Are you in need of some new tips for your next trip to Walt Disney World? Then, don’t go anywhere. As many times as I’ve been to Disney World, I never stop learning and discovering, including when it comes to making my visits easier. During my trip this summer, I discovered five brand new tips that not only surprised me (in a really good way), but will also benefit anyone traveling to Disney.
1. Bus Times Are On The App
During my most recent stay on Disney property, my family and I kept saying how awesome it would be for the estimated bus arrival times to have its own channel on hotel room TVs. Well, this isn’t exactly that, but you can now check bus times at your resort through the My Disney Experience app. How convenient is that? You can access the bus schedule through your resort tab within in the app. If your resort has multiple bus stations, you can check out those times, too. FYI: you need a current resort reservation to view the bus times. Maybe soon enough Disney will take my advice and add bus times on the room TVs?
2. You Can Meet Characters Outside Hollywood Studios
For as many times as I’ve been to Hollywood Studios, I have never seen characters standing right outside the entrance for park goers to take photos with and get autographs. I was beyond surprised to see Pocahontas, Snow White, and Jasmine waiting (with no lines!) to take pictures with anyone who noticed them. You bet I got my picture taken with each character. Upon exiting bag check and before scanning MagicBands, the three princesses were standing all the way to the far right. I wouldn’t have even noticed them if it weren’t for a very nice and informative security guard.
Apparently, this is called the “Disney Character-Palooza” and is a secret character meet-and-greet not a lot of people know about. As explained by the Disney Parks Moms Panel, this particular event usually occurs between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and only happens at Hollywood Studios with “five to ten of the Disney characters highlighted in Fantasmic! will come out and surprise guests.” Be sure to keep your eyes open on Fantasmic! show days, because you could end up meeting some unique characters.
3. Head Straight To Tower Of Terror
My trip this summer occurred before the opening of Toy Story Land, but I think this tip still very much applies. Rope drop at any Disney park can be overwhelming with people running to certain attractions, especially if they don’t have a FastPass for a popular ride. Well, during park opening at Hollywood Studios one morning, my family and I thought it would be smart to book it to Toy Story Mania!, since we didn’t have FastPasses. BIG MISTAKE. The crowd was horrendous. It wasn’t worth fighting the people, so we turned around and headed over to Sunset Boulevard to wait for our Tower of Terror FastPass.
It was lovely to discover not only was this area completely empty, but there wasn’t a line for the thrill ride. Actually, we rode it twice (once in the standby line and once using our FastPass). The other amazing perk was we rode Tower of Terror all by ourselves. I’ve never had that happen before! It was amazing having an empty car. I can only imagine what rope drop is like at Hollywood Studios now with Toy Story Land opened, so I’d definitely recommend heading over to Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in the mornings, because that area is probably less busier and has shorter wait times at that time of day.
4. The Only Way To Cool Off In Epcot
I’ve heard about this secret spot before, so I decided to finally check it out for myself. When walking around Epcot, it’s pretty much all sun and no shade. So, if you’re in need of an area to cool off, head on over to the Morocco Pavilion. When you first enter the country, look to your left. You will see an area marked with the current exhibition featured, i.e. “Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment.” Did you know you can go inside? It’s a gallery of art and history! Not only are there small exhibits to explore, but there is also a bench. Hardly anyone was inside and at one point, I had the entire space to myself. Not only was it nice and cool, but it was super peaceful.
5. The Perfect Spot To Watch ‘Nighttime Awakenings’
First, if you’ve never experienced the Tree of Life Nighttime Awakenings, make sure you do. It’s beautiful, not to mention the projections are beyond amazing. And, if you’re looking for the perfect place to watch the short show, standing in front of the tree in Discovery Island is great, but there is actually a much better — and closer — spot. It’s the seating area right behind Mr. Kamal’s, a food kiosk on the path between Africa and Asia that also serves the most delicious fries topped with tzatzki salad and sriacha ketchup. The falafel here is also a winner, but back to the seating area.
There are a handful of tables and chairs with the perfect view of the Tree of Life. This area provides you an opportunity to actually sit and enjoy the entertainment. I’d recommend arriving before the tree awakens (I sat around 20 minutes prior to the first awakening), because tables fill up quickly. The good news is Nighttime Awakenings happens approximately every 10 minutes in the evenings at Animal Kingdom, so you can catch it until the park closes.
And there you have it. Hopefully these tips will help you during your next trip to Disney World!