Whether you’re heading to Disney World soon and you want some juicy last-minute tips, or whether you’re generally curious to learn more about how Disney does it all, have we got some SECRETS for you!
Today, we’re going to dive into some of Disney World’s BIGGEST secrets, from behind-the-scenes activities that happen on a daily basis to ways you may be tricked into spending more money than you need to spend!
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes you don’t know about!
Some of Disney’s best-kept “secrets” are what’s going on right in front of you — and you may not even realize it!
A lot happens behind the scenes (and oftentimes in broad daylight) that many guests are not even remotely aware of.
Disney World prioritizes the safety of their guests and Cast Members, and security is a constant presence in and around the parks and resorts. Rest assured, you are almost always on camera, whether you are on a ride, in a gift shop, or just walking around the parks.
Not only that, but you’re likely standing closer to a security guard than you realize! Disney has tons of undercover security dressed as regular guests.
While You Were Sleeping…
At night, the Disney parks continue to be bustling with activity, including overnight custodial and landscaping crews making sure the grounds are in tip-top shape for when those first guests arrive the next morning.
If any seasonal decorations need to go up, they’ll often go up overnight (one day, Main Street, U.S.A. is lined with festive pumpkins, and the next day it’ll be lined with tinsel and Christmas lights!).
Secret Underground Tunnels
If you’re in Magic Kingdom, you may not be aware that there is an entire network of tunnels right beneath your feet! These tunnels, called the Utilidors, are actually the ground floor of the Magic Kingdom and guests are the ones elevated above it. That big body of water outside Magic Kingdom? It wasn’t Seven Seas Lagoon like we know today when it was built — all the dirt excavated was used to build up the Magic Kingdom over the Utilidors.
These tunnels serve many purposes including efficient trash removal (wonder why you don’t see Cast Members dumping out trash cans on Main Street? That’s why!).
The tunnels were predominantly built for Cast Members to navigate around the park without being seen by guests — that way, a Cast Member dressed in, say, a Haunted Mansion costume won’t be spotted walking around Tomorrowland!
Speaking of Cast Members, you may notice them speaking in certain “codes” to each other — this is to quickly communicate certain situations to each other without cluing guests in on what exactly is going on. For example, when a ride is “101,” that means the ride is currently down. There’s also the notorious “Code V,” which is supposedly the shorthand for a guest losing their lunch!
There are LOTS of ways to spend more time in the parks!
Did you know that you can actually spend more time in the theme parks than the hours that are posted on the calendar? There are a few secret (and not-so-secret) ways to enjoy extended park hours, both in the morning and in the evening!
Be In the Parks Before or After Park Hours
An easy way to guarantee a little extra time in the parks is to book a very early breakfast reservation or a very late dinner reservation.
Disney will typically seat guests prior to park opening time, giving you a rare glimpse of a near-empty theme park. At the end of the day, you can usually be sat right up until park closing, which means a very quiet and empty walk through the park on your way out.
There may not be much to do rather than walking between the park entrance and your restaurant, but it gives you views that most guests never see: an empty theme park!
Wait to Get Your Shop On!
Another way to get some extra time in the parks is to save your shopping until the end of the day. For example, the shops along Main Street, U.S.A. (and typically the main gift shop(s) in each park) stay open one hour after park closing time. That means you can spend more time on rides during the day, and pop into the stores on your way out after the park closes!
Bonus: this gives you ample time for crowds waiting for transportation to thin out!
Get In That Line Just Before Park Close!
Looking to tackle a popular ride? Hop in line right before park closing time! Even if the park closes in one minute, you will still be able to ride.
This is another great strategy that gives you more time during the day to check out other rides and attractions and save that super popular ride for the end of the night when wait times are usually lower.
Stay at a Disney World Hotel
You can also get extra time in the parks by staying on property at one of Disney World’s resort hotels. All on-property guests will be eligible for Early Theme Park Entry, and all guests staying at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts can hang out in the evening for extended evening theme park hours.
Click here to find out which resort guests are eligible for Disney World’s extended evening park hours.
Disney World dining secrets
Dining in Disney World is one of our favorite things to do, CLEARLY. So we know a thing or two when it comes to Disney World dining secrets.
We’re starting off with one of our favorite topics to talk about — secret menus!
