Home » 7 Shamelessly Geeky Hacks for Walt Disney World Superfans to Try

7 Shamelessly Geeky Hacks for Walt Disney World Superfans to Try

Spaceship Earth at Night

There’s no shame in being a Disney geek. Disney fandom is a culture all its own, and Walt Disney World superfans get to enjoy the Most Magical Place on Earth through an entirely different lens than the average guest. Maybe you were that kid who always wanted the latest Walt Disney World guidebook for Christmas. Maybe you’ve taken all the backstage tours and can recite ride narration from memory. Whether you are a Walt Disney World superfan or are just an Annual Passholder who gets to enjoy the parks on a more frequent basis, we gathered a few shamelessly geeky hacks you can try to milk your Disney fandom for all its worth.

1. Add your own soundtrack to rides

Spaceship Earth at Night

This hack requires a good pair of in-ear headphones that don’t bleed noise (out of courtesy for your fellow guests). The next time you hop onto one of Disney’s famous dark rides, pop in a pair of headphones and press play on your own soundtrack.

It’s amazing how music transforms the atmosphere of Disney’s rides. Spaceship Earth is probably the best candidate for this trick with its slow pace and trippy range of scenes. Our favorite pick so far was throwing on a bit of Dream Theater (“Pull Me Under”) over the opening sections, transforming the ride into a seriously epic metal video. Fans have also reported stealthily throwing on a little EDM over the later sections of the ride makes for one fun journey (we used the “Tron: Legacy” soundtrack). This same trick could work on almost any dark ride, from Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World to Dinosaur.

Catch yourself missing older versions of rides? Hop onto YouTube to download the ride audio from previous incarnations of your favorite rides, then see if you can sync the audio up with the new ride track. Many of Disney’s newer rides are built right on the bones of their predecessors. I’ll admit, we’ve made plans for some time to try this use this hack to dub the Maelstrom audio over Frozen Ever After some day.

A minor note– if you need to glance at your phone on a dark ride, make sure you have the brightness turned all the way down and keep it out of sight as the lights from cell phones can be quite annoying to other guests. We actually use an app called Twilight for Android that not only dims the screen but gives it a reddish cast so as not to disturb others. Don’t be that guy!

2. Take a pin trading challenge

Pin trading sign

Pin trading might be the most ridiculously addicting Walt Disney World activity that many superfans have never tried. It’s very easy to write off as a money-grab by Disney, but there are ways to not only jump into this treasure hunter’s pastime for cheap but also to breathe some fresh life into it.

If you have never tried Walt Disney World pin trading, first, you need some pins. Most guests purchase packs of “trader” pins from Walt Disney World gift shops, but these packs can be annoyingly expensive. If you want to get into the hobby while saving some money, buy some Disney pins online before your trip. Any Disney themed pins will do. Try to do some research to buy your packs from respected dealers who avoid giving out lesser quality fake pins from other countries (called “scrappers” by collectors). These are still tradable (Disney doesn’t really care), but collectors find the issue rightfully frustrating since they prefer to collect and trade for genuine Disney pins.

Pin Station at Animal Kingdom

Once you have your pins and something to secure them to (you can use a lanyard, your bag, a jacket, or even a binder), look for any Disney cast members in the park wearing a pin lanyard. If it’s teal, only kids can trade with them, but everyone else is fair game. You can walk right up to that cast member and trade for any pin on their lanyard or board, and you are welcome to do this up to three times. Some of the pins cannot be bought in stores (marked with a small hidden Mickey) , so there is a genuine sense of “the hunt” once you get into the swing of it.

Pin trading in and of itself is extremely fun. There’s an almost comical sense of accomplishment when you find a unique pin you’ve seen nowhere else or stumble across that one cast member with a giant bulletin board motherlode of pins. However, if you want to breathe a little bit of fresh life into this pastime, take on a pin trading challenge. Maybe make a rule that everyone in your party has to trade pins with any cast members they see wearing a certain color of shirt, or that every hour you have to find a cast member to trade with. Maybe have a challenge to see who can get the most pins of a certain character by the end of the trip or try to fill out a pin-trading wishlist that you arrange ahead of time. The rules are entirely up to you, and you can make it as easy or difficult as you like. This could be a great trick for families with kids!

3. Take high scores seriously

Test Track exterior

Image: Disney

Most guests pay surprisingly little attention to scores won on challenge rides like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Toy Story Midway Mania, or Test Track. Yeah, we might holler or high-five upon getting a high score, but most of us are pretty quick to forget our scores from previous games.

