Haven’t been to the Florida parks in a few years? Here’s a cheat sheet to get you up to speed.
If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the past few years, brace yourself. Even if you’re a Disneyland Paris regular, visiting the Florida parks is a whole different game. Do your Disney World memories include waiting in an endless line for Splash Mountain, handing over cash for popcorn, or misplacing a hotel room key? Get ready, because the landscape has changed so dramatically, that believe it or not, those practices are all stuck in the past.
Once upon a time, all guests had to wait their turn and enter a standard queue before being able to ride an attraction. Then Disney made it possible for guests to secure Fast pass tickets – jumping to the front of the line, but only gave out so many per day and they were for specific times.
Now, Disney has done one better and made it possible for guests to book these rides up to 60 days in advance. Fast Pass+ is the new program, sort of like Fast Pass version 2.0 , has the ability to make or break many peoples vacations, especially during high crowd months.
My Disney Experience:
My Disney Experience is the name of the Smart Phone App reservation management system that keeps all of your information in one place.
Within My Disney Experience, guests are able to manage their reservations, dining choices, Photos, Fast Pass selections, check on their room charges and so much more. There isn’t much about Disney that won’t lead back to “check the (MDE) app”
Magic Bands are a terrific piece of technology. A fun looking watch type wrist accessory with no other purpose than transmitting and receiving information for Disney and displaying in My Disney Experience.
You can use Magic Bands to enter the parks – instead of a paper entrance ticket – scanning for Fast Pass access, collating photo pass pictures, unlocking your hotel room door, and charging purchases to your room. It serves as an all-access pass instead of carrying around multiple keys (or key cards).
MyMagic+ is a way to seamlessly integrate various aspects of their Walt Disney World experience into one system, making dining and FastPass+ reservations via the My Disney Experience app, and redeeming FastPass+, charging expenses, and opening their hotel room doors (among other future functionality) with their MagicBands.
The area formerly known as Downtown Disney has gone through a multi-year transformation to become
Disney Vacation Club (DVC):
A time-share program for Disney deluxe and Vacation club resorts. Whether you buy Disney Vacation Club points straight from Disney, from a third party resale or rent DVC points from club members, there are a ton of perks associated with being a DVC member.
DVC resorts (Villas) tend to have larger rooms, multiple rooms per Villas, full kitchens and better proximity to the Parks. Those with large families or guests that tend to visit often and “like the finer things in life” tend to be DVC’s target audience.
A rectangular billfold available at the front of the park upon entering that provides park hours, entertainment times, ride closures, and parade details on a weekly basis.
Early Morning Magic:
Early Morning Magic is a ticketed event (that means it costs a ton of cash, on top of the regular entrance ticket needed to enter the Park) that allows guests to ride a selection of popular rides without the traditional crowds. Early Morning Magic is currently only available for the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Extra Magic Hours (EMH):
Extra Magic Hours are available before the parks open, known as Early Magic Hours, or after the Parks have closed, known as Evening Magic Hours. The days and hours change on a seasonal basis and guests should consult Walt Disney’s Times Guide or website for specific planning information.
Disney After Hours:
Disney After Hours is another ticketed event for Disney Parks but this one is often referred to as a Hard Ticket event because entrance tickets are not required on top of the cost of the event itself.
Disney After Hours, unlike Early Morning Magic, actually allows guests to explore the entire Park without restrictions. It costs more and is not as often but can easily be substituted for a traditional Park day if it is within your budget. Disney After Hours is also available for all 4 Parks.
Hidden Mickeys are literally what they sound like; Mickey head silhouettes hidden in plain site.
Magic Your Way:
A Disney vacation package that allows guests to book hotel stays, purchase park tickets, and choose a Disney Dining Plan as one reservation.
Photo pass is the name of the photographers and act of taking and storing your photos. There is no purchase necessary, simple queue for a character or find a photographer within the parks, scan your Magic Band and ask for a picture.
You can view your pictures in My Disney Experience and decide if you want to buy one or all.
