Photo: Jerome LABOUYRIE/Shutterstock

Secret Tips and Tricks From Disney Moms (Plus a Dad)

United States Insider Guides Family Travel
by Yahoo! Travel Mar 14, 2015

By Laura Begley Bloom

EVERY YEAR, thousands of moms, grandmoms (and even a few dads and granddads) from around the globe compete to get one of the 50 coveted spots on the Disney Parks Moms Panel. This prestigious panel of experts spends the next year fielding questions from travelers about anything and everything Disney.

According to Leanne J. O’Regan, director of social media for Disney Parks, the required skills include “knowledge of the destinations and great storytelling.”

This year, 22 new members were admitted. “The Moms Panelists are so experienced there’s rarely a question that stumps them,” says O’Regan. So whether you’re craving a doughnut (one panelist knew every location at Walt Disney World Resort) or want to know the best places to watch the parades, these insiders have the answers.

Yahoo Travel asked some of 2015’s new members to reveal their secret go-to Disney tips. Here’s what they told us.

1. Dine during off-hours

To avoid large crowds during meal times, consider eating lunch and dinner at “off times.” I always try to sit down for lunch before 11:30 am. — Ana Fallas (Houston, Tex.)

2. Need an adult beverage?

I love the margaritas and the ambiance of La Cava del Tequila in Mexico at World Showcase. Be sure to try their avocado margarita! —Ana Fallas (Houston, Tex.)

3. Baby care

There is one Baby Care Center in each of the four theme parks. I recommend all parents locate and use them! Not only are Baby Care Centers great for changing a diaper or nursing a baby, they also have an area for older siblings to read books or watch a movie while they wait. Plus, this is the location where Disney Cast Members will look after any children who may become separated from their parents, so it’s important to know where they are located. —Andrea Updyke (Raleigh, N.C.)

4. Snack happy

My favorite snack at Walt Disney World Resort can be found at the Refreshment Port in Epcot’s World Showcase. It is a warm croissant donut rolled in cinnamon sugar, which if you ask me, is a must-have for every trip! —Andrea Updyke (Raleigh, N.C.)

Related: Forget Resorts: More Couples Going on Extreme Adventure Honeymoons

5. FastPass+ system

I love the new FastPass+ system and how it has helped my family stay together, instead of splitting up, while we are at Walt Disney World Resort. However, I did have some initial difficulty making FastPass+ selections for some of the more popular attractions, especially to meet Anna and Elsa in Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom Park. I finally discovered a great way to get my Frozen fan in to meet the sisters from Arendelle while using the My Disney Experience app on my mobile phone. The FastPass+ system was showing no availability for a party of four, but I was able to grab a time slot for a party of one and then use the “Copy” option afterwards to secure times for other guests in our party. I was able to get overlapping times for each guest, which did limit our overall FastPass+ window to just 25 minutes, but my little Elsa fan was so glad to have the opportunity to practice her “freezing skills” with Elsa! —Brandy Bocchino (Easley, S.C.)

6. Make food a priority

You can’t leave Walt Disney World Resort without trying these three items: (1) caramel apple stuffed French toast for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table; (2) a zebra dome for dessert at Boma – Flavors of Africa; and (3) a holiday turkey sandwich with their own brand chips at Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney. —Camila Rosa (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

7. Timing is everything

Beat the crowds by arriving at Magic Kingdom Park at least 20 minutes prior to opening. You’ll get to enjoy the Welcome Show while you pass through security and you’ll have shorter lines for the first few hours of the day! —Carrie McCurry (Brentwood, Tenn.)

8. Tips for tots

If you are traveling to Walt Disney World Resort with a preschooler, I highly recommend having breakfast or lunch Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to enjoy Disney Junior’s Play ‘n Dine! Not only was the food fantastic and the chef and other Cast Members did a fantastic job of accommodating my son’s food allergies, but we were also able to meet Disney Junior characters in an air-conditioned environment, avoid waiting in queues to see them, and meet some characters that were not available in the Park that day! —Crystal Benedict (Parker, Colo.)

9. Go by rail

Walking can be tough with little ones. Utilizing the Walt Disney World Railroad will allow you to rest your feet while you move around the Magic Kingdom. —Jason Kaplan (Dunwoody, Ga.)

10. Magic Kingdom Park parade spot

Guests should find a spot 45 minutes before the posted start time under the covered elevated wooden platform in front of the Country Bear Jamboree attraction. This spot gives them a direct view, keeps them close to food (Westward Ho food cart and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe) if little ones get hungry, undercover in case it rains, and in a narrow area so the crowds are not too thick. —Jason Kaplan (Dunwoody, Ga.)

Related: 9 Things You Need to Know About Royal Caribbean’s New Largest Ship at Sea

11. Mexican food and fireworks

Schedule an advanced dining reservation around 7:45 p.m. at La Cantina De San Angel to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine and drinks while watching the beautiful IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks showcase. Request an indoor window table or just relax outside on patio. —Jason Kaplan (Dunwoody, Ga.)

12. Haircut stop

Visit the Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom for a haircut. Even better, get the First Haircut package for your little one. You receive a certificate, a “First Haircut” Mickey-ear hat, and a lock of your tyke’s tresses to keep. —Kathy Karalekas (Tampa, Fla.)

13. Work your way from back to front

When entering a theme park, head to the back of the park and work your way forward. Everyone starts up front, so you’ll be going against the crowd. This works especially well at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. —Leanne Tomala (Saint Peters, Mo.)

14. Epic Epcot fireworks

After several years of “rigorous” testing, my family and I have found that the absolute best place to watch Epcot’s nightly fireworks show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, is along the World Showcase Lagoon waterfront near the German pavilion. We’ve always been able to get a perfect view of the entire show, sometimes only minutes before it starts. —Lynne Chlala (Verdun, Quebec, Canada)

15. Photo memories

Take a family photo in the same location (or with the same character) every time you visit. What treasures we have of our son posing with Sorcerer Mickey! It’s the perfect way to document how our son has grown over the years. —Missy McCallister-Sizemore (Edinburg, Tex.)

16. Disability access service card

As a mom to a son with special needs, I appreciate that Disney Parks makes every effort to accommodate guests so that all families can enjoy the magic of the theme parks. Take a picture of the Disability Access Service (DAS) card, especially that QR code, in case your DAS is lost. I was so glad I did this on our last visit. A Cast Member was able to retrieve my son’s information and issue a replacement card within minutes! —Missy McCallister-Sizemore (Edinburg, Tex.)

17. Best parade viewing

One of my favorite places to view the parades in Magic Kingdom Park is in Frontierland. Grab a drink and a snack from Golden Oak Outpost and have a seat and enjoy the parade. The Parade starts in this area so it is the first area to clear out once the Parade is over. —Susan Pazera (Westhampton Beach, N.Y.)

This post originally appeared on Yahoo Travel and is reprinted here with permission. Let Yahoo Travel inspire you every day. Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Check out our original adventure travel series “A Broad Abroad.”

Discover Matador