Friday, March 25, 2011
Disney World Secrets from a Cast Member
Go to any quick-service restaurant, and ask for a cup of water. By Disney rule, they have to give you one free of charge. I'm pretty sure it's because of dehydration. My favorite place to ask was at Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square. You know, the place where you get funnel cake and ice cream sandwiches. The cups are smaller at Epcot's World Showcase, except in Morocco, for some reason.
If you can, visit Disney World when school's in session.
I would say the best time to visit is September, October, and November.
The annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot is one of the best things ever created.
You can ask for more servings on any dish; my favorite was asking for extra croutons and roasted potatoes to dip in my delicious, not-to-be-wasted cheese and wine fondue. A post about the 2010 Festival is here!
My favorite character meals were at 1900 Park Fare, at the Grand Floridian, with Tigger, Pooh, Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter; and at Akershus in Norway at Epcot, with the princesses!
Yes, Cinderella's Royal Table is awesome and magical, and I wrote a review of it here, but you get just as many princesses, more delicious food buffet style, and a parade through the restaurant with the princesses and the kids for a lower price.
If you're nice to Cast Members, you're more likely to get free stuff.
I walked lots of families up to the front of the line (making a magical moment) at Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan's Flight, simply because they were nice to me.
Conversely, if you complain loud and long enough to Guest Relations about something, they're likely to give you free stuff too.
But you'll feel better about yourself (hopefully), if you're just nice to people. I know you're on vacation, and it cost a lot of money to come, but I hated getting yelled at for doing my job, and hearing a mother on Christmas Eve tell her young son "You better just shut the hell up and stop crying, or I'm going to beat your ass!"
If you want to splurge on a resort, do.
However, I stayed at All-Star Sports with my parents when they visited, but we only slept there. They wanted the cheapest resort, and with my Christmas Cast Member discount, it was $256 for 4 nights. But seriously, we did cool stuff all day long. We would leave in the morning, and not get back till 11 at night. The post about their December visit is here.
Saving money on something allows you to splurge elsewhere.
When my parents came, we ate really well. We ate at Sanaa, 1900 Park Fare, Rose and Crown, and Via Napoli. The best was Sanaa, I'd eat there again in a heartbeat.
The best place to meet characters is at Epcot.
In one day, you can meet Marie from The Aristocats, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Goofy, Belle and the Beast, Jasmine and Aladdin, Snow White, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, Alice, Chip and Dale, Daisy Duck, Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Duffy.
The only place to meet Tiana, Naveen, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider is at Magic Kingdom.
At Hollywood Studios, you should visit the Art of Animation on nights when Fantasmic isn't playing, between 5 and 6pm.
I've met met Pocahontas, Meeko, the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Mr. Smee, Lotso, Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, Frozone, Captain Hook, the Evil Queen from Snow White, Aladdin, Jasmine, Snow White, Mary Poppins, one of her penguins, Jafar, Sorcerer Mickey, Chip and Dale, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Pinocchio and Gepetto, Rafiki, the Genie from Aladdin, and Belle. Also, bring your own camera, because there's no Photopass photographer.
You can always ask a Photopass photographer to take pictures with your own camera.
They will always say yes.
Speaking of Photopass, an individual 4x6 photo costs $14.95, plus shipping.
Autograph books are the best. Buy the cheap blue one, bring a sharpie, and ask the face characters to personalize it.
One of my favorites is from Aladdin; he wrote "To Princess Anna, I can show you a whole new world! Love, Aladdin".
I also love the one from Snow White, who wrote: "To Princess Anna, Someday your prince will come too! Love, Snow White".
It's much better than just having them sign their name. Be creative, it's makes for great memories.
Yes, there are "tunnels" underneath the Magic Kingdom.
It's technically the first floor, and called the 'Utilidor', but whatever. They're pretty awesome. It's how Cast Members get to work. Adventureland and Liberty Square smell terrible. I saw some freaking cool stuff down there.
Fur characters love to hug.
Hug them back, it makes for a fantastic photo!
Yes, the lines are long.
We're sorry. But unfortunately, a lot of people decided to visit Disney World at the same time as you.
Sometimes, things are for your own good, like not running under ropes into a fallout zone during fireworks.
Just...don't do it. You'll get in trouble, I'll get in trouble, please listen to us. We've had extensive training for a reason. One of Disney World's mottoes is 'Safe-D begins with me'. We care about you. Please stay on the correct side of the ropes during fireworks. Otherwise, "you'll put your eye out!"
Pineapple-vanilla Dole Whips are the best.
You can find them at Aloha Isle in Adventureland, or at Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort.
No, Magic Kingdom doesn't serve any alcohol.
Instead, hop on the monorail to the Contemporary, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian. Get a drink, enjoy, then head back to the park. They confiscated my Dad's bottle of wine from Epcot at the main gate, and told him to pick it up when he left.
You can indeed bring food into the park.
I highly encourage it.
We are trained to call girls/women/females of any age "Princess".
Please don't be offended.
We love it when you wave back.
Again, we're trained to wave at you, especially on rides. It makes up supremely happy when you wave back.
Wear those buttons with pride! Preferably where Cast Members can easily see it.
As an example, I got a 'Just Married' couple to the front of line on Winnie the Pooh, and then gave them a certificate for a free cupcake.
Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It!
It's a street party at Magic Kingdom that takes place daily, at least 3 times. It lasts about 20 minutes. The best place to be is dancing with Goofy and Donald. One of my best memories is swing-dancing with Goofy. So when the Cast Members invite you out to dance, DO IT! It's so much fun, I went a lot by myself and had a super awesome time. It's one of my favorite things at Disney World.
Wishes was designed by Imagineers to be watched on Main Street.
To be exact, equidistant between Casey's Corner, where you buy hot dogs, and the ice cream shop.
I hope you have a magical time, let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment! I promise I'll respond.
More secrets can be found here, in the aptly-titled 'Disney World Secrets from a Cast Member, Part 2.