We’re at Disney World almost every day, and so we’ve learned a few things about how to get the best views on rides, what the best seats are, and how to get on popular rides without waiting in lines that are impossibly long!
So what other ride hacks at Disney World do YOU need to know?
1. Rider Switch
OK, so this isn’t so much a “hack” BUT many people don’t know it’s even offered!! If you’re a parent with younger kids that don’t meet all the different height requirements, listen up! Rider Switch is a way for a family with two caretakers to switch out riding so someone can stay with the person who can’t (or doesn’t want to) ride. All you have to do is request a Rider Switch with the Cast Member at the entrance of the ride.
It works like this: One caretaker can ride (either solo or with the rest of their party) while the other person waits with the person(s) not riding and then you can switch and the other caretaker and up to three guests can ride right after without having to wait in line again.
This is a great way to double up your rides. After the first group rides that ride, the second group can ride with a short wait by entering the Lighting Lane. If you have some guests with you looking to snag a second shorter wait on that ride, they’re welcome to go with but only until you reach that three additional guest maximum.
2. Get The Best View on Soarin’
If you’re not familiar with Soarin’, the screen is curved to help create the illusion of flying over the world without using 3D technology. If you end up on the sides of the ride, your view might look a little warped (OK, a LOT warped!). So here’s how to prevent that: when you’re in line, request Concourse B for the best Soarin’ views. That puts you in the middle of the attraction for the best view.
We also often recommend requesting the first row so you don’t have other guests’ feet in your face. This isn’t guaranteed that the Cast Members can accommodate, but they’ll often try.
3. How To Get A Wilder Ride
When it comes to most thrill rides at Disney World — and we’re talking Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Slinky Dog Dash — sitting in the back gives you a more thrilling ride experience. (If you remember much of your high school Physics class, you might remember why!) HOWEVER, if you’re with a kiddo (hey, or adult!) who isn’t used to roller coasters yet, you’ll want to request a seat in the front for a more gentle ride.
And if you’re looking for the best — and most thrilling seats — on rides, be sure to check out our guides on Best and Worst Seats on rides in Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT.
4. Best Time To Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris
We bet you’re wondering — what’s the best time to go on a safari in Animal Kingdom? You wanna see the most bang for your back, animal-wise, right? Well, the answer is — that depends! However, when it’s cooler — in mornings and evenings — you’re probably going to see more animals out and about. They’re out often in the morning and around dusk.
However, different animals prefer different times of the day, so you might see certain animals in the morning and completely different animals during the evenings. And some animals LOVE the rain, so this is a great ride for a rainy park day.
5. Using Disney Genie and Disney Genie+
Disney Genie is “designed to help you make the most out of your visit, whether you’re a first-time guest or a seasoned pro.” The service, which can be found under the My Disney Experience app, allows guests to create customized itineraries based on rides they want to ride, shows they want to see, and dining plans. Once guests have told Genie what they want to do, they’ll be given options with the service on how best to use their time at the parks. Oh, and did we mention that you can also use Genie as a Virtual Assistant?
And if your plans change — Genie will update its recommendations and offer tips and updates for your whole group. The itinerary also pairs with a personalized tip board that displays information about current and future attraction wait times, showtimes, details about virtual queues, dining availability, Mobile Order, and more. So just this information alone can help you plan which rides you want to hit and when you’ll find the best time to do so.
The planning part of Genie is free, but if you really want to hack rides, you’ll want to sign up for Genie+, which costs $15 per day per ticket. With Genie+, you can skip the line at 46 attractions throughout Disney World and access the Lightning Lane, meaning you’ll spend less time waiting in line and more time riding attractions! Yep, it’s paid FastPass, basically (if you’re familiar with the old system).
And if you want to ride some of the more popular attractions (like Rise of the Resistance and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train), you can use the Individual Attraction Selection of Genie, which means you’ll pay a certain amount per ride per person. The pricing does depend on demand.
So again, not necessarily a hack BUT if you want a shot at those Lighting Lanes, this is how you do it. Gotta pay to play nowadays. We could go into a million ways you can use Genie, Genie+, and Individual Attraction Selection to have a shorter wait on rides at Disney World, but instead, we recommend you read our full Genie guide here!
6. Disability Access
So this isn’t a ride hack again, per se, but something you’ll want to know about if you have someone requiring additional assistance in your group. Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) is available to guests who have disabilities. Those guests will need to go to Guest Relations to obtain a DAS pass on their MagicBand (or a physical pass if they don’t have a MagicBand). Guests can also pre-apply for DAS before they arrive by going online.
This pass is valid for the length of their stay. This lets them go to an attraction and receive a return time. Once that time comes up, those guests will be directed through an alternative entrance for boarding (often the Lightning Lane). Note, though, that guests with a DAS pass will still have to join a boarding group to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
7. Single Rider Lines
If you’re visiting Disney World solo or have a group who doesn’t care if everyone rides together on a ride, you need to know about the Single Rider Line, which is offered at Test Track, Expedition Everest, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. And the waits for these lines are a lot shorter than normal standby lines, and about the same time or even shorter as Lightning Lane lines.
