Advice

The Disney World Travel Hacks Only a Pro Would Know

Including how to win at Fastpass.


disney world travel hacks

These are the know-before-you-go insider tips and Disney World travel hacks from the pros. Photograph by Matt Stroshane/Disney

We rounded up the know-before-you-go insider tips — because you need a Philly Special kind of play to get the most out of your trip to Disney World.

Get out of Philly as early as possible.

Book the earliest flight you can, says Colleen Anastasi, a Langhorne agent who works with Kingdom Magic Vacations: “Airport delays happen later in the day.” And take advantage of Magical Express, a service that’s free for those staying at a Disney property: Your bags will be delivered to your hotel room, so you get to bypass baggage claim.

Start planning sooner than you think (like, right now).

Disney created Fastpass to address long lines at rides. And it works. But you have to know how to manage it: Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll be able to reserve ride times 30 to 90 days out. Plot your strategy, and mark your calendar for booking day, says Blue Bell-based Maria Heiser of Curran Travel.

About that plan …

You can reserve three Fastpass rides before your trip, say Joanna Bistline and Lauren Lieberman of the Main Line’s 2 Dis Chicks. (Once those are used, you’ll get additional passes via the app.) Plan your first two rides in the morning, so there’s time to book those extra passes.

Download the My Disney Experience app.

This is how you book additional rides. But it also offers mobile food ordering — a.k.a. skipping more lines!

Get in the right (non-Philly) mind-set.

The logistics can induce Conshohocken Curve-traffic levels of ire. Try to go in with a Zen attitude, says Randee Segal of MickeyTravels LLC. “Capitalize on the things your family will enjoy at this stage. If your kids want to ride Dumbo 10 times, then ride it 10 times. Enjoy being together.”

Get creative with the character meals.

The Goofy and Pals breakfast at the Four Seasons is civilized and tasty and comes with free professional digital images. Or consider booking a character lunch, suggests Segal; it’s a good air-conditioned midday break. Downingtown-based Dana Zificsak of Magical Moments Vacations says Epcot’s Garden Grill character meal is a hidden gem: “It slowly rotates through the Living with the Land boat ride, and food is served family-style.”

Don’t make it all about the rides.

See shows, says Heiser. “Disney’s Hollywood Studios has Fantasmic, held in an amphitheater. Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom is a delight.” (Bonus: All shows are free.) Segal also suggests Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where kids can get princess-ified, and the Pirates League, where they’re transformed into mermaids or pirates.

Consider hiring a travel agent.

Between learning how to use Fastpass and your dining points, keeping track of times, and the crowds and heat, your trip can feel like a high-stakes competitive sport. Disney-certified agents know all the hacks and lingo to make it more seamless.

Published as “Win at Fastpass” in the September 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.