Walt Disney World Tips for First Timers

Good to know for all parks

Get to the parks early

I am definitely NOT a morning person but I do know that arriving early to the parks at Disney World results in spending far less time in line for my family’s favorite rides. Make every effort to arrive at the parks 30 minutes before opening. Consider the amount of time it will take to take transportation (whether it be car, bus, boat, or monorail) and plan accordingly. Buses start running from hotels to the parks 2 hours before opening. Try to hop on those buses at least one hour before the park opens. You want to be out in front of the entrance waiting for “rope drop” with the other folks who know riding ten rides in the first hour will take three times as long later in the day.

Child Swap

If you have a child who is too small or too scared to ride some rides, take advantage of Child Swap which is available on most rides with height restrictions. No, you don’t get to trade in your child for a taller and braver kid, but you and your partner will both still be able to ride the rides without having to wait in line twice! When you enter a ride queue, simply tell a Cast Member you would like a Child Swap pass. This pass will allow the first adult to ride while the second adult stays with the child and maybe goes on a ride that is more tyke-friendly.  After the first adult rides, hand the pass to the second adult who then gives the pass to a cast member. The cast member will allow the second adult to bypass the line and ride while the first adult stays with the child.

Single Rider

Single rider is a great option for older kids and adults who want to save time and skip the regular line by essentially acting as a seat filler. Single riders enter a special line (ask a cast member for direction) and then cast members loading ride vehicles draw will use you to fill empty seats. This line moves much quicker than the regular line. Here is the short list of rides at Disney World that have a single rider line.

Parades & Fireworks

If you are planning on seeing a parade, watching firework, or enjoying a show such as IllumiNations in Epcot, consider enjoying your meal during your wait time. Pick up your food to go from a nearby quick-service restaurant and eat dinner in your parade/fireworks viewing spot. This will help pass time and secure a good viewing spot. For more fun non-ride activities and attractions for your family, check out this list on great things to do that aren’t rides.

If you are like me and are way too impatient to sit around and wait for parades, simply wait until the very last moment and then find a spot to fill in the holes near pathways that close right when the parade begins or behind picnic benches along the route. Kids can usually sneak up to the front and sit on a curb in front of adult parade goers.


You can get in line for an attraction up until the park closing time. If the park closes at 8PM, as long as you are in line by 7:59PM, you will be able to ride the ride.


You can request the recipe for any menu item at Disney World. We ate at the Polynesian Resort and my husband fell in love with the wings. He requested the recipe and the chef personally brought it out to us!


Don’t forget about the water parks! Disney has two of the best water parks in the country, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. They can be lifesavers during those hot and humid Florida days. Typhoon Lagoon is my favorite because surf lessons are offered in the wave pool and kids can snorkel with sharks and rays inside the Shark Reef. Be aware that all rides will close temporarily whenever thunderstorms are in the area.

Shopping & Fun

Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk are huge shopping and entertainment districts that shouldn’t be missed. I could go into all the activities, dining, and shopping offered but that is for a whole other post!

Special Needs

Have I missed a tip? Please share yours in the comments.

More Walt Disney World Tips for First Timers


Visit our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Disney Vacation to find all our best tips and articles in one handy location.

Lead Image by: Disney Parks

About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 10-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.

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