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Our family has taken six trips to Disney World in just over seven years, with another one planned for later this fall. Obviously, we love visiting Mickey’s home! What stands out for us are the numerous “Magical Moments” that have befallen on us during our vacations.
Ask our friends, and they will tell you we are some of the luckiest people for all the perks we have received during our stays. We have yet to hear of any other family who has been chosen for so many special activities. While some of these perks were completely by chance, others have been based on discovering the secret to being recognized by cast members. Let me share!
Disney is a magical place. No amount of planning for these perks is going to guarantee you will receive them. And no lack of preparation will mean you do not get chosen for special events. Several of our most meaningful moments happened completely by chance, such as being given Magical Fast Passes during the Year of a Million Dreams.
Other moments, however, were intentionally sought after based on previous experiences. Here are a few tips if you want to have a unique experience at the World.
First, plan your visit for the off seasons when crowds are lightest. With fewer people to choose from, your odds of being noticed will increase.
Second, arrive at the parks early, approximately thirty minutes before they open. If your trip is during a busier time of year, you may need to arrive closer to an hour earlier. Once at a park, move up to the front of the entrance. Last year, our boys were able to throw confetti at Magic Kingdom during the opening ceremony.
While waiting for the park to open, strike up as conversation with a cast member. Several years ago, because we were at the front of the line when Magic Kingdom opened, we moved quickly to our first destination, Fantasy Land, where we were stopped again before each land opened. Our family of seven, which included our parents as well as our three children, began chatting with several cast members. Eventually, they asked us if we would like to be the Royal Family and have our first ride of the day all to ourselves while the rest of the guests watched. We chose Dumbo!
If you are unable to strike up a conversation with an employee, at least pay attention to their actions and try to make eye contact. Two years ago, we arrived at Blizzard Beach (early) and overheard a cast member asking a boy if he would be going down Summit Plummet. The boy could not be convinced, so the cast member gave up. I caught eye contact with the cast member, and then began talking to my oldest son, making the employee aware of us. He then moved directly to us and asked if my son would be trying out their biggest attraction. Eager to do so, my child was invited to be Ski Captain of the day, which included free towel rentals, free locker rentals, two free refillable mugs, buttons, a medalion, access to the Ski Captain’s hut, and early entrance to the park.
Drawing attention to yourself is sometimes necessary in order to be given special opportunities at the World. My husband and I have been in the Indiana Jones stunt show three times because we are willing to stand up, shout, and holler to get noticed. Another aid to being noticed is wearing matching Disney shirts designed specifically for the trip. This works especially well with a group and probably assisted us in being chosen as the Royal Family at Fantasy Land.
Knowing where to sit at shows is also helpful. At the Indiana Jones Stunt show, it helps to be in the center (or just right or left of the center) and around five to ten rows back. Two of our boys have been in the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt show because we sit to the right of the sound booth where the host exits to find a volunteer.
Being cute earns a few perks. Our youngest, when he was about three years-old and too scared to ride the Tower of Terror, was offered the job of “Junior Bell Hop”. Being a huge fan of a ride is also helpful. Our boys now like riding the Tower so much that when a Bell Hop realizes they are on their third or fourth time in a row, they will offer them a trip up the back elevator to skip the show and move directly onto the ride
These are just a few of our secrets to being noticed and getting extra perks at Disney World. I have not revealed our favorite secret. I’ll save that one for another blog. Stay tuned!