Our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners has been updated for Fall 2019 with all the latest information including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The guide will give you a helping hand if you are a first time or repeat visitor.
Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners Contents
Our Guide to Walt Disney World 2019 is a massive resource including all the latest information for Fall 2019 & 2020.
- Walt Disney World The Basics including the history of Walt Disney World, Resort Facts, New Attractions & Coming Soon to Walt Disney Wolrd
- Initial Research & Reserving your Walt Disney World Vacation Includes your initial research, setting a budget, a planning timeline, tips on whether to use a Disney Vacation Planner, when you should visit & our planning templates.
- Where to Stay When Visiting Walt Disney World Do you need help deciding whether to stay on or off-site when visiting Disney World? We also have details on every Walt Disney World Resort.
- The Walt Disney World Theme Parks All about the big 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom
- Water Parks at Walt Disney World Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon
- Entertainment Districts at Walt Disney World all about Disney Springs & the Boardwalk
- Other Attractions at Walt Disney World including golf & ESPN Wide World of Sports
- Essential Disney World Knowledge including Park Hours, Fastpass, My Disney Experience, MagicBands, Extra Magic Hours & much more.
- Disabilities at Walt Disney World how Walt Disney World caters for guests with disabilities. Includes information on ECV hires and the Disability Access Service.
- Walt Disney World Useful Information including wheelchair hire, ATMs, baby
centers& loads of other useful Disney World information.
- Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks A selection of fantastic tips to have a great Disney World Vacation plus the odd mistake you must avoid.
- Walt Disney World Transport links to all transport options at Walt Disney World
- Dining at Walt Disney World including the Disney Dining Plan
- Events & Festivities at Walt Disney World details on annual festivals and parties.
- Walt Disney World News How to find all the latest happenings at Walt Disney World plus the top rumors we have heard on the Disney Grapevine.
Walt Disney World The Basics
Walt Disney World opened on 1st October 1971, and today it is the most visited vacation resort in the world with 52 million guests visiting each year.
Walt Disney World has four theme parks, two water parks, several golf courses, numerous hotels and Disney Vacation Club Resorts, a camping resort and, various other entertainment venues.
Most first time visitors are not aware of the size of Walt Disney World before they visit. The resort is similar in size to San Francisco!
A Brief History of Walt Disney World
In 2021 Walt Disney World will be 50 years old. A lot has happened in those first 50 years. Here are some of the biggest events in the History of Walt Disney World:
- In 1965 Walt Disney announced the Florida Project. Unfortunately, Walt did not see his vision come to life. Walt passed away in 1966.
- On October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom opened its doors to 10,000 guests. Also opening that day were Disney Contemporary Resort & Polynesian Resort.
- The Magic Kingdom expanded fast in those initial years. Attractions added included Pirates of The Caribbean in 1973, Space Mountain in 1975 & Big Thunder Mountain in 1980.
- Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened in 1975 featuring clusters of boutique and handicraft merchandise shops. This area today has been expanded and is part of Disney Springs.
- In 1976 the first water park at Walt Disney World, Disney’s River Country opens. River Country would close permanently in 2001 and is the site of a future resort Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
- In 1982 Epcot Center opened becoming the 2nd theme park in Walt Disney World.
- In 1989 Hollywood Studios opened. The park was initially called Disney-MGM Studios
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water-park opened on June 1st, 1989.
- The first Disney Vacation Property opened in 1991. Disney’s Old Key West was initially named as Disney’s Vacation Club Resort until it was renamed January 1996.
- 1995 saw the opening of Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
- In 1998 Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 4th park, opened.
- Numerous hotels and resorts opened throughout this time.
- Recent expansion has included Pandora – The World of Avatar in 2017 & Toy Story Land in 2018.
- 2019 has seen the opening of the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios.
- 2020 will see the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot.
New Attractions in 2019 at Walt Disney World
2019 has been a busy year at Walt Disney World. The following new attractions have opened so far this year:-
- Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party at the Magic Kingdom
- Pixar Place welcomes The Incredibles a short term attraction that closed at the end of September.
- Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party at the Animal Kingdom
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy at Hollywood Studios
- Wonderful World of Animation is a new nighttime spectacular at Hollywood Studios.
