Post Preview: A breakdown of some hidden Disney World secrets and some not so obvious Disney adventures for the 2019 Disney Visitor. Published January 2019, update in April 2022
First Time going to Disney? Or Maybe you haven’t been in awhile? One thing you do know, is that it will be absolutely magical. What might surprise you is all the stuff you might not know about your trip to Disney World!
Disney World is a massive undertaking, in both the amount of time to take the trip, and the amount of money to spend.
Here’s some stuff you probably didn’t know, but could provide useful for your trip!
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20 things you might not know about your upcoming Disney World Trip
1.There’s Paid Characters and Free Characters
As far as I’m concerned, there are 4 ways to meet the characters.
Stand in line at permanent meet and greets (or pay to skip the line at some locations)
Standing in line for pop up character meets.
Go to a Paid Character Meal
Going to a special ticketed event (I include the holiday parties and the water parks in this section.)
In order to get the most from your Disney Character Visit, I would recommend character dining (which you can do without a ticket at some locations!).
Character dining offers the most interaction BESIDES the pop up character meets. In those cases, your character is only greeting friends for 20-30 minutes at a time, and since the lines are shorter, you tend to get more interaction.
Going to a special ticketed event can be fun too- but not a guarantee depending on the crowd levels and if you are even able to go.
Many people are taking advantage of paying for Character Meets so you don’t have to wait in line. You’ll do that in the MyDisney Experience App, after purchasing Genie+ and selecting options for the day.
2. Park Hopping after 2 pm (and you have to have a reservation)
People still don’t understand the new opening procedures since Disney Reopened after their 2020 closure.
Now, you have to have a ticket AND a park reservation (not a hotel reservation, but a free park one after you have a ticket).
What’s more, you can’t head to another park till after 2 pm, and only after you went to your original park.
So if you have an Animal Kingdom reservation, and want to go to EPCOT, you will need to go to Animal Kingdom, check in, and then head to EPCOT after 2pm.
3. Trading Disney Pins is still really popular
Like, a really serious thing that you should be aware of because you will see it pretty frequently! Pin trading is literally, the trading of these Disney Themed pins.
It’s really fun! There’s so many cool things you can do with pin trading, from themed lanyards to hard to find items. Plus it’s just really fun for the kids (and pretty cheap if you grab it before you get to the park!) I love getting a bag of them online for our vacations so we have ‘starter’ pins that we can trade for the things we like. (though those bags DO have a fair amount of fake pins- check the reviews!)
Cast members can’t really say ‘No’ when it comes to pin trading and there’s so many of them that have them all around the park.
4. Disney World has an Abandoned Airport!
Disney World had it own airport for a few years. It was part of Walt’s original vision to have a large airport on Disney Property to accomafate the guests. This was before the Orlando International Airport was even built (Orlando was actually a lot smaller 50 years ago!)
This airport, built in the 60’s, was a small throughway for guests while Disney planned to build a larger airport INSIDE Epcot.
Could you even imagine the security risk that would be today? The Mouselets cover it in more detail, but the most memorable part of the airport was the singing groves!
Fun Fact: When the plane landed and hit the grooves on the runway, it would play “when you wish upon a star”. Disney Imagineers were sure ahead of their time 60 years ago.
5. Disney World and $$$
Did we expect it any different? They have pricing based on the season for tickets and hotels- so changing prices for items seems like a smart business decision.
People always want me to give them a number and I literally can’t- most of Disneys items are on a color coded system. So the tag is purple or green. Then they have a card close by that tells you the price. Which means they can change the price at any time (and they do).
Here’s a breakdown of how much it actually costs to visit Disney World (on a budget) in 2022.
And food… good lord. it changes DAILY. the pricing for dinner on a monday will not be the same as saturday.
6. There are First Aid Centers and Baby Care Centers at Every Park
We’ve never had any complaints with the care we’ve gotten at either of these places and we are so thankful they exist!
They are super fast if you have a medical emergency and with lots of hospital options close by, you will be in good hands
7. You have to pay to park – everywhere
8. Automatic Penny Machines
Those childhood penny pressing machines with the cranks are getting a much needed update with an electric press. And you can use a DEBIT CARD.
Say what! No more carrying around pennies and quarters to get pressed. BUT you get a penny in return! How cool is that. I still have so many of mine from when I was a kid and it’s still VERY popular at disney and other central florida theme parks. This is one of those cheap and fun things that my kids love doing.
and speaking of pressing pennies- have you ever considered making this a game on your vacation? You just need one of those notebooks and a keen eye (and some coins for the ones that are debit card capable) Fun for all and you get some nifty souvenirs!
Get the full inside scoop on the Pressed Pennies,and all the changes, like where they’re located and if they plan to keep this fan favorite.
9. Free Fast pass is gone, and in it’s place is a confused Genie
Disney World used to have a ‘Fast Pass’ system that gave you a free skip the line.
They removed that, and replaced it with 3 new options, two of which are paid, and all of the names are so similar people are gettting confused!
There is the free Genie on the app, that can make recommendations (and some of the recs are kinda ok, but most are not).
There there Genie+ (same-ish name) that is paid for.
Then Lightning Lane. Which is also paid for. You don’t have to buy Genie + to purchase the lighting lane options.