Feeling a bit competitive? On your next trip, set up a challenge in your party to take those high scores seriously. You can even make it a bet for whoever comes out on top (winner buys everyone Dole Whip floats or the like). On rides that offer high scores, record your scores at the end of the ride. You can just snap a picture of them, but it is just as easy to write them down in a journal or note-taking app. If you want to even out the math, you can always add a few 0’s as multipliers for rides like Test Track that don’t have scores that enter the thousands. 

If scores aren’t really your thing, you can also take on this hack a different way. Next time you’re on Test Track, try to make the most ridiculous car possible, so ridiculous that kids in the area should point and chuckle. Compare with your friends and see who came up with the zaniest vehicle possible.

4. Go Disneybounding

Girl by wishing well Disneybounding as Snow White

Image: BrittReneePhotography, Flickr (license)

It may seem odd to call Disneybounding a “hack”, but it really is. For those unfamiliar, Disneybounding is a popular fan practice where visitors emulate their favorite Disney characters without actually being in full costume. It’s a fun way to amp up the magic while visiting Walt Disney World while still respecting Disney’s rules that guests over 14 cannot wear full costumes. Basically, it’s taking modern clothes and loosely modeling them after Disney characters.

My first foray into Disneybounding happened entirely by accident. I have a penchant for wearing black Trilby hats, and our visit to Disney World in 2009 happened during an unusually cold month. I picked up a Nepali scarf in Animal Kingdom and also ended up wearing a long black coat and red lipstick. I had no idea I had stumbled straight into the world of Disneybounding until two separate little girls (on totally different occasions) confused me for Mary Poppins. I had no idea people did the same thing on purpose until years later, and I have to say, it added a fun element to our trip photos!

While the most obvious benefit of Disneybounding is having some seriously sweet pictures at the end of your trip (your character photos will be off the hook!), there are other benefits as well. There’s something very fun about the psychological aspect of “dressing up” for a Disney vacation. You may get to make some surprise conversation with other fans or cast members, and there’s just something so freeing about embracing the magic with your clothes. Never tried it? Don’t feel like you have to spend a bunch of money to Disneybound. See what you can pull together using clothes you already have or that you can find in thrift stores! The sky is the limit—well, full costumes are the limit, but you get the idea.

5. Take on a challenge

LeFou's Brew toast

Image: Disney

We’ve mentioned a number of popular challenges guests can try at Disney before. Drinking around the world is the most popular, but there are plenty of Disney challenges that don’t require you to get pickled. In Epcot alone, you can drink non-alcoholic beverages around the world, dessert your way around the world, eat around the world, and even visit all the art exhibits around the world. You can take on a photo challenge and try to get pictures in front of all the major landmarks in Walt Disney World, you can try to ride all of Disney’s “mountain” coasters in one day, visit all four parks in one day, or even attempt a scavenger hunt.

Want to take your challenges to the next level? If your party is large enough, set up a team challenge—who can ride the most rides in a day, who can get the most characters pics in a day, or even who can complete a scavenger hunt quickest! At the end of the trip, the losers have to treat the winners to some special Disney magic. Dole Whips are the gold medals of our household.

6. Marathon ride the rides


Image: Disney

This one is a fairly popular superfan hack, but a surprising number of people still don’t know that there are times of the year (and the day) when you can marathon ride Disney’s best rides. Expedition: Everest, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and many other rides often end up with extremely short queues right before the parks close during the off-season (or during nighttime shows), meaning guests can ride the rides then literally race through the queue to hop back on them again. If the main line is too long, you can also do this using single rider queues.

Marathon riding does some kooky stuff to your brain, so stay aware of your limits if you start feeling sick repeat riding coasters or intense attractions like Mission: SPACE Orange Team (Yes, we have marathon ridden it. Yes, it was a blast. No, we could not walk a straight line or formulate intelligent sentences afterwards.) Expedition: Everest and Splash Mountain are especially fun to marathon ride at night when extra lighting effects are set up!

7. Start a Hidden Mickey journal (or album)

Moroccan Plates Hidden Mickey

Image: Sam Howzit, Flickr (license)

Most Disney superfans are aware of hidden Mickeys—stealthily placed Mickey Mouse silhouettes and homages sprinkled throughout Walt Disney World—but how many of us still pay attention to them? If you’ve become fandom-blind to hidden Mickeys, it might be time to pick up your camera and embrace the hunt anew.

Disney has steadily carried on the tradition of adding hidden Mickey’s to Walt Disney World resorts and attractions for years, and a superfan could easily find a new hobby filling a journal or photo gallery with your top hidden Mickey finds. This could be a particularly fun pastime for Instagrammers—better known as Disneygrammers. If you haven’t paid attention to hidden Mickeys in some time, you may be shocked how many new ones have popped up over the years. If you have kids, this is an even more fun activity as the magic is still fresh for them.

What’s your favorite hack or zany pastime to enjoy as a Walt Disney World superfan?