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Best Magic Kingdom Rides and Attractions

Best Magic Kingdom Rides and Attractions

So this guide to the best Magic Kingdom rides might be a little different than what you’ve seen before, or what you’re expecting. There’s no Top 10 Countdown, no ranking of all the rides. I didn’t give each ride a grade. There’s not even a […]

Disney World Packing List with Free Printable

Disney World Packing List with Free Printable

Quick! What is everything you need to pack for your family’s Walt Disney World vacation? The question is enough to make your head spin, especially if you have little people in your family that you need to “pack” for just to drive 3 miles around […]

65 Great Walt Disney World Vacation Hacks

65 Great Walt Disney World Vacation Hacks

Sometimes planning a trip to Disney World can be overwhelming, and the more people and age groups involved, the more overwhelming it can be.

I thought a quick list where you can see some of the best Disney hacks and tips at a glance would be helpful.

Let’s dive right in!

Want a list of all character meals at a glance?
Click here to get a printable copy of my Disney Character Meal Cheat Sheet!

 

✅General Disney World Hacks

1. Check the Crowd Calendars before planning your trip.
This may seem obvious, but not everybody thinks to do this, and it can make a huge difference in how much time you spend waiting on line during your trip. Here is a detailed Crowd Calendar for 2019.

2. The Unofficial Guide to Disney World is a great reference for planning your vacation. I’ve bought 3 different versions of this book over the years, and have referred to them again and again. We’ve had times where our family sat together in the living room while I read sections out loud, and of course I’ve read it to everybody in the car as we’re driving down to Florida. Not only is it easy to read and a great wealth of information, but it is laugh-out-loud funny in places.

The Unofficial Guide to Disney World
The Unofficial Guide to Disney World

3. You can request a free wake-up call each morning from either Mickey or Stitch on the resort hotel phone.

4. If you decline housekeeping service at a Disney resort, they’ll email you a gift card for $10 each night of your stay. This has to be all nothing; you can’t, for example, decline service for just one day.

(On our last trip, my teenage daughters both gave me horrified looks when I asked them if we should take advantage of this. Needless to say, we ended up getting the housekeeping service.)

5. Sit in the middle of the monorail for quick and easy access getting out.

Walt Disney World Monorail
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

6. Arrive at the park before rope drop. Not only does this make a huge difference in avoiding crowds, but at the Magic Kingdom there is a sort of “mini-show” at rope drop that is fun.

7. If you are celebrating a special occasion, like a birthday or an anniversary, make sure to pick up a free celebration button at your resort hotel or in the parks from Guest Services. You may get a little special treatment if wearing the buttons. Don’t expect free food anywhere, though, unless you are really lucky.

8. Don’t let closing time at the park keep you from getting on line for an attraction. Even if you get on line one minute before the park closes and the line is 90 minutes long you’ll still get to ride.

9. Take advantage of the single rider lines. Test Track, Expedition Everest, and Rock n Roller Coaster all have a singer rider line. If you’re at least 7 years old and don’t mind sitting next to a stranger, this is worth considering if you couldn’t get a FastPass — or just want to ride a second time.

Rock n Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studio
The Single Rider Line option gets you into the Rock n Roller Coaster quicker
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

10. If you accidentally break a souvenir you bought, Disney will replace it for free. Just go to the nearest store that carries the item and you’ll get a brand new one.

11. Avoid going to a park on the day that they have Extra Magic Hours.
Extra Magic Hours sounds great … until you realize that it sounds great to everybody else too. Avoid Extra Magic Hours, and you’ll avoid the worst crowds for that day.

12. Your shoes and socks can make or break your trip. Believe it or not, you might walk up to 10 miles a day during your Disney vacation, and if you don’t have shoes that are up for the job, your feet will be hurting before the end of the day. Avoid cotton socks (I personally like to wear these sandals and avoid socks altogether, rub some Body Glide on your feet every morning, and wear some sturdy shoes that are not brand-spanking new. If you really want to be kind to your feet, bring two pairs of shoes so you can switch out every day.

I go into a lot more detail in my post where I review the best shoes for walking in Disney World, but you can at a quick glance below some of the specific shoes that I recommend.

Saucony Women's Triumph ISO Running ShoeSaucony Women’s Triumph ISO Running ShoeSaucony Women's Triumph ISO Running ShoeSkechers Performance Women's Go Walk SneakerSkechers Performance Women’s Go Walk SneakerSkechers Performance Women's Go Walk SneakerASICS Women's Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeASICS Women's Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeASICS Women's Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeASICS Women's Gel-Venture 5 Running ShoeKEEN Women's Clearwater CNX-W SandalKEEN Women’s Clearwater CNX-W SandalKEEN Women's Clearwater CNX-W SandalTeva Womens Women's W Original Universal Premier Sport SandalTeva Womens Women’s W Original Universal Premier Sport SandalTeva Womens Women's W Original Universal Premier Sport SandalSkechers Performance Womens Go Walk Pizazz Flip FlopSkechers Performance Womens Go Walk Pizazz Flip FlopSkechers Performance Womens Go Walk Pizazz Flip FlopSanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopSanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopSanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopSanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage Flip FlopSanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage Flip FlopSanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage Flip Flop

 

13. If you’re staying at a Disney-owned hotel, you can have merchandise you purchase in the park sent to your hotel. This is so convenient, because the last thing you want is to be giant stuffed animals and bags of mugs around the park all day.

