If you are headed to a Disney Park anytime in the near future, get to know a cast member first. For those not in the know, “cast members” are anyone who works for Disney. The people switching out trash can liners outside of Splash Mountain: Cast Members. The cast member I was traipsing around Disney World with (aka my kind-of-sister-in-law Brigid) has worked in Disney hotels, parking trams, and she’s been a tour guide for The Great Movie Ride. This coupled with her general hotness has inspired the nickname ‘Tour Guide Barbie.’ Anyways, here are a few tips that I picked up on while traveling through the parks with an ex-cast member.

 

You don’t have to do the “Disney Death March”

This is otherwise known as the we-will-see-everything-and-ride-every-ride-because-we-paid-a-million-dollars-for-these-tickets syndrome. Guess what? If you’re not having fun, the tickets aren’t worth it. Brigid and I wandered around at a leisurely pace, went on a few rides with short lines, actually sat down to enjoy our Epcot food, and only saw a fraction of the park. It was nice. We weren’t exhausted or cranky at any point and I felt as if I was actually on vacation. My feet didn’t even hurt the next day. This was especially nice because I’d ran the Disney ½ Marathon the evening before and was not in the mood for another physical feat of endurance.

 Don’t miss the hidden Mickey’s

All over the parks are hidden images of the gigantic-eared mouse and his friends. Whether it’s on the golf ball flying towards you on the Soarin’ Ride or in the place settings on the Haunted Mansion Ride, these hidden images are fun to be on the lookout for. I am naturally an oblivious person and I needed Brigid to give me lots of advance notice. (“okay, look here…it’s coming up…right there! Oh, you missed it” was her typical run down) If you aren’t hanging out with a cast member, pick up a “Hidden Mickey” book before your next Disney adventure.

Engage with Cast Members: Cheer loudly and wave exuberantly

I don’t just mean with those who are in costume. Every single Cast Member is trained and usually wants to “play” with guests at the park. Laugh at the corny jokes that your tram operator tells. Applaud wildly when your tour guide escapes the evil clutches of some bad guy. Make eyes at characters on floats during the parade. The Cast Members appreciate it (they are on stage after all, give them some love!) and you’ll have fun being cheesy.    

Special events are worth it:

If you can swing it, don’t go to Disney on any old day, make it special. I was there for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, wherein one can eat/drink “around the world.” We also went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween (which runs from late September to the end of October). We dressed up and got tons of candy. Where else can two almost-thirty-year-olds do that? Check Disney.com to stay abreast on all special happenings. One word of caution though: the parks do reach capacity on New Years, Christmas and the 4th of July. Get there early and don’t leave. Once the parks are full, you can’t get in, even if you purchased your ticket weeks in advance.

 

If you can’t go to Disney with a Cast Member, don’t feel too bad. My buddy also talked along with all the ride commentaries and sang along with obscure theme songs. This could annoy some people…

 Love ya Brig!