Disney World Hacks: Tips for a Magical Visit - My Family Travels

These Disney World hacks, tips, and tricks, picked up during a whirlwind, two-day visit to Walt Disney World during the July 4th week, guarantee a successful visit during the high season. Remember that more than Orlando’s summer weather and pent-up demand are working against you.

The parks recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with new events and attractions luring more park-goers than ever. Fortunately, Disneyworld shows no signs of the staff shortages seen elsewhere. Happy, kind and caring cast members work to make every day memorable – for all the right reasons. When you get discouraged, turn to them.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom, Disney World. Photo c. Ron Bozman for Media Noche.
By midday, the waiting line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom gets very long. Photo c. Ron Bozman for Media Noche.

Disney World Hacks to Reduce Wait Times

Lines are long, but there are now three ways to speed up the queues at each attraction. The first way to maximize your time and avoid grumpy, over-heated family members is to use the My Disney Experience mobile app and follow its Genie Service, which lists real-time waits at each attraction. It’s not only the easiest way but also the cheapest.

The second way is to purchase a Disney Genie+ day pass ($15 per person per day) and reserve available wait times.

Lastly, buy a one-time use Lightning Lane Entry Pass (fee varies) to enter one ride at an available time.

Read on for details about each time-saving tool and 11 more hacks that are sure to come in handy. Don’t forget to spread kindness and good cheer all around you…

1. Plan Your #WDW Adventure Ahead.

Plan. I always say this (I’m a mom and a tips writer) but never actually do it myself. This time, I did my homework and decided which attractions were essential to experience during our 50-hour visit.

People sitting inside a restaurant in an aquarium at Epcot.
The My Disney Experience app lets you make reservations for cool restaurants like Coral Reef, inside The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.


This complimentary app has Artificial Intelligence programmed into it, which is quite brilliant. Before arrival, download the app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. Then, set up your profile and link your app to other family members so Bluetooth can find them in the parks. Note that none of the following hacks will make sense until you’ve tried the app for yourself.

3. Decide who’s going to be the decision maker.

Every party needs a party planner. Tell the Genie service about your favorite Disney things. Prioritizing Character experiences? Attractions for preschoolers? It might be thrill rides, superheroes, Pixar movies, or Star Wars. The Genie’s AI will take your preferences into account and help you plan every day on the Tip Board tab.

4. Book your Resort Hotel and Park Hopper Theme Park Tickets.

Book each park’s entry reservation. If you have a great hotel pool (and the Disney World Resort hotels do), start your days early and go back for a swim and nap in the afternoon. Theme Park, Disney Resort hotel and dining reservations are automatically linked in the app because the Genie works best when it knows which theme park you are visiting and when.

Close up plate of crepes with nutella at Walt Disney World France Pavilion.
Disney World hacks #5: Pay attention to ride wait times and you may be able to score a Nutella crepe while waiting to board Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot.

5. Follow the Genie Wait Times at each attraction.

The My Day tab displays current wait times once the Genie digests your data. Heading to an attraction with the shortest wait time (likely early in the day) will save you added fees. For example, at wake-up, we noticed a 20-minute wait time for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, one of the top rides at Epcot World Showcase. 

So, we grabbed breakfast at the Creperie de Paris next door. We enjoyed delicious Nutella crepes while touring Paris in the ride’s air-conditioned entry room, then boarded in 25 minutes.

6. Buy a Genie+ Day Pass if You’re Time Pressed.

The next way to accelerate your wait time is by buying a Disney Genie+ Pass. (It’s a confusing name, so think of the + sign as adding money to AI.) The Disney Genie+ passes are $15 per person per day and allow you to book entry times when available. 

Crowd watching the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show at Disney World in Orlando.
Crowd watching the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show at Disney World in Orlando.

7. Learn the Genie+ Pass Rules.

The Genie+ Pass has limitations. You can only book a second attraction reserved entry time every two hours or after you’ve used the first reserved entry time. Study the past benefits and be strategic. We booked an early Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios. 

While relaxing in the shade, we keyed in the next Genie+ reserved wait time for Mickie & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. However, more people buy the service throughout the day. In our minimal trial, by lunchtime, Genie+ only offered late-night reserved entry times.

Mom and daughter at the controls of the Millennium Falcon on Smuggler's Run ride at Walt Disney World.
Disney World Hacks #8: Single Rider line allows Star Wars’ fans to skip the lines and round out the crew for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

8. The Single Rider Bonus.

Here’s a secret tip from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We wanted to experience Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, but there were no Genie+ passes available, and the walk-up wait was 182 minutes.

That’s when we noticed the “Single Rider” sign, a tool that ski resorts use to fill their chairlifts efficiently. A cast member told us it was being tested on that ride. Our party quickly split up. We had a one-minute wait before boarding the Millennium Falcon with a crew of strangers. Thrilling!

Guests waiting to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy- Cosmic Rewind ride at Epcot, Disney World.
Plan ahead and be willing to pay a premium to board “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” at Epcot this summer.

