kids to run free while Mom and Dad stay in line}, and Toy Story Mania! {If the line’s only 30 or 45 minutes, it’s worth waiting in order to hang out with the amazing Mr. Potato Head} are the best!
  • Stock up on FASTPASSes as soon as you get to the park, even though they have designated end times on them, you can use them anytime after the start time {but they expire at the end of the day!}.**
  • Most parks open at 9, crowds really start piling up around 10.  If you can get there by 8:30 or 8:45, quite often characters will arrive on trains or fun cars and may sign autographs while you wait.
  • Club Cool in Epcot has free sodas from all over the world to try!
  • Watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks display from the beach at the Polynesian Resort….less crowded and still spectacular!If you have a princess OR need a fully scheduled day including character times, check out WDW Prep School’s article on all things Princess.  I’ll be referring to this one to see locations and times of some of the other characters.  They also mention the best times to grab FASTPASSes for some of the more popular rides.

AlphaMom's Disney TipsAlphaMom had 65 Must Sees, but I grabbed what I thought were the most unique and valuable tips to share with you.

  • The animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari are most active first thing in the morning, so grab a FASTPASS for the {popular} Expedition Everest and book it to the animals.  You can get a FASTPASS for the safari too, but if you go straight there first, hopefully you won’t have to wait!
  • The Boneyard at Animal Kingdom is a sand pebblebox and playground if the kids just need some space to run around.  Pebbles make it no mess!
  • DeVine is a street performer {on the path between Asia and Africa in Animal Kingdom} who blends in with the foliage, don’t be startled if she rests one of her long leafy branches on your shoulder!
  • At Fort Wilderness Campground, you can join in the Campfire Sing-Along with Chip and Dale for FREE. BYOM {Marshmallows! Or, buy them there!}

 And finally, some last thoughts from research I did on my own!

  • Jayna and I have really enjoyed viewing all of the rides on YouTube.  The link I gave you for OnlyHDVideos shoots you to the playlist that includes videos of all of the shows, parades and rides.  We plan on watching these again closer to the trip, so there won’t be any surprises for the girls!
  • If you eat a meal in a park or hotel that you really enjoy, you can ask for the recipe!!!!  {It may be in bulk when you receive it though!}**
  • Rent a stroller {for about $70 a week} from A Baby’s Best Friend or Kingdom Strollers {they also have toys, movies, monitors, cribs, etc.} rather than from the parks {$30 a day}.  They are comfortable, have baskets/cupholders/cushioned reclining seats/adjustable canopies.  AND you will have them walking to the shuttle or parking lot as well {which will come in handy as kids crash on the way back to the hotel}, whereas the Disney strollers you have to turn in before leaving the park.
  • Rumor has it that you get a pager instead of lines at the new Dumbo ride, and your kids can play in the playground under the bigtop circus tent while you rest your weary feet…when the pager goes off, it’s time to fly with Dumbo!
  • As I try to remember to do with the kids anytime we are in a big, crowded place….have your name and cell number somewhere on your child. You could write it on a piece of paper and stick it in their pocket, write it with permanent marker on their forearm {as to not get washed off}, or invest in a temporary tattoo.  Jayna also has a beaded bracelet that has my number on it.  Also, take a photo of each kid each day, so you will have a current photo of what they are wearing to show park officials.
  • Get the App!  Wait times, FASTPASS times, games, GPS to find characters and interactive maps.
  • Take pictures to capture the memories….but don’t forget to relax, go with the flow and be a part of making the memories!


PS. If you link this or Pin it, please pin my images (the first one and the last one!).  Thanks!

**UPDATES: Lauren from Momazine.com, was nice enough to feature me on her Disney-site, and to list some discounts that FL residents can take advantage of.  She also informed me (as a frequent Mousekateer), that there have been some updates to some of the tips above.  Apparently, you MUST use Fast Passes within the timeframe listed now (no more hoarding!).  Disney chefs are happy to prepare non-allergenic meals for you, but make sure you ask and double check about ingredients at each restaurant.  And pool-hopping is a social no-no now!  Many of the resorts are asking to see room keys to get in…wouldn’t you want to swim in private if you are staying in $450 a night rooms?!?!  Thanks for the updates Lauren!**

Check out my other Disney World related posts! Click below:

Walt Disney World: A Mom With a Plan

Walt Disney World: A Mom With a Plan

Disney Countdown Chain from Palmettos and Pigtails

Disney Countdown Chain

Get your kids pumped for your Disney vacation with these Disney Activities!

Get your kids pumped for your Disney vacation with these Disney Activities!

Disney Wrap-Up Post: Favorites, Tips and Tricks, and DIY Gifts for each Disney Park

Wrap-Up Post: Favorites, Tips and Tricks for each Disney Park


  1. I am so excited for you, and love how you are preparing the girls! Wish I could go too!

  2. Thanks for mentioning WDW Prep in your list of sites you’ve used as a reference to plan your trip. Feel free to email me if you have questions as you plan.

    1 small edit to your list: there are no longer paintbrushes on Tom Sawyer Island. They stopped doing it because people were stealing them I’m guessing.

    Look forward to hearing how your trip goes.

  3. Thank you so much for including me in this great list of Disney tips!!! There’s nothing as magical as a Disney Vacation!!

  4. Stopped by from Momazine in Ocala, FL! I have a family of four and we do Disney regularly – usually drive down, enjoy our day, put the kiddos in PJs and drive home. Once a year we stay like “tourists”. 🙂
    Disney has really cracked down on Fastpasses. You MUST use them in the printed time window. No more hoarding FP until end of day. We have seen lots of sad faces the last 2 months.
    If any allergies — ask for the allergy chef (even at counter restaurants) – they will prepare something in the “safe” area. But also be warned that just because pizza is safe at pizzafari does not meant that it is safe in Hollywood Studios. Always check!
    And with pool hopping – the monorail resorts were asking for room keys to verify that you are staying there.
    I hate that extra “perks” are being taken away, but when you are paying $450 a night, you deserve to be able to swim in your resort pool rather than sit on the sidelines while different resorts guests utilize your pool.

    • Thanks SO much for the updates Lauren! It doesn’t help those of us who aren’t staying on Disney properties, but I can certainly understand how those paying to stay on campus want to get every penny’s worth!!! I’ll be sure to update my article! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi Shara, it’s Dave from yourfirstvisit.net. Thanks so much for the shout-out! I thought you might be interested that more than 130 people have come from this page to my site. Thanks again 🙂

  6. I think you should tell your readers where some hidden mickeys are

    • I would, except I don’t know where any of them are! I haven’t bought the book. My post was just a compilation of other blogs’ tips, so I have yet to follow all of the tips myself! Thanks for reading!

  7. Amy Curneal says:

    There is always a hidden mickey on the table in the haunted mansion where the ghosts are dancing. My family always makes it a point to find it and they do switch around 🙂

  8. I notice on other sites that Animal Kingdom does not allow coolers :/

    • Oh! Thanks for letting me know…I’ll have to research that. In 2013, we took a soft cooler {almost like a big lunchbox} in with us with no problems. It was a bag big enough for 4 sandwiches and some other cold snacks, and some water. I’ll try to update with what I find out!


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