14. You can request to sit in the front row of Soarin. These are the only seats where you can enjoy the view without seeing people’s feet dangling in your face.

Soarin at Epcot in Disney World
Request a front row seat at Soarin if you want to skip seeing stranger’s feet
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

15. Go back to your hotel in the mid afternoon. I almost didn’t include this one because I think of it as common knowledge, but I’m sure there is someone out there that hasn’t heard this yet, and it’s an important one. We almost always go back to our hotel at around 2:00pm for a nap and/or a swim, then head back out again for the evening. I’m sure there are people who stay at the park for 10+ hours straight, but I know I would be miserable if I tried it.

16. Consider using Uber instead of the Disney buses. We’ve never done this, but there were certainly times on our last trip where I wished we had. The buses can run late, take forever with all the stops, and you may have to stand up for the entire trip. If that sounds miserable to you, it might be worth paying for an Uber instead.

17. Bring a portable phone charger. You don’t want to have to spend time looking for outlets — or worse, have your phone suddenly die when you’re about to take a great photos.

Anker PowerCore 20100 Power Bank PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy and MoreAnker PowerCore 20100 Power Bank PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy and MoreAnker PowerCore 20100 Power Bank PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy and MoreAnker PowerCore  Ultra-Portable Phone Charger for iPhone, iPad, Samsung GalaxyAnker PowerCore Ultra-Portable Phone Charger for iPhone, iPad, Samsung GalaxyAnker PowerCore  Ultra-Portable Phone Charger for iPhone, iPad, Samsung GalaxyPoweradd Slim 2 External Battery 2.1Portable Charger for iPhones, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, HTC and More - BluePoweradd Slim 2 External Battery 2.1Portable Charger for iPhones, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, HTC and More – BluePoweradd Slim 2 External Battery 2.1Portable Charger for iPhones, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, HTC and More - BlueAnker PowerCore+ Mini, Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, Compatible with iPhone Xs/XR, Android Smartphones and MoreAnker PowerCore+ Mini, Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, Compatible with iPhone Xs/XR, Android Smartphones and MoreAnker PowerCore+ Mini, Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, Compatible with iPhone Xs/XR, Android Smartphones and More

 

18. Take the time to learn FastPass strategies. Amazingly, there are people who go to Disney World without using FastPass at all, either because they don’t know about it or because they think it costs money, or you have to “be someone special” in order to use it. Spending just 30-45 minutes learning about how FastPass works, which rides are better to get a FastPass for than others, and making the reservations before your trip can save you several hours of waiting on line.

19. Kids under 3 years old don’t need a ticket OR a FastPass. This means if you’re planning ahead to when or if you should go to Disney with little kids, the ideal situation would be to go about a month or two before their third birthday and do everything you can to get them toilet trained before then.

20. Don’t forget about Downtown Disney Disney Springs. (Sorry, old habit.) Disney Springs is particularly nice in the evening, when you’re had enough of the parks for the day. They have some great quick service restaurants (Wolfgang Puck Express and Blaze Pizza come to mind), several shops (my girls had fun shopping for clothes there on our last trip, while Benjamin always loves the Lego Store), and live music. We’ve particularly enjoyed taking the boat there and back when we stay at Port Orleans. It makes for a pretty and peaceful outing.

21. Get a Frogg Togg Cooling Towel. These really do work, and there’s great not only for staying cool, but also protecting your neck, back, and shoulders from the sun.

Frogg Togg Cooling Towel at Disney World
Staying Cool with my Frogg Togg Cooling Towel!

It’s worth noting that on our last trip, Rob borrowed my Frogg Togg towel for a while and then decided he wanted to buy his own. The parks sell a different brand of cooling towel, and he said that, while it was better than nothing, it definitely did not get as cool as my Frogg Togg did.

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling TowelFrogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling TowelFrogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel

 

 

 

22. If you want to ride Flight of Passage in Pandora but don’t enjoy standing in line for 3 hours, get to Animal Kingdom 80-90 minutes before the park opens. Yes, that’s right — arrive over an hour before it open. (BTW, someone might have told you that the Disney buses don’t start running until an hour before the park opens. This is NOT true.)

23. Consider doing some Pin Trading. My daughter Rebecca got really into this on one of our trips. We bought this pin starter set from Amazon before our trip, and she was constantly keeping her eyes open for trading boards and cast members with pins. It made the trip really fun for her, was a nice way to interact with Cast Members, and is much cheaper to do it that way that to just buy pins you like at the park.

24. Buy things on Amazon and have them shipped directly to your hotel. This is particularly helpful if you’re flying and/or if you want to avoid paying a fortune for things on Disney property. Some items you might want to consider are food and baby supplies, but also things like rain ponchos or compact umbrellas, princess costumes, and stuffed animals.

Make sure to include “Guest” with your name in the shipping address.

