When I was planning our Disney trip, I would read websites and hear words like “cast members” and have a completely different idea of what they were talking about than the actuality. Below are some of the Disney words and their definition that I hope you’ll find helpful in planning your trip.
Guests—Disney refers to their customers as guests and have trained their cast members to treat them as such. One of the reason that Disney is so magical is because of how you are treated from the moment you are on site to the moment you leave.
Cast Members—When I first heard this term, I thought it referred to characters and performers. Disney calls all of its employees cast members. They refer to public areas as on stage and areas that are for staff only backstage.
Times Guide—When I heard this, I thought it was going to be a newspaper or some sort of publication that we received each day. Instead it is a paper pamphlet that you’ll find at the front of each park, at the concierge desk, and with some cast members. You want to have this piece of paper! It includes times and places where you’ll find characters, times of parades and fireworks, information on shows, and hours for attractions and restaurants. Try to pick it up at least a few hours before you enter the park so that you can plan your schedule for the day.
Character Greetings—If you went to Disney years ago, you probably remember seeing characters like Mickey and running up to him for a hug and photo. Gone are those days! Getting autographs and photos and meeting characters is more like an assembly line now. Characters are at certain places at certain times. They usually stay for about an hour, and if you aren’t in line near the front, you might miss out. If there are characters you really want to see, I recommend showing up early and having someone in your party wait in line. For instance, if you know that a Alice is going to be at the Mad Tea Party Ride at 12:30, show up at 12 or 12:15.
*****The one exception to this rule is Rapunzel. At this point, I don’t think that Disney is fully capitalizing on the success of that movie. Rapunzel can ONLY be found at one place—the grotto that is to the right of the castle in the Magic Kingdom, just before the bathrooms that are near the entrance to Fantasy Land. If you want to see her. Be there for the rope drop and send your fastest skipper/walker (you aren’t supposed to run so I can’t really tell you to run) to that spot to hold your spot in line. One person can hold a spot for your family, and at least when we were there, that one person had to stay in line the entire time. So, if you are near the back of the line and waiting for the 12:15pm visit with Rapunzel, that means someone is stuck there instead of enjoying the park until that point. We were in the second spot for the 10:15am showing on our first day. We sent Hubby to get some fast passes for rides in Fantasyland while we waited. Since she was the main character our daughter wanted to see, we waited. Had we been in the 12:15 or 1:15 line, we would have tried again another day.
Rope Drop—The parks each open at certain times every day. The rope drop is the rope that keeps the guests from entering the park until it is time to open. Most parks have a show right before the park opens that is fun to watch. Our daughter was chosen to throw some Mickey shaped confetti when the park opened, and it was one of the magical parts of the first day in the park.
Extended Hours—If you stay in one of the resorts, some of the parks will open an hour early or stay open late for you. Check your times guide for information on which parks have extended ours for the time you are there. On these days, you’ll find more people at the parks, and if you are already going during a crowded time of the year, you might want to opt for a different park that day. Here is what I wish people would have told us about the extended hours—not everything is open. We went to the extended hours for Epcot, thinking that the Nemo ride and Turtle Talk with Crush would be open. These were the only two rides we wanted to make sure to experience at Epcot. Only the bigger rides like Soarin’ were opened, and we waited for another hour before the rides we wanted to see would let us in. Very disappointing. The good thing was that it wasn’t too hot that day and we were able to talk with one of the cast members about different aspects of the park to help plan our day.
Park Hopper Passes—These allow you to visit different parks on the same day. Otherwise, when you enter one park, you only have admission to that same park during the day. You do not have to make your decision now on park hopper passes. You can buy them the same day if you want. We were in the parks for 5 days and didn’t find that we needed the passes or wanted to spend the extra money on them. Some people said that they liked the park hopper passes for the water parks that are part of Disney. If you were staying for a shorter time, it might be worth it to get the pass for one day.
PhotoPass Service—There are some professional photographers around the park. You can ask for a PhotoPass card, and each time they take your photo they will scan the card. Photos are digitally loaded to your account, and you can review and choose to print/order as many or as little as you want. The great thing about PhotoPass photographers is that they will also take your photo with your camera. No one is left out of your photo!
FASTPASS Service—For some of the bigger attractions, there are long waits. You can bi-pass some of that wait by getting what is called a FASTPASS ticket. Use your park ticket (room key) at small kiosks located just outside of attractions that are marked FP in your park guide. This is a free service and is available to all park guests. When you receive your FASTPASS ticket, you’ll see a return time (also marked in a sign above the FASTPASS kiosk). Return in that time frame and enter in the FASTPASS line. Our experience was that we had little or no wait when we used our tickets. You can’t get another FASTPASS ticket until the time on the bottom of the ticket has passed. I recommend going to different areas of the park and making your first stop be the FASTPASS kiosk for the FP attraction you want to go to the most. Then, while you wait for your ticket to become active you can go to the other rides and attractions in that area or stop for a bite to eat.
If I missed any vocabulary, I’ll try to include them in future posts.