- Rivers of Light – We Are One updated show at the Animal Kingdom
- Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- NBA Experience at Disney Springs
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened at Hollywood Studios including the new attraction Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
At the time of writing, the following attractions are still to open at Walt Disney World in 2019:-
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Hollywood Studios. the attraction will open on December 5, 2019
- Disney Riviera Resort opens in December.
- Space 220 a new restaurant opening in Epcot.
- Epcot Forever is a new limited-time fireworks show opening on October 1st.
- Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion will be opening on October 1, 2019, for previews of the changes being made to Epcot.
- There will also be a list of closures and relocations in Epcot to allow development at the park.
You can learn more about new attractions at Walt Disney World in 2019 here.
Future Expansions at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has a number of ongoing projects to bring guests new experiences. Hollywood Studios is in the middle of a major upgrade which has seen the opening of Toy Story Land & Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Epcot is next to get a major upgrade and have been some very exciting recent announcements.
2021 is going to be an exciting year at Walt Disney World as it is the resort’s 50th birthday. Expect a host of festivities to be announced in 2020.
The following are some of the attractions confirmed to be opening at Walt Disney World in 2020 & beyond:
A new Tron themed coaster is due to open in 2021.
At the recent D23, we learned more about all the changes coming to Epcot. While we were disappointed not to hear about a new pavilion in World Showcase, we are excited by a new Mary Poppins attraction.
The big events in 2020 at Epcot will be the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the new nighttime show “HarmonioUS”.
To learn more about the changes coming to Epcot in 2020 and beyond visit our dedicated blog.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open in Spring 2020. The attraction has been delayed from its original 2019 opening.
- Mickey Shorts Theater opens in Spring 2019
- A new Star Wars themed resort called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open next to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
- Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
Did you know that Walt Disney World has more than 200 restaurants, more than any other single-site vacation destination in the world?
Also, did you know that over 10 million hamburgers & 1.5 million turkey legs are consumed at Disney World each year?
If you want to learn more Walt Disney World Facts visit our dedicated page.
Want to play a game when visiting Walt Disney World? See who can spot the most Hidden Mickeys.
There are thousands of Hidden Mickeys throughout the resort and more are added with each change. A Hidden Mickey is a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction or another site.
Finding Hidden Mickeys is not easy, but they are everywhere throughout Walt Disney World.
Initial Research & Reserving your Walt Disney World Vacation
The first steps of arranging any Walt Disney World Vacation is doing your research, setting your budgets & making your initial reservations.
In this section of our Guide to Walt Disney World, we help you with those initial vacation planning steps.
The initial steps in planning a Walt Disney World Vacation
Walt Disney World Vacations are unlike any other vacation. Not only are they expensive they also consist of considerable planning and research.
The preparation for a Disney World vacation starts long before your vacation begins. We recommend as soon as possible you consider the following:
- Set what your maximum budget is. There will be additional expenses as you come closer to your departure date, make sure you can still pay for them.
- Consider where you would like to stay. There are plenty of accommodation options at Walt Disney World but there are other more affordable options offsite.
- Research flights. Prices of flights do vary, and the best time to book does differ from country to country. Have a look at travel forums to find out when the best time to book is.
- Are you going to book the vacation yourself or use a Disney Vacation Planner/Travel Agent?
- Research Walt Disney World via online media(including this site!), guidebooks, etc. Look into when historically offers are released for Disney World Vacations.
- Do you want to visit Universal Orlando or other Orlando parks?
- Pick your dates & get any annual leave requests arranged.
The above is only the starting point of planning your Walt Disney World vacation. Our Walt Disney World Planning Timeline contains all the key dates to help you plan a perfect vacation.
Important information Foreign Visitors to Walt Disney World
The majority of Foreign Visitors must obtain a Visa prior to entry to the United States. However, certain International visitors may be entitled to enter via the Visa Waiver Program, but they must obtain an ESTA first.
All guest are recommended to apply for visas and ESTAs well in advance of their travel plans. You can find out more about Visas to the United States here.
Setting your budget!
Unfortunately, money is likely to play a part in planning your Walt Disney World Vacation.
We have created a free Walt Disney World Budget Planner among our selection of Walt Disney World Planning tools. If you have a strict budget, print out our budget tool and start filling it in as you start your initial planning.
Remember extra expenses add up. Before you arrive, you will probably have paid for your hotel and park tickets, but remember gratuities and souvenirs are not cheap.
