The Unspoken Rules of Disney Theme Parks

Bambi Turner

Image: The Walt Disney Company

About This Quiz

Do you know which Disney parks have secret entrances, or where to meet up with illusive characters like The Beast? Do you know the least crowded time to visit Disney World, or how to maximize your parade viewing experience at the Magic Kingdom? Test your Disney travel IQ with this quiz on some of the most important unspoken rules regarding these popular parks!

A 2017 article in Time magazine estimates that an average family of four spends more than $6,000 for a five-day trip to Walt Disney World. That's a whole lot of cash to shell out, although many families deem the expense worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The problem is that your family isn't the only one with the bright idea to head to the parks. A staggering 52 million visitors head to the Disney parks in Orlando each year, and the Magic Kingdom has a capacity of around 100,000 people per day. That means that without proper planning, you could easily be shelling out more than $1,000 a day to spend half your park hours waiting in line and dodging crowds.

A happy Disney visitor is an informed visitor, and that includes not only making proper preparations -- like dining reservations and Fast Passes -- but also understanding the rules of the park, both the ones that are publicly posted and those that are largely left unspoken.

Think you know it all when it comes to the unspoken rules of the Disney parks? Prove it with this quiz!

What major change did Disney make in 2018?

As of October 2018, prices for Disney theme park tickets can change based on the day you plan to visit. This new development was part of an effort by Disney to encourage people to visit at less-crowded times by making tickets cheaper on those days, while discouraging visitors on busier days with higher ticket prices.

What is the proper name for a Disney employee?

Every employee at Disney is part of the show, so they are all known as cast members. That includes the people who operate the rides, serve food in restaurants and keep the park sparkling clean.

Which Walt Disney World park has an unofficial activity known as Drinking Around the World?

EPCOT is divided into two sections; Future World contains rides and exhibits, while the World Showcase includes pavilions modeled after various countries. One popular adult activity at EPCOT involves Drinking Around the World, or having a cocktail at each of the World Showcase pavilions. Disney doesn't officially endorse the practice, but it remains a favorite past-time for many Disney fans.

Which of these periods typically features the smallest crowds at Walt Disney World?

According to popular Disney travel site Mousesavers.com, mid-November to mid-December is a great time to avoid crowds at Disney, with the exception of the Thanksgiving holiday period. Summer, spring break and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day are some of the busiest times at the park.

Are you allowed to take pictures on Disney's dark rides?

Disney parks are a great place to take pictures of the family and capture the magic around you, but turn off the flash! Flash photography can ruin the experience for guests on dark rides, and can also pose a danger for performers in other types of attractions.

There are thousands of these hidden figures scattered throughout Disney theme parks.

One unspoken secret of the Disney parks is that thousands of hidden Mickey Mouse images have been scattered throughout the parks. They could be made of anything, from carefully arranged plates to a coil of rope to a plant or cactus. While there's no official Disney guide, you're sure to spot many of these hidden Mickeys if you keep your eyes peeled in the parks.

What is the Disney scoop?

Have you ever wondered just how Disney manages to keep the theme parks so clean? In addition to a massive custodial staff, all employees are expected to pick up any trash they see along their way. They use a technique known as the Disney scoop to quickly pick up debris without even breaking their stride.

What is under the Magic Kingdom?

Ever wondered why you don't see Disney employees with Frontierland cowboy costumes wandering around Tomorrowland? It's because these employees don't have to travel to their assigned work site by walking through the park. instead, they use a massive underground tunnel network to get where the have to go before emerging above ground right where they belong.

What does AP mean in Disney lingo?

Can you imagine going to a Disney park whenever you wanted and not having to stop at the gate to buy a ticket? Annual Passholders, or AP's, pay one yearly price for unlimited trips to the parks. Being an AP comes with lots of perks, including discounts on merchandise and special character meet and greets.

Which visitors can wear costumes to the Disney parks on a regular day?

It's natural for Disney guests to want to dress up as their favorite character, but if you're more than 14 years of age, leave the costume at home. Kids 13 and under are free to dress up -- and special holiday events, like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, may allow relaxed costume rules for adults.

What should you do if you're dying to go on a ride, but your child doesn't meet the height requirement?

Taking a young child to a Disney park can be a magical experience, but it can mean missing out on some big ticket rides like Space Mountain. To avoid missing these big-ticket attractions, ask cast members about a Rider Switch, also known as a child swap. This allows parents to each take a turn on the ride while the other watches the kids. And no, it's never a good idea to ditch your kid outside the ride while you take a spin.

Where is the most likely place to meet Mickey face-to-face at Magic Kingdom?

When Disney did away with Toontown at the ​Magic Kingdom, they also demolished Mickey's house. Since then, the best place to meet the Mouse has been the Town Square Theater on Main Street. While this Mickey meet and greet has long been iconic because the character at this location was able to speak with guests, talking Mickey is no more as of 2018.

Which of these is not sold in any Disney theme park?

Ever notice how rarely you see wads of gum stuck to the ground or under the tables during a trip to the Disney theme park? That's because the parks don't sell gum -- so if you must chew, plan to bring your own.

Under which picture should you stand in the Haunted Mansion elevator if you want to get to the Doom Buggies as soon as possible?

When you enter the elevator room for the Haunted Mansion, a spooky voice will tell you that the room has no windows and no doors. In fact, there is a hidden door, located under the portrait of the woman with the parasol. When this door opens, those standing closest to this door will be in the best position to beat the crowds to the Doom Buggies.

