If you’re planning a Disney trip in 2021, we want to be here to help!
We’ve already brought you DOZENS of tips to help make your 2021 Disney vacation an amazing and smooth one, but we’re bringing out the BIG tips today. Here are 5 TRULY game-changing hacks for dominating Disney World in 2021!
1. Eat at weird times!
Okay, it can sound kind of drastic to rework your whole eating routine just to have a little bit easier of a time, but think about it — if you’re planning to eat at the same “normal” time you would typically eat lunch, that’s likely the same time everyone ELSE wants to eat lunch too! Think of it like avoiding rush hour traffic. If you leave a little earlier or later, you can get home in half the time sometimes. Same idea but…with food. By “peak times” we mean about 12PM to 2PM and 5:30PM to 8PM.
Eating at peak meal times can be a real mess right now, especially for fast food-type meals. Now, this doesn’t really count if you have an Advance Dining Reservation since you’re already slotted in at that restaurant, but a reservation-less meal can be rough during those big times of day. For one, it’s unlikely you’ll find as much Mobile Dine Walk-up Waitlist availability. This means if you are looking for a sit-down meal, you’re going to have much slimmer choices of restaurants with availability on the day you’re looking to eat.
Plus, hopping in line for an order of chicken nuggets or a burger isn’t what it used to be! Mobile Order is the preferred (meaning, basically required) way of ordering fast food now in the parks and resorts. Orders can get very backed up and you’ll find yourself with a looooong wait at peak times. Kitchen staffs are reduced to accommodate health and safety recommendations, meaning there’s less people putting together meals, so prepare to possibly wait. Recently over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Woody’s Lunch Box was so popular right after reopening that we found ourselves waiting HOURS for a time slot to get our food!
Once you get your food, the wait may not be over. Recently, we waited 45 minutes for a Mobile Order at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Magic Kingdom and had to circle the restaurant three times to find a table!
If you eat early or late, you might find restaurants are less crowded and you can snag a table easier once your food is ready. Plus, your Mobile Order could come out smoothly and quickly. Worried about being hungry between meal times? Pack a snack like granola bars!
Another option we recommend is to place your Mobile Order in the morning and set your time for lunch or dinner, even (especially) if you choose to eat at a peak time. You can place your order before you even start your day, set an alarm so you don’t forget when it’s time to eat, and know you took care of your food before the day really began. That way, you know that you’ll be able to snag your food when you want to. Still, you’ll need to brace for crowds if you take this option!
We’re focusing a lot on lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast?? You don’t have to worry quite as much about breakfast but you WILL usually see long lines for coffee. This tip definitely applies here too! If you can wait until late morning or early afternoon to grab your caffeine fix, you’ll find a much shorter wait. And don’t be afraid to steer clear of the ever-popular Starbucks locations — the Joffrey’s Coffee stand lines can tend to be shorter than the Starbucks lines and that coffee is often just as good or better.
2. Pack a phone charger.
A Disney day relies on phones now more than ever. Between checking wait times, managing your plans, checking park maps, Mobile Order, Mobile Dine Check-In, Mobile Dine Waitlist, Disney testing Mobile Merchandise Checkout, plus snapping pics all day, and more; your phone is a pretty necessary tool.
Using your phone so much means that battery might go WAY faster than you’re used to. You don’t want to be mid-day with a 0% battery, so you gotta have a way to keep your phone charged.
We usually suggest bringing a portable charger to ensure that your battery level stays high and your stress level stays low. Disney does sell portable chargers called FuelRods that can be purchased around the parks for $30 initially, but you can likely find much cheaper and faster-charging options at home as well. Many portable chargers can give you 2-3 charges worth of power in one day!
FuelRods have the big benefit of being swappable in the parks. If you use up all the juice in your FuelRod, you can head to a nearby kiosk to swap it out for a fully charged one. BUT, this swap costs $3 each time unless you have Founders Status (A.K.A., you purchased your FuelRod before October 2019).
You can also bring a charging cord and stop by charging locations in the parks. There are chargers hidden around the Tangled-themed restrooms in Fantasyland, in Storybook Circus, and at the exit to Space Mountain, for example. Plus, many newer Disney buses now also feature charging ports underneath the seats!
3. Know where to start in the parks.
A big trick to having a great start to your Disney day is to head away from the crowds. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but we know a few ways you can make it happen.
If you arrive at the parks earlier in the morning, head right to the back of the park! Guests tend to start with the first thing they see, so heading to the back means you’ll get to the stuff that other people will usually hit last so you won’t be stuck in as much of a crowd.
The same is even true on a smaller scale! When you get to the front of the park to enter and have to head through temperature checks, security, and ticketing terminals — pretty much anywhere with multiple lines for you to pick from — head towards the lines that are a little further away. People will crowd around the first few lines, leaving the farther ones emptier! You’ll usually spot Cast Members flagging guests down that empty lines are just a few steps away!
We’ve got some specific suggestions for each park too. In Magic Kingdom, we recommend starting your day in Frontierland, especially if you’re looking to tackle Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. In EPCOT, walk right past Spaceship Earth in the morning. Lines will be long first thing and practically nonexistent later in the day!
Waltz away from Pandora and into Dinoland U.S.A. in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (or to the back. of the park for Kilimanjaro Safari for good animal spotting!), and head down Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get some rides in on Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (the first ride most guests see) are typically WAY busier earlier in the day.
Knowing where to start means you’ll see shorter lines for rides and food, plus social distancing will be easier away from the crowds.
4. Keep tuned in to the Rise of the Resistance tips.
Speaking of Galaxy’s Edge, Rise of the Resistance is still a tricky attraction to get on with the Virtual Queue and Boarding Groups in use. Plus, to make it even trickier, they keep CHANGING the process. Right now you have a chance to get on at 7AM and at 1PM. If this changes again and you’re itching to ride this attraction, you DON’T want to be caught unaware.
We have LOTS of great tips for snagging you a Rise of the Resistance group, BUT…even if you follow them to a T you might miss out on getting one. Even our clued-in readers have trouble! We found that 77% of respondents FAILED to get a Boarding Group when they tried! Even some of our team members have tried and tried and never made it! So basically try, but if you don’t make it, try not to be too discouraged — you’re in good company!
So study up and keep up to date with the latest Rise updates. We’ll give ya a quick rundown of tips, but we’ve got FULL GUIDES too! Turn off Disney wi-fi if you’re not at home, restart your My Disney Experience app, and be ready RIGHT at drop time. Take screenshots through the process! If there’s an error but you were still successful, showing screenshots to a Cast Member could help get you into the Virtual Queue.
5. Use a travel agent!
Our final and perhaps BIGGEST hack is to use a Disney travel agent! Yep, this is totally a hack because not many people do it! If you have planned a Disney World trip start to finish by yourself you know it’s a LOT to keep straight. Wouldn’t it be nice to just hand that stress over to someone else for free and still get the vacation of your dreams? Our friends over at Small World Vacations are a great option. Travel agents are totally free (seriously!) and will help you to save time, stress, and money.
Travel agents can help to plan the Disney vacation that’s right for your family and they’ll be sure to catch any and all discounts and special offers that apply — even if they pop up after you’ve booked!
Plus, a LOT is changing in Walt Disney World right now. Park hopping will return soon and we’re constantly hearing about new restaurant and hotel reopenings. It certainly helps to have someone whose JOB is to look at for you, your family, and your vacation!
Hopefully, these hacks are helpful enough to make a BIG difference during your Disney trip! If you have any questions, be sure to ask them in the comments. As always, we’re here to help!