If your package does not come with meals, eg the Disney Dining Plan, plan your meal costs carefully. Menus and pricing are available online for most restaurants. A family of 4 can easily spend over $2000 a week on food at Walt Disney World.
How long do I need at Walt Disney World?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question. Walt Disney World is changing all the time, and even on an extended trip, you are likely to find something new.
Also, you can have a great time at Walt Disney World even if you only visit for a weekend. The majority of first-time visitors should probably consider allocating a minimum of 2 days for all parks.
We have created a guide on how to plan the length of your Walt Disney World Vacation.
Should I use a Disney Vacation Planner or Travel Agent?
Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agencies are specialist authorized Disney Travel Agents. They operate in the United States only and can plan every aspect of your vacation. There is no charge for their services, and the income they earn is a commission from sales.
In other countries, there are package holiday companies and travel agents who specialize in selling Disney Holidays. However, package holiday companies in the United Kingdom often work out considerably more expensive.
There are pros and cons of using a Disney Vacation Planner. Disney Vacation Planners certainly make your planning less stressful, but you do lose some control of your vacation. We have created a Guide to whether you should use a Disney Vacation Planner to help you make a decision.
When should I visit?
You will have a great time whenever you visit Walt Disney World. Even if you can only visit at the busiest times you will still have a great time.
Walt Disney World seems to be getting busier overall. Events such as the Food & Wine Festival now drag people to the parks during traditionally quiet periods. However, this change in vacation patterns has resulted in slightly lower crowds during the summer period.
Although Walt Disney World will be busy during most periods of the year it is busiest in Summer Months, Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Year, Independence Day & Christmas. However, in busy periods park hours are often extended to give you more chance to complete attractions.
The least busy period at Walt Disney World is from Labor Day to the beginning of October and the middle of January.
There are lots of websites telling you the best days to visit each park but our experience is they often tell you different answers. We certainly do not recommend paying for this information. We have paid for all the most popular sites and have found their recommendations unreliable.
We have created a Guide to Managing Crowds at Walt Disney World which has tips and tricks to cope with even the busiest days.
Walt Disney World Tickets
Buying a ticket for Walt Disney World is not simple. There are numerous options which offer different benefits plus they can significantly differ in price.
Starting in October 2018 Disney introduced seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets. While there were some slight reductions in price for off-peak tickets, peak tickets became more expensive.
As a general rule longer tickets represent better value for money than short stay tickets. In addition, park hopper options plus water park admission adds to the cost of your tickets.
We have created a guide which explains everything you need to know when buying Walt Disney World Tickets.
What about the weather?
While it is highly unlikely you can visit Orlando and not encounter a fair measure of sunshine it can undoubtedly be offset with plenty of rain and the occasional storm.
Hurricanes are something that worries many first time visitors to Florida. It is unusual for hurricanes to ruin your vacation but occasionally it can happen.
While summer storms are inevitable, they are more likely to be an inconvenience than a vacation-ruining experience. We have created a Guide to Orlando Weather which has further information.
After your initial research, you will want to start putting down your vacation plans in writing. Our Free Walt Disney World Planners are a great resource that can help create a perfect Walt Disney World Vacation Plan.
Our Walt Disney World Vacation Planners include:
- A vacation overview
- A Disney World budgeting planning sheet
- A weekly Walt Disney World planning sheet
- A Dining & Fastpass+ planner
- Daily planners
- Plus more planners coming soon.
Make sure you download this free resource.
Where to Stay When Visiting Walt Disney World
One of the first things you must consider when booking a Disney World Vacation is where to stay.
Staying Off-Site at Walt Disney World
There are numerous accommodation options throughout Orlando. Accommodation options include luxurious villas, budget motels & 5-star hotels. Many hotels include free transportation to Walt Disney World.
All these options have one big advantage over Walt Disney World Resorts and that is the price. You will get more “Bang for Your Buck” staying off-site!
Whether to stay on-site or off-site when visiting Walt Disney World is not an easy decision. We have created a guide to help you decide whether you should stay off-site or on-site when visiting Disney World.
If you are visiting Walt Disney World nothing beats being in the heart of the action by staying in a Walt Disney World Resort.
Walt Disney World Resorts provide unique theming, accommodation to suit a range of budgets & the opportunity to stay in the middle of the action. No matter who you are traveling with there will be an accommodation option that will suit you.
- Free transport from Orlando International Airport
- Extra Magic Hours in a selected park each day.
