The problem with being a Central Florida resident and a Disney Parks fan is that from time to time your experience may get rather dry. After a while, riding the same attractions, visiting the same restaurants, and watching the same shows can get old and boring.
I hear it frequently on message boards and podcasts that with rising costs and attractions not updating quickly, as a park goer you can lose the magic.
So here is a locals guide to Walt Disney World that will help keep the experience alive, fresh, and magical.
1) Stay on Property
Now this may seem like an obvious answer, but for locals, this may not be as clear-cut as you would think. For many of us, trips are impromptu and very last minute. As an Annual Passholder, a lot of the benefit of the pass is to be able to come for a morning or afternoon and not feel like you are wasting the value of a full day ticket.
When the time comes where you really want to take the dive and make an extended weekend trip, you realize a harsh reality of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels that they are expensive. Therefore, for me, as a money-conscious person, I opt out of the Disney resort and stay off property.
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with staying off property. However, there really is something just more magical about staying on site. While frustrating at times, it is nice to hop on Disney transportation. Additionally, Extra Magic Hours allow you to get so much more out your day.
My personal favorite is coming back to my resort after a long day and turning on the Walt Disney World Resorts channel and watching Stacey Aswad tell me all the “Must do Disney.” Staying on site while it may cost more is a sure fire way to get the magic back!
Locals Guide to Disney Advice – Annual Passholders and Florida Residents are frequently offered heavy discounts on resort stays. Special Offers Page
2) Try a Special Event or Tour
A common theme throughout this locals guide to Disney is for locals to do something off the beaten path. Walt Disney World is notorious for offering exceptionally unique experiences. By visiting the Events and Tours page, you will be overwhelmed with additional experiences you can take part in.
If Walt Disney World history is your cup of tea, I would recommend the Backstage Magic Tour. This tour will take you through backstage areas such as Creative Costuming, Central Shops, Textile Services, and the infamous underground utilidors. This lengthy 7-hour tour will show you everything you have ever wanted to know about Walt Disney World.
One of my favorite tours is the Yuletide Fantasy Tour. This seasonally offered tour is offered around Christmastime at Walt Disney World. Among the things, you will get to see is Holiday services, World Showcase before opening, and behind the scenes looks at how the resorts come to life during the Holidays. There is sure to be an event or tour that will fit your interests.
Locals Guide to Disney Advice – Events and Tours often sell out. If you have one in mind call in advance to book. Additionally, Annual Passholder and Florida Resident Discounts are offered.
For many, running is just not their thing. However, a runDisney event is much more than a race, it is an experience.
runDisney events have given me another reason to visit the parks and resorts and experience a different side of Disney. For those unaware, runDisney offers four on property races each year. The race weekends include Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side, and Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
The events feature 5k, 10k, Half Marathons, and Full Marathons. Also included are races for kids such as a diaper dash, kids dash, and a mile run for younger runners.
The benefit of these events is getting to be involved with an out of the ordinary group of people who enjoy dressing up, and getting to run/walk through the parks when no one else is allowed in. Photo opportunities are galore, many of which are with characters and props that are not frequently found in the parks.
If you are not a runner that is not a problem. runDisney is very generous with their pacing times to allow walkers time to participate in all races.
For those looking to see Disney in a new light, I encourage stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying one of these events. Once you complete your first race, you will be hooked (not to mention the medals are the best)!
Locals Guide to Disney Advice – Disney Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members are able to book race registrations a week before the public.
4) Disney Springs
A locals benefit is being able to do things that people on a tighter timeline may not be able to. Disney, over the past five years, invested heavily in what was known as “Downtown Disney.”
What we now have is the ultimate foodie, shopper, and entertainment goers’ paradise. Disney Springs offers people high-end shopping, dining, and entertainment that is different from what you will find in the parks.
As a local in Central Florida I could not imagine a better date night then coming to Disney Springs, buying some distinctive Disney clothing at Uniqlo, grabbing drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, seeing a movie at the AMC theater, having a full southern comfort meal and Chef Art Smiths Homecomin’, and finishing the night off with a Sprinkles cupcake.
Disney Springs is now a place where locals can come as part of a Disney Parks outing or just a night out with the family.
Locals Guide to Disney Advice – Disney Annual Passholders receive discounts at most shopping and dining locations at Disney Springs. Parking at Disney Springs is free.
When things start to get dull at the parks, remember that as a local you have the ability to try a wide variety of Walt Disney World experiences that are off the beaten path. Hopefully, this locals guide to Disney will help you remember that Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth and magic is always around even if you have to go find it.
For you locals, what are your best tips for enjoying the magic? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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