Thinking of heading to the Most Magical Place on Earth soon?
Well, you might have your must-do rides and snacks planned out. But, there are Disney World GAME CHANGERS that you might not be using…yet (but you TOTALLY should be). If you want to make sure you have the BEST time ever at the parks these are the essentials you’ll want to use!
1. Mobile Order
technology is eeeeeverywhere, including Disney World. Some of the biggest Disney World game changers come in the form of apps or app features. The My Disney Experience app is full of useful features that some guests just don’t even know about or don’t use enough — and one of those is Mobile Order.
What is Mobile Order? Well, it’s a way for you to quickly and conveniently order your meal right from your phone for many fast food spots all around Disney World while skipping the regular ordering line. Mobile Order USED to be one of our hot tips to save time, but now…it’s basically required! At most locations you’ll be directed to Mobile Order if you want food with very rare exception (if you have a specific need to order with an actual Cast Member just let someone know and they’ll help you out). But, even if you’re using Mobile Order, you might not be using it to its full potential!
We’ve got all kinds of tips about how to really get the most out of your Mobile Order experience. For example, sometimes by using Mobile Order, you can find secret menu items at some of your favorite spots. You can also look at allergy-friendly menus if you’ve got food allergies or sensitivities.
And one big thing people don’t take into consideration is that you can place your order early in the day and schedule it for a later pick-up time. If you wait until peak lunch or dinner time, the restaurants could be quite backed-up, meaning that an order you place at noon might not have a pick-up time until much later, depending on the crowds. But, if you place an order early in the day, you’ll likely have FULL choice of pick-up times.
You also can’t forget that Mobile Order isn’t just for full meals. You can order snacks through there at regular counter service spots or even at snack locations. So, be sure to take FULL advantage of Mobile Order in the future and skip those lines!
2. Mobile Restaurant Check-In
Let’s say you’ve got a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table. In the before times, you might have walked up to a check-in desk when you arrived for your reservation to speak with a Cast Member there, check-in for your reservation, and get more details ahead of when you’ll be called in to eat.
But, now to minimize contact and make things a bit easier, you can check-in online!
You’ll either receive a notification on your phone through the My Disney Experience app to check-in when your check-in window arrives, or you can scan the QR code at the restaurant to check-in. You can confirm the guests in your party, and note any special concerns, dietary restrictions, or even special events you might be celebrating.
Then, you’ll check that everything is correct and officially check-in. After that, you’ll receive a text message when your table is ready. Boom! Done! You’re free to stroll around the area wherever you’re comfortable.
It’s simple, convenient, can help you skip any long check-in lines, and can help you and others maintain an appropriate social distance from one another. Many restaurants all around Disney World offer mobile check-in, so if you’ve got a reservation at one of those, be sure to check it out.
3. Mobile Waitlist
Ever try to score a reservation at one restaurant and just not find any spots available? Or, maybe you find yourself with an extra hour in the park and just enough time to sneak in a dinner reservation you didn’t think you’d have time to knock out.
Well, you can always continue to check the regular reservation availability in My Disney Experience to see if anything becomes available. BUT, you’ll also want to check if you can use Mobile Waitlist to see what restaurants have availability for walk-up guests!
With this feature, you can check what restaurants have walk-up spots available and what your estimated wait time would be.
If you’re within a certain distance from the location, you can then join the waitlist. With this feature, you might just be able to grab a seat at a spot you didn’t think you would have been able to eat at! And it’s an easy and convenient feature you can access right from your phone.
4. Table Service To Go
Another feature that seems to fly WELL under many people’s radar is Table Service To Go. With this feature (also on the My Disney Experience app) you can actually order some of your FAVORITE dishes from some awesome Disney World table service restaurants TO GO!
So, whether you just don’t have the time for a full sit-down meal, or you just want to munch on bread service while watching TV in your pajamas in your Disney hotel room, this is an awesome feature you could totally take advantage of. Just keep in mind that it is only available at select restaurants.
5. Mobile Merchandise Checkout
Merchandise stores in Disney World can develop QUITE the long checkout line. We’ve all been there — you pick up some cute items you want to buy, and then you see the checkout line and either begrudgingly join it or literally give up, drop all of your items, and walk out. Well, now you don’t have to do either.
