We all know how crowded the Disney Parks can be this time of year, and it can be stressful to try to have the best Park experience, especially when it’s your first visit. Thankfully, ex-Disney Cast Members have shared some tips on how to enhance your Park visit and have a great time, regardless of crowd size.
What to Do at the Parks
Dana Bisbee, a former Disney Cast Member with in-depth knowledge of both the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort, recently wrote an article published in Insider about what Guests should know before heading to either of these Parks.
Dana started at Disney in January 2015, moving across the country to participate in the Disney College Program in Florida. While working at Magic Kingdom, Dana walked around the Park selling various toys, like bubble wands and glow toys, and watching the entertainment, including parades and fireworks.
In 2016, Dana moved to California and became part of the College Program at Disneyland, working at the Candy Palace and Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. Though no longer employed by the Disney Parks, Dana lives near the Disneyland Resort and has a few tips for people visiting the Park to know ahead of time.
Don’t Forget to Make Park Reservations
COVID initiated the need for Park reservations at Disney World and Disneyland. And though the pandemic restrictions and policies at the Parks have been continuously modified over the past two years, reservations are still required, in addition to Park tickets. You must have a reservation booked in advance to be able to enter the Park. Dana notes that currently, Disney World is accepting Park reservations through the end of 2023, and Disneyland lets Guests book reservations for up to 120 days in advance.
Use the Genie+ Services to Your Advantage
Genie+ is a paid tool on the Disneyland and Disney World apps that replaced the previous FastPass system at the Parks, which was free.
Genie+ can be difficult to get used to at first, but it is a helpful tool if you’re trying to ride several attractions throughout the day. This is done with Lightning Lane, which are reservations you can book for select rides at certain times of the day. Whenever it’s time for your reservation, you can bypass most of the line after scanning your ticket.
There are also several video tutorials on how to use Genie+ that you can watch before your Park visit.
Don’t Waste Time in More Lines for Food- Use Mobile Order Instead
Mobile ordering is your friend at the Parks. Instead of waiting in line, use this service on the Disneyland or My Disney Experience app to order from a quick-service dining area. When you place an order, be sure to notice what the pickup times are, as pickup availability for some of the more popular restaurants will fill up more quickly.
Dana points out that this system also works well, as Disney may be prioritizing mobile orders rather than in-person ordering, as several of the registers have been replaced with pickup windows for those with mobile orders.
Stay Until Park Closing to Enhance the Magic
If your schedule allows you to stay until the Parks close, this is helpful because, as most of the other Guests leave after fireworks or parades, the Parks become a little less crowded, and you can get more rides in at the end of the night. Another bonus is that you can take photos without feeling rushed or having more people in the background.
Have a Backup Plan for Battery Life
If you’re using your phone to take pictures or be on the Disney apps, especially when reserving Lightning Lane and mobile orders, chances are your phone’s battery will be low in the afternoon or early evening. This is why it’s important to have a portable charger with you.
However, if you forget to bring one, Disney has some FuelRod dispensers around the Parks, where you can purchase this external battery for $30 and even switch it out once the battery is depleted.
Explore More Than the Theme Parks at Disney World
Disney World is mostly known for the four main Parks, but there is so much more to see and do. If you choose to take a day off on your itinerary, there are many areas to explore, like the Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, Disney Springs, spas, the ESPN Wide World of Sports, an 18-hole golf course, and even two mini golf courses.
Whether you want to take a break from the busyness at the Parks or want to take an extra day to cool down and unwind, these are some great options to consider.
Watch the Second Parade or Nighttime Entertainment
Always pick the later parade or show time if possible. Some Guests may find good seating an hour or more before the show, as it is hard to find good locations to watch the event 15 minutes or less beforehand.
However, this is not as much of an issue for the second showing, as families with younger children may watch the first show and leave the Park afterward. Another advantage to waiting for the second show is riding some of the rides during the first show, as the lines may not be as long.