9. The Only One Attraction Crisis.

The only other way to reduce your wait time is Lightning Lane. It’s currently in use at about 40 attractions, either booked through the Genie+ program or as a single attraction pass for a fee. At our summer visit, there was one attraction we had to try. To guarantee that we could ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we paid $17 each. No regrets.

10. All about the Virtual Queue.

The “virtual queue” works like this — at least, it worked like this during our visit and specifically for GGCR. Our My Disney Experience mobile app notified us that starting at 7 a.m. on our reserved Epcot day, we could join a virtual queue to get on that ride at no extra cost. 

Mom woke up at 6:30, brushed her teeth, and kept trying to refresh the app’s virtual queue at 6:53, 6:55, 6:57, and 6:59. It said to come back at 7 a.m., and when she did, it said the virtual queue was full. The app offered us another virtual queue at 1 p.m. 

We are not lucky people. When the app suddenly announced at 10 a.m. that we could purchase a Lightning Lane entry pass for GGCR for 12:05 p.m., we jumped at it.

New fireworks show called Enchantment soars over Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The new fireworks show “Enchantment” can be viewed lighting up the sky above Main Street or above all of Magic Kingdom from the California Grill Restaurant. Photo c. Ron Boaman for MediaNoche.

11. March to Your Own Beat.

Explore at your own pace. Take advantage of the half-hour bonus early entry times at select parks participating Disney Resort hotels offer. Or just go early.

Dine at odd hours. We scarfed up a baguette and quiche at Les Halles de Paris in the France Pavilion at 11 a.m., before the lunch crowds. At Magic Kingdom, lunching at 2 p.m. was the only way to try the legendary lobster rolls at Columbia Harbor House.

Try attractions you’ve never heard of. Between Genie+ pass bookings, we killed time and saved energy at the delightful Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival. We booked a special prix-fixe meal ($89) at California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort and watched from the rooftop balcony for a great view of the Enchantment Fireworks.

Tips and Recommendations for Your Disney World Adventure

As you prepare for your magical Disney World journey, here are some valuable tips and recommendations to ensure a memorable and hassle-free experience:

  • Arrive Early: Beat the crowds by arriving at the parks well before opening. This allows you to enjoy popular attractions with shorter wait times.
  • Use Mobile Ordering: The mobile ordering feature on the My Disney Experience app lets you skip food lines by pre-ordering your meals at select restaurants.
  • Stay Hydrated: Florida’s heat can be intense, so carry refillable water bottles to stay hydrated. You can refill them at water fountains and beverage stations throughout the parks.
  • Pack Essentials: Sunscreen, hats, comfortable shoes, and ponchos (for unexpected rain) are essential items. Consider a small backpack to carry your supplies.
  • Utilize Rider Switch: If you have young children who can’t or don’t want to ride certain attractions, use the Rider Switch service. One adult waits with the child while the others ride, and then you can switch without waiting in line again.
  • Take Breaks: Don’t push yourself too hard. Schedule breaks to rest, cool off, and recharge. Consider midday naps if you’re staying at a Disney Resort.
  • Capture Memories: Disney PhotoPass photographers are stationed throughout the parks. Take advantage of this service for high-quality photos of your group.
  • Be Patient: Disney World can get crowded and lines long. Maintain a positive attitude, and remember that you’re in the happiest place on Earth.


When is the best time to visit Disney World to avoid crowds?

Generally, weekdays during the off-season (outside significant holidays and school vacations) tend to have fewer crowds. Late January, February, September, and early December are often less crowded.

What is Disney Genie+, and how does it work?

Disney Genie+ is a paid service that allows you to reserve access to select attractions in advance, reducing wait times. You can make reservations through the My Disney Experience app.

Can I bring my own food and drinks into the parks?

Yes, you can bring your food and non-alcoholic beverages into the parks. There are picnic areas available for dining.

Are there any height restrictions for certain rides?

Yes, some attractions have height restrictions for safety reasons. Check the official Disney World website or app for specific height requirements.

How do I make dining reservations in advance?

You can make dining reservations up to 60 days in advance through the My Disney Experience app or the official website.

Is it worth staying at a Disney Resort hotel?

Staying at a Disney Resort hotel offers benefits like early park access, convenient transportation, and booking FastPasses and dining reservations in advance.

Are there accommodations for guests with disabilities?

Yes, Disney World provides various services and accommodations for guests with disabilities, including accessible attractions, wheelchairs, and Disability Access Service (DAS) for those who cannot wait in standard lines.

Can I purchase tickets at the gate or buy them in advance?

While you can purchase tickets at the gate, buying them in advance is recommended to save time and benefit from any available discounts or promotions.

With these tips, recommendations, and frequently asked questions in mind, you’re well-equipped for an enchanting and stress-free Disney World adventure. Enjoy every moment of the magic!

Bottom Line on Disney World Hacks

Given the 50 hours we had to celebrate the parks’ 50th Anniversary, we’re delighted with how the My Disney Experience mobile app, the Genie AI tools, the Genie+ Service and the other premium experiences worked.

Try them — and our 11 magical hacks – and we bet you will have the time of your life despite the heat, the crowds and the cost.

If these Disney World hacks helped you enjoy your trip, consider checking out these other topics below –

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