- Earlier booking of Fastpass and Advanced Dining Reservations.
- Free MagicBand.
- Being able to book the Disney Dining Plan as part of your reservation.
While there are cheaper options than staying at a Walt Disney World Resort the closeness and the added extras make them a popular option for many guests.
Our Guide to Walt Disney World Resorts has information on all the resorts at Walt Disney World.
Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels
Guests who want to stay near the action but do not necessarily want to stay in a Walt Disney World Resort might consider staying at one of the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels.
These resorts all include shuttles to the theme parks and now guaranteed in 2020 the extended 60-day Fastpass Window & access to Extra Magic Hours. In addition, these resorts are usually slightly cheaper than booking an official Disney Resort.
Disney Vacation Club
Guests visiting Walt Disney World regularly often consider investing in Disney Vacation Club the Disney World Time Share scheme. It is hard not to notice regular sale sites when you visit any park or resort. However, purchasing a share in the Disney Vacation Club requires careful consideration.
DVC members purchase a one-time real estate interest in one of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts. For their investment, a member receives an annual allocation of points which can be used either at their home resort, another DVC property or a selection of other options. Guests must also pay annual dues for the upkeep of their home resort.
Disney Vacation Club properties are all Deluxe Resorts and offer an outstanding experience. The new Disney’s Riviera Resort is the 15th Disney Vacation Club Resort.
Walt Disney World often sells vacant properties to regular guests. Guests traveling in larger groups can find these represent excellent value. There are also websites specializing selling members unused points, while these can represent great value, care must be taken before booking through this route.
The Walt Disney World Theme Parks
There are 4 theme parks in Walt Disney World each with their own unique ambiance. All 4 theme parks are large and usually take a minimum of 2 days to complete. Guide maps & showtimes are available at the entrance to all parks or via the My Disney Experience App.
The Magic Kingdom was the very first theme park to open in Walt Disney World on the 1st October 1971. Today it is the most popular theme park in the World. It often attracts large crowds and has a maximum capacity of 100,000 which is often reached on National Holidays.
The Magic Kingdom’s icon is the blue & gold turreted Cinderella Castle which rises 189 feet above the park’s 142 acres. The Magic Kingdom’s layout and attractions are based on Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. The park is dedicated to fairy tales and Disney characters.
Visit our 2019 Guide to the Magic Kingdom for further information, and to learn all the latest news, tips & tricks.
Epcot opened on October 1st, 1982. It covers 300 acres and is more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom. It was the 2nd Theme Park to open in Walt Disney World.
Epcot is represented by Spaceship Earth, a giant sphere that also serves as an attraction of the same name. Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement and is split into 2 sections Future World & World Showcase. The park is often described as a permanent World Fair.
Epcot is currently undergoing a multi-year enhancement project. The project will include many new attractions but also the closure of some historic attractions. Unfortunately, you are likely to encounter some building work when you visit. Visit our Epcot News Section to learn more.
You can learn more about Epcot in our Beginners Guide.
Dedicated to Show Business the park opened on the 1 May 1989. The theme park was launched by Disney in response to Universal Studios opening in Orlando. Previously the park’s icons have been the Earful Tower & the Sorcerer’s hat but now the park is without an official icon.
Hollywood Studios has been undergoing massive renovations including the introduction of several new lands and attractions. Toy Story Land, the first of these changes, opened in Summer 2018. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening in stages over 2019.
Read more about the park including tips and tricks in our Guide to Hollywood Studios.
The park’s icon is The Tree of Life a 145-foot tree sculpture. The Animal Kingdom is dedicated to a kingdom of real, ancient and imagined animals. In total there are around 2000 animals representing 300 species.
Read more about the park including tips and tricks in our Guide to the Animal Kingdom.
Water Parks at Walt Disney World
There are 2 water parks in Walt Disney World. Both parks include wave pools, lazy rivers, a selection of slides, family raft rides & kid pools. Quick Service dining locations are available in each park. During winter months 1 park will be closed to undergo annual maintenance.
