Top 10 Questions About Visiting Walt Disney World

Written by Chris Wood. Posted in Features

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Published on November 15, 2012 at 5:03 am with 20 Comments

As a Disney blogger and a travel agent, I get a lot of questions, everything from “Can I spread my Grandfather’s ashes in the Haunted Mansion (no),” to “Will Disney give me a refund if it rains?.”  There are some however, that I get over and over again. Here are my top ten favorites.

10.  Are all the parks on the monorail?

This might surprise most of you, but some guests who haven’t visited in years don’t know that the most recent additions, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, aren’t joined by monorail.

9.  Can I add extra days to my park tickets and use them to hop from park to park?

This seems like a brilliant plan. It costs almost $60 to add the hopper option to your base ticket, but it only costs a few dollars more per day (after day four) to add more days, so using extra park days instead of adding the hopper is cheaper. Sadly, Disney has figured this out too and its computers won’t let you do it. But good try–it really makes a lot of sense.

8.  How can my kid ride in the parade or have their special event acknowledged?

Disney tries really hard not to play favorites, so this is a no-no except for kids on Make a Wish or other special trips.  When you think about it, they can’t really honor all the requests they get–and they get a lot–without having parade floats full of kids and no room for the princesses to sit.  Fortunately, for most people, being at Disney is special enough, but if you want a little extra acknowledgement for an event, go ahead and ask for a “I’m celebrating” or a birthday button at City Hall. Chances are a cast member will offer congratulations when your child passes by, but don’t expect it–it’s just an added bonus when it happens.

7.  What do I do with leftover dining credits?

Use them all in one day, buy snacks for the trip home (candy makes great stocking stuffers), or even pay for someone’s meal. While technically you can’t pay for meals for individuals who aren’t on your reservation, no one is going to stop you for paying for the quick-service lunch of the guest behind you. In fact, most cast members enjoy seeing other guests “pay it forward” for total strangers. They don’t call it the happiest place on earth for nothin’.

6.  Can I visit a resort if I’m not staying there?

Yes. It’s called resort hopping and some guests make a whole day of it. Shop, eat and explore. Disney wants you to see what they have to offer. The only thing you can’t do is pool hop, so leave those swim trunks back at your own resort!

5.  How can I stay in Cinderella castle? What does it cost? Is there a raffle system?

No. Unless you’re name is Tom Cruise and you’re trying to make yourself Suri’s favorite parent after a messy divorce, the answer is no.

4.  Will Disney know if I sneak my three-year old in as a two-year old?

As you probably know, kids under the age of three get into the parks for free and yes, we hear about five-year olds being squeezed into strollers all the time.  Disney isn’t going to ask for a birth certificate or grill your toddler about her real age.  Most people are honest, of course and I always advise that people let their conscience be their guide.

3.  Where’s the best place to propose?

You could go for that old standard, in front of Cinderella Castle, or you could try a few other favorites: Dinner in the castle, on a horse and carriage ride at Port Orleans, walking through the Osborne lights, the beach at the Poly, or at the most expensive restaurant on property, Victoria and Albert’s. Or you could be a rock star and do it on Space Mountain.

2.  Do I need a park hopper?

No. If you’re on a budget, plan carefully and you won’t need one. It’s really just that simple.

1.  And the number one question I get: Will I need a stroller?

Want to start a fight on a Disney message board? You do? Then mention that you’re going to let your seven-year old ride in a stroller. Strollers are the most contentious Disney subject there is, even more so than refillable mugs, and there’s good reason: The parks are crowded and they can, at times, feel more like battering rams than transportation for little ones.   And while your child might be out of the stroller by three or four, it’s temping to rent one when you’re visiting the parks due to all the walking. So should you?

My answer is that if you’re child is four or under, think about renting a stroller, particularly if you have more than one small child.  Even if you just use it to get in and out of the parks, it can make your day a lot easier. I hope that just didn’t start an argument.

So, what about you? As a Disney park nerd extraordinaire, do you get a lot of Disney questions? What are your favorites? Go on, we especially want to hear the weird ones!

About Chris Wood

Chris Wood is frequent Disney traveler and travel agent. She considers Walt Disney World to be her home park.

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20 Comments

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  1. Nice tips and a really GOOD stroller answer. I myself ditched the stroller with my two and a half year old after two days. I hated it, and decided she was only looking at legs and butts and not the park. So she rode my shoulders much of the day. I agree, under 4, you are certainly justified using a stroller.

    I would also add…do I need a rental car? IF staying off property, you might, as not all off property transportation can work for your schedule. But you do have to figure the rental, gas and parking cost into your budget because it can actually wind up costing more to stay off property with a rental car. Some people feel the need to have a car even on property, but Disney transportation can really get you everywhere you need to go on property if you familiarize yourself with it.

    • “Butts and legs!” I never thought about it that way. Good point.

      I should have remembered the rental car question–I actually get that more than the one about sleeping in Cinderella Castle, although that one is more fun. Yes, you don’t need it if you’re on Disney property, although the one exception may be Ft. Wilderness or Treehouse Villas, which are sort of more complicated as far as the buses go. I would NEVER trust an off property shuttle and it’s true, when you factor in the rental (and your time) being on property starts to look a lot more economical.

      Thanks!

  2. With the 2012 changes to the Disney Dining Plan you cannot “buy snacks” with your DDP meal credits. There are some creative things that Cast Members can do to assist you, but you can’t walk out with bags full of candy anymore. When you think about it, it makes sense. I’m pretty sure that’s not how the DDP is structured to work anyway.

