Now that we’ve been season passholders for almost a year (this June!), we’ve started to figure out a little bit about how to do this Disney thing. Whether you’re a Disney first-timer or a seasoned WDW fan, here are a few things you might not know about:
1. Make Early Restaurant Reservations and Get In to the Park Before Everyone Else
Even though we weren’t staying in a Disney hotel and didn’t have “extra magic hours,” we had a breakfast reservation at 8:30. We got to the Magic Kingdom gates around 8:10, and because we needed to be on time for our breakfast reservation, we were able to skip past all of the lines of people waiting for the gates to open. You do actually have to have a reservation – they checked our magic bands to make sure before letting us in– but it was well worth it. We even had a few minutes to take photos in front of the Cinderella Castle and the Beauty and the Beast Castle when the park was still mostly empty. Castle photos with no other people in the background? Priceless.
2. Eat in the Beast’s Wing of the Beauty and the Beast Castle
Speaking of breakfast reservations, ours was at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom. I had been wanting to eat there for awhile, and it was so worth the wait! You walk across a drawbridge full of gargoyles to get in, and you’re given a “magic rose” that helps the servers find you later with your food. You order as soon as you walk in at some kiosks and then find a table on your own. There are actually three dining rooms inside, although most people don’t notice: the main dining room, which is bright and huge; a room off the right side that looks more like the movie castle’s dining room, and a room off to the left that represents the Beast’s wing of the castle. The Beast’s room is easily the best one, with fake cobwebs, the claw-torn painting of the prince, and a rose that’s slowly losing its petals. Oh yeah, and the food was good too! Breakfast was both delicious and not very expensive, so if you want to experience it for less, make your reservations for the morning.
3. Buy Sunglasses at Sunglass Hut Inside the Park for a Discount
I know, this is super random. But we discovered that not only are the prices exactly the same as a Sunglasses Hut in the mall, but you can use your 10% season passholder discount if you have one, so it’s actually cheaper that the Sunglass Hut stores at home. So basically, the exact opposite of what I expected. They were also having a $40-off-the-second-pair deal when we were there, so Hubs and I each bought a pair of nice sunglasses. This was something we’d been wanting to buy for awhile, the price was great, and it’s a souvenir we’ll actually use all the time! Sunglass Hut is “disguised” as a shop called ‘Island Supply Company‘ so that it blends in with its Adventureland setting in the Magic Kingdom, and the people working there were (as always in the Disney parks) above-and-beyond helpful and nice.
4. Go Overboard at the Narcoossee’s Sunday Waterfront Brunch
Narcoossee’s Waterfront Brunch is not cheap, BUT the good news is you’ll get plenty of gourmet food! For one price ($69 per adult when we went), you get a pastry basket for the table, unlimited prosecco or mimosas (<– just making sure you saw that), an appetizer, a main dish, and a selection of desserts — per person! And then, just like on a cruise ship, you can order additional appetizers or entrees that you’d like to try. It doesn’t say this on the menu so no guarantees, but our server encouraged us to get an extra one to try (of both the appetizers and the entrees), and it was still the same price. They will even box up your desserts for you to take back to your hotel! Even though it’s pricey, you can have a granola bar for breakfast, a ginourmous lunch at Narcoosee’s, and probably a hot dog or something for dinner. (And honestly, you might not even be hungry by dinner time.) It’s located at the Grand Floridian Resort, which is a short boat ride from the Magic Kingdom, and the dining room looks out onto Disney’s lake. It’s only offered on Sunday mornings from 10am – 2pm, so book it well in advance!
5. Watch the Fireworks from the Polynesian Resort Beach
This is a secret from our engagement at Disney a few years ago, and so it will always be my favorite Disney insider tip! We had dinner at the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Village Resort, then headed down to the little beach around 8:30pm to choose a spot for the 9pm fireworks. (We have also done the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian, but neither of the times for the show lines up with time for the fireworks.) Bring your own blanket, since the chairs fill up pretty quickly. (It would theoretically also be possible to buy a bottle of champagne from the gift shop in the hotel and have some while you watch the fireworks. Not that I have done this or that I’m saying you’re allowed to do this. Just saying it would potentially be possible that people may have done this before. Possibly. Maybe.) Looking out over the lake and watching the fireworks and the illuminated silhouette of the Cinderella Castle is pretty darn romantic. It worked out great for us. ;)
What are your favorite insider tips? Anyone headed to Disney soon? If you try any of these tips, come back and let me know how they worked out!