Snow  Queen CostumeSnow Queen CostumeSnow  Queen CostumePrincess Belle Layered Costume DressPrincess Belle Layered Costume DressPrincess Belle Layered Costume DressPrincess Snow White CostumePrincess Snow White CostumePrincess Snow White CostumeDisney Pluto PlushDisney Pluto PlushDisney Pluto PlushDisney EeyoreDisney EeyoreDisney EeyoreDisney Baby Winnie the PoohDisney Baby Winnie the PoohDisney Baby Winnie the PoohDisney Mickey Mouse Plush ToyDisney Mickey Mouse Plush ToyDisney Mickey Mouse Plush ToyDisney Bambi PlushDisney Bambi PlushDisney Bambi PlushDisney Tigger Plush ToyDisney Tigger Plush ToyDisney Tigger Plush Toy

 

25. Be nice to all the Cast Members. There are a few good reasons for this. One is that they work darn and are sure to appreciate your kindness. A second is that you can have interesting conversations and perhaps learn a few things. One time we waiting for Duffy Bear to take his break during a character meet and greet and I saw that the Cast Member was from Cuba. I told him I been trying to learn Spanish and tried to converse with him a little (very little) in Spanish. He told me that when he was learning English fe found it helpful to practice by listening to the news. It was a nice way to pleasantly pass the time instead of being aggravated by the wait.

 

Need help organizing your Disney vacation plans?
Click here to get my 28-page printable vacation planning bundle!

 

✅Magic Kingdom Hacks

26. The shops in the Emporium on Main Street are all connected. Walking inside through is a great way to travel down Main Street quickly, especially if it’s raining or you’re trying to beat the heat.

Main Street at the Magic Kingdom
Main Street at the Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

27. Sit on the left side of your boat in Pirates of the Caribbean to get the best views.

28. Take advantage of the Walt Disney World Railroad. This is a nice change of pace from walking all over the park, and is a ride in itself. There are stops in Adventureland, Fantasyland, near the front gate. When my son Benjamin was a preschooler, riding the train was one of the highlights of the trip for him (along with riding the monorail).

Walt Disney Railroad in the Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

29. The parade is a great time to ride the most popular rides. On our last trip, we rode both Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad during the afternoon parade with hardly any wait time at all.

Disney World Parade Beauty and the Beast
The afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom is a great time to ride the most popular attractions.
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

30. Ask the cast members at the Haunted Mansion what their bats are named. If gives you something to do while on line, and some of the names are clever, ie “Batness Everdeen..”

31. The “Lame Rides” are great for taking a break.

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (um, let’s just call it the PeoplMover) and The Carousel of Progress may not sound as exciting as some other rides in the Magic Kingdom, but they’re both a nice way to rest, cool off, and take a tour of Tomorrowland. Plus the lines for them are almost non-existent.

This is a pretty funny video by Jenny Nichols that talks about all the “Lame Things” she loves to do at Disney World:

Video: Top 10 Lame Things To Do At Disney World


 

 

✅Disney World Hacks to Save Money

A Disney trip is almost never going to be a “budget vacation,” but there are several things you can do to make it less expensive.

32. See if you qualify for discounted tickets.
If you’re active military, a AAA member, or a Florida resident, you may be eligible for certain discounts. You can read more details on discounts here.

33. Skip Memory Maker. The PhotoPass photographers will be happy to use your phone or camera to take a picture for you, which makes it hard to rationalize spending $169 on Memory Maker.

34. Consider camping at Fort Wilderness. Um, yeah, I’m a city girl and am unlikely to do this any time soon (and one of my daughters would definitely raise holy heck if we even suggested it). But if you’re into camping, you can save a bundle and still get all the benefits of staying on property.

35. Buy Disney gift cards entertainment cards at Target.
If you have a Target Red card, go to Target and buy up a bunch of Disney gift cards — you’ll get 5 percent off with your Red Card. (Target classifies these as “entertainment cards,” not actual gift cards. This can add up to quite a bit of money if you use the cards for merchandise, food, and parking.

36. Purchase your souvenirs at Disney’s Character Warehouse. There are two locations: one at the Orlando International Premium Outlet and the other at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet. This can be a huge money saver on Disney merchandise; I have heard of families literally saving of hundreds of dollars by doing their shopping here.

37. Collect pressed pennies for cheap souvenirs.
There are many pressed penny machines around the park that crush a Disney-themed design into pennies. Not only is it fun to keep your eyes open for them, but it’s a way to get cheap souvenirs. You can use an empty M&M’s mini tube to stack layers of two quarters and one penny so you’re not fumbling around for change all day. If you like, you can buy a book to organize your pressed pennies after the trip.

Disney Parks Tinkerbell Pressed Penny Collection BookDisney Parks Tinkerbell Pressed Penny Collection BookDisney Parks Tinkerbell Pressed Penny Collection BookWalt Disney World Pressed Penny Book Collection AlbumWalt Disney World Pressed Penny Book Collection AlbumWalt Disney World Pressed Penny Book Collection Album

 

38. Buy your park tickets from Undercover Tourist, an authorized seller of discount Disney World tickets.

39. Skip Park Hopper tickets. Don’t get me wrong — Park Hoppers are great, but definitely not necessary. Skipping them and just getting the Base tickets can easily save your family over $200 without creating any real hardship.