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach which is themed around a ski resort opened on April 1st, 1995. Legend has it that a freak snowstorm in the area led to Florida’s first ski resort. When the snow eventually melted it was converted into a water park. The majority of the major attractions at the park are hosted atop Mount
Gushmore, an artificial hill with an elevation of 90 feet. Only the bravest guests will ride the park’s flagship attraction Summit Plummet. The attraction stands at 120 feet tall and the near vertical drops create speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon which is themed around a storm-damaged tropical bay opened on June 1st, 1989. It is the 2nd most visited water park in the world. The park includes one of the World’s largest wave pools. The park used to include 2 shark reefs where guests could snorkel but this attraction closed in 2016.
Entertainment Districts at Walt Disney World
There are 2 main entertainment districts to discover at Walt Disney World: Disney Springs & Disney’s Boardwalk.
Previously known as Downtown Disney the conversion to Disney Springs was completed in Spring 2016. Originally opening in 1975 Disney Springs now consists of over 150 stores, restaurants, and entertainment locations.
Disney Springs is open every day and has no admission fee and includes free parking. Transportation is available from all Walt Disney World resorts by either bus or water-taxi.
You can learn more in our Guide to Disney Springs.
The Boardwalk is a quarter-mile promenade containing dining, shopping and nightlife options. It is also the home of the Boardwalk Inn & Villas. It is designed to look like a Mid-Atlantic seaside village from the early 1900s.
The Boardwalk, although smaller, attract much lower crowds than Disney Springs and can offer a more relaxing nighttime experience.
There is a walkway between Disney’s Boardwalk and both Epcot & Hollywood Studios. Water transportation is also available to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Yacht and Beach Club resorts and Swan & Dolphin Resorts.
Getting to Disney’s Boardwalk from other resorts is not as easy as Disney Springs as there is no direct transport. Guests will need to catch a bus from either a theme park or Disney Springs to get to the Boardwalk.
Other Venues at Walt Disney World
Golf at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is the home to 3 Championship Golf Courses and a smaller 9 hole walking course. Arnold Palmer Golf Management manages the Disney golf courses. To learn more about Disney World golf click here.
There are also 2 themed miniature golf complexes called Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland. Each complex has 2 separate courses.
ESPN Wide World of Sports
The ESPN Wide World of Sports opened in 1997 and is a 220-acre athletic complex. This state of the art facility houses over 60 sports and holds thousands of events every year. The 2022 Special Olympics USA will be held at the Wide World of Sports.
Most events at Wide World of Sports carry an additional admission charge, but you can gain admission for some events with Park Hopper Plus tickets.
Disney’s Wedding Pavilion
Disney’s Wedding Pavilion opened in 1995 and is located at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The site can hold up to six weddings a day but there are also additional venues at Walt Disney World. To learn more about weddings at Walt Disney World click this link.
Essential Disney World Knowledge
Once you have planned where you are going to stay, you need to you quickly learn the basics of how to plan your Walt Disney World Vacation.
There are key booking windows at Walt Disney World to secure dining reservations and make ride reservations, plus a collection of other Essential Walt Disney World Knowledge to Learn.
We will guide you through all the Essential Disney World Knowledge you need to plan & enjoy your vacation. Plus download our Free Walt Disney World Planners so you can record all your vacation plans.
Walt Disney World Park Hours & Closures
Park hours usually get released around 6 months in advance. However, they often change as you come closer to the actual date!
Walt Disney World is constantly changing and it almost inevitable there will be some attraction refurbishments & closures whenever you visit. This handy guide has all the current renovations and closures at Walt Disney World.
Fastpass+ is Disney’s attraction reservation system. Fastpass+ allows you to book attractions in advance of your arrival at Walt Disney World.
Your reservation allows you to join a much shorter line so you can experience the ride quicker. If you don’t use Fastpass+ you will spend a more extended period in standby lines. In busy periods this will mean you will experience fewer attractions.
To use Fastpass+ before you visit you must have either:
- Valid Ticket or Annual Pass
- Walt Disney World Resort Hotel reservation plus theme park tickets
There are various reservation windows and rules on how you can use Fastpass which you should learn as soon as possible. Our Guide to Fastpass+ will give you all the essential information, including tips & tricks.
Also, we have created a Fastpass strategy for each theme park to keep you ahead of the crowd:
- Magic Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
- Epcot Fastpass Strategy
- Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategy
- Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
My Disney Experience is a free online guide to Walt Disney World that allows guests to plan their vacation. My Disney Experience launched in 2012 and is available through either the Walt Disney World Website or the dedicated Mobile App.
Through this free service you can:
- Keep track of your plans & reservations including those of your family & friends.
