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  • November 29The Counseling department is holding a Lunch and Learn workshop Wed. Dec. 6 about managing anxiety. Email [email protected] for details.
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The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Grace Harris
Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle in early October of 2023. Photo courtesy of Grace Harris.

Going to Disney? Here’s My Advice…

For lots of students, a trip to Florida to go to Disney World or the other theme parks is the ultimate vacation. But navigating around the hot, sunny parks of Walt Disney World can be daunting if you’re not fully prepared. Many first-timers end up walking aimlessly around the park for hours or waiting in lines for up to three hours for a two-minute ride.

Thankfully, as I recently learned on a trip to Florida, there are many tips and tricks to make your stay as magical as possible. So here are some of my most useful Disney hacks to make your trip the best one ever.


Download the ‘‘My Disney Experience’’ App
This useful app is a great way to save money, time, and maximize your time at Disney.  The app allows guests to view wait times for rides, shows, and meets and greets with characters. It also allows you to get access to newer rides like Tron and the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coasters. All you have to do is download the free app before you go to the park, then join the virtual queue and get a pass to rides before all the spots are filled up. Just make sure you know what time the virtual queue begins so you can be ready to get your spot.

Another reason to get the “My Disney Experience” app is that guests can view menus and food prices of any restaurant in the park. You can also place a mobile order at specific restaurants and have your food ready for you by the time you arrive.

Finally, this app allows you to create your own group and invite as many people to your group as you want (as long as they also have the app downloaded). That way, you can coordinate your plans with friends and family.


Make the Most of the Rides
The rides at Walt Disney World are some of the most popular attractions, so the lines tend to be extremely long and a lot of the queues are outside, leaving you exposed to the Florida sun and heat.

So before deciding to get in line, check the wait time by going to the “My Disney Experience” app and clicking “Attractions” to assess if it’s worth it to line up for a ride at that time. If you do decide to get in line, make sure you have lots of water available to keep you cool, as staying hydrated does make a huge difference.

Also, be sure to double check that no one in your party has to use the facilities before you get in line. (It’s more convenient and you won’t get potentially dirty looks from people thinking you’re skipping the line.)

If you’re looking to avoid the long lines as much as possible, it’s a good idea to wait until the evening, around 8 or 9 p.m. At that time, most of the crowds will be gathered around to watch the fireworks or light shows that each park offers, so fewer people are on the rides. These evening shows last around 15 minutes, so once they are over, the lines will start picking up again.

If you do want to watch one of the shows, I recommend you secure your viewing spot at least 20 minutes before the show begins. But that’s also why getting in line on a popular ride 20-30 minutes prior to an evening show can save you significant time in line.

If you’re in the park more than just a day, it’s best to take your time and not rush from one ride to the next, something guaranteed to make you feel hot and exhausted. You’ll be more likely to enjoy your stay if you take it easy, pick a few rides which you want to focus on each day, and not try to hit every ride in a single day.


Catch an Indoor Show
Walking around for hours in the sweltering Florida heat can become grueling. One of the best ways to cool off in peace is sitting down for one of Disney’s indoor performances. Here are some of my favorite indoor shows to do just that.

–Magic Kingdom
One of the most entertaining shows in the Magic Kingdom is “Carousel of Progress.” This show is a continuously moving experience designed by Walt Disney himself. Guests enter a theater and will be taken through the lives of an American family in the 20th century. Another great experience is the “Monster’s INC. Laugh Floor” where characters from Monsters INC. put on a family-friendly comedy show.

–Animal Kingdom
One of the more popular shows in Animal Kingdom is “It’s Tough to be a Bug” which takes place inside the Tree of Life. Note that the show involves water, so be ready to get a little wet (which on a hot day, might be very welcome). Another popular show is “Festival of the Lion King” which tends to fill up quickly. Guests will experience unique acts and immersive experiences as they’re taken through the story of the Lion King.

–Hollywood Studios
“Muppet Vision 3D” is the perfect place to cool off and enjoy a few laughs. This show is popular with guests and is about 15 minutes long, so it’s a perfect place to rest your feet. A popular show for kids is “Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy” where guests get a lesson on racing from Lightning McQueen himself.


My advice on food
Some of the best places to eat in Disney World are in EPCOT. There are countless booths planted around the park, particularly in the World Showcase. Be prepared to experience exotic foods from all over the world.

–Best places to eat
While paying a visit to Magic Kingdom, be sure to stop at Sleepy Hollow where they sell multiple kinds of waffles and other breakfast options all day. The seating is outdoors and limited so it’s a better idea to go in the morning or at night. If you’re looking for lunch, Cosmic Rays is the perfect place to get a good burger and relax inside.

If you like barbeque, Flame Tree Barbeque is the perfect place for you. There you’ll find multiple kinds of pork sandwiches and grilled chicken. At Flame Tree, there are multiple places to eat outside where you can wave at the passing boats and get a nice view of Mount Everest roller coaster.

A great place to stop for a bite to eat in Hollywood Studios is ABC Commissary; the restaurant is huge and the food is delicious . At ABC Commissary you can place a mobile order on the “My Disney Experience” app, and have your food ready when you get there. Another fun place to grab a bite in Hollywood studios is Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land, where everything is themed to make you feel toy-sized.

–How to save money on food
If you’re looking to save a little cash, bringing your own food to the parks can be a good idea as it will save you money and time. Be sure to only bring things that won’t go bad in the heat (e.g., nothing with mayonnaise) and are easy to transport, like chocolate-free granola bars. Although there is an occasional bag check at the park’s entrance, food and water is allowed from outside the park. In the past when I’ve gone, they’ve been more diligent about checking bags, but when I went there last month, it was no problem.

One more tip: Always be sure to have water with you as the heat makes it crucial to stay hydrated. Keep in mind many fast food restaurants in the parks offer free ice water if guests just ask.


Don’t forget about taking photos
Taking photos to capture the moment is extremely important to many guests. However, this can cause them to miss out on many experiences. Living in the moment is always the best way to ensure a good time.

Guests can purchase the Disney PhotoPass along with their tickets. This will add about $39 a day, but it may be worth it for you since the Disney PhotoPass allows guests to stop and have their picture taken with any of the stationed photographers throughout the parks. This way the whole family can be in the picture, and with one snap you can get back to the moment. I haven’t bought Photopass in a few years, but when I did, I definitely found it helpful.

Like at many theme parks, most of the rides will snap a picture of you as you ride. After exiting the ride, be sure to check it out on the picture screens. If you’ve downloaded the “My Disney Experience” app you are able to scan your magic band or phone and have the images sent straight to your phone. That way you can view them or post them whenever you want.


One Last Thought: Take it Easy
Like with every vacation, what’s the point if you aren’t relaxing? It’s important not to let the hustle and bustle of the parks distract you from relaxing and unwinding. Even the most fun of places can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re rushing around and only focusing on what’s next.

Keep in mind that it’s your time and your money, so you decide what you do and what you don’t do. If you miss out on an experience, don’t let it ruin your whole trip; going with the flow is one of the best ways to fully enjoy your vacation.

After all, even with all the expenses, walking, and long days, you’ll never forget a trip to Walt Disney World.

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