Disney has started testing a new mobile merchandise checkout system and it’s something you’ll want to check out! With this mobile system, you’ll either select the Shop in Store option in My Disney Experience or scan the QR code in the store (which will then open the correct place in My Disney Experience for you).
You’ll grab a special mobile checkout bag in the store, and then start shopping! As you grab your items, you’ll scan them into your mobile cart, make sure they add properly, and then physically place them in your bag. When you’re done, you’ll be able to pay for your items right in the app. Then, you’ll stop by a Cast Member station to have them check your code, and you’re DONE!
It’s a convenient way to shop around AND skip those long checkout lines. What’s crazy is so many people AREN’T using this! It’s so so simple and FAST. Give it a go next time you’re able to! Right now, the system is only being tested in 2 stores in Disney World, but we’re definitely watching for any sign that it might be expanding to other spots.
6. My Disney Experience (In General)
Okay, so you might already use the My Disney Experience app for some things like checking wait times or even using some of the cool mobile features we mentioned above. But, there is SO much more you can do in this app that you might not even know about!
Like we mentioned, you can look at the wait times for your favorite rides here. But, you can also filter the digital park maps to show you other things you might be searching for like restaurants, shops, Guest Services locations, and even RESTROOMS! Boy, can that come in handy for emergencies!
The app will also show you when rides are temporarily unavailable (many times due to technical issues) which could save you a walk ALL the way across the park only to find out this information in person. Sometimes guests have even received a pop-up with this info.
You can also watch unique videos from Disney on the app about their rides, animals, and more. The app also has guides for EPCOT’s festivals and other fun features. And one time we actually got notified that we could spend EXTRA time in Magic Kingdom through the app.
So basically, if you’re not really exploring the app and checking out all of its unique features, you might be totally missing out! Be sure to look around the app before your trip so you can familiarize yourself with all of its SUPER useful features.
7. Play Disney Parks App
Another Disney app that sometimes goes a bit unnoticed is the Play Disney Parks App. This app has some fun features you can use in the parks and at home. At home, you can play a number of games including trivia and more. But, the real magic of this app comes to life when you’re in the parks.
First, you can play a number of games in this app while you wait in line for your favorite rides, which is great! Many games are themed to the attraction you’re waiting in line to ride. It can really help make that time fly by if you and all the kiddos are engaged in a fun game. It can also keep the little ones entertained rather than impatiently asking a million times “are we at the front of the line yet?!”
But, we think it’s an especially awesome app for Star Wars fans. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is great enough on its own, but if you want to unlock a whole other level of awesome, download the Play Disney Parks app.
In the Galaxy’s Edge area, the app turns your phone into a “Datapad.” You’ll be able to use the datapad to hack into devices and control panels in the park, translate signs all around Batuu, and even listen in on satellite transmissions and maybe learn a secret or two! (You can even “hack” DJ R3X in Oga’s Cantina!)
If you really want to take your Star Wars experience to the next level, be sure to check it out!
Okay, so if you visited in the past decade or so it’s possible that FastPass+ is a game-changer you have used already, but we couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning it! FastPass+ is a FREE service that allows you to skip the regular standby lines for your favorite rides.
Guests can make 3 FastPass+ reservations each day of their trip (they must all be at the same park). Once those 3 are used up, they can continue to make 1 additional FastPass+ reservation at a time. At the moment, FastPass+ has been temporarily suspended. But, in the past it has been a serious game changer. You could ride your favorite rides very quickly rather than wait in those LONG standby lines.
Will Disney reintroduce FastPass+? It’s not entirely clear, but we’re on the lookout for any updates.
A Disney World vacation can be PRICEY. So, any chance to save is critical. Making sure that you’re taking advantage of ALL the latest Disney discounts and deals can be a huge game changer.
Disney often has discounts available for its hotels and tickets. And sometimes there are special discounts offered to specific groups like Florida Residents or Military members. Sometimes those discounts aren’t just for hotels and tickets — they can be for food or other things as well.
Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members also get discounts at certain Disney World restaurants and stores, and sometimes those discounts get increased quite a bit, offering even bigger savings.
And sometimes there are special savings available for Disney Visa Cardholders, or special offers posted on the Disney Springs offers webpage. Basically, the point here is to see if you fall into any of these groups and see what potential discounts are available to you. You might be missing out on BIG savings you didn’t even know about!
