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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Disney magic : learning the lingo

Planning a trip to Disney World is so exciting and also overwhelming. There is lots to learn, lots to pack, things to consider and plan. One thing that I found challenging at first was learning the language of Disney Fans! I'm a huge fan, but had NO clue there was so much to learn when planning a trip.

Here are some of the definitions to some of the lingo you will start learning when you are preparing a trip to Disney World. Don't stress, it's easy to catch on once you start planning and using the Web site and talking to other Disney fans. You'll get the hang of it soon enough and all of your planning will be easier. 

Planning purposes:
  • My Disney Experience- This is the Web site where you will start your planning. You can reserve dining experiences here, get your Fast Passes for rides here, and link your tickets to others in your party. You can look up dinner ideas or park rides also, show times, park opening times, etc. It's great once you get the hang of it. It's free to log in with an email address, so sign up today, even if you haven't booked your stay yet. 
  • Disney World app- You NEED this on your phone ASAP before your trip. I downloaded it only about a day or two before my trip and that was not enough time. Plan at least 1-2 weeks before your trip to download the app to your phone, so you can play around with it, get used to using it, and look up wait times for rides you want to go on. It offers wait times for rides- MUST use item on this app, so user friendly, too. It's a map of the park to show you were to go next. It tracks your Fast Passes and dinner confirmation numbers. It keeps your photos if you get a Memory Maker photo pass. It allows you to order online on your phone some quick service dinner instead of waiting in more food lines. IT'S AWESOME. I used it 100 times a day in the parks. That part is annoying-having to use your phone so much- but it's a lifesaver and makes your time more enjoyable and easier at the park. 
  • Fast Pass- These are your reservations to getting on rides quicker, less lines. You can have 3 Fast Passes per person a day. Once you use ALL three, you can then reserve one more at a time. This was very confusing to me at first. I got misinformation a few times, because I believe they are changing this system often the last few years. It's AWESOME though. You do it on the Web site before your trip- 30 days in advance if you are staying off property and 60 days in advance if staying on property. It basically gives you a quicker reservation for the line. With Fast Pass, we waited up to 30 minutes for each ride, most times it was 5-15 minutes wait time. Some parks like Epcot and Animal Kingdom have tiered systems, meaning you can only choose one of their biggest rides (like Pandora or like the Frozen ride vs Soarin' at Epcot) in one tier, then you can choose other Fast Passes in the other tiers. 
  • Magic Bands- These are bracelets that are different colors. If staying on property they are mailed to you automatically. If staying off property you can purchase them as a convenience. They are handy as they are linked to your credit card so you don't have to carry cash and things in the park all day. They are how you use your Fast Passes without carrying cards or papers.With staying off property, our bands were $12 per person. 
  • Park Hopper- This is a part of your ticket you can purchase. It's the ability to go from one park - or two or three - in the same day. It means you could start at Magic Kingdom for the morning, take the monorail to another park like Hollywood Studios at lunch time and go to Epcot for fireworks at night. It's an awesome perk if you will use it. We had three kids under age 8 and did NOT use this. We paid several hundred dollars for this perk, with a discount, and wasted it unfortunately. So I'd suggest not doing this with young children. It's just exhausting to go from one place to the next, with strollers and bags and tired kids, as well as there is SO much to do at each park, if you've never gone you won't want to leave to another park mid-day. With older kids, like my niece age 10 and nephew age almost 8, they did Park Hopper no problem without baggage or strollers or needing naps. Great option if you plan to use it. 
  • On Property vs. Off Property- This basically means if you are ON property then you are staying in the Disney compound of sorts on one of the Disney resorts and hotels, and you get perks from staying on property like the dining plan. If you stay off property that means you do not get the perks of staying with the resorts. 