40. Save on multi-day stroller rental by prepaying online.
There’s a discount for prepaid multi-day Disney stroller rentals. Stroller rentals at Disney parks are $15 per day for single, or $31 for double. When you purchase online, your price drops to $13 per day single or $27 per day double.

41. Another alternative is to buy a cheap stroller and have it shipped to your resort. I know if I were flying to Disney World, I wouldn’t want to be hauling a couple stroller around the airport. Buying an inexpensive umbrella stroller and having it waiting for you when you arrive is cheaper and easier than renting (and the stroller they rent at the parks are cumbersome and uncomfortable-looking, anyway).

Disney Winnie-the-Pooh Umbrella Stroller with CanopyDisney Winnie-the-Pooh Umbrella Stroller with CanopyDisney Winnie-the-Pooh Umbrella Stroller with CanopyDisney Pink Umbrella Stroller with BasketDisney Pink Umbrella Stroller with BasketDisney Pink Umbrella Stroller with BasketKolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller with Multi-Positon Reclining SeatKolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller with Multi-Positon Reclining SeatKolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller with Multi-Positon Reclining SeatWonder Buggy Jumbo Umbrella Stroller with Rounded HoodWonder Buggy Jumbo Umbrella Stroller with Rounded HoodWonder Buggy Jumbo Umbrella Stroller with Rounded Hood

 

 

 

42. Pack a picnic lunch to bring into the park. You can save a bundle (and probably eat better, too) if you take the effort to pack a lunch, especially if have a large family. Things like string cheese, fruit cups, yogurt, baby carrots, bananas, grapes, and hard-boiled eggs are all foods that work well. Don’t forget to bring plenty of ziploc bags, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and plastic utensils, and pack it all up in a sturdy, reusable grocery bag.

Envirosax Mallorca Pouch, Set of 5 Shopping Reusable Grocery BagsEnvirosax Mallorca Pouch, Set of 5 Shopping Reusable Grocery BagsEnvirosax Mallorca Pouch, Set of 5 Shopping Reusable Grocery BagsEnvirosax Pouch Grocery BagEnvirosax Pouch Grocery BagEnvirosax Pouch Grocery BagEnvirosax Set of 2 Slingsax BagsEnvirosax Set of 2 Slingsax BagsEnvirosax Set of 2 Slingsax BagsEnvirosax Tropics Reusable Grocery BagEnvirosax Tropics Reusable Grocery BagEnvirosax Tropics Reusable Grocery BagEcoJeannie Nylon Foldable Reusable Bag Grocery Shopping Tote Bag with built-in PouchEcoJeannie Nylon Foldable Reusable Bag Grocery Shopping Tote Bag with built-in PouchEcoJeannie Nylon Foldable Reusable Bag Grocery Shopping Tote Bag with built-in Pouch

 

Some of the best spots to picnic at are Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom (one of the most underrated attractions in Disney World), the picnic tables behind Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom, and various spots in Future World in Epcot.

Tom Sawyer Island in Walt Disney World
Tom Sawyer Island is a great place to bring your picnic lunch
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

43. Plan A Non-Park Day.
If your vacation will be, say, 6 days long, consider getting park tickets for only 5 days and having a “non-park day” in the middle. There’s plenty to do for an entire day without setting foot in a Disney park. In addition to hanging out at the hotel pool, you can go to Disney Springs, ride the monorail and visit various resorts, walk along the Boardwalk, and in the evening watch Wishes (the Magic Kingdom fireworks show) from the beach at the Polynesian Resort.)

 

 

✅Disney world Dining Hacks



 

44. Counter service meals on the Disney Dining Plan come with a drink, but you can ask for side or a snack in its place. This is especially handy if you have your refillable resort mug with you.

45. Signature Restaurants are a poor use of Disney Dining Plan credits. A Signature meal costs two Table Service Credits, but it almost never going to be twice the price of a regular meal if paid out of pocket. Just something to keep in mind.

46. If you want to have the amazing milkshakes at 50’s Prime Time Cafe but don’t want to eat an entire meal there, you can get just a milkshake at the Tune In Lounge located in the same building as the restaurant. These milkshakes are fantastic, but also huge, so I would recommend getting just one for two or three people.

47. You can get free unlimited soda at Epcot’s Club Cool. Located in Future World, Club Cool offers samples of different Coca-Cola products from around the world. It’s also air conditioned, which is a nice plus.

48. Ordering a kid’s meal or splitting a counter service meal between two people is a great way both to save money and avoid wasting food. There is no rule against an adult a kid’s meal, so you don’t have to be sneaky about it.

49. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you can order a regular OR a large fountain drink at counter service restaurants. They will automatically serve you a regular-sized drink unless you specifically ask for a large.

50. If you’re on the Dining Plan, don’t feel limited to ordering soda for your drink option. Not only are alcoholic drinks included in the Dining Plan these days, but you can usually also get a smoothie or a shake, which is both more interesting and a better value.