Check out everything photograph related.
Memory Maker is the purchasing program that allows Photo Pass images to be downloaded to your home computer or
Pin Trading is the act of providing a pin and taking a pin of equal or slightly greater value from a Cast Member. Pins can be bought within the Parks or online from authentic or third party sources.
Pins are traditionally displayed on a Disney Lanyard.
Rider switch or Child Swap is a program offered to parents of young children that can’t or don’t want to ride certain rides. One Parent queues, while the other Parents sits behind with the child. Parent 1 rides, comes back to watch the child while Parent 2 takes their Rider Switch pass up the Fast Pass lane and skips the queue in order to ride. Essentially, Parent 1 does the queuing for 2 people. Parent 2 is able to take up to 2 other guests with them so child #1 is able to ride twice while child #2 takes a long rest in the Parks.
Shop Disney Parks:
A standalone mobile app that makes navigating on-site shops much easier. By utilizing the app, guests can locate additional clothing sizes, check stock of items at different gift shops, locate medicine and other necessary toiletries, as well as find packaged food and beverage items, making the search for sundries more seamless.
Single Rider Line:
Single Rider Line is a special queue only for those willing to separate from their group in order to get on the ride quicker. Single riders will take up the free seat on a ride that is created when a party has an odd family size.
The general admittance line for all rides at Walt Disney World parks, with estimated wait times listed at the point of entrance.
Split Stays are when guests split their stay between numerous hotels.
Resort hopping is the act of visiting another resort for the purpose of shopping, eating or exploring.
Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs):
Many sit down or table service restaurants require reservations made in advance. Advance Dining Reservations is the program that allows guests to make such reservations.
Tables In Wonderland:
Tables in Wonderland is a dining discount program that offers 20% off food and drinks (including alcohol) at over 100 restaurants throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as complimentary parking for dining purposes. Membership is limited to Florida residents, annual and seasonal pass holders, and Disney Vacation Club members.
Disney Dining Plan (DDP):
Disney Dining Plan is a complex dining system where guests pre-purchase dining credits that can then be exchanged for meals or snacks within the parks. There are 3 tiers of Disney Dining Plans available, each offering more than the previous tier, at an additional expense. Not all meals are available under the program and it takes a considerable amount of planning to make sure guests get their money’s worth in terms of meal selections.
Mobile Ordering is the process by which guests can pre-select meals at dining locations throughout Walt Disney World. Food is not prepared in advance, simply ordered and paid from your phone instead of at a cash register.
Walt Disney World Transportation:
Disney offers onsite guests complimentary and extensive transportation between their resort and Disney Parks. This consists of buses, Monorails and ferry boats.
Disney’s Magical Express (DME):
Disney’s Magical Express is the coach that brings onsite guests to and from the airport. The Magical Express can take guests to their resorts, but not the Parks, as well as Port Canaveral, and back for those wishing to catch a Disney Cruise. Disney’s Magical Express will also take guests from their hotel to the cruise; such a Disney Vacation is called a Land and Sea holiday.
Minnie Vans are Mini Vans painted in red with white polka dots to emulate Minnie Mouses dress, clever. They are a paid-for private transportation system that is able to bring guests from their hotel to the Parks, between Parks and to the airport. Minnie Vans can be accessed via the Lyft app and has car seats available upon request.
Play Disney Parks:
An app that utilizes ride queues and locations within Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort parks for family-friendly multi-person game play, as well as collectable location badges and Apple Music-backed playlists.
Since guests over the age of 12 are not permitted to wear costumes within the Parks, guests have resorted to dressing similar to their favorite costumes in order to get into the Disney spirit.
Disneybounders dress up in stylish, everyday outfits (known as Disneybounds) that are simply inspired by a particular character.
Walls of Disney
There are various walls within the Disney Parks that have been painted in a way that attracts photographers and instagramers alike. They were intended to be part of the overall theme of the Park but ended up taking a life of their own, sometimes generating their own independent queue while families wait their turn to take a photo against “the walls”.
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