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Are you planning a trip to Disney World, but find yourself completely confused by all the words you keep hearing? Disney’s unique vocabulary definitely adds an extra layer of difficulty to planning a trip. So, to help you speak Disney’s language, here is my easy go-to guide! Think of it as your personal Disney dictionary!
- Why does Disney have its own terms for everything?
- The Basic Terms
- Trip Planning Terms
Why does Disney have its own terms for everything?
If you are anything like me, you probably have asked yourself why Disney has its own unique words for everything. This special language goes back to Walt Disney and his theory behind the creation of the parks.
Walt Disney approached the theme parks as if they were a show in a theater. So, many of the terms used at Disney World (and the other parks) originate in show business. This is helpful to keep in mind when learning to speak Disney’s language!
The Basic Terms
These basic terms form the foundation of the Disney language. While they are simple to understand, they form the base of your Disney knowledge.
Because Walt Disney created the theme parks as if they were a theater production, the employees of the Walt Disney Company are called cast members. This term is used for everyone from the executives to the artists to the popcorn sellers and performers you see in the parks.
Everyone that works for Disney World that you will encounter during your trip is called a cast member. You can quickly spot cast members in the park because they all wear similar name tags.
Each of Disney World’s four theme parks is made up of several lands. Each of these lands is simply an area of the park that has the same theme.
For instance, in Animal Kingdom, the theme of Dinoland, USA is dinosaurs. Epcot’s World Showcase features a collection of pavilions each dedicated to a different country. And in the Magic Kingdom, Frontierland is built around the theme of the Old West frontier.
At Disney, attraction is a generic term that is used for any and all rides and shows and most experiences. It does not include transportation or dining options. The attractions are why you come to Disney World. They are also what you expect to experience during your trip.
A headliner is a major attraction located in one of the Disney World parks. These are the most popular rides. They are also the ones with the longest lines. They are the attractions that people get super excited about leading up to their trips.
Some of the headliners at Disney World are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Rise of the Resistance, Tower of Terror, Test Track, Soarin’, Flight of Passage, and Expedition Everest.
Table Service Restaurants
A table service restaurant is a restaurant where you are seated at a table and wait staff take your order and bring you your food. They also include all of the character meals at Disney World. Additionally, buffets are considered table service restaurants.
Quick Service Restaurants
Quick service restaurants, on the other hand, are restaurants in which you order your food at a counter and then carry it on a tray to a table. These restaurants are cheaper than table service restaurants.
Trip Planning Terms
Once you understand these terms and can speak Disney’s language, you will not only feel more confident in planning your Disney World trips, but you will also be well on your way to becoming a Disney World trip planning pro!
In addition to a park ticket, you will need a park reservation in order to visit one of the parks each day. This is just what it sounds like: a reservation to go to a particular park on a particular day.
Please note that a park reservation is not the same as a park ticket. This is something you need to enter a park in addition to your park ticket.
My Disney Experience (MDE)
My Disney Experience (or MDE) is Disney World’s app that puts the power of Disney right on your phone. You can book your trip, make park, dining, or ride reservations on it. It will also keep track of all of your reservations for your trip.
Additionally, it gives you interactive maps of the parks, shows you park hours, wait times, and show and parade times.
Downloading MDE is one of the things I recommend you do before your trip in order to prepare your phone for Disney World.
Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s)
Advance Dining Reservations (or ADR’s for short) are generally necessary at Disney World to eat at table service restaurants. Basically, these are just reservations you make in advance of your trip in order to secure a table at one of the many table service restaurants.
You can make ADR’s through Disney World’s website, by calling Disney’s dining line, or by using the My Disney Experience app.
Genie+ (not to be confused with Genie) is a paid service at Disney World that allows you to reserve a time to experience a specific attraction. There are only certain attractions that are available on Genie+.
Unfortunately, you cannot buy Genie+ in advance. You can only get it beginning at 7:00 am for that day. This can be helpful, though, if you are short on time in the parks or are going to be there during a very busy time.
Lightning Lanes are similar to Genie+, but they are more of a one time use deal. Instead of paying one price for all of your ride reservations for the entire day, with Lightning Lanes, you must pay for each reservation.
Additionally, the list of rides with Lightning Lanes is much smaller. These are used for the most popular rides in each park.
MagicBand (or MagicBand+) is a plastic band, similar to a smart watch. These bands hold all of your trip reservations, including your dining and park reservations, park tickets, and Genie+ and Lightning Lane selections.
Additionally, you can open your Disney hotel room and charge things to your room with your MagicBand. You can also use them to enter the parks and access your Disney photos.
You can purchase MagicBands at any store on property or you can order them online in advance. (Find out if MagicBands are worth the money for you.)
Disney Vacation Club (DVC)
Disney Vacation Club (or DVC) is basically Disney’s version of a timeshare. You can buy into it and use your points to stay at some of the hotels on property. If you are not a DVC member, you can rent points from members for your trip if you want to stay in one of the DVC resorts.
A basic park ticket entitles you to visit one park per day. But, if you upgrade your ticket to a park hopper, you can visit more than one park in a day.
Early Entry is a perk given to everyone staying at a Disney hotel. It allows you to get into any of the parks 30 minutes prior to the opening of the park on any day. During this time, you can experience a limited number of rides available in that park.
Extended Evening Hours
Unlike Early Entry, Extended Evening Hours are only available to guests staying at one of the Disney Deluxe Hotels. On select nights, these guests are allowed to stay in a particular park for two additional hours after the official park closing time.
Like Early Entry, only select attractions are open during Extended Evening Hours.
The Times Guide is a piece of paper available at the gates of each of the parks. It will give you the day’s park hours, show and parade times, and information about the park’s character meet and greets.
This is something you should pick up each day as you enter the park to see relevant information for the day.
The last planning term you need to know in order to speak Disney’s language is Memory Maker. This is Disney’s all-inclusive photo package.
There are Disney photographers posted throughout the parks. They will take your photo in various locations. You can buy these photos individually or you can purchase the Memory Maker, which will give you access to all of the photos taken throughout your trip.
To get the most out of your purchase, check out my tips for using Memory Maker.
Planning a trip to Disney World can be very overwhelming. This is especially true if you are not familiar with all of the unique terms that Disney uses. This helpful guide will explain those terms and help you speak Disney’s language in no time!
For more help planning your trip, see my step by step guide to planning your first trip, best resources for Disney trips, quick tips for Disney trips, and advice for Disney World first timers.
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