51. Don’t waste your snack credits on stupid things. I would personally define “stupid things” as bottled water, bananas, or Rice Krispie treats (although my kids might disagree with me on that last one.) Just a few of the much better choices would be a Napoleon at the France Pavilion, a Dole Whip in Adventureland, or a S’mores Cupcake at the Gasparilla Island Grill at the Grand Floridian Resort.

Cupcake at Gasparilla Island Grill at Grand Floridian in Disney World
Should I use my Snack Credit on this, or on an apple? Hmm, I wonder …

52. Some snack credit menu items are really more like a meal. You don’t have to use a snack credit on something sweet. The Fried Rice at the Yak and Yeti, Ham and Cheese Croissant at the Boulangerie Patisserie, and the French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese at Flame Tree Barbecue each would make a decent lunch.

 

✅Hacks for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an annual food festival that typically runs from August or September to mid-November. (At the time of this writing, the 2019 dates have not been set yet.) You do not need to pay extra or get a special ticket; entrance to Epcot automatically gets you entrance into the Festival.

The Festival includes food booths in the World Showcase, live concerts, and culinary and beverage demonstrations.

Our family was at the 2018 Food & Wine Festival, but my kids were more interested in riding Test Track and Soarin’ for the second time and finding a good spot to watch Illuminations than they were in the Festival, so all I managed to grab were some Vegan Greek Nachos.

If, unlike us, you’re planning to truly “do” the Festival properly, here are some tips:

Epcot Food & Wine Festival
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

53. Bring a tray. Yes, this sounds totally dorky, but if you are going to be doing some serious eating and drinking, you’ll want a tray so you don’t have to constantly juggle all those little cardboard dishes all day long.

Food Tray
Food Tray

54. Make a plan of attack before you go. Get familiar with the layout of the Festival before you arrive, and consider going past the front, most busy booths and starting further back. Check out some of the menus beforehand and come up with a “must eat” list.

55. Use your snack credits if you’re on the Dining Plan. Some of the food booth samples cost as much as $8, which makes using a snack credit here a great value.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival
Use your Snack Credits at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

56. Get a Festival Passport. These are free and available all over Epcot. They include a detailed menu for each booth and stickers that you can use to keep track of which booths you’ve visited. Not only is it a great guide, but it makes a nice free souvenir.

57. Try to avoid the heaviest crowds. Easier said than done, but there are a few strategies you can take that will help. Visiting the booths from around 11am-noon, and then again from 4-6pm is probably your best bet. Also, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will most likely be the least crowded days to visit.

 

✅Disney World Tips for Seniors

I hesitated to include this section because it seems a little condescending, as if all seniors are decrepit and incapable of either walking through the park or riding anything other than “It’s a Small World.” (Personally, I hope I’m still screaming my head off on the Rock n Roller Coaster in 20 years.)

I’m sure there are senior that can easily leave 30 year olds in the dust during a day at Disney. Being 65 years old (which, of course, is seeming less and less old to me as the years go by) doesn’t mean that you need a motorized car and a hearing aid — and, at the same time, there are plenty of 25 year old who needs to refrigerate their medicine and use the handicapped parking.

Still, with that caveat, I’m sure these tips will be helpful for someone out there, so take them for what they’re worth, regardless of what age you are.

58. Consider signing up for a behind-the-scenes tour, especially if you anticipate spending a lot of time waiting for the other people in your family to ride roller coasters. You find more information on them here.

59. Handheld captioning devices are available for the hearing impaired. You can pick up your handheld device at Guest Services and enjoy the captioning device free with a refundable credit card charge upon its return. You can even hang it around your neck for convenience.

60. Get a scooter if you need it. If you require a bit of assistance getting around the park – Disney rents electric scooters to park guests. There are also independent scooter rental companies in Orlando that will deliver a scooter right to your hotel, both on or off Disney property. If this sounds silly or unnecessary , keep in mind that you may be walking 10 miles a day in the Florida heat.

61. If you do bring a wheelchair or ECV of your own, most of the Disney buses can accommodate them. If a bus arrives that is not equipped, the driver will contact transportation on your behalf.

62. Special parking at Disney World’s theme parks is available for those with disabled permits.

63. All Disney Resorts have a small fridge in the room, which is helpful if you have medication that needs to be refrigerated.

64. All Disney Resorts have handicapped accessible rooms. If you have a special request, be sure to make it before arriving at your resort.

65. Take the heat seriously. The Florida sun can be brutal, especially in the summer months. Get plenty of water, take breaks, wear hats, and use plenty of sunscreen.

EltaMD Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive SkinEltaMD Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive SkinEltaMD Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive SkinBlue Lizard Australian Sunscreen - Water Resistant Sport Sunscreen SPF 30+Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen – Water Resistant Sport Sunscreen SPF 30+Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen - Water Resistant Sport Sunscreen SPF 30+Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+

 

Now I want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite Disney vacation hacks and tips? Let us know in the comments!

Ultimate Walt Disney World Trip and Travel Hacks List!