Rides even have displays that will let you know how long the Single Rider Line is. And if you are with a party, you can still wait in line with them — you don’t separate from them until you get on the actual ride. Keep in mind though if your whole crew hops in the single rider line you likely WILL get separated. We see guests all the time hop in line because it’s shorter and get upset when Cast Members refuse to seat their whole party together. This line is to fill holes on rides. However, you can still end up in the same ride vehicle with them, just don’t count on it!
8. When Should You Ride To Avoid Lines?
If you can avoid lines, you’ll be able to ride more rides, and isn’t that the whole point? So here’s our top tip, even though it seems kinda obvious — you’ll get to ride a LOT more rides during the very first and the very last hours at the parks than during the middle of the day when everyone and their families are getting in lines. Now, we aren’t telling you that rope drop is a must, but if you want to get on a bunch of rides with the smallest wait times, you might want to consider it.
There are also shorter lines during shows, parades, and fireworks (when all of those are offered) if you don’t mind missing out to hop on a ride with a super short wait time. Although Disney has suspended the Extra Magic Hours program, the Early Theme Park Entry is here, which allows Disney World hotel guests into any park 30 minutes before everyone else — and that, too, would be a good time to get in as many rides as you can. Also keep in mind that those choosing to stay at a Deluxe Resort (AKA: $$$$) get a nice perk of select extended evening hours in the park just for them.
Keep in mind parks with earlier close times, like Animal Kingdom, can see a lot of guests in the morning that then park hop to another park at 2PM. This means that you’re often less likely to stand in long lines at Animal Kingdom after 2PM until close. You could — quite literally — possibly walk onto Flight of Passage later in the day.
9. Ticketed Events
Disney often offers After Hours events, which are events that require an additional ticket to attend. These events are generally limited, meaning that lines for rides are often significantly shorter at them. This includes Disney After Hours Boo Bash AND Mickey’s Very Merriest After Hours.
The downside is that these events can get very pricey, especially if you’re traveling with a large group. The tickets for these events are often $100 or more PER PERSON. But if you’re on a short trip or just hate waiting in lines, it might be worth it for you and your group to attend.
10. Rides That Are Better At Night
Some rides are just more fun at night. Think outdoor roller coasters, like Slinky Dog Dash, which gives you great views of Toy Story Land all lit up at night (translation: RAINBOWS!). Big Thunder Mountain Railroad seems more exciting at night because you can’t see where you’re going.
Astro Orbiter during fireworks will also blow your mind if you can time it just right. Just set your rocket to the highest setting and watch the night light up with color!
11. Getting In Line at Park Close
Here’s a tip — if you jump in line for a ride JUST before park close, you WILL get to ride it. And at the end of the night, wait times are often showing a bit higher than they really are — so not only will you get to ride, but you’ll possibly also wait in a shorter line to do so.
So say you get in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train one minute before park close…you’re all good to ride!
12. Get To the Park BEFORE It Opens
We mentioned getting to the parks in time for rope drop, but if you can manage it, get to the park about 45 minutes before official opening time and you may get to go in AND ride some things before official opening time.
This isn’t a given — often guests will be permitted in just a small portion of the park (think like Main Street, U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom) but lands will be roped off until open. It’s worth a shot though and, if you’re there early, you’ll be one of the first in line for any ride you chose once things DO open up!
However, you can get into the park even before that if you’re staying at a Disney World resort hotel. Early Theme Park Entry (which we discussed above!) is available to all Disney World resort guests that lets you get into any park and start riding attractions 30 minutes before the park’s official opening time.
And again, guests staying at Disney World deluxe resorts, as well as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, also get select Extended Evening hours at the parks, which means a chance to ride attractions with shorter lines after the parks officially close to the public.
13. What To Do When Things Break Down
Some rides are a lot of fun when they break down because they give you a chance to really take in some of the great details — and Hidden Mickeys — that Disney’s Imagineers have put into them. Also, if you’re on a ride that breaks down, you’ll likely be given a pass to get in a Lightning Lane for another attraction in the park.
Note that this Lightning Lane access often excludes the more popular rides, so don’t expect to get on Flight of Passage if Tough to Be a Bug in Animal Kingdom breaks down. (The exception here is if the ride you were evacuated from IS one of those big rides — you’ll be able to come back and ride that ride later in the day when it’s operational.)
14. What To Do When Your Favorite Ride is Down for Refurb
You can often avoid this problem altogether by doing a little research — Disney World keeps a list on its calendar of ride refurbishment schedules so you’ll know if a ride will be down during your trip. But if your favorite ride is closed and you didn’t know, look for similar attractions elsewhere in the park. If the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is down, you can always ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad instead. Pirates of the Caribbean closed? Try it’s a small world!
Keep in mind that January gets a little chilly in Florida in the winters — water rides are often scheduled to be down during that time. This includes Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids, and the water parks. Again, check that refurb calendar for the latest!
