These Disney World tips are anything but basic. This article and video give you the inside scoop on WDW with 13 expert tips and tricks covering lesser-known time-savers, discounts, and unique experiences. These Disney World secrets and tips are great for first timers and pros alike. I’ve been going to Disney World as long as I can remember, and some of these tips are thing I’ve just recently learned.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get extra FastPasses, where to stay to score WDW resort perks without paying Disney prices, and where you can view Magic Kingdom’s fireworks without a ticket.

1) Rider Switch 

Avatar Flight of Passage on Pandora Ð The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

This one is a huge time saver for families traveling with small children, and it can be especially great for parties traveling with a mix of older and younger kids. For attractions with height requirements, Rider Switch gives guests traveling with children too small for the height requirement the ability to go on the ride by switching who supervises the child. 

Here’s how it works: if my wife and I were taking one of our nieces to Animal Kingdom, but our niece was not tall enough to get on Flight of Passage or was just too scared to get on the ride, we wouldn’t have to choose who goes on and who babysits. We would go to the cast member outside the entrance of the attraction to get a Rider Switch Pass. They’ll scan my wife’s magic band, and this pass will then show up on our My Disney Experience app. I can get in line while my wife watches our niece. While I’m waiting in line, they’re free to go and enjoy Navi River Journey or anything else in the rest of the park. Once I’m off of the ride, I can look after our niece while my wife uses the Rider Switch pass to get in the FastPass+ lane and experience a short wait for the attraction.

The Rider Switch pass is good for up to three guests, which is great for larger parties. Rider Switch could be a way for your older child or children to experience their favorite ride twice while each parent takes a turn watching the kid or kids who can’t or don’t want to get on the ride. Rider Switch can be combined with FastPass+, which saves a ton of time. Also, even if your child is tall enough to get on the ride, you could still get a rider switch pass. Disney’s stated policy is, “If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem!” 

2) Service Your Way

Service Your Way - Disney World Secret Tips

Being tidy or not minding a messy room can pay at Disney World. So neat freaks and slobs, unite! At select Walt Disney World resorts, you can participate a program called “Service Your Way,” where Disney will give you a gift card in exchange for declining daily housekeeping services. If you are staying 2 nights or longer at a Value or Moderate resort and opt into Service Your Way, Disney will give you a $10 gift card per night, minus your first night. So if you’re staying 5 nights, you’ll receive a $40 Disney Gift Card. You can still request to receive new towels or to have your trash removed by housekeeping at no charge by calling with your in-room telephone. 

3) Get more than 3 FastPasses in one day

Millennium Falcon - Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Using FastPass+ to save time in line is one of our first tips for Disney World beginners. Most guests know that they can make 3 FastPass+ reservations per day in advance of their trip. What is lesser known is that you can receive extra FastPasses once you’ve used your first three, or once the end time of your latest FastPass+ reservation has expired. Once you’ve redeemed your third FastPass+ reservation, you will be able to get a new FastPass for that same day either through the Disney World app or at one of the FastPass kiosks. And once you’ve used that 4th FastPass, you are able to grab another FastPass, and so on until the park closes. We have a whole write up on how to get more than 3 FastPasses in one day if you want more information.

4) Free FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean

Skeleton Heads - A Pirate’s Adventure – Treasure of the Seven Seas - Magic Kingdom Attraction

Don’t waste one of your FastPass+ reservations on Pirates of the Caribbean! It’s a fantastic attraction, but you can earn an extra FastPass for it by enjoying an attraction in Adventureland. A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas is a scavenger hunt style attraction, similar to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. The attraction give you missions that you carry out by finding points of interest throughout Adventureland. If you complete three missions in one day, you’ll be rewarded with a Pirates of the Caribbean FastPass for your entire party.

5) Use Mobile Order to skip the line

Disney World Tip: Use Mobile OrderingNever wait in line for Blue Milk again! Mobile order is a time saving godsend, especially if you’re trying to eat during peak lunch or dinner hours. Within the Disney World app, you can order and pay for your meal at many quick service locations. If you want a step-by-step tutorial on how it works, check out our article on how to use mobile order to save time at Disney World.