Easy Hacks for your Disney World vacation

65 Disney World Vacation Hacks

65 Tips that include Disney line hacks, Disney hacks with a toddler, and Walt Disney World savings secrets. Also includes the best things to buy from Amazon for Disney trips

Walt Disney World saving secrets, Disney line hacks, tips for the Disney dining plan, and Disney transportation tips. Plus cool things to buy from Amazon for Disney trip

Walt Disney World Vacation Hacks




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The Best Restaurants in Disney World for Kids, Vegetarians, and More!

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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to figure out where to eat during your Disney World vacation. There are well over a hundred restaurants on Disney property, and they range from burger places to buffets to character meals to fine dining. You can’t […]

What to Wear to Disney World: Cute Outfits and Accessories

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Review of Ohana Dinner at the Polynesian Resort

Review of Ohana Dinner at the Polynesian Resort

If someone handed me several thousand dollars and told me that I must spend it all on one Disney trip (sadly, this has never happened), I imagine I would choose to stay at The Polynesian Village Resort, one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts.

The ambiance is detailed and beautiful, it’s the closest I’ll get to a Hawaiian vacation anytime soon, the pools are considered to be some of the best at Disney, and being on the monorail line is a really nice plus when staying at Disney.

However, since The Polynesian costs $500 per night (and up), we won’t be staying there anytime soon. Instead, we have to simply “settle” for dinner at ‘Ohana and enjoy the atmosphere for a single evening.

Which, as you’ll see, is not a bad thing at all.

Tambu Lounge before Ohana dinner at the Polynesian
Me, Rob, and Benjamin waiting in the Tambu Lounge for our table to be ready

‘Ohana (which means “family) is a family-style table service restaurant. While they offer a breakfast character meal with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, and Mickey Mouse (they do not serve lunch), this review will focus on our family’s recent experience, which was for dinner.



 

Is Ohana a buffet?

Nope. It’s better than a buffet, because you don’t have to keep hopping up to get more food. The hostess who seated it actually described it as “a buffet in reverse,” because the server brings the food to you in several courses, and you can have as much of it as your want. (This is what’s referred to as “family-style serving.”)

‘Ohana Dinner Entertainment

‘Ohana is not a character meal at dinner (although it is for breakfast), but a nice touch was a man strolling through the restaurant singing and playing the ukulele, Don Ho-style. At one point he invited people to come up to the front to get adorned with a complimentary lei and be given a hula dancing lesson. I, of course, didn’t have to be asked twice, and my teenage daughters, of course, were mortified. (Sorry, no one got any photos of that one.)

I have also heard that ‘Ohana has Coconut Races, but either we missed that or just didn’t notice it.

I was slightly apprehensive beforehand because I had read reviews describing ‘Ohana as “loud” and “chaotic,” and I was afraid it might be a little like a Hawaiian version of Chef Mickey’s. However, while I would describe it as “having a fun atmosphere,” I didn’t find it particularly noisy. Of course, that could be because we there at 8:00pm.

Does Ohana Have a Dress Code

Other than the basic “shirt and shoes must be worn at all times” rule — Nope, there’s no dress code. (Do you think we would have eaten there if there was, LOL?)

However, if you want to have some fun, you might want to wear something Hawaiian-themed.

Womens Sleeveless Floral Hawaiian Tank Dress
Womens Sleeveless Floral Hawaiian Tank Dress

And if you’re really really have your act together, you can not only dress with a Hawaiian theme, but do it while matching your husband or boyfriend:

Couple Matching Hawaiian Shirt and Maxi Tank Dress
Couple Matching Hawaiian Shirt and Maxi Tank Dress

Dinner Menu

The important thing to remember when eating at ‘Ohana is that you have to pace yourself. My kids were disappointed that they had filled up too much on noodles and bread (although both were delicious), and Rob’s favorite part of the entire meal was the shrimp, which unfortunately for him was the very last thing served before dessert, so he couldn’t fill up on it as much as he would have liked.

Here’s what’s you’ll be getting, in this order, all of it fantastic:

Pineapple-Coconut Bread
Mixed Greens Salad with a Lilikoi dressing
Pork Dumplings tossed in Garlic-Ginger Sauce
Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings
Noodles tossed in a Teriyaki Sauce with stir-fried vegetables

Ohana dinner noodles and dumplings

Now at this point you honestly could say that you had a full, delicious meal … but guess what? That was just the warm-up.

Now it’s time for the “main course,” which is skewers of Szechuan Sirloin Steak, Sweet-n-Sour Chicken, and Spicy Grilled Peel-n-Eat Shrimp, grilled over an oak fire in the middle of your restaurant and brought to your table one at a time. Peanut sauce and sweet and sour sauce is provided for dipping.

It’s a lot of food. Consider yourself warned.

Dessert
‘Ohana Bread Pudding à la mode topped with Caramel Sauce and Bananas

‘Ohana’s bread pudding is sort of considered the star of the show — or at least the part of the meal that gets the most buzz, by far. It was quite amazing, as anything involving the words “ice cream,” “caramel,” and “bananas” is obviously going to be.