    And as far as transferring your meals to a stranger, I’m afraid that most Cast Members will stop you as they are non-transferable.

    The best thing you can do with your DDP is to actually EAT and use your meals and snacks since you have them. Don’t be one of those individuals who picks which snacks to pay out of pocket and save others for actual snack credits. If you do that, chances are you’re the one with extras at the end.

    • Thanks for your comments Kandace, but you can use your credits for others. I did this just a few weeks ago at both quick-service and table service locations. We had free dining but the kids went to the Neverland Club twice during the trip (where they had dinner) so I had 6 TS credits left over (since my husband and I went out to dinner without the kids!). We used my ten-year olds to buy our friends dinner at California Grill and also transferred our TS to a couple of QS meals. I’ve never been stopped. I’ve even bought a mom and her daughter their breakfast at Crystal Palace on a trip when my son and husband were sick and missed a lot of meals.

      As for the snacks, I was referring to leftover snack credits. Sometimes I will have a dozen and I usually use them at the Main Street Confectionery. Sorry that wasn’t more clear.

  3. My philosophy on strollers is wait until your kids are old enough to not need a stroller before you take them to the park. In most cases, until they are at least 5, they aren’t old enough to establish long term memories about the experience (I was actually a good case study in this, as I went when I was 5, 10, & 15, and I can recall a marked difference in the amount I retained from each trip). They also are usually too small to participate in a lot of things, and their bodies aren’t prepared to handle the rigors of theme parking. Save it until they can really enjoy it and cut down on the number of strollers in the process. I tell all of my friends who ask me about taking their kids to the parks the same thing… “Wait until they are 5, they will enjoy it more and so will you.”

    • Both my boys went when they were 1,3,4 and 5…and even though THEY can’t rememeber…I CAN..i have awesome memories about their first few visits to disney world. They loved it , even at one they loved the charachters and seeing everything.
      amy

      • I sort of compromised and took all three (the twins went as infants) and then did a couple of trips with my oldest one as well. They were very different trips but all were special.

        Thanks for reading.

    • I agree with you on this one and I think it’s one reason that kids under three are free. You get parents to bring their 5 and 6 year olds (a really magical age for a first visit) and the younger siblings tag along.

    • I took my 2 year old last December (he was 18 months at the time) and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He got his first haricut and got to see the Tiki room for the first time (loved to watch it on youtube). He enjoyed himself and the pictures I got with him and the characters are priceless. I know that early December has smaller crowds but the stroller issue wasn’t that bad. There are places to park the stroller and usually seemed to have cast members attending them (keeping them out of people’s way, general determent to theft). We found out of the way stroller parking and left it there while we walked and Jack rode on my shoulders until he was ready to take a nap and then picked up the stroller.

    • I was 3 my first visit to WDW (back int he 70′s) and I remember a good chunk of it. My parents also did not use a stroller for me. If I was big enough to go to WDW, then I was big enough to walk around like everyone else. If I was really too tired to walk, my dad would carry me. But we went for lots of family walks when I was a kid, so even at 3, I was used to a lot of walking.

  4. Here’s a tip about marriage proposals at WDW. Don’t be shy about asking cast members for help in proposing. I proposed to my lovely wife nearly 10 years ago at Citricos in the Grand Floridian (her favorite restaurant). Before hand I called ahead and asked them to assist. On the night of the proposal I gave the ring to the manager and when it was time for dessert he brought it out on a special silver tray with a dome on top. He lifted the dome and on top of a beautiful flower sat the ring. The rest is history (and a wonderful memory). I think most cast members would be happy to assist in making your special moment no matter where you plan to do it.

    • That’s so sweet. Thank you for sharing. My own proposal took place in our not-so-lovely graduate school apartment, so I love hearing about others.

    • I proposed to my wife at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland. I had actually planned to do inside Disneyland but when we checked in to the hotel the cast member up front looked at the computer and suddenly left. Since this was my first experience with DVC my thoughts were, “Oh poo, they don’t have our reservation” (silly me). The CM came back with balloons and said we had been made their Big Kahuna family of the week! Our reservation had been moved to the top floor overlooking California Adventures. The view was amazing and she was already really excited about the surprise so I figured this was better timing than inside the park with the crowds. It was much more special this way.

  5. We always rent a car when we got to WDW, faster than the shuttles, and if we need to go to the grocery store or just get away from the crowds it’s a great option. We usually park at one of the parks and monorail to the other, but for DHS and DAK you really appreciate having a car. Since you are most likely booking ahead your trip, you can look for the best rental car deals, they are out there, some with free days even!

  6. Yes, I still tell them my kid is 2. My kid is actually 3 and 40 inches tall. Unfortuantely, she still needs the stroller. After walking a long distance, she simply will not go anymore. If I didn’t have a stroller, I would be carrying around a 40 pounder.

    I’m not big on park hopping. It takes too much time to go from one park to another.

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  8. I enjoy knowing all the rules, and enjoy thinking about all the people who keep trying to figure out ways to get around them. It’s a challenging game.

  9. Ashes in the Haunted Mansion…..scary!

    • It happens a lot more than you might realize. And it creates a big headache for the cast members working the ride.

  10. People I talk with don’t realize how easy it is to get to the other parks. If you’re staying more than 4 days or you’ve done WDW before, it’s great to be able to get off property for groceries and restaurants, and to have a chance to do a Sea World, Legoland or Universal. When we go, we try to plan extra days for downtime and offsite fun. Just fire up the GPS and go! Then by the time you go home, it feels more like a vacation instead of an “Orlando Commando/I got fleeced by Disney” trip.