- Make Fastpass+, Dining & Ticket Reservations
- Order in advance your food at select Quick Service Locations
- Access maps, wait times, showtimes, park hours and a lot more essential information via the app.
Having access to the App is essential when you visit any of the Walt Disney World Park. Our Guide to My Disney Experience provides more information including how to get the App.
Happy to ride on your own? Can’t get a Fastpass? Then the Single Rider Line at a limited number of attractions could save you considerable time.
To learn more read our Guide to The Single Rider Line.
Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels and select other resorts can enjoy extra time in the parks each day. Extra Magic Hours occur either before parks open or after they close to regular guests.
Extra Magic Hours can be very busy and will often significantly increase the numbers visiting a particular park. Non-Disney Resort guests can be greeted with a full park at 10 a.m. following morning Extra Magic Hours. However, late Extra Magic Hours can be a great perk at the Magic Kingdom.
Our Guide to Extra Magic Hours provides further information. Plus we have all the latest information on Extra Extra Magic Hours happening throughout Walt Disney World following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Rider Switch & Height Restrictions
While Disney World appeals to families of all ages, some attractions are not suitable for young children. Many of the attractions have height restrictions for safety purposes.
Disney does enforce Height Requirements strictly, and you will not be allowed to board if you are under the height requirement. Make sure you consider height restrictions when booking Fastpass+ Reservations, so children are not left disappointed.
However, if the kids are too small to ride, it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch, also sometimes known as child swap, allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child. Once the first party has ridden the 2nd Adult, and up to 3 more guests can join the Fastpass line.
MagicBands are now a key part of many guest’s Disney World Vacation. These rubber bracelets act as your park tickets, room key, room charge card, your Fastpasses are linked with them, they store your photographs, manage your dining reservations and your Disney Dining Plan.
While you can still use a traditional ticket for your park entry and Fastpass+ reservations you will miss out on the extra interactions if you don’t have a MagicBand.
If you are staying at a Disney Resort you get a MagicBand free with your reservation, and guests can now upgrade their band to a special themed band. Other guests can buy a band in advance or in the parks. Our Guide to MagicBands has further information.
Photopass allows you to keep the highlights from your Walt Disney World Vacation. Disney’s Photographers will take your pictures which are linked to an online account. You can view your photographs online or in the My Disney Experience mobile app.
There is no charge to have pictures taken at Walt Disney World or to see them online, but there is if you want to download them.
Memory Maker is a package which allows you to download and keep all the pictures you have taken in a 30-day window including ride photographs.
You can earn more about Photopass & Memory Maker in our guide.
Play Disney Parks App
Available through both the App Store and Google Play is the new Play Disney Parks App. The App makes waiting in line fun, with a list of challenges the whole family can play.
There are interactive experiences and games you can play at select attractions while you wait. Plus there are digital collectibles you can earn for touring and riding the parks.
The Play Disney Parks App can be a major part of your exploration at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On arrival in Galaxy’s Edge, the Play Disney Parks app will transform into the Star Wars: Datapad. This Datapad will allow you to live your own Star Wars Adventure.
Love them or hate them, if you have young children & perhaps if you don’t, you are going to spend a lot of your time at Disney World seeking the Famous Walt Disney World Characters.
Character meets in Walt Disney World are now very organized affairs. Today it is unusual to find Characters just wandering around a park
Walt Disney World provides extensive facilities for all forms of disability including visual, auditory, mobility & cognitive disabilities. You are able to contact Walt Disney World at (407) 560-2547 or [email protected] prior to your visit to discuss your requirements.
Electric Conveyance Vehicles & wheelchairs are available for rent at all Walt Disney World theme and water parks as well as Disney Springs. They are available on a first-come-first-served basis and are only available for daily rental. If you are going to need a scooter for several days, we recommend looking at a long term rental.
Disability Access Service
Disney recognizes that some guests with disabilities are unable to tolerate long waits in lines for attractions. The Disability Access Service allows Guests with disabilities, as well as an allotted number of people from his or her party, to schedule a return time at a specific attraction that is comparable to the wait time when they first arrive at that attraction.
To register guests should visit the Guest Relations Lobby in any park. The Disability Access Scheme is a new service and not all guests with disabilites are entitled to a DAS Pass.
