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9 time-saving Walt Disney World hacks to help you pack in the most fun

by Brooke Geiger McDonald

With ticket prices forever on the rise and crowd levels right there with them, it’s never been more accurate to say that at Walt Disney World, time is money. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks to help you save as much of your valuable time as possible for the fun stuff. Here are our top nine time-saving hacks for Walt Disney World:

walt disney world

1. Master FastPass+

fastpass

If you’re not using FastPass+ to its fullest potential, you’re missing the biggest time-saving trick in the book. Download the My Disney Experience app and book your advance FastPasses at the 60-day mark before your trip (30 days if you’re staying off-site). Make sure to go for the most highly coveted attractions first (Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train).

Pro Tip: The further into your trip, the better your chances to snag a FastPass for these three attractions.

Try to book your three daily advance FastPasses as close together as possible with a late-morning start. This will leave you time to arrive for rope drop and take advantage of the short early-morning standby queues. Use this time to try to do as many top-priority rides as possible that you don’t have FastPasses for.

As soon as you’ve used your three FastPasses, immediately book your next one on the app. If you’re willing to be flexible and just grab the next available ride that interests you, rather than insisting on a particular ride with a FastPass time a couple of hours away, you’ll get on a lot more rides and spend a lot less time in lines all day.

2. Make Most of Your Meals Quick Service

walt disney world

Aside from shaving a ton of money off the cost of your vacation, eating most of your meals at quick-service locations will save you a boatload of time.

On average, a table-service meal at Walt Disney World takes about 90 minutes, generally less for buffets. Don’t get me wrong, they should take this long – you’re spending a pretty penny on these meals, so the last thing you want is to be rushed. But, if time is of the essence and you’re trying to pack in as many attractions as possible, plan your meals at quick-service locations, mobile order everywhere you can (see Number 3!), eat fast and be on your merry way.

3. Mobile Order

mobile order

A growing number of quick-service dining locations are offering a mobile ordering option: order and pay for your meal via your My Disney Experience app and bypass the line completely. Place your order then head straight to the pick-up window to grab your food and go. And, don’t think mobile ordering is limited to meals – you can now even mobile order your Dole Whip, so you’ve really got no excuse to waste time in line!

4. Stay on Property

walt disney world

This sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: nothing puts you closer to the magic than staying on Walt Disney World property.

Depending on which park you’re hitting up, there are a few deluxe resorts that can have you through the park gates before you’d even be at your car or bus stop at a less optimally positioned hotel. Headed to Magic Kingdom? Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower are not only a few minutes away by foot, but they also have their own security checkpoint – so you can skip the epic bottleneck that is Magic Kingdom security.

Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club is a hop, skip and a jump from Epcot (and not much further from Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The BoardWalk and nearby Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin take it up another notch – these three resorts are easily walkable to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to that park (but not very close to anything else).

5. Resort Hop

resort hopping

So how do you capitalize on a resort’s proximity to one park while not taking a hit when traveling to the others? Resort hopping!

We’re not advocating switching resorts every time you’ve got a new park on the agenda, but splitting a stay between the monorail resorts and the Epcot resorts (and allocating your park plans accordingly) could save you a ton of time by keeping you off the buses.

6. Take a Minnie Van

minnie vans

When you hit it just right, Walt Disney World’s free transportation options are awesome. But just miss a bus or try to travel between two points not connected by Disney transport and things start to look a bit less rosy.

Enter Minnie Vans, official Walt Disney World Lyfts. Operated by super-knowledgeable cast members, these vehicles are here to whisk you across property in a flash, and even come with two car seats for kids and a sweet rock-the-dots paint job (you know, for the ‘gram).

Order a Minnie Van from your phone via the Lyft app from anywhere on property. The cost is mileage-based, so be mindful of where you’re headed. But if you’re trying to get from one resort to another for dinner or have just missed a bus, this is definitely the place to throw some money at the problem and save all kinds of time.

7. Take Advantage of Extra Magic Hours

walt disney world

Staying on-property doesn’t just cut down on transportation time, it can give you a longer day at the park. Guests staying at Walt Disney World resort hotels can extend their days by heading to the parks during Extra Magic Hours, which are select mornings or evenings when a particular park is open earlier or later than official park opening times, and is only for on-site guests.

And, from Sept. 1 – Nov. 2, Disney is upping the ante and offering Extra, Extra Magic Hours every day at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios – no doubt to combat the increased crowds generated by the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. On-site guests will be able to enter Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at 7 a.m., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 6 a.m. – a whopping three hours earlier than the park’s official 9 a.m. opening.

8. Get Memory Maker 

memory maker

We’ve all been there – you’re blazing down Main Street, U.S.A. like Cinderella at midnight, trying to take advantage of those shorter early-morning queues. But the castle is looking great and you’d love to stop for that family photo. By the time you get your phone out and set to camera, find someone to take the picture, get your phone back and see how it turned out, that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wait time just went up another 30 minutes.

Pro Tip: Skip the drama, but get the photo – just spring for Memory Maker.

PhotoPass photographers are stationed throughout the parks just waiting to take high-quality, professional photos of you and your family. A couple snaps of the camera, a quick scan of your Magic Band or your PhotoPass card and you’re on your way. (Obviously, if the photographer has a long line, that will slow you down – just keep your eyes peeled and jump in any time you see someone with no line!)

9. Shop After the Park Closes

walt disney world
Photo by Matt Roseboom

Another way to squeeze every precious minute out of your park days is to save your souvenir shopping until you literally can’t do anything else. Attraction queues may close at the park’s official closing time, but many shops won’t. Hit up the big stores on your way out and not only will you save time for more of the fun stuff before the park closes, but you also won’t have to carry your purchases around with you all day.


What are your top tips for saving time at Walt Disney World? Share them in the comments below!

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2 comments

Abraham Jackie Sussman August 6, 2019 - 1:05 pm

How wrong am I in thinking that fast pass takes away from the expierience of the things that go on before going on the ride? We’re two adults and are visiting without children.

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Brittani Tuttle August 6, 2019 - 1:08 pm

Utilizing FastPass doesn’t keep you from seeing any pre-shows, you mostly just miss the majority of the queues. There aren’t really any in-queue experiences that are not-to-miss, unless you like taking in the queue theming for each attraction. Some attractions have games or interactive elements, but those are mostly geared as something to keep you busy while you stand there.

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