11 Tips for Disneyland-ers to Get the Most Out of Your Disney World Visit

Since our beloved Disneyland is still closed and we needed some Disney therapy, we booked a vaca to Walt Disney World.  We are heading home now after 7 days of Disney fun, and while thinking about all we did, I found myself wishing I had understood a few of the differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort a little bit better before we went. So, here are a few tips to help all of us Disneylanders plus the magic on our next trip to Disney World.

Tip #1 – Book a few extra days at your hotel. 

I really wish we had done this.  We stayed in the Caribbean Beach Resort which is a dream vaca in itself, surrounded by lakes, pools, white sandy beaches with hammocks, beach chairs, and steel drum music playing. But every day we went to a park, wore ourselves out and crashed at the end of the day, too tired to enjoy the resort. A couple of days tacked onto the end of our trip for laying on that sand, and napping in those hammocks, would’ve made a world of difference.

Caribbean Beach Resort Hotel
Tip#2 – Stay at a hotel with easy access to the parks you wish to visit
 
The Caribbean Beach Resort had the main Skyliner hub right next to our hotel. That’s Disney’s free tram. It was perfectly situated so all we did was jump on the Skyliner gondola and after an amazing 5 minute ride, we’d arrive at either Epcot or Hollywood studios. Our resort also had two bus stops that were an easy 5 minute walk from our room, that took us to any of the parks or Disney Springs. A few years ago we stayed at Port Orleans, and had a water taxi stop just a short walk from our room, that took us to several of the parks and to Disney Springs. Also very convenient.
The Skyliner Aerial Gondolas at Walt Disney World Resort
Tip #3 – If you’re going to dinner from the parks, forget Disney Springs 
 
There were lots of dinner reservations available at Disney Springs, and fewer at restaurants in the parks. Unfortunately, the Disney buses don’t go directly from the parks to Disney Springs right now, requiring riders to stand in line for a bus to take them to a resort, then disembark and stand in line for a Disney Springs bus. Imagine arriving at the end of a long Disney day, then having to stand in line for two bus transfers and spend over an hour of travel time just to get to dinner. Not a pretty picture. But that’s what we had to do to eat at Disney Springs. The food and entertainment at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs were excellent, but no better than the food at the best restaurants in the parks. For us, it was definitely not worth it.

Tip #4 – Make dinner reservations ahead of time

One of the best features of the Disney World parks is the many themed restaurants.  Don’t miss out on these.  They’re worth the visit and an integral part of Disney World’s magical experience. With Covid restrictions, the parks have less staff, so many eateries are closed, but the most popular ones are still open.  So have fun, rest your feet, and have a new Disney experience, you won’t regret it!

While we’re talking restaurants … here’s our list of favorites from this trip: Les Chefs de France in Epcot, Hollywood Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios, Jungle Navigation Co LTD Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom, Tiffins Restaurant in Animal Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom. The French Onion Soup at Chefs de France sets a new standard in soups, and the Brazilian Cheese Bread at Jungle Navigation Co was out of this world.

Les Chefs de France restaurant at EPCOT
Tip #5 – Don’t be discouraged by the wait times posted.
 
We found the wait times to be consistently over-estimated by about 15-20 minutes, so don’t be discouraged if the wait times seem long. Cast members told us that new distancing requirements don’t allow them to fill the ride vehicles as they normally would, unless guests are part of a group travelling together, so estimating transit time in line is a bit tricky right now.
Alien Swirling Saucers 10 minute wait? Nope, it was walk-on
Tip #6 – Go an hour early to the park.
 
During the week we were in the parks, we noticed that rides already seemed to have queues by the time we got there at opening. On our second to last day, the lines were already very long just prior to opening. So we asked a cast member about it. He glanced around to make sure no one was listening, motioned for us to step behind a large bush, and whispered “we’re opening the parks an hour early, but we’re not advertising it. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone”. Well, apparently quite a few people already knew. So, word to the wise, take advantage of the super secret extra time and arrive an hour early. We did this on our last day, and we rode four attractions before there were any lines. Score!
Take advantage of the "extra" hour while it lasts

Tip #7 – Reserve your park early.

Because Disney has Covid-related attendance restrictions at each park, guests are required to have both an admission ticket AND a park reservation each day. So after you get your ticket, you’ll have to reserve your park ahead of time. Do this as soon as you book your vacation.  Hollywood studios is the hardest to get in, so I suggest reserving it first.

Reserve your park as soon as possible
Tip #8 – Enjoy the differences
 
Disneylanders will notice right away that signature attractions at WDW parks are different in several ways from their sister attractions at DLR. Your beloved Pirates of the Caribbean attraction might be a disappointment at Magic Kingdom Park because it only has one drop not two, and doesn’t take you through the bayou. At the same time, the facade looks like a Caribbean fort, and the queue area winds thru the rooms of the fort. You don’t get that at Disneyland. And much of the queue is indoors, which you don’t get at Disneyland either. So, prepare yourself mentally for some differences, and enjoy a new take on your favorite rides.
Splash is a little different - enjoy it!
Tip #9 – Use the Relaxation Stations
 
Wearing a mask all day is exhausting, but Disney figured out a way to give you some relief. They temporarily closed a few less popular attractions and turned them into Relaxation Stations where you may go to take your mask off and get some fresh air. These are indoors, or in a shaded location, many have benches, chairs, or tables, and some have fans. There are quite a few of them scattered around the parks, and the locations are marked on the park maps.
Relax and un-mask at the Relaxation Stations
Tip #10 – Join Star Wars Rise of the Resistance virtual cue from your hotel room
 
Disneylanders are used to having to join the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance from inside the park. At WDW it’s a little different. If you have reservations for Hollywood studios, and you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can join a virtual queue from your hotel room at 7 am.  Just like DLR, queues fill up within 60 seconds so be quick, but if you don’t get in… no worries, you’ll have another chance at 1 pm when you’re inside the park.  You join a queue in the same way, using the app. Prior to 7 am, get your phone ready, open the app, make sure the passes for every person in your party are linked before hand, and start trying to join the queue 1 minute before the time.
These look like Resistance Fighters!
Tip#11 – Take advantage of the Disney World attractions that we don’t have at Disneyland
 
To us die-hard Disneyland fans, who are still missing Disney fun, I’m telling you that Disney World has some very cool rides that we don’t have in California. So what better time to go experience new Disney attractions than now.
Bear Country Jamboree - oh how we've missed you!

Here are the must-see Disney World lands and attractions that Disneyland-ers dont have:

Hollywood studios– Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway RailwayStar Wars: Galaxy’s EdgeRise of the Resistance (if you didn’t experience it before Disneyland closed), Toy Story Land is adorable and has a new Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and an Alien Swirling Saucer ride.

Magic kingdom– Cinderella’s CastleSeven Dwarfs Mine Train, Haunted Mansion (it’s a different design), Bear Country Jamboree (one of my favorite shows that closed at Disneyland in 2001)

Epcot– Frozen ride (your kids will love you), Mission SpaceTest Track (a real automobile test track that takes you 65 mph)

Wild Animal Kingdom– Pandora Flight of PassageNa’vi River JourneyKilimanjaro Safari, and Expedition Everest (not to be missed).

If any of this sounds exciting to you, please email me at colleen@mysuitetravel.com and we can talk about booking your family vacation. I’m a certified Disney Travel Agent and if you book through me, I will include a $10 Disney gift card for every $1000 booked (not including airline travel expenses).

If you are needing some Disney time let me help you plan your visit to Disney World so you can begin your Social Disneying!

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