We have created a Guide to Disabilities at Walt Disney World which has further information on the adaptions & services available in every park.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the answers to all your questions prior to your Walt Disney World Vacation. We have batched together a selection of your Disney WorldQuestions in a new section on Modern Life is Good containing Useful Walt Disney World Information.
You can navigate straight to the advice you are looking for by clicking the links below:
- Tipping at Walt Disney World
- Guest Relations at Walt Disney World
- Theme Park Rules & Prohibited Items at Walt Disney World
- Dress Code at Walt Disney World
- Strollers at Walt Disney World
- Locker Hire at Walt Disney World
- What you should pack in your Walt Disney World Park Bag
- Walt Disney World Tours
- Disney’s VIP Tour Services
- Walt Disney World Firework Cruises
- Specialty Cruises at Walt Disney World
- Payment for Goods at Walt Disney World
- Baby Care Centers at Walt Disney World
- Lost Children at Walt Disney World
- First Aid at Walt Disney World
- Accessing the Internet when visiting Walt Disney World
- Lost & Found at Walt Disney World
- Smoking at Walt Disney World
- Charging your Mobile Phone at Disney World
- Walt Disney World’s Celebration Buttons
- Gifts, Flowers & Cakes at Walt Disney World
- Ears to the World, Disney Show Translator
- Additional Information for guests who are not fluent in English
- Ricoh Business Centers
- Pregnant at Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks
Planning your visit to Walt Disney World is an essential activity. The resort is massive and planning your trip can initially feel overwhelming for the first-time visitor.
We have created numerous guides here on Modern Life is Good which provide tips on how to plan the perfect Walt Disney World Vacation. You can access the majority of articles containing planning tips in our resource The Ultimate Collection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips & Tricks.
However, if you want our very best Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks the following guides might be worth an early visit:
- 201 Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks to have a great vacation. Following this essential list of tips and tricks will ensure you have a great time.
- 20 Walt Disney World Mistakes to Avoid. This is one of our most popular articles on Modern Life is Good. These are the mistakes you must avoid to have a great vacation.
- Our Top 5 Walt Disney World Tips for 2019. If you are visiting in 2019 these are the essential Tips & Tricks to have a great vacation.
- What You Really Need in your Park Bag. Tips on what you should carry when touring the parks and what you can leave at home.
- Our Top Secret Walt Disney World Hack
Getting around Disney World is easy. Walt Disney World has its own fantastic internal travel network.
Complimentary transportation is available from all resorts 45 minutes before Disney Theme Park opening time up to one hour after Disney Theme Park closing time. Additionally, buses run until 2:00 a.m. from the Disney Springs Area.
Previously there was three primary forms of complimentary transportation at Walt Disney World: buses, monorail & ferries. The new Disney Skyliner adds a 4th transportation option in the resort. All forms of transport are regular comfortable and accessible for guests with disabilities.
It is worth remembering that direct routes are not available to all locations, and it can take longer than driving. To travel to another resort, you will usually have to change at either a Theme Park or Disney Springs.
To learn more transportation options when visiting Walt Disney World, including the Skyliner, visit our Guide to Walt Disney World Transport.
Driving at Walt Disney World
Many guests choose to hire a car when in Orlando and if you are staying in a villa, this is your only realistic option.
Orlando roads are good and well signposted. The quality of roads extends when you are in Walt Disney World which has an extensive well-maintained road network.
If you are driving, you will have to pay to park. Complimentary parking is no longer free for Disney Resort Guests who now have to pay a daily rate, but this does include theme park parking. Disney Vacation Club members are excluded from parking charges.
Guests not staying in a Disney Resort pay one fee for a parking pass good all day at all 4 theme parks. Parking rates are now seasonal and can be as high as $50 a day for preferred parking.
Select Annual Passholders enjoy complimentary standard self-parking at Disney theme parks.
In my opinion, you don’t need a car when visiting Walt Disney World. On our last few trips to Orlando, we have managed without a car just fine.
We have created a guide to navigating Walt Disney World Without a Car which shows just how easy it is!
Getting to and from Orlando International Airport without a car to Disney World Resorts is a breeze via the free Disney’s Magical Express. The Magical Express is a shared ride so there might be drop-offs at other hotels first.
You can also now catch Disney’s Minnie Van Service to and from Orlando International, but the service is not cheap.
If you are arriving at Orlando Sanford airport things are not so easy. There is no Magical Express at Sanford. Your options are a taxi or shuttle, but they are not cheap. Expect to pay up to $150 for a cab.