  • Rope Drop- This is something that seems fairly new at the parks. It's the moment the park actually opens, the time that you can get on the rides. Typically it comes with a Welcome Show. The show at Magic Kingdom happens around 8:55-8:57 a.m. when park opens at 9 a.m., it's right in front of the castle. To get a good spot and get there in time for the show, past security etc. you will want to get to the park by 7:30 a.m. for good parking, 8 the latest I'd say. The characters come out and dance on the kingdom entrance area. Stores, bakeries, etc. are open on Main Street so you can look around with less of a crowd. You can also get great pictures by the castle first thing in the morning before things are opened. If you want to get on 7 Dwarves Mine Train and did not get a Fast Pass for it (hard to come by), you will NEED to get to the park ASAP to get to the right of the castle to get in line (hundreds of people were lined up there when we arrived at 8:30) to walk toward the area where the ride is in Fantasyland. Rope Drop just means they drop a rope to say yay the park is open. It's simple, but so important, especially if you are a morning person and can get out of the house early- get there. You can ride so many more things in the mornings than waiting until later. If you aren't rushing to 7 Dwarves ride, then head to the left of the castle to go to Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean - all less than 30 minute waits right at start of day, some were 10 minutes! Also, if you aren't rushing to rides, stay around the castle after everyone leaves. I had it all to myself and got GREAT pictures on our second morning there.
  • Standby Line- If you did not get a Fast Pass for a ride earlier, then you are in the regular waiting line which is called Standby. Times for standby could be 90 minutes, whereas Fast Pass is 20 minutes. It all depends. We went on many standby lines that were averaging 25 minutes though, not terrible in Disney World. 
  • Rider Switch- Disney does a great option for parents traveling with young kids. If you have two parents, one kid, and both parents want to ride with the child, you can get in line together, get a switch pass from a worker, and then one parent goes on ride with kid, then gets off, and next parent can go on with kid. It's better than waiting in line again. Great idea!
  • Character spots- These are all throughout every park. You can meet characters. We waited 20 minutes to see Jasmine and Aladdin- the longest we waited. Most are 5-25 minute waits usually. Use your Disney World app in the park and go to the tab characters to see where they are, as it changes. 
  • Buttons, pin trading and lanyards- These are Disney fanatic must-haves. Buttons are large buttons that pin to your lanyard or shirt. You can get these free for celebrations-birthdays, anniversary, first visit to Magic Kingdom etc. You can get them at the guest services in the entrance of the parks typically. We got first visit ones. Sometimes if you are wearing a birthday one, for instance, you get free perks like an extra dessert at dinner or something. Pin trading are pins you can purchase in the park and trade with characters and others in the park. It's a game, but I found it costly so we didn't get into it. Lanyards are what the kids wear around their necks to put the pins on, or to keep coins and money in. They are cute. My kids wore them for about 30 minutes and then never wore them again... grrrreat. You can purchase lanyards on for about $10 I think. 
  • Cast Member- This is what they call all Disney workers, employees etc. 
  • Extra Magic Hours- This is when a few days a week different parks open an hour or two hours early, or close a few hours later. For example, Animal Kingdom usually opens at 9 a.m., but one day last week it opened at 8 a.m. for Extra Magic Hours. This was only eligible to those who were staying ON Disney property. It's a way to get onto more rides sooner in the day before bigger crowds come.
  • Character Meals- also can be called ADR Advanced Dining Reservations. These can be made 180 days in advance- whether you are on or off property! This is AWESOME. I reserved 5 of these, only ended up attending 3 of them. We canceled two before our trip, but I'd reserved them for months ahead of time. So when you can, reserve them ASAP. You book with a credit card but are NOT charged until you attend the meal on your vacation. Getting breakfast times are best, as it typically gets you into the park earlier than the crowds. Dinners are a nice idea, too, as you are there after the park rides you wanted to go on and can use time before the fireworks. These are meals where the characters - Mickey, Minnie, princesses, etc., different at each restaurant - come to your table and let you talk to them, hug them, take pictures and sign autographs. AWESOME experiences. They are costly, but worth it. When you do these, it means you don't have to stand in line at the parks seeing characters. It saves time and is such an enjoyable experience. 
  • Quick Service Meals- These are fast restaurant options where you stand in line to order and then find a table. There are many of these in all parks. You can pre-order using the Disney World app- such an awesome way to do this, mobile ordering. 
  • Table Service Meals- These are sit down restaurant options in all parks. People serve you, you order from the menu. Most of the dinner spots you need reservations ahead of time.
  • Disney Meal Dining Plan- I don't know much about this since we stayed off property and you can only get this option if you are staying on Disney property. I hear it's great though, it affords you certain meal credits and snack credits each day to use at any restaurants at parks. 
  • Trams- These are little train cart things in the parks. They take you from your parking spaces to the park entrance, as this could be miles away. It's huge! They do not appear easy to put strollers on, you definitely have to fold them up and hold your bags. We avoided this with preferred parking.
  • Preferred parking- This was a lifesaver to us. Yes, we spent more money, that part wasn't ideal. It was double the price of regular parking. Parking was $22 I believe, and preferred was $45. We got free water bottles with our preferred parking and first time Disney buttons. In the mornings it didn't seem like we'd need preferred parking, but by end of day it was a lifesaver with three kids and a jogger stroller, several bags, etc. With a stroller it's much easier to get preferred parking up front near the entrance of the park so you can pack all bags immediately. This was one expense we found so necessary with the extra baggage of little kids. When the kids are older and we don't have a stroller, we'd be fine parking regular and taking the tram. 
  • Monorail- The train-like system is pretty cool in the Disney property areas. Anyone can ride, even if staying off property. 
  • Ferry- You can take a ferry ride to Magic Kingdom or you can use monorail. We used monorail in the morning, as it was faster (and sometimes we arrived earlier than the ferry was operating). We used ferry at night- MUCH faster, the monorail lines were nuts. Typically the ferry runs a few minutes longer than monorails, but lines are shorter so it works well. 
  • Busses- Disney has their own line of bussing also to get around the resorts and parks. We took a bus from Epcot to a resort for dinner once, it's free for anyone using the Disney system, not just those staying on property. 
Most shows are about 10-15 minutes long, not terrible despite being late for some littles.
  • Wishes Happily Ever After = Magic Kingdom typically at 7:55 p.m. No Fast Passes for seating.
  • Illuminations = Epcot typically at 9 p.m. Yes, offer Fast Passes for prime seating on ground area.
  • Fantastic = Hollywood Studios typically at 9 p.m. Not sure if FP.  This was the only one we didn't get to. 
  • Rivers of Light = Animal Kingdom typically two shows, one at 7:15 p.m. and one at 8:30 p.m. Yes you can get Fast Passes for prime seating right in the center. We did the earlier show and it was perfect. 

Hope this little dictionary of sorts helps you understand the process of getting through the parks and planning Disney experiences. I found it overwhelming at first, but I swear once you get using the app and the site and start conversing to others about your experience you'll get the hang of it and it's FUN.

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