Since Benjamin is 12 years old, he got the “kids’ dessert” of a Rice Krispie Bar decorated with candy. Interestingly, he was happy to have that instead of the Bread Pudding. Those crazy kids.

Ohana bread pudding with caramel sauce

Where Else Can I Get ‘Ohana Bread Pudding?

If you want to dig into this bread pudding but can’t, or don’t want to, have a full-blown dinner at ‘Ohana for whatever reason, you have a few options.

The easiest is to go to the Tambu Lounge connected with ‘Ohana and order a single serving of bread pudding to enjoy right in the lounge.

Also, I have heard many times that if you are eating at Kona Cafe (also at the Polynesian, and which we’ll discuss more in a moment), you can order the ‘Ohana Bread Pudding there, even though it’s not listed on the menu.

And if you’re lucky enough to be staying at the Polynesian Village Resort, you can order the bread pudding at any time via room service.

If you’re craving ‘Ohana Bread Pudding but are nowhere near Disney at the moment, you could try this recipe:

‘Ohana Bread Pudding Recipe Inspired by Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Drink Menu

‘Ohana offers several alcoholic specialty drinks. I ordered the Tropical Macaw, which is made with Coruba Coconut Rum, Melon Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, and Cranberry Juice. I believe Rob had a Pina Colada.

Ohana Drinks at Polynesian Resort

‘Ohana Dinner Price 2018

Dinner is $46 per person, and the price for children ages 3-9 is $26.

So … you can see why, as a family of 5 “adults” who ordered a couple alcoholic beverages, we winced a bit when we got our bill at the end of the meal. (I honestly think that’s the biggest benefit to the Disney Dining Plan. You might not save money, but at least you’ll avoid all the “wincing” when you see the prices.)

Was it worth the hefty price tag? Your mileage might vary, but I would say yes.

How Long is Dinner at ‘Ohana?

People often want to know how to time their ‘Ohana dinner with getting back in time for an evening FastPasss reservation at the Magic Kingdom.

In a sense we were lucky, because the only reservation we could get was at 8:00pm, which made “getting back to the park” a non-issue.

I would personally recommend not trying to squeeze in a FastPass after ‘Ohana. First of all, a big part of ‘Ohana is the “experience,” so you want to enjoy it and not get stressed out (as I would be) checking your watch every few minutes and worrying if you’re going to be late.

Second, things like that always take longer than you think they will (or at least they do in my world). Paying the bill will take longer than it should have. The monorail will run late. It will take you longer to get back to the park than you estimated. Someone will need to go to the bathroom. It makes me feel stressed out just thinking about it!

A third point that’s worth mentioning is that after eating at ‘Ohana, you’ll probably be so full that you can barely move, let alone want to go sprinting through Tomorrowland to go ride Space Mountain.

But to answer the question — I would say to allow 75-90 minutes for the actual meal, plus an additional 15-20 minutes to get seated.

Can I Watch the Fireworks from ‘Ohana?

Since The Polynesian is literally walking distance from the Magic Kingdom, it makes sense to assume that it’s a great place to watch Wishes, the nighttime fireworks show.

While that can work, the reality is a little different. You may very well not be able to get a window seat — and if you can, you may not be thrilled to have many new “family” members appear at your table.

While we have never tried this ourselves, I’ve heard that a better idea is to head to the Polynesian Beach (particularly an area called Sunset Point) after dinner to view the fireworks.

‘Ohana vs. Kona Cafe

Finally, the question often pops up as to which is better, ‘Ohana or Kona Cafe, which is another table service restaurant at the Polynesian. In fact, we originally had reservation for Kona Cafe and I ended up changing it to ‘Ohana just a couple weeks before our trip.

I’ve been to both (although never for breakfast), and while I was very impressed with our meal at Kona Cafe, I would recommend ‘Ohana if you’re trying to decide between one of the other.

However, I would tell you to choose Kona Cafe if:
1) You want your meal to be quicker;
2) The menu at ‘Ohana doesn’t appeal to you; or
3) You don’t like the idea of a ton of food.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a toddler to Disney World, but this reviewer from Trip Advisor points out something else that’s important to consider:

The food [at ‘Ohana] really appeals to us and it is all you care to eat. There are also some greater benefits I think with a 2 year old. As I’m sure you know, eating out with a toddler isn’t always easy. Ohana is a much bigger restaurant if you need to take a walk and there are more distractions which may keep him entertained.

For starters, there are big windows looking outside if you are lucky enough to get sat close to one and not in the center section. They also have a guy that walks around singing and playing the ukulele as well as occasional activities for the kids such as pushing a coconut around the room with a broom.