Secret menus are more common in Disney World than you may think! Just ask a Cast Member if there are any secret menu items available for purchase — they’ll be more than willing to fill you in on food and drinks not regularly listed on the menu.
Some of these secret menu items are Disney World staples, while other items come and go! That’s why when in doubt, ASK!
Another lesser-known dining tip has to do with those discounts! Yep, there are ways to save on your next meal in Disney World! Just because a restaurant is in Disney World does NOT mean Disney owns it. Many of Disney World’s restaurants are owned and operated by major restaurant groups, such as Landry’s and Patina Group.
These companies offer rewards programs that you can sign up for and use at Disney World.
Check For a Lounge!
If you’re having difficulty grabbing Dining Reservation at your favorite restaurant, look and see if that restaurant has an adjoining lounge. You’ll usually be able to grab a table at the lounge without a reservation, and the lounge often shares their kitchen with the neighboring restaurant (for example, Nomad Lounge and Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!).
You can often order items from that restaurant, no reservation required. To hear more about these dining secrets plus even MORE tips you may have never heard, check out our video below!
There are tons of ways to make your dining experience more unique on your next Disney World vacation, so keep these tips in consideration next time you are at the parks and resorts!
You’re spending your money wrong!
Disney World vacations cost a pretty penny, so you’re going to want to make sure you’re spending your vacation dollars wisely! At the same time, Disney is a for-profit company, and there are plenty of times you may be paying MORE for something that you need to be!
The Good and Bad of the Dining Plan
For starters, MOST (definitely not all, but most) people don’t really save money on the Disney Dining Plan.
The Dining Plan’s major benefit is that it provides a convenient way to “pre-pay” for your meals — once you arrive in Disney World, you basically don’t have to think about what you’re spending on your food. Sort of (tips, extra food, and additional drinks will cost ya!). Despite this, it’s not really a savvy way to save on money. It’s a good way to budget in the sense that a large chunk of your food cost will be taken care of before you arrive, but as far as dollar for dollar value? It’s not always a winner.
Even when Disney offers its Free Dining Plan offer, you typically have to stay at a higher-level resort and pay more than what you may have paid otherwise on hotel accommodations to get the equivalent free food you would have likely planned to purchase out of pocket.
Those Souvenirs AIN’T Cheap!
Aside from the Dining Plan, there are other ways you may be spending your money incorrectly. Those souvenirs are awfully hard to say “no” to, but you may be able to find the same item online for cheaper! Disney’s online store, shopDisney, typically has sales throughout the year, so be on the lookout for those must-have Minnie Ears or spirit jerseys.
You may be able to buy the same item before your trip or after you return home at a lesser price!
Check For Discounts!
Speaking of discounts and sales, there’s almost always a sale going on for Disney World hotel rooms and package deals. You should never have to pay full price for your Disney World accommodations, so be sure to triple-check those discounts before booking.
Finally, if you do find a package sale, remember that you can almost always stay FEWER nights than the sample bookings on hotel and ticket package sales. So if a sale is listed as a “five day, four-night stay,” Disney is hoping you’ll book the full four nights — but you can almost always book fewer nights and still redeem the package deal. Just makes sure you ask the reservation agent when you book and read, read, read that fine print!
Disney won’t announce much…until they’re ready
Finally, some of the best-kept secrets Disney has are its upcoming projects and announcements. Disney is known to be pretty tight-lipped about new offerings until major events, like the D23 Expo or their quarterly Earnings Calls.
You may notice when Disney announces a new project, that an opening “season” will be the timeline given rather than an opening date, or even an opening month. This is so Disney can cover for any possible delays (and, as we’ve learned in the last couple of years, delays can and will likely happen!).
Another example of Disney keeping big announcements under wraps until the last moment possible is when ticket price increases take place. These are not announced typically until the day of so guests are not swarming the ticket booths or jamming the ticketing phone lines trying to get tickets slightly cheaper.
Want to learn MORE secrets that could help you on your next Disney World vacation? Check out our video below!
We hope this sheds a little bit of light on some so-called “secrets” that you may have never heard of, or that you may have heard of but wanted a little more detail! There are countless ways to make your Disney World vacations better than the last, so be sure to follow along for more tips and tricks as you prepare for your upcoming trip!
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Leave a comment below and let us know what tip you would give someone who’s visiting Disney World for the first time!