Some people may think that Walt Disney World is only for little kids and their families. While the parks may seem over-run with hordes of families and strollers, the Magic Kingdom is a super fun place to spend the day [or a few] with your friends! This post is going to focus on Magic Kingdom in particular, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t apply most of these tips to the other parks! Continue reading below to find out some tips and tricks for running around the park and getting the most out of your day!
-Download the Walt Disney World App!-
Even if it’s only for the day, I highly recommend downloading the app! It is super convenient, and makes keeping track of everything throughout the day super easy! Most, if not all 20-somethings have a smartphone and the app is free! There are many other features on the app, the ones that I mention are just the ones that I tend to use in the parks most often!
Not everyone is super good with directions. I got lucky in that department and can generally remember how to get somewhere if I’ve been there once. I don’t generally use the map, but the app has an interactive map of ALL the parks available! It also helps to find where attractions are, if you’re completely unfamiliar with the parks.
Another big feature is that you can log into your Disney account and see your passes, as well as connect with your friends! This makes collaborating and forming plans super easy and fast, rather than running around asking someone for help over and over. Not only can you connect with your friends’ Disney accounts and plan for each other, you can all access your FastPass options! FastPass is the best thing to happen to Disney [in my opinion] because it makes getting on the rides so much easier! I will explain more about those below, but the app makes it super convenient to select, change, and plan your FastPasses with everyone in your group!
Speaking of long lines, the app provides wait times for every attraction in the park, as well as meeting times for the characters, and showtimes for parades and other shows! Super convenient and easier to utilize than either hoping you showed up on time, or trying to read a map with minuscule writing.
One of the other great features the app offers is showing menus for the restaurants! Since some of the restaurants’ names aren’t very descriptive [i.e. Be Our Guest, Casey’s Corner, etc.], it can be super helpful to see the pricing, hours, and menu options for all of the restaurants.
-Skip the Lines!-
Some of the rides always have a short wait – like the carousel behind Cinderella’s castle!
The foremost obvious thing to do to avoid the long lines is to check the wait times! Whether you are using the app [highly recommend], or viewing signs around the park, you will be at an advantage knowing how long some of the lines are. It’s better to know that the line for a ride is two hours long before crossing the park to get to it. Another little tip that I have is to follow the wait times! Don’t feel like you need to jump right on Big Thunder Mountain just because it’s next to Splash Mountain and you just got off it. If you see the wait time is long – check the wait times and head to another ride until the line dies down! Check them frequently, you’d be surprised how quickly they can fluctuate from 45 minutes to 10!
As I mentioned before, FastPasses will be your best friend for a day in any of the parks. They allow you to choose an attraction and a time which you want to be at the ride. Once you get to that attraction [in the hour time slot that you choose], you go to the FastPass entrance, and scan your park pass or MagicBand. You get to skip the long line [woo hoo!] and jump on the ride without waiting forever! You can choose a FastPass for up to 3 attractions per day in the park! This is perfect for the 20-something because we tend to run through the parks faster than the families do, so avoiding standing in line for hours is great to get on more, or all of the rides!
One that may or may not be so obvious is to go to the park at non-peak times of the year. Disney in general is pretty crowded year-round; but there are slower times of the year! Mid-summer is hot and muggy anyways, no need to fight the busiest crowds of the year. Christmas time is another super busy time of the year. It’s easy for me to remember when the highest traffic times will be because they are generally when young kids are on break from school. Another sneaky way to find out the busiest times are to check the Black-Out dates for the annual pass holders. Not all annual passes have the black-out dates, but the lower priced options do. These dates are always during the busiest times of the year! Being a 20-something, it is a little easier for us to take a day of classes off and head down than it is for an entire family to take off school and work!
-Get to the Park Early, and Leave Late!-
The most obvious reason for this is to maximize the amount of time that you have in the park! [Hello, more time in the Most Magical Place on Earth!!!] If you get there right when the park opens, you’re going to avoid the mid-morning rush of a huge amount of people coming in after breakfast from the hotels. If you are staying on Disney property and have the option of Extra Magic Hours – take advantage of them!!!
Staying late is another good plan because you lose a huge chunk of the crowd that leaves earlier to get back to the hotel. Especially families with younger children. They will generally leave right after the fireworks, even if the park stays open for a few more hours! Staying later doesn’t only mean smaller crowds, but shorter wait times too! Especially for the really popular rides. I have also noticed that the crowd tends to be a bit older [less children, more 20-somethings]. I’ve even made great friends walking around the parks after the fireworks, and before the park closes!
