Disney World Tips: 10 Things You'll Never Think Of Before You Go

The books and websites for planning and organizing a trip to Walt Disney World are extremely helpful. But use some of these insider knowledge tips to help with things you've never thought of.

You've booked the best airline flights you could find, finagled a deal on hotel rooms, checked off the shuttle service or rental car, packed comfortable shoes and clothing, hit the ATM, and planned your itinerary to enjoy the numerous parks of Walt Disney World. Perhaps you've even taken it a bit further and purchased your park tickets before hand, made lunch and dinner reservations and even disciplined yourself and the kids as to when and where souvenirs can be purchased. But, consider a few of these insider tips before the trip - they just might save you time and, most importantly, money.

5 Second Safety = Savings. If you've purchased your Walt Disney World park tickets or passes prior to you visit, take five seconds and make a photocopy of the reverse side (the side with the magnetic stripe). If you misplace your tickets, Disney will replace them IF they have the coded information. If you've purchased your tickets at a non-Disney source, the receipt won't have any information that helps with replacing tickets and Disney is clear that they are not responsible for lost tickets, so copy, copy, copy.

Plan Meals. Meals can take a large bite from the budget and, though special meals can be enjoyed at special venues, character dining or during shows, some meals are simply energy boosters. If a quick breakfast is all that's needed or an afternoon snack will do instead of lunch, ask for a small refrigerator at your hotel. Disney resorts charge a few dollars a day for a refrigerator rental that is comparable to non-Disney hotels. Shuttle services will make a market stop if requested a head of schedule or stop at a local market for breakfast and snack supplies on your way to the hotel. Don't forget the self-sealing plastic bags so snacks can be taken to the park and enjoyed - Disney does allow food to be carried.



Don't Pay for the Extras. Counter service menu items at Disney, is always good, fresh and served with a warm smile. But, lunch and dinner service for a family can get costly and splitting of meals can cause tension. Consider saving by ordering a la carte. Many counter-service menus list complete meals, such as a sandwich with fries or an entrée with vegetables. You can order any part of that meal a la carte; if you just want the sandwich, say so; you'll receive the sandwich with no sides and a deduction on the check. Also, kids size drinks, though not advertised, are available at discounted cost at most counter service stations. Just ask. Another option is to request a kid's meal without the souvenir box or prize. This is usually a savings of $1.50 or so and if given the choice, many kids will opt for an afternoon ice cream rather than a plastic Disney box.

Drink for Free. You'll need a lot of water when you're walking in the hot, humid Florida sun and the tap water isn't the tastiest. Bottled water is available throughout the park but can cost up to $3.00 per bottle. To save money, bring in your own bottled water, or ask at service counters and you'll find that ice water is free. If you need something sweet or want to eliminate the tap water taste, try adding a small packet of a powdered drink mix (instant ice tea) to the water and both the family will be happy while the budget restraints are met. Finally, if Epcot is on your park list, "Ice Station Cool Igloo" offers free samples of soft drinks from different parts of the world; all in an air-conditioned area.

Fairy Tale Treatment. Yes, princesses and princes can find private lounges hidden within the Magic Kingdom. Packages purchased through AAA usually include a pass for the private AAA lounge in the Magic Kingdom where you can cool off, relax and enjoy a free beverage. Some of the corporate sponsors of Disney's major theme park attractions have private lounges for employees of the corporation. If your company is a major sponsor be sure to check with your Human Resources Department to take advantage of this perk.

Special Occasions. Don't be afraid to inform cast members of a special occasion; birthday, anniversary or anything. Though the red carpet may not be rolled out, sometimes free deserts, visits from characters or extra gifts are given. This is great for a child who is in awe of the Disney experience.

Child Swap. No, Disney will not swap your little darling with the Banks children of Mary Poppins. However, if you are visiting Walt Disney World with a child who is too short to ride some of the attractions you'd like to experience, you can still ride as long as you have two adults present. When you enter the ride queue area, ask the Cast Member if you can do a Child Swap. This allows the first adult to ride while the second adult stays with the child. Then the second adult can ride -- without waiting in line again -- while the first adult stays with the child. Usually the child is entertained by the Cast Member and can benefit from pin swapping with all those that get to the head of the line.

Extra Magic Hour. Disney offers a special feature for it's resort guests or guests of the Hilton in Downtown Disney or the Swam/Dolphin hotel. Each day a certain park opens one hour prior to the official opening with many of the most popular attractions open with no lines. Many of the characters are walking the grounds as well, a perfect photo or autograph opportunity.

E-Ride Nights. Disney offers a special feature for it's resort guests or guests of the Hilton in Downtown Disney or the Swam/Dolphin hotel, though only at certain times of the year. A day's paid admission to the Magic Kingdom plus an extra fee (around $12) will grant you after-hours admission where most of the popular attractions remain open. Usually you can walk right on to all rides with little or no wait. Inquire about E-Ride Nights at the front desk of your hotel.

Cast Members are Friends. Be friendly to the cast members; the code name for Disney employees. Believe it or not, they don't control the lines, the weather or the prices but they can make your experience pleasant. Friendly chats, inquisitive minds and that extra kind gesture can pay off with a hint on where to go, what to see or even a complimentary beverage or desert. Besides it's nice to have a friend in high places.

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