10. Portable Chargers
If you’ll be using your phone as a datapad or using it to make Mobile Orders, use mobile checkout, etc. then odds are your phone’s battery is going to run out at some point during the day. (Even just snapping pics on our phone, that battery drains FAST!) That’s why we think it’s a game changer to make sure you’ve got a portable charger (or 2 or 3) to keep your phone and your family’s phones fully charged throughout your trip.
Now, there are a couple of options here. You could grab a Fuel Rod in the parks. Once you purchase a Fuel Rod (currently priced at $30 in the parks), you’ll be able to charge your devices with it until the Fuel Rod runs out. When it runs out, you can swap it out for a FULLY charged one for FREE.
But, you could also just buy a portable charger from Amazon or any other spot and recharge it in your room each night. The advantage here is you can often get multiple charges out of a single battery with a nicer one purchased online. THIS is a great one. Either way, having a portable source of power to use no matter where you are in the parks can be CRITICAL to your trip!
11. Water Bottles, Straws, and More
Another thing you’ll want to be mindful of in Disney World is your water intake. Florida is HOT. And as you’re running from ride to ride, it can be easy to forget to drink water until you realize that you feel like you’ve just run a race in the desert.
Our advice? Bring a water bottle and keep sipping water from it throughout the day (when socially distanced from others and stationary) to stay hydrated. And don’t forget that you can get FREE cups of water in Disney! Most fast food locations will give you a cup of ice water for free — just ask or add one to your Mobile Order!
Disney has transitioned away from single-use plastic straws, so you’ll now find paper straws throughout the parks. If you’re not a fan of paper straws (they get pretty mushy especially with frozen drinks), bringing your own reusable straw or buying one while in Disney World can be a huge game changer.
The same goes for bringing your own cutlery. If you don’t like to use the disposable plastic ones in the parks, bringing your own reusable cutlery can make your experience better and help save the environment too. This is a great set.
12. Other Gadgets
Aside from reusable straws and water bottles, there are a whole BUNCH of gadgets you’re probably not thinking of that could make your Disney vacation SO much better or easier. We’ve got an entire list of gadgets you NEED for your hotel stay.
We’ve also got the ULTIMATE packing list of tried-and-true gear for Disney World tested by the pros, and a list of 12 ESSENTIALS you need in your Disney World park bag. If you’re wondering what the pros use and bring during their trips, you’ll want to check these out.
13. A Travel Agent
One of the biggest game changers you might not be thinking of at ALL are Travel Agents. Planning a Disney World vacation can be A LOT of work. We do it all the time and trust us, it’s still daunting! If you want to take some of that planning work off of your shoulders and work with someone who can give you all kinds of great tips and advice, you might want to think about reaching out to a travel agent. We specifically recommend the awesome folks over at Small World Vacations!
The people over at Small World Vacations know about the latest Disney discounts, and they could help you save some serious cash. They can also give you personalized advice and help make your vacation planning stress-free. And the best part is that their services are TOTALLY FREE! You won’t pay a dime extra than what you normally would pay to book your vacation on your own. In fact, you could SAVE money working with a travel agent.
We’ve got the contact information for Small World Vacations at the bottom of this post but you can also fill out their form to get started right here!
14. DFB Guides
And finally, we couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning our DFB Guides! We really work hard to give you some awesome info in our DFB Guides and think they’re a solid resource that could totally help you as you plan your next Disney trip.
If you want a super comprehensive guide to everything Disney food related, you’ll want to check out our DFB Guide to Walt Disney Dining 2021. This e-book has OVER 700 pages worth of info, tips, recommendations, and even a must-do restaurant list for first-timers.
We’ve also got DFB snack guides for the parks, a DFB guide for EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival, a DFB guide for the holidays in Disney World, and MORE! If you’re looking for a really comprehensive guide to Disney World’s food scene, check out the DFB Store to see all of the options we’ve got available.
With Disney World constantly changing, we’re sure new things will become total game changers in the future. And you can bet we’ll be there, experimenting with all the new tech and more to give you our thoughts and advice. Stay tuned for all the latest!
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What is a game-changer that you use during your Disney World trips? Tell us in the comments!