-Save Money on Food!-
I’ve noticed that most broke college kids cut any and every corner to save money – except for going out to eat. For whatever reason, we always tend to splurge on going out to eat. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to spend a million dollars on food in Disney!
First of all, bring snacks! They’re great to have when you’re waiting in line and between meals. Disney allows you to bring snacks into the parks, so pack your bag up and bring lots! You’ll save money from avoiding buying overpriced snacks, when you should save for other things!
Another good thing to bring is a water bottle! Water bottles are very expensive in the park, so I find that bringing a water bottle and filling it up in the water fountains is the best option. Not only does it save you money, but carrying a full water bottle around with you is a great idea because staying hydrated in the hot Florida sun is important! Especially when walking around so much [my Fitbit tracked nearly 9 miles walked on most recent visit to the park!!!]
Eating in the Park
If you are going to eat your meals in the park, try and only eat the meals you need. For example, eat breakfast or dinner at home or off property – it’ll save you lots of money. For lunch, stop at a quick service restaurant – their prices are far cheaper than some of the sit down restaurants. My personal favorite is Casey’s Corner that serves hot dogs!
Some recommendations for splurging on snacks:
- Cinnamon Roll at Gaston’s – about $4 and the size of a loaf of bread
- Pineapple Dole Whip – a Disney classic
- Mickey Pretzel – shaped like Micky’s head and very good sized!
-Meet the Characters!-
Going to Disney is super fun even if you don’t decide to go meet the characters, but it is always fun to feel like a little kid again and meeting the characters. Generally the lines are short if you get to the character’s meeting point about 10 min before the character is supposed to show up. This is great because you don’t have to wait in line forever and can spend a little bit of time talking to the characters.
Another thing that I like about meeting the characters, is that they are super playful. They truly resemble the characters in the movies, and will talk to you while taking pictures. You can get lots of cute candids! Who doesn’t love feeling like a kid again or flirting with a Prince anyways?
If you want to go to the parades; don’t go park yourself in front of the street 30 minutes before it starts. You’re losing precious time to be riding rides or exploring the rest of the park that way! I do think going to the parades is a great idea, especially if you’ve never seen them! In my experience, the best way to do the parades as a 20-something is to head to a less crowded area of the park like Frontier-land [right in front of the castle and main street are the most crowded], and stand back a bit. Most families sit down, so it is still easy to see over the families!
Another option is to attend the later parade. The parades that happen later in the day [especially after the fireworks] are far less crowded than the earlier ones! Plus, if you’re staying later in the park anyways, why would you want to fight the crowd to see a parade that you can see later!
-If You’re 21…-
In case you weren’t aware, Magic Kingdom is the only park that doesn’t serve alcohol. If you’re looking to have a cocktail or beer while in the park – you’d have to head to Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, one of the waterparks, or Disney Springs [formerly known as downtown Disney]. Epcot is notorious for people completing the “Drink Around the World” challenge – and is something super fun to consider, but buying another theme park ticket isn’t always in the budget; especially if you and a few friends are the only ones going.
If you want to have a drink or two, hit up Disney Springs [although it can be pricey]. Disney Springs is free to walk around and there are lots of cool restaurants and shops to look at! [Just make sure to have someone that isn’t drinking drive back, or if you’re staying on property- utilize the free transportation that they offer!]
-Visit the Other Parks for More Thrills!-
Of course Magic Kingdom is only a fraction of the fun that there is to have at the Walt Disney World Resort. Magic Kingdom does have some really fun rides and coasters like Big Thunder Mountain, but there are even more thrilling rides at the other parks as well! Here are some of the bigger rides in the other parks!
Hollywood Studios – Tower of Terror, Rock n’ RollerCoaster
Animal kingdom – Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids
Epcot – Soarin, Test Track
-Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!-
Make sure you take lots of pictures in the parks! There are tons of photo locations that have gorgeous backdrops [hello….the castle!] or unique quirky areas like this “famous” purple wall! Not to mention, the entire park is crowded with people to take your photos! The parks are all extremely colorful, and the bright Florida sunshine make for great lighting! Take lots of pictures not only for Instagram, but more importantly for the memories!
As always, I’ve included some more pictures below – these are from my most recent trip to Disney! I hope after reading these tips and tricks that you can enjoy your time in the parks as much as I do when I go visit! I’d love to hear your suggestions for navigating the parks in the comments below!
**This is NOT a sponsored post, all references to the app, parks, etc. are what I find useful for navigating the park, and my personal experiences!