6) Don’t Overpay for Ponchos

Ponchos at Disney World - Disney World Secret Tips

Afternoon rain showers are a fact of life in Central Florida. Another fact of life? Disney’s ponchos are very expensive. Yes, they have Disney World branding, but you pay a big premium for that Castle logo. A single Disney poncho costs around $9. Save some money by planning ahead and ordering this pack of ponchos from Amazon. You can get enough ponchos for your family and then some for around $13 for 10 ponchos.

7) Get Disney World resort perks at non-Disney resorts

Room at B Resort and Spa

Two of the best perks about staying at a Disney World resort include getting to participate in Extra Magic Hours or booking your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of the first day of your trip, vs the standard 30 day lead time. But you don’t have to stay at a Disney resort to get these perks. Several Good Neighbor hotels such as the Swan, Dolphin, Waldorf Astoria, the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista and Buena Vista Palace, Holiday Inn near Disney Springs, and B Resort and Spa offer access to these coveted perks, as well as transportation to the parks. It’s usually much easier to find good deals on these hotels versus official Disney resorts, and you can use rewards points to book your trip. 

8) You can walk between Epcot and Hollywood Studios

Disney's Boardwalk Resort - WDW ResortThis is a great tip for those Boardwalk area hotels. Because Disney World is so massive and you take roughly 20 different forms of transportation while you’re there, it can be a little hard to get your bearings. Epcot and Hollywood Studios might feel worlds apart, but they are surprisingly close. You can walk from the International Gateway entrance of Epcot to Hollywood Studios by walking down the Boardwalk and following a walkway along the water. Just lookout for the signs that say “Walkway to Hollywood Studios.” It’s actually a pretty pleasant stroll, and it can sometimes be preferable to waiting in line for the Skyliner or Friendship boats.

9) Get Mickey Mouse to wake you up

Since getting to the parks before opening is one of the best ways to avoid long lines, setting an early wake up call with your resort isn’t a bad idea. And why not have it be from one of the most iconic characters of all time? If you’re staying at a Disney resort, You can have Mickey Mouse or another Disney character (usually Stitch) give you a wake up call. The cheery voice of everyone’s favorite mouse can be an exciting way to help kids get up in the morning… and also it can take the sting out of having to wake up at the crack of dawn for your Rise of the Resistance boarding group. Just ask the front desk at your resort about setting up the call.

10) Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks without going into the park

Fireworks Over Magic Kingdom - Disney World TipsWhile Happily Ever After is best viewed from Main Street, you don’t have to make it into Magic Kingdom to get a great show. The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian Village Resort, and the Contemporary all offer viewing areas where they pipe in the music from the fireworks. Even the Transportation and Ticket Center offers a great view. Check out our article, The Best Places to Watch Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks – Besides Main Street, for more details.

11) The Electric Water Pageant

Electric Water Pageant - Disney World SecretsThe Main Street Electrical parade has been gone for a few years now, and Magic Kingdom has been without a nighttime parade since it glowed away. But just outside the Magic Kingdom, an electric parade still lives on on the water. The Electric Water Pageant takes place two times nightly on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and can be viewed from the Magic Kingdom entrance plaza or any of the monorail resorts. The whole thing has a very 1970s feel, and the music is just perfection. This is something I hope never changes at Disney World. 

12) Eat at California Grill without a reservation

California Grill Lounge - Disney World's Best Bars - Guide2WDWCalifornia Grill can be one of the hardest reservations to score at Disney World. The food is fantastic, and like I mentioned before, the view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks really can’t be beat. So, what do you do if you can’t get a reservation? You can eat at the lounge. The California Grill’s lounge is first come, first served. They offer the full California Grill menu, and if you dine in the lounge at any point in the night, you can return to view the fireworks from the outdoor viewing deck. We love this so much that it earned the California Grill a spot on our Best Bars and Lounges at Disney World list.

13) Counter Service Restaurants offer Free Water

Free Water at Disney World - Disney World Secret Tips

Okay, this might be the least secret of these secret tips on this list – partially because it’s a piece of advice I give on this site quite frequently. But it’s important. Nobody should pay over $3 on a Dasani water bottle. Counter Service restaurants at Disney World will always offer you a free cup of ice water – no other purchase necessary.

13 Secret Disney World Tips You Need To Know
How many of these Disney World secrets did you already know? Let me know in the comments, and if you have a cool inside tip, be sure to share! If you post a great tip, I’ll be sure to include it in a future video and give you a shout out, and a coupon for a free cup of ice water next time you’re at Disney World. 

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James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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