Confused? So is everyone else. The rules are different at Disney World and Disney Land for the Genie +… and at Disney World there’s a warning that the average user only gets 3 or so selections per day.
10. You no longer get lots of perks for staying on property
I could seriously write a whole post on all the perks you get if you stay on Disney World Property. And while I’m not a fan of the costs, I do like to stay at the resorts because they come with so many cool features.
Things have changed, and while many of the resorts have fun theming, the perks for staying there aren’t quite the same!
10.2 The Pools!
The pools are some of the coolest attractions at the resorts.
Did you know that several pools, like at beach and yacht club, have actual sand areas?
And that the Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation is the largest Disney Pool AND it’s a salt water pool!
11. Booze it up
For those that like alcholic drinks, you’ll want to know that they can be found at every park now.
For those that don’t support drinking at children’s amusement parks… well. It’s there, so be prepared.
12. It’s free
The Disney PhotoPass is really worth it (but not free)
but if you decide not to get it OR you just want some pics taken on your camera or phone, the Disney Photographers will do that for you for free! Yep, just wait in line, and they’ll take the pictures for you on your phone.
13. There is a list of banned items and activities
Surprise? There are certain items you can’t take into the park. Like children older than 12 aren’t supposed to wear costumes during regular park hours (the holidays are different!)
And the viral tiktok about getting a free tshirt because the shirt you wore into the park wasn’t up to guidelines? That’s a real thing.
14. Easy Package pickup
Did you grab some of these shoes that people go crazy for?
and some souvenirs?
maybe some gifts for the family back home?
Great! Now you get to lug it for the next 15 miles….. KIDDING!
Disney has you taken care of. Which is so cool! If you purchase something at the parks they can take care of sending it out for you. Either to the front of the park, your resort or to your house!
This is super useful so you don’t end up lugging it around the park and risk it getting lost or broken. This also means you can shop whenever and wherever- since you have the means to have it sent to the resort for you!
15. There are designated outdoor smoking areas – UPDATE they removed these in May 2019
There’s no smoking at all in Disney World Parks (they do have areas at the resorts, and some areas outside of the parks)
15 times 2. The drink machines are futuristic
Disney has found a way to include RFID chips into their cups. This means no free refills! Ok, normally you get some refills in the hour after your purchase. You can talk to the cast member when you purchase your food.
This is also where those refillable resort mugs come in handy. You can get as much to drink as you want at a RESORT during your stay, just not the parks.
One time, I kept a cup for a week and went to a new resort and activated it there and it worked and I got my three drinks in my 3 hours window. Good to know if you end up buying too many cups.
16. Watch it burn…
Nothing beats going to Disney World, enjoying the sites, and having a … campfire??
It’s true! Many of the resorts will have campfires, and if your resort doesn’t, they can point you in the direction of one that does!
17. They also have Fun Runs!
Running? at disney?
You may not believe it, but there are some hardcore diehard Disney running fanatics. Which is great, because they can do the runDisney events and run through the parks. I’ve heard it’s magical.
For the rest of us regular running folks, you can hit the free trails everyday at the majority of the parks (I want to say all of them have a running trail, but don’t quote me!)
You can also participate in Disney Fun Runs! They are held at the resorts throughout the week and average about 15 dollars for registration.
(Some Disney Resorts have gyms if you need to get your gainz on while on vacation!!)
18. Take advantage of all the cool stuff outside of the ticketed events
Wanna know what’s fun? seeing all the cool themed areas OUTSIDE of the parks!
This is an actual thing! Cool right. There are so many resorts at Disney World and they each have their own take (and their own restaurants!) on their theme.
When I was younger I thought you had to pay to go to each of the resort, but that’s simply not the case. You can go just to peak around or enjoy some of the activities at each resort.
You can also take a bite at their food court or some of the signature restaurants at many of the resorts. These are often easier reservations to get too!
It’s super fun to get on the monorail and ride around to all the resorts on the line, hop off and explore before catching the monorail to the next resort. It’s even more amazing at Christmas time! I can’t wait to be able to do it with the new skyliner gondola system coming in 2019!
19. Baby can go too!
Some people are very wary about bringing their young kids to Disney World. I get it! It’s why we have an entire section dedicated to bringing baby to Disney.
The cool thing about bringing babies, is that they can go on a good number of the rides! yep, toddlers and pregnant women can all go on these rides as well. It makes it much more of a family vacation.
In this picture below, I’m baby wearing my 5 week old. You can learn all about baby wearing at Disney Here!
20. Transportation can take forever
I saved the best for last. The grounds are SO HUGE that it does take some time to get from the resort to the parks.
During the slow season it can take 30-45 minutes to park hop from Epcot to Magic kingdom via the monorail, during the busy season it can take up to 1.5 hours and longer.
Forget trying to do it when it’s closing time- the lines then are going to be longggg. Even worse, is if it’s raining.
Take Epcot for example. If your on the boardwalk you can walk, but everyone else needs to take a boat, monorail, gondola or bus to get to their resort. Except the boats, gondolas and monorails don’t run when there’s bad weather. So you’ll be waiting forever in line for a bus packed full of wet grumpy people.
Remember to plan transportation and walking to the entrance of the parks when you plan out your itinerary
Did you know all these interesting things about Disney? I feel like I only learned about a few of them in the last few years. I’ve been going to Disney all my life and didn’t know you weren’t supposed to bring glass in!