Sometimes it seems like Disney fans are speaking a whole new language.
Who are the Cast Members? What is a Park Hopper? Where do I get a FastPass+?
It’s important to know and be familiar with the use of these terms before visiting Disney World not only so you can fit in but so you can understand what you’re hearing and make the most of your Disney Vacation.
Disney employs over 60,000 Cast Members (CM) including Mousekeeping (housekeeping), waitstaff, attraction attendants, and recreation directors. Guests can easily identify a Cast Member by his/her costume and a name badge. The name badge will tell you the Cast Member’s name and where he/she comes from, which is either his/her hometown or a college or university. If the Cast Member’s nametag lists a post-secondary institution as a hometown, he/she is part of the Disney College Program and are earning credits for their work at Disney World! Name badges can also identify those Cast Members who speak a language other than English.
Of the over 100 dining locations in Disney World, 18 of them offer Character Dining, which means that diners who make Advanced Dining Reservations (or ADRs) at one of these locations are guaranteed to meet, get a photograph with, and probably an autograph from the characters at this dining experience. Instead of waiting in line for an hour or more to meet and greet your favorite characters, Character Dining experiences will allow you quick access and a longer time spent with characters.
Don’t make these reservations without doing your research! Only certain characters will attend each dining experience, so find out which dining establishment your favorite character attends and make sure to make reservations for that one.
As I mentioned above, there are over 100 restaurants in Disney World with fabulous food offerings. Disney knows that people like to eat, so they created dining plans that allow guests to essentially pre-pay for a certain number of meals and snacks per day.
In 2016 there are actually five different levels of Disney Dining Plans (known as DDP). Most people select either the Quick Service Dining Plan or the Disney Dining Plan: The Quick Service Dining Plan includes two quick-service meals and one snack per night. The Disney Dining Plan, which includes one quick service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per night. Other plans include the Deluxe Dining Plan, the Premium Dining Plan, and the Platinum Dining plan. The plan you choose will dictate how many meals and you can redeem per person per day, and anything beyond that will cost you extra.
Each plan includes a refillable mug, which can be refilled at the resorts and not in the parks, and alcoholic beverages are extra. It’s also important to note that special experiences like character dining and dinner shows usually require two meals per guest. You can borrow from a future day, but once you are out of meal credits, anything more you purchase will be an extra cost. Your receipt will show your Dining Plan Balance.
Before purchasing a Dining Plan, do your research. Dining plans are only available with the purchase of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package, which includes your hotel accommodations and your park tickets. Also, if you don’t tend to be a big eater, you might spend more money on the dining plan than you would spend on just paying for your food. On the other hand, if you like to eat a lot, you might use up your meal-credits before your vacation is over, and you’ll end up spending more money anyways.
EPCOT means Experimental Prototype Community (or City) of Tomorrow. Walt’s original dream for Epcot was to rethink city living. Although this utopian community never came to fruition because of logistics, Epcot carries on Walt’s vision through showcasing new technologies, ideas, and ingenuity.
Epcot is the only Disney park that has two entrances, and this is helpful since it’s almost like two parks in one. The main entrance to the park will put guests into Future World where you’ll find such attractions as TestTrack, The Land (Living with the Land and Soarin’), The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Innoventions East and West.
The secondary entrance is in Epcot’s World Showcase where guests will find 11 Pavilions representing countries from around the world including Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Germany, The United States, Japan, Morocco, France, The United Kingdom, and Canada. Eat and drink around the world, and enjoy shopping specific to each country.
Future World and World Showcase are joined together by a bridge, and guests can travel freely between both sides. Epcot is especially magical during the Flower & Garden Festival in the Spring and the Food & Wine Festival in the Fall.
Each night, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth lights up the sky with fireworks and lasers giving guests an inspirational story of how the world has evolved from Chaos to Order and finally to Meaning.