Since it is all you care to eat you’ll get served food right away instead of having to order and wait. The servers bring the main course meats to the table on huge skewers which is fun. From experience, walking up to see the massive fire grills really helped us out with ours one time. And nothing to do with kids but the bread pudding is to die for …

Why you shouldn't miss dinner at ohana

Copycat Recipe for Bread Pudding at Disneys Polynesian Resort
Some may argue that Ohana is both the best restaurant at Polynesian Resort AND has the best bread pudding at Disney World. In this review, I answer questions like: What is the best time to eat dinner at Ohana? How is Ohana vs Kona Cafe? How long is Ohana dinner? Does Ohana have characters at dinner? and more!
Can i watch the fireworks from ‘Ohana? Does Ohana have characters at dinner? Does ‘Ohana have a dress code? Find out in this review of the best restaurant at Polynesian Resort with the best bread pudding in Disney World.
Ohana Restaurant Dinner Review

The Best Quick Service Meals at Disney World Parks (plus Disney Springs)

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Eating at quick service restaurants is practically a must when you go on a Disney World vacation. They’re relative cheap (in Disney terms), they offer a lot more variety than your basic “theme park food,” and since they don’t require reservations, you can easily work […]

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11 Easy Slow Cooker Chili Recipes

11 Easy Slow Cooker Chili Recipes

Best easy slow cooker chili recipes

Chili is such a crowd pleaser at my house.

It makes the house smell good, and the kids like it because they can “dress it up” any way they like by adding gobs of shredded cheese, hot sauce, rice, etc. They like having that feeling of “ownership” in creating dinner.

Another great thing about chili is that you can make a ton of it! My husband Rob always likes me to freeze a bunch of single-servings for him to take to work for lunch over the next couple weeks.

This inexpensive tool is SO helpful for freezing single servings of chili — and it keeps you from making a huge mess!

You can read all the reviews of this helpful tool here.

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✅Crockpot Chili Recipes With Ground Beef

Personally, whenever I think “chili,” I immediately think “ground beef.” (Which I realize is not completely fair to the many other types of chili out there, and we’ll get to those in a minute.)

So let’s start with good, basic beef chili recipes:

Slow Cooker Chili With Ground Beef and Sausage

I personally love adding sausage to things, whether it’s eggs, pizza, or spaghetti sauce. It gives it a little bit of a “kick.”

This recipe from The Spruce Eats combines beef and sausage with black beans, bell peppers, and diced jalapeño peppers.

Slow Cooker Chili With No Beans

I’ve never been to Texas, but I’ve heard there’s a saying there: “If you know beans about chili, it’s that there’s no beans in chili.” Apparently, Texans consider chili with beans to be a “Yankee thing.”

Whether you’re from Texas or not, here’s a delicious no-bean chili recipe from Sugar-Free Mom:

Chili in the Slow Cooker Without Browning Meat

Most crockpot recipes for chili have you brown and drain the meat first. Not only is this supposed to enhance the flavor to do it this way, but it’s also to avoid having the chili be overly greasy.

However, this chili recipe from Dining with Alice just has your dump the uncooked ground beef into the pot along with everything else. No extra skillet to have to clean!

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili Recipe

I admit it; I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy foods and have a ridiculously low tolerance for it. Here’s a spicy chili recipe from A Family Feast for those of you who like some fire when you eat chili!

Video — Easy Slow Cooker Chili Recipe: How To Make Chili In A Crock Pot

Slow Cooker Steak Chili

I don’t think I’ve ever had steak chili before, but this recipe from Perry’s Plate looks and sounds really good.

Interestingly, it contains both butternut squash and …. wait for it … chocolate chips!

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White Bean Chicken Chili in the Crockpot

Sorry, chicken! I love you, really I do (especially when you’re in a casserole with rice, cheese, and broccoli) but when it comes to chili, I tend to forget that you, too, can be the main ingredient.

Here are some great chili recipes starring the “forgotten” chili meat (at least for me), chicken:

Crockpot Chicken Chili Verde

This white chili from Maebell’s includes salsa verde, lime juice, and fresh jalapeños.

Video — Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Chile Verde

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili With Cream Cheese

Yum, anything with cream cheese is sure to be good! This creamy chicken chili from The Chunky Chef has half and half and cream cheese stirred into it.

I could picture my family really loving this one, especially served over rice!

White Chicken Chili Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Who doesn’t love fellow redhead Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman?

Here’s what Ree has to say about this chili recipe:

[My white chili] is more of a bean-centered delight—simple, warm, hearty, and filling, with plenty of flavor to spare.

But here’s what I do. I make “simple, hearty white chili.” Then I proceed to doctor the simple, hearty white chili with about a thousand different garnishes, and the “simple” pretty much goes out the window.

I just love garnishing things! It allows me to believe that I’m being simple and minimalist…while not actually being simple and minimalist. It’s perfect for people in denial!

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Vegan Slow Cooker Chili Recipes

If you’re vegan — or just wanting a “Meatless Monday,” or to try something a little different — there are still plenty of great chili options!

3-Bean Vegetarian Chili in the Crockpot

Wow, this 3-bean chili from Aberdeen’s Kitchen is so colorful! It looks hearty and healthy.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Bulgur

Bulgur wheat is a good source of fiber, protein, iron and vitamin B-6.

This chili recipe from Naturally Ella uses half a cup of it.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili

I love sweet potatoes, but the rest of my family does not. (In fact, my oldest daughter considers them to be one of her most disliked foods. Strange girl!)

From The Roasted Root.

amazing slow cooker chili recipes
Amazing Slow Cooker Chili Recipes

amazing slow cooker chili recipes




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