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11 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks to Save INSANE Amounts of Time at Walt Disney World

7. Don’t follow the crowd – use weather, parades, and patterns to your advantage

Huge crowds around Peter Pan float

Image: Disney

Crowds at Walt Disney World often move in predictable patterns. For example, at Magic Kingdom, most families tend to tour the park in a question mark shape, wandering from one attraction to another in a predictable flow that doesn’t involve excessive walking. Crowds inevitably congeal when a parade or fireworks are nearing, and if the sky starts dumping rain, you can rest assured that most people will quickly run for a closed queue or a shop.

Don’t do any of these things.

A good touring plan can help with this but shake things up and don’t follow crowd patterns. Don’t be afraid to cut across the park a few times if it means shorter lines you spotted in the My Disney Experience app. If you aren’t attached to seeing parades or shows, use these times to get on rides faster (at Magic Kingdom, just make sure you are on the right side of the park before the show starts, or you may get stuck). While everyone else is gawking at the fireworks, you’ll be able to blast right onto some attractions.

If it starts raining, throw on a cheap poncho from the camping section at Walmart and carry on with your day. So long as it isn’t thundering, many Disney attractions stay open in the rain. When the sky opens up, many attractions may even get lines so short that you can walk right on!

8. Use My Disney Experience and keep your phone charged

Friends taking selfie at Food and Wine Fest

Image: Disney

This goes without saying, but My Disney Experience is seriously a must-use tool for anyone visiting Walt Disney World these days.

Not only can you easily make and modify Fastpass and dining reservations on My Disney Experience—you can actually track wait times in real time. You don’t have to slog across the park to find out if Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run has a 90 minute queue—just pull up your app and check. My Disney Experience also includes helpful park maps, access to virtual queues for new lands, and menus for dining locations. If you’re serious about saving time with counter service dining, many locations now offer mobile ordering, where you can place your order on the app then walk up to a special window when you’re ready to have them make it without you waiting extra time in line. By the way, all of Galaxy’s Edge now offers this feature (with the exception of Oga’s Cantina).

Make sure your phone is charged before your visit and bring a power pack if possible. My Disney Experience is awesome, but it and the parks’ Wi-Fi tend to quickly drain phone batteries.

BONUS TIP: Want to score last minute Fastpasses? If you use the “Modify” feature on one of your less-desirable Fastpasses the day of, you can refresh the time options back and forth to see if any sudden cancellations for popular Fastpasses pop up. This may take some patience, but it does often work. As local Passholders, we rarely are able to make good Fastpass reservations in time, but using this trick, we have often scored E-Ticket Fastpasses on popular rides the day of. Make sure you’re near the attraction if possible—that cancellation might be for the time window you’re currently in!

9. Don’t waste time on breakfast, snacks, or drinks

Adorable girl eating candy sushi

Image: Disney

Some clarification: we’re not saying to starve yourself.

Dining is half the fun at Walt Disney World, but smart travelers quickly realize that breakfast, snacks, and standing in line for drinks are all unnecessary time-leeches for your Disney day. The alternative? Bring your own!

While Disney definitely has some great breakfasts, most people don’t plan on eating a full character breakfast every morning. More often than not, you’ll probably end up standing in line at Starbucks waiting for a bagel and coffee. As for snacks, while we all have our favorite Disney snacks, you can actually save time and money by bringing your own. Avoid wasting unnecessary time in line by buying your own breakfast and snacks before your trip (or just after you arrive). Disney Vacation Club resorts are especially nice for cooking easy meals.

If you have a favorite Disney breakfast you want to enjoy, go ahead and plan that, but don’t base your entire trip on the experience. Most Disney breakfasts aren’t that inspiring. Munch on your own snacks until you see something really worth standing in line for (like school bread!). As for water, bring a filtered water bottle and just refill it as you go at water fountains and refill stations throughout the parks. You won’t just save time bringing your own breakfast, snacks, and water bottle—you’ll save money too!

10. Hack your transportation

Monorail over gardens

We touched on Disney transportation already, but there are a few more tricks you can employ to save time on Disney transportation.

For one thing, know that using Disney’s buses is always a roll of the dice. They can be wonderfully fast at times, especially if you’re visiting Magic Kingdom since the buses take you right to the entrance (skipping the Transportation and Ticket Center). However, if the day is busy or buses are running late, Disney’s buses can also suck time away from your day. If you’re relying on Disney transportation, you may not have much choice, but if you have your own vehicle and all signs indicate that a bus isn’t coming soon, you may be better off driving your car and parking if you’ll be visiting Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

If you’re staying at an Epcot resort or travelling from the Boardwalk, friendship boats come and go pretty fast. However, there may be times that walking will be faster, especially if you’re coming from the Beach Club Resort. On the flip side, friendship boats are always faster for reaching Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We don’t have enough data about Disney’s Skyliner yet, but this new transportation might prove a very fast and convenient way to reach Epcot and DHS as well.

Like buses, the monorail is also often a roll of the dice. On busy days, monorail waits can get seriously long. The monorail will always be your best bet for reaching Magic Kingdom from a monorail resort—the ferry is always slower. Alternatively, if you’re trying to get from Epcot to Magic Kingdom, taking a bus from an Epcot resort will usually be faster.

The biggest time-sink in Disney transportation is Magic Kingdom’s Transportation and Ticket Center. It is truly the most un-magical place at the Most Magical Place on Earth. The TTC can prove a total time-leech if you have to park at Magic Kingdom. Even if you are able to park quickly, you’ll definitely lose time afterwards waiting for the monorail or ferry to get to the actual park. The TTC is also a huge time-waster if you’re using the monorail to travel to or from Epcot. In general, if you want to save time at the TTC, always use the Resort Monorail to get to Magic Kingdom—the only exception is if the Express Monorail is walk-on. Never, ever take the ferry if you are trying to save time. The Resort Monorail might make stops, but it will still ultimately get you to Magic Kingdom faster if there’s a line for the Express Monorail.

BONUS TIP: Want to seriously hack your transportation at Walt Disney World? Use ride-sharing service like Uber and Lyft to get you between resorts or to the parks faster. Disney also offers it’s “Minnie Van” ridesharing service to guests as an alternative. If a driver pops up on your app who has a low rating, just cancel the trip, wait like 30 seconds, then try again to see if you can get a better driver. It’s always assigned by who is closest. I was an Uber driver, and I used this trick all the time both on low-rated passengers and when using the service myself!

11. Use single rider lines to really speed things up

Opening day at Galaxy's Edge around Millennium Falcon

Image: Disney

Really want to cut some line time out of your Walt Disney World trip? It may involve one less family Photopass picture, but it can save huge time in the end: the single rider line.

Single rider lines are used on Disney’s highest volume E-Ticket attractions to fill in empty space in cars. We recently discovered the well-hidden single rider line for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, and it not only allowed us to ride the ride without a long wait—we got to fly the Falcon on opening day more than once! Single rider works best for families with older children or groups who are all adults. You won’t be able to choose your seat (or flight position on the Falcon), and your party will almost certainly be broken up. However, as a time saver, the single rider line can’t be beat!

What’s your favorite tip to save time at Walt Disney World?

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