Use Photo Services Included in Genie+
Different photo services are available within Genie+, depending on whether you are visiting Disneyland or Disney World. At Disneyland for instance, you can use PhotoPass with Genie+. This allows you to be able to download your photos from the rides, as well as any of the photos taken by the Park’s PhotoPass photographers.
At Disney World, on the other hand, you can use PhotoPass lenses included with Genie+. With this service, you can take photos with fun filters. But, to download professional Disney photos, you’ll need to purchase Memory Maker, which costs about $70 per day.
What Not to Do at the Parks
Back in 2020, we had covered another perspective of Cast Members: what NOT to do at the Parks. These tips for Guests were anonymously shared in another article from Insider and are important for Guests to know so they don’t frustrate Cast Members or ruin the experiences of other Guests trying to enjoy a fun day at the Parks.
- Don’t compare Disney Parks to other amusement parks while you’re at Disney.
- Don’t force the magic by trying to get freebies (i.e. don’t take your frustrations out on Cast Members to try to get free stuff).
- Don’t ignore parade etiquette. Instead, listen to Cast Members and follow signs, including the ropes, before and during the parades.
- Don’t cut others in line- be respectful of other Guests around you.
- Don’t lie about your child’s height to get on a ride. These height restrictions are in place for safety, and Cast Members can’t break these rules.
- Don’t take safety lightly on the rides. When on a ride, always wear your seatbelt and stay seated. If you mess with your seatbelt, the ride stops, which is inconsiderate to others.
- Don’t make obscene gestures in the ride photos. Not only is it rude, but it prevents you or other Guests in the photo from buying the photo, due to Disney ethos.
- Don’t camp out in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks. This causes safety issues for both Cast Members and Guests.
- Don’t record entire shows or parades with your devices. This is frustrating and distracting to other Guests who are just trying to watch a show but can’t because of a device blocking their view.
- Don’t destroy Disney property by climbing, defacing, or vandalizing it.
- Don’t throw your trash on the ground. There is always a trash can nearby, usually within 30 steps, where you can throw your trash away to help keep the Park looking nice and clean.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol at the Parks, as it can lead to disorderly conduct, which can get you kicked out of the Parks.
- Don’t use outside areas as a restroom- go to the actual restroom. There are plenty of them located at each of the Parks.
- Don’t get physical with Guests or Cast Members. This can definitely get you kicked out of the Parks.
- Don’t use profanity. There are plenty of families with young children around you, so please be mindful.
Be Nice to the Cast Members
One of the tips from Dana Bisbee should seem obvious but is oftentimes ignored or overlooked, which is being nice to Cast Members.
It can be frustrating when you’ve spent a lot of money and time at the Parks, only to have not-so-magical events happen throughout the day, like rides breaking down, long lines, or shows being canceled due to weather or safety concerns.
Cast members are notoriously overworked and underpaid, and they also deal with a lot of issues behind the scenes, like working overtime, not having a lot of sick time off, and just general everyday problems. The last thing they want to deal with is an angry or frustrated Guest with problems that are out of the Cast Members’ control.
The important thing to remember is to not take your frustrations out on Cast Members when explaining an issue. Just remember that although it’s their job to be friendly and helpful, they are people too and can have their feelings hurt or have a bad day turned worse if Guests take their anger out on them.
And, if you happen to have an incredible interaction with a Cast Member, which is very likely, you are able to give them well-deserved praise through Cast Compliments, which are found on the Disneyland or Disney World apps. In this process, you can put the reason for the Cast Member compliment as well as the location. There is also an optional section where, if you have the information available, you can input the Cast Member’s first name, hometown shown on their name tag, as well as the date of the interaction.
So, to recap, when at the Parks, just follow the rules; be a decent human being; and treat everyone, whether they’re Guests or Cast Members, with respect and kindness, and you will have a great time at the Parks.
What do you think of these ex-Disney Cast Members’ tips? Which one rang the truest for you? Tell us in the comments!