15. Dumbo vs. Triceratops Spin vs. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Did you even go to Disney World if you don’t have an iconic spin around on Dumbo? This ride is a classic but that can also mean longer-than-you’d-like-to-wait standby lines! If you’ve got a kid who insists on riding Dumbo, you don’t necessarily HAVE to stand in line for Dumbo. All three of these rides are the same! Your smaller kiddos probably won’t know the difference, so hop on the one with the shortest wait time.
Both Triceratops Spin in Animal Kingdom and Magic Carpets of Aladdin in Magic Kingdom typically have little to no wait! This also works if Dumbo is down for refurbishment: both Triceratops Spin and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin will be suitable replacements for your child.
16. How To Introduce Kids To Coasters
If you have a kid who’s ready to get their feet wet with thrill rides, we recommend taking them on the following rides in the following order: Barnstormer in Magic Kingdom, Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom, and then Space Mountain Magic Kingdom.
Save biggies like Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Tower of Terror for once they’ve mastered the others! So when you start with Barnstormer and your kid likes it, have them watch Slinky Dog Dash and ride that, and so on. (We recommend trying out Barnstormer during the DAY. It’s very tight around this coaster with trees and props and can be frightening to not know where they’re going in the dark for some kids.) Always check in with how they feel about each ride and don’t push them to ride something they don’t feel ready for yet.
17. Tips For Motion Sickness or Fear of Heights
If you’re worried about motion sickness, there are a few rides at Disney World you will probably want to avoid. First, the 3D and simulator rides like Star Tours, Flight of Passage, and Mission Space, are probably rides you’ll want to skip (the green side of Mission Space is a lot less intense than the orange side, although if you have issues with tight spaces or claustrophobia — you might want to skip altogether).
You’ll also want to consider avoiding jerky rides — like Dinosaur — and spinning rides — like the Mad Tea Party. You can choose not to spin your teacup, but you’ll still have the general swirling motion of the ride, so if you think that might still make you feel queasy, it’s probably best to not get on it.
If you have a fear of heights, be cautious about rides like Flight of Passage and Soarin’, which don’t place you too high up really but sure simulate flying from heights. You’ll also want to avoid Tower of Terror, as well as most coasters, if heights are not your thing.
18. What To Do With Your Bags
MOST guests opt to carry some form of a bag with them to Disney World, but here’s the question — where do you put it? At Universal Studios, for example, each ride has a locker for bags, but this isn’t the case at Disney World. But most rides do have somewhere you can keep your things stored away during the ride.
But if you have a big backpack or bag that doesn’t fit in those bag holders, you do have some options. At Soarin’, you can just leave your bag on the ground — there’s a little taped off area on the floor for oversized bags. A Cast Member will help you out.
On roller coasters, you can just loop a backstrap around your knee and put it down by your feet — we’ve never had issues with bags flying off. But don’t forget to check that zippered compartments are secure and there’s nothing that could easily fly OUT of your bag. If you loaded up in the gift shops and find yourself with giant Disney bags full of goodies that don’t fit in your seat compartment, let a Cast Member know. They might be able to hold it for you near the exit or let you take turns while another person in your party waits with your stuff. If you’re doing several thrill rides in a row, consider a Locker Rental — you’ll find those near the entrance of the parks, as well as near water rides like Kali River Rapids. These DO cost money, so keep that in mind.
And as always, make sure any loose items like hats, sunglasses, Minnie ears, etc. are in zippered compartments of your bag on those faster rides and a plastic bag on those water rides if you don’t want them to get wet. (Don’t forget to take them when you leave too!)
19. How To Get A High Score on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
This is a really fun attraction at Magic Kingdom, and you want to score high — even if it’s just for bragging rights! So be sure to use that joystick to pivot your vehicle so that you can see all of the targets. In the first room is a giant robot — aim for the targets inside the arms to get 100,000 points. Now, THAT’S what we’re talking about.
On Zurg’s ship, there’s a target on the bottom you’ll want to hit for 25,000 points. When you’re going through the Star Tunnel, try to hit the body of the spaceship for another 100,000 points. Of course, there are a ton of other ways to max out your score, but we hope that gets you started to beating your current high score.
20. Easter Eggs and High Scores On Toy Story Mania
Likewise, there are Easter Eggs on Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios that can maximize your score and maybe even get you on the leaderboard at the end of the ride (goals!!!). In the first scene with the barn, watch for mice running up the side of the barn and shoot at them. If you hit them all, you’ll get a fun surprise.
Also, knock the fox off the hen house — this will give you some new high score targets to hit. If you can ring all the little green men at the same time (and you can totally work with your ride partner to do this), the scene will change into a robot with an open mouth that lets you shoot as many rings as possible for 1,000 and 2,000 points each. Oh, yeah!
So yeah, these are only a few tips on how to get a high score on Toy Story Mania, but these are sure to help you out!
So we hope you enjoyed these fun ride hacks and tips and hope they help you have the most magical time possible at Disney World. And as always, we’ll continue to share all our favorite Disney World tips and tricks!
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Do you have any favorite ride hacks to share? Let us know in the comments!