Extra Magic Hours
Each day, one of the four Walt Disney World parks opens an hour early or remains open one to two hours after closing. This offering is called Extra Magic Hours (EMH), and it is exclusively available to Disney Resort Guests.
Take advantage of this time. During the morning Extra Magic Hour, lines are very short and crowds are small. The nighttime hours also feature shorter wait times, but they are not as short as the morning time.
MyDisneyExperience (also known as MDE) is an online portal that makes your Disney Experience seamless. It is both your account on Disney World’s website and an app available for both iPhone and Android.
From this account, you can link up with family and travel buddies, create wish lists, make Advance Dining Reservations and FastPass+ reservations, complete online hotel check-in, and link a credit card to your account for making purchases with your MagicBand. Once on property, MyDisneyExperience can tell you everything from current wait times for attractions to where the closest restroom is located.
FastPass+ (sometimes referred to as FP+) is complimentary with park admission and allows guests to wait in a different queue line that is often much shorter than the standby line, which can range anywhere from 5 minutes to 90+ minutes.
Guests can choose up to three attractions per day and up to 30 days in advance (60 days if you are staying at a Disney Resort). The most popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, TestTrack, Soarin’, Toy Story Mania, and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster sell out very quickly, so plan to make these advanced reservations.
Up to 60 attractions offer FastPasses, and these reservations can be made on the MyDisneyExperience app or at a kiosk. Many people are unaware that guests can make more FP+ reservations after using all three, so it’s best to make your reservations for the morning hours then make more reservations later in the day.
The MagicBand is the newest fashion statement for all Disney fans. Once you make your reservations, Disney World will send you your MagicBands a few weeks before you travel. These RFID enabled bracelets have replaced the Key to the Kingdom cards and allow guests to enter their room, pay for souvenirs and dining, save PhotoPass photos, and enter the parks.
Be sure that your MagicBand is linked to your MyDisneyExperience app before you arrive in Disney World to get the most out of your experience.
Are you the type that walks to the beat of your own drum? You can personalize the MagicBand that Disney sent you, or you can purchase accessories and even premium MagicBands.
Disney’s Magical Express is the motorcoach that transfers guests from Orlando MCO airport to Walt Disney World Property. These buses travel to 20 different hotels and take approximately 45 minutes to get you to the most magical place on earth.
Reservations are required if you plan to use this service and can be made at the time of booking hotel accommodations. Keep your MagicBand in your carry-on since your reservation is linked to your MyDisneyExperience account. Alternatively, print the voucher showing your reservation.
MemoryMaker and PhotoPass
Have you ever sat down to go through your vacation photos only to notice that the whole family didn’t make it in the picture because one person is always behind the lens? Disney solved this problem by introducing PhotoPass.
PhotoPass photographers are stationed throughout the parks and are most often found in front of iconic attractions like Cinderella Castle.
PhotoPass photos are available for individual purchase or through the MemoryMaker, which allows you to make a one-time purchase to get all of the photos from your vacation.
If you’re short on time and Disney Magic has given you an energy boost, you might want to attempt to do more than one park in a day’s time.
With traditional park tickets, guests can only visit one park per day. The ParkHopper option allows you to visit as many parks as you want to in a day. This is especially helpful if you also added the Water parks and More option or if you’re visiting Animal Kingdom since the water parks and Animal Kingdom have limited hours. Take an African Safari Ride in the morning and finish your day off with a walk around the world at World Showcase!
Pin trading is a program that began with the Millennium Celebrations in 1999 and has been popular ever since. Guests participating in pin trading usually wear lanyards to which they attach their pins. As with any collectibles, some pins are more desired than others, and true collectors attempt to hunt down these pins. Many Cast Members wear lanyards with pins as well, and they are required to trade their pins except when they already have the pin that the guest is attempting to trade off. This can be a really fun experience, and many of the pins aren’t very expensive so they can be an inexpensive souvenir especially for kids who aren’t sure they want to get into the serious business of pin trading.
FP+, EMH, ADR: Are you an expert in Disney terms?
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