Our Guide to Walt Disney World Transport has further information on Disney’s Magical Express and all the other transport options available.
Walt Disney World serves a lot of food, an awful lot of food. There are over 6,000 food items available at more than 475 different locations.
We have created a Guide to Walt Disney World Dining for Beginners which is full of helpful information to plan your vacation. Our guide includes information on the type of restaurants available, how to get those essential dining reservations & plenty of hints & tips.
Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations are restaurant reservations made in advance at the majority of Disney Table Service Restaurants. Disney’s restaurants do fill up and standby lines, if they exist, can be very long.
All guests can book reservations for Disney restaurants 180 days in advance. Disney resort guests can reserve 180 days in advance of their day of arrival and make up to 10 days of Advance Dining Reservations that same day.
Our Guide to Advanced Dining Reservations has further information.
Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World
Recently many locations at Walt Disney World have started to allow you to order your food ahead of your visit. Via the My Disney Experience App you can order your food and prepay using the Disney Dining Plan or a credit card. Once you get to your restaurant, hit the “I’m here” button, and you will be notified where to collect your order.
Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World has gradually been getting rolled out to the majority of quick-service locations, and is a fantastic timesaver.
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan offered at Walt Disney World for those staying in Disney owned resorts including the Disney Vacation Club. The plan must be booked before arrival and you must have a valid park ticket.
There are several types of dining plan available which cover a range of budgets. On occasions, Disney offers free dining packages to guests as part of a vacation package.
Our Guide to the Disney Dining Plan has full details of the Dining Plans available, and advice on whether it is worth purchasing.
Disney World is one of the best places to visit if you have food allergies or intolerances. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is the recipient of a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) Award.
Our guide to visiting Walt Disney World with Food Allergies & Intolerances contains helpful information.
Character Meals are located throughout Walt Disney World and are offered at each theme park plus at several resorts. While they don’t offer the best food, they are great fun!
Whether it is Mickey Mouse, a Disney Princess or Winnie the Pooh there is likely to be a character meal where you can meet your favorite character.
Our guide to Walt Disney World Character Meals provides further information.
Special Events & Festivities at Walt Disney World
Throughout 2019 & 2020 there will be regular Special Events & Festivities at Walt Disney World. These special events help make every Disney Vacation extra special.
Some of these events are annual events, but there are also one-off events for 2019. This helpful calendar has information on all the festivities announced for 2019 and beyond.
Annual Festivals & Parties
4 festivals return annually to Epcot:
- International Festival of the Arts.
- International Flower and Garden Festival.
- International Food and Wine Festival.
- Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
All these festivals have great entertainment, special events, music, and special food kitchens. Festivals at Epcot are included in your regular admission. You can learn more about these festivals in our Guide to Epcot.
Over in the Magic Kingdom, there are 2 annual parties:
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Both these parties have an extra admission cost but are a great opportunity to experiences rides with little wait, meet rare characters and see special entertainment. You can learn more about these
Disney After Hours
Another special event which runs throughout the year is Disney After Hours. These special ticketed events have run at the Magic Kingdom for a while but have been offered at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in 2019. However, there are currently no scheduled events at Hollywood Studios following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Additional dates are added regularly.
These hard-ticket events allow you to experience the park for 3 hours after regular closure. You are promised little-to-no wait for attractions, unique experiences and character greetings. Ice cream, popcorn, and select beverages are also included in your admission.
However, Disney After Hours is not cheap. Tickets cost $129 per adult or child, plus tax or if you either an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member a discounted ticket costs $99, plus tax.
Walt Disney World is constantly changing and every month there are announcements of new developments or rumors of changes to the resort.
It is difficult to keep up with all the latest news and just how it could affect your vacation. However, we have it covered here on Modern Life is Good. If you don’t want to miss out make sure you subscribe to Modern Life is Good.
Visit our Walt Disney World News Section for all the latest information including our monthly updates.
Read More about Walt Disney World
We will be further updating our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners in the coming months. Please keep checking back and let us know of anything you would like to see included in future editions of this guide. If you have spotted any errors please let us know. You may find Our Ultimate Collection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips a great next step to continue planning your vacation.
Plus are you planning to visit Universal Orlando? Our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort is a great resource to help your planning
Happy vacation planning!