Disney 101 – Expert Advice For The Happiest Holiday On Earth

8 September 2014
Read Time: 4.6 mins

One of Aleesha Bishop's life goals was to visit all of the Disneyland/Disneyworld parks in the world during her twenties - from Anaheim to Tokyo, Florida to Paris. Outstandingly, she achieved that very goal and, in doing so, learned how to make the most of a trip to a Disney Park.  Aleesha shared her insider advice with us on how to make your Disney experience just that little bit more magical!

In Aleesha's own words, "Disney Parks are truly special places where you’ll find excitement, fun and magic. What you won’t find are any unexpected or nasty surprises if you equip yourself with my insider information and spend a little extra time preparing for your visit!"

Deciding when to go

"Disney Parks are special all year round. I’ve visited different parks in different months from December to March to July. As you can imagine, the holiday seasons are busier and on occasion, almost unbearably so.

I visited Tokyo Disneyland during the Christmas break and the lines were impossibly long.Regular queue wait times were consistently 2 or 3 hours, sometimes more. It was a stretch to see the parades through the endless bodies and food lines were painful, more so because I was very hungry!

My advice, if you can help it, is to avoid the peak holiday seasons. I know this is not always possible and I myself have been to three different Disney Parks during the December rush because that is just how the cookie crumbles when you’re limited with taking leave from work. But, if you can avoid the peak weeks, you should!"

 Goofy in the Disney Christmas parade

A very Mickey Christmas

"That said, Christmas time at Disney is one of my all-time favourite experiences in the whole world. The decorations, the songs, the parade... oh, the magic! I’m one of those people who gets all watery-eyed and happily sobs as the fireworks light up the night sky over Sleeping Beauty’s castle right before the snow falls in Main Street. I’m hopeless!

However, if you find yourself celebrating Christmas time at a Disney Park, you’re going to be cold. Whether it’s Anaheim, Florida, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Paris, you will be subject to varying degrees of cold temperatures and you’ll need to be prepared. Depending which park you’re in, you may need the works: jackets, beanies, scarves, gloves and more.

The big catch is you’ll likely be a much more comfortable temperature during the day, so you won’t need to actually wear your layers until nightfall. The answer? A backpack! It may not be the most chic or stylish fashion statement but a backpack will be your best friend. You can easily carry all of your layers in your pack and you’ll have your hands free to grip ride rails or take photos or eat turkey legs and ice cream cones!

A quick sidenote and word of caution: try to ensure your layered clothing items aren’t worn too loosely or you may feel your hat or scarf fly off on Space Mountain and you’ll never see it again!"

 Hiegh-ho go the Seven Dwarves

Timing is everything

"If you’re clever and organised, you’ll arrive about 30 minutes before the gates open and be among the first wave of people inside. Once you arrive at Disney park, there’s really only one word you absolutely need to know: Fastpass! Fastpass is a ticket-based queuing system for selected attractions and rides which will allow you to wait less and enjoy more.

Basically, you choose the ride you’d like to go on, take a Fastpass ticket from the machine (where applicable; not all rides have Fastpasses) and it will have a time slot printed on it, for example, 3:00pm-3:45pm. You can return within that time slot and skip the regular queue.

The Fastpass queue is generally much shorter and moves much faster. There are some guidelines around the use of Fastpasses, of course. As a rule, you can only hold one Fastpass ticket at a time and, depending on park occupancy and demand, Fastpasses may cease to be available.

You shouldn’t let these small things deter you from utilising the system, though. If you think ahead, you can plan out your entire day by co-ordinating Fastpasses to massively minimise time spent waiting in lines. One more VERY important thing: To collect your Fastpasses, you must first insert your Disney Park Entry Ticket into the machine so please don’t throw it away!"

 Spot the hidden Mickey (this is an easy one!)

Dining Disney-style

"A day spent at a Disney park can easily stretch out to 12 hours and beyond from start to end, which means you’ll need to eat while you’re there. If you’re a busy-bee and penny-pincher (like me), you may prefer to snack from the food stands as you move from ride to ride, munching away as you wait in lines, never really stopping.

The aforementioned turkey legs are an old favourite, along with flavoured popcorn and oversized pretzels. It’s not the healthiest diet, but it’s only for a day! If you’d prefer to dine properly in a restaurant, there are an abundance of dramatically themed dining options all over the park, each offering different styles and cuisines. The best part? You can make a reservation before you arrive! You can reserve a table and skip the often nightmarish dining queues."

 Walt Disney and his favourite mouse

Ditch the stilettos

"Speaking of the 12-hour Disney marathon, I should remind you now to wear good shoes. You will be on your feet ALL day with the exception of time spent sitting on rides and wearing the right shoes can make or break your day. Choose a pair that are comfortable, already worn-in (no newbies from the previous days outlet centre shopping spree) and preferably waterproof.

Why waterproof? There’s a chance you will get wet, especially if you ride Splash Mountain! A change a socks is also a good idea, and you will thank me when your little piggies are dry and warm. Girls (and boys if you wish), you may like to carry a hair brush to tidy your post-Matterhorn windswept hair before snapping your new Instagram pic. It’s a good thing you’ll have a backpack to fit all these secret necessities inside!"

 Disney Resort rail link in Hong Kong

Staying & playing

"When visiting a Disney Park, your accommodation can either be a real gem or a real thorn in your side, and it’s important to consider the options and logistics before booking. If you’re not staying inside the Disney Resort area, you may end up in a less-than-prime location for commuting to and from the park, as the suburbs around Disney acreage are often vast and the parks are usually removed from the city centre.

A lot of the surrounding hotels will offer a shuttle bus service, sometimes free of charge, to and from the park so you should determine this early and be sure to learn the terms and conditions of travel, i.e. you may need to book a seat in advance.If there’s no shuttle service, check the distance to the park to help calculate the taxi fee for a return trip or ask your hotel concierge for help.

In some cities, Hong Kong and Paris for example, public transport is superior and a preferable option if you’re staying in the city. Hong Kong has a rail link named Disneyland Resort Line which runs from Sunny Bay Station to Disneyland resort and the train is completely Disney themed down to Mickey shaped windows and handrails. It is, in my opinion, the only way to travel to Hong Kong Disneyland!"

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About Aleesha Bishop

As a blogger with an unwavering and all-consuming passion for travel, Aleesha finds her solace by travelling all over the globe to destinations including Cambodia, Japan, China, USA, Mexico and England (just to name a few!). Aleesha is a self-confessed wanderlust junkie whose craft is painting a vivid picture of the world using only her words.
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Flight Centre is proud to present blog posts written by our customers, affiliates or general travel enthusiasts who are as passionate about travel as we are. We're confident you'll find their insider advice and holiday highlights useful when it comes to arranging your own great getaway!