Long lines at the EPCOT turnstiles? Head for the back entrance, located between the pavilions for these two countries.

One important unspoken Disney rule is to use every technique you can to minimize the amount of time spent waiting in line -- without jumping any queues, of course! One favorite insider trick is to use the International Gateway entrance at EPCOT, which is located between the France and U.K. pavilions.

What's the best way to minimize wait time on the Rock 'N Rollercoaster?

Big rides like, Rock 'N Rollercoaster, can come with long lines, with wait times easily exceeding two hours on busy days. Minimize waiting by jumping into the single rider queue. You might not get to ride with the rest of your party, but you'll get to experience the ride with minimal time in line.

Where should you go if you want a photo op with The Beast from "Beauty and the Beast?"

The Beast is one of the most illusive characters in the Disney parks. The only place to meet and greet this beastly character is at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, but beware -- he only appears at dinner time, and you'll probably need to make a reservation well in advance.

Tired of the crowds at Magic Kingdom? This restaurant has a decidedly relaxed second floor.

Disney parks can be overwhelming, and even finding a seat at a restaurant can be a challenge during busy times. The unspoken rule for those seeking a bit of solitude at the Magic Kingdom is to head to Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square, where a surprisingly quiet second-floor seating area awaits hungry guests.

Which characters are allowed to speak with guests at the parks?

The unspoken rule of character communication at Disney parks is that you should never expect masked characters, like Mickey or Goofy, to utter a sound. Face characters -- those without masks, like Cinderella or Snow White -- are allowed to speak.

When can resort guests make dining reservations?

Many of the most popular restaurants at Disney can be impossible to eat at unless you have a reservation. Fortunately, guests staying on property can make reservations a full 180 days before their stay, which can help guarantee a table at spots like Cinderella's Royal Table or The Crystal Palace.

Where can you get a free cup of water in the Disney parks?

You can easily overheat on a warm day at a Disney park. Stay hydrated by drinking from the water fountains or requesting a cup of free water at any cafe that has a soda fountain. The cast members will happily oblige.

Dismayed by long times to enter Animal Kingdom? Check to see if the secret side entrance is open at this eating establishment.

Lines at the Animal Kingdom turnstiles look way too long? There's a single turnstile entrance inside the Rainforest Cafe at the park entrance. If it's open, you might be able to skip the crowds and get to the rides that much quicker.

Which of these park purchases can you trade with cast members?

Pin trading is a popular activity for Disney visitors. Simply approach any cast member wearing a pin lanyard and start trading. You could end up with some unique finds!

There are no bathrooms in this Magic Kingdom land, so plan your visit with care.

Disney is nothing if not authentic. There were no bathrooms in colonial times, so the colonial-inspired Liberty Square is also restroom-free. Those brown paths you see in the streets in that land are meant to represent the sewage rivers that flowed through streets during the plumbing-free period.

Which Disney World park offers free soda at Club Cool?

Thirsty? A typical fountain drink at a Disney theme park doesn't come cheap -- except at EPCOT's Club Cool, where you can try sodas from all over the world for free. Be warned that these aren't the beverages you're used to imbibing, however, and some -- like the Beverly from Italy -- might make you wish you hadn't taken a sip.

What is the Disney point?

People come from all over the world to visit the Disney parks. To accommodate those from countries where a single finger point might be considered rude, cast members are taught to point using the index and middle fingers held together -- a trademark move known as the Disney point.

What term does Disney use to refer to added park hours for resort guests?

Extra Magic Hours are a great way to enjoy the parks without the crowds. Every day, one or more parks opens early or stays open late for resort guests only, allowing them to experience rides and attractions with less waiting.

From where does the afternoon parade begin at Magic Kingdom?

The afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom begins in Frontierland, next to Splash Mountain, and ends on Main Street. The evening parade typically takes this same route but in reverse. Knowing this insider information can help you plan your day and avoid sitting for too long in the hot Florida sun.

How far in advance should you find a seat for the parade?

On a typical Disney day, settling onto the curb 30 minutes before the parade starts should guarantee you a good view. Other unspoken parade rules include, avoiding putting children on your shoulders and keeping recording activities to a minimum to avoid ruining the view for other guests.

What happens if you climb out of the car on It's a Small World to take a selfie?

At the start of every Disney ride, you'll hear a recording telling you to remain seated -- and they mean it. The rides are full of cameras and sensors to spot anyone climbing out of the cars. A quick trip out of your seat is not only dangerous, but will get you ejected from the park for the day.

Where should you park your stroller when going on a ride?

If you park your stroller wherever you please, you'll probably exit rides and attractions to find it gone. Cast members are trained to relocate any rogue strollers to the closest designated stroller parking area.

How do you get a special birthday or anniversary button to wear in the parks?

If you're celebrating any special occasion at Disney, whether it's a birthday or a first visit to the parks, stop at Guest Services and pick up a badge. You'll get extra attention from cast members, which may extend to free desserts or other treats as you go about your day.

Where can you buy alcohol at Magic Kingdom?

Magic Kingdom has had a strict no-alcohol policy since it opened in 1971 -- until 2018, that is. Guests can now order a cocktail or beer in any sit-down restaurant.

Which park offers free Fun Stops to keep kids occupied?

EPCOT's Kitcot program includes Fun Stops around the World Showcase pavilions. Kids can complete free art projects and collect stamps and souvenirs.

One unspoken rule at the Disney parks is to take it slow and pace yourself, especially if you have kids. At Magic Kingdom, kids