Sometimes when we travel to Disney World, we get caught up in routines from previous visits. Let’s face it — we all have a certain way we like to do things when we visit Disney World.
OR maybe you’ve never visited and are unsure what has changed recently and how you should approach it! Well, we’ve got advice for allllll the ways we’re going to shake things up and do things a little differently on our next trip!
NOT Parking Hopping
Park hopping is one of those things that usually comes down to personal preference, but it’s something we surprisingly have found ourselves NOT doing much since it returned on January 1st! That’s because it’s not quite as easy to park hop as it once was! Before, we could just run all over Disney World and visit as many parks as we wanted whenever we wanted.
Now, park hopping can only be done starting at 2PM and it comes with a few new rules. You MUST have a Park Pass reservation at the first park you plan to visit that day — plus you have to ACTUALLY visit it. That means no sleeping in and skipping Animal Kingdom (or wherever you had a Park Pass) and planning to head to EPCOT instead. You have to scan into that first park in order to be able to hop anywhere. And you cannot park hop to a park that is already at capacity. As for capacity, we haven’t seen any parks actually be un-hoppable — yet.
You also can’t just hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and try to grab a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance — not only are the 7AM boarding pass opportunities only available to those with a park pass reservation, but the new afternoon time for boarding passes is now 1PM, and is only available to people physically present in the park — and park hoppers can’t get there until 2PM.
Park hopping used to offer a lot of flexibility, but now, not as much. We have to ask ourselves if it’s worth paying extra to have this option with such strict rules. Even rules aside, since the introduction of the Park Pass system we just don’t find ourselves jumping around and traveling mid-day as much. You’ll need to decide if the added flexibility of spending a handful of hours at another park is worth $65+ on top of the price of your ticket.
Visit Disney Springs More
Okay, so we already go to Disney Springs a LOT, but we find we’re doing it even MORE at the moment. This has a lot to do with the parks closing a lot earlier than they did pre-closure. That means that many guests are looking for options for dining — something Disney Springs happens to have in spades!
Of course, that means that a LOT of guests are looking to head to Disney Springs for dinner, which means that Disney Springs often reaches capacity in the evenings and on weekends. You could even be denied entry even if you have an AMC movie ticket or a reservation at one of the restaurants at Disney Springs if it’s at capacity.
Our best suggestion is to get to Disney Springs early! You can spend your pre-dinner time walking around shops and having a little snack or drink. If that’s not possible and you get to Disney Springs later and parking lots are at capacity, check to see if the surface parking is available. Surface parking is sometimes emptier, and you might just find a spot. Worst case scenario, if you can’t get in and have a dining reservation — call reservations and explain your situation so you’re not charged a fee.
We get it — you go to Disney World and there is SO much going on that you just want to try and do it all! You just shelled out massive megabucks to be there and you want to squeeze every second out of your trip. But if you DO try to do it all, you might (OK…more like you probably WILL) get seriously burnt out.
This is true even more so now with the new health and safety guidelines and limited capacities in place. Currently, there are no FastPasses, and everyone has to wait in the same lines for pretty much everything. With limited capacity just about everywhere — rides, restaurants, gift shops — that means you will wait in LOTS of lines. Possibly more than you’re used to, if you’ve been to Disney World before.
You’re more or less going to be forced to take things a little slower than maybe you normally would pre-closure. And that’s okay. Make a few priorities a day and then see where the rest of the day takes you. Be OK with possibly not tackling every ride in the park in one day or cutting yourself some slack if you just want to sit, rest, and take it all in a bit slower. You’re going to be waiting a lot at the parks now — so take that time to look around and check out all those little details that people always miss. You might be surprised at what you find and how much you enjoy yourself!
We know a trip to Disney World is a major investment for most families and you want that picture-perfect experience. It is possible to still have that in the reopened parks but you need to make peace with what is out of your control and set reasonable expectations.
SPOILER ALERT! Here’s EVERY Hidden Secret We’ve Found on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway SO FAR!
Wing it With Food
We’re all about planning, especially with advance dining reservations filling up so fast now due to restaurants’ limited capacities. While we’ll probably want to go ahead and make those ADRs for those restaurants we HAVE to eat at, we’re also going to be a lot more flexible with our dining.
So maybe we’re not going to make reservations for EVERY night of our trip. Instead, we’re going to wing it more. Many table service restaurants have added the Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist feature, which lets you look on the My Disney Experience app to see what’s available that day and join a waitlist. Also, a few resort table service restaurants are now offering Mobile Order To-Go (so we can enjoy that Sanaa bread service in our PJs at our hotel).
Mobile Order is pretty much also a requirement now for most counter-service restaurants. That, too, will involve some new flexibility. Because pretty much EVERYONE is using it, you’re going to want to place your orders either earlier or later than you would normally eat lunch or dinner to avoid waiting in long lines for your food.
If you know where and when you’d like to eat, you can order your meals on the app in the morning and set a time for them to be ready. This requires a bit of forethought but can save a headache if you’re looking to eat at a peak time.
Take A Break On A Ride
When we’re at Disney World, it’s often hard to just stop because there is just SO much to see and do! So we’re going to make a note to take breaks during the day and just CHILL (remember above when we said sloooow down and take it all in?). And we can do that ON RIDES! One of our favorite break rides is the PeopleMover at Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland, which is, unfortunately, currently (STILL) under a lengthy refurbishment. But we highly recommend it for some time off your feet once it’s back and operational again!
The PeopleMover is perfect for a break because it’s constantly moving, which means it loads quickly and unloads quickly, so it’s easy to jump onto when you need to take a breather. However, there are plenty of other rides that make great breaks, too (bonus, these typically have really short wait times!). This includes Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom, as well as Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land at EPCOT. Use the different pace in the parks to your advantage to experience attractions you might often skip! Maybe you’ll find a new favorite.
Walk To A Far Away Bathroom
This might sound odd, but if you’re going to use the bathroom, don’t you want to use the one that’s the least crowded and the best themed? For example, if we’ve got to “go” at Magic Kingdom, we will often trek across the park to the bathroom near Gaston’s Tavern because it’s usually not too crowded.
Yep, we’re recommending you walk more just to go potty. Hey, Disney World bathrooms are often as well-themed and interesting as many of the rides, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Plus, an uncrowded bathroom can be a massive relief when you “gotta go.” 😉 We’re not saying tack on an additional 5k steps to your day hunting down nicer potties, but often just walking a small bit more can yield nicer results.
Right now, crowds aren’t as much of an issue with the parks’ capacity limitations, but when that changes, we’re prepared with the least crowded bathrooms. Over at EPCOT, we like the bathrooms at the American Adventure Pavilion. It’s often quieter and less traveled compared to other bathrooms in World Showcase. We did a whole video on the topic of the least crowded bathrooms, so if you want to make a list, check it out here!
As for those well-themed restrooms, if you’ve never seen the Tangled Restrooms at Rapunzel’s Tower at Magic Kingdom, you’re missing out! There are so many other amazing bathrooms in Disney World (seriously!) but don’t worry — we’ve got a list for that, too — check it out here.
We share tips and tricks for planning your Disney World vacation allll the time with you but not all of those tips apply to the parks right now. These are just a few of the ways we’re changing things up from our past trips. We think switching things up and thinking outside the box could help have a better trip next time around, so we hope these tips are helpful for you, too! We’ll update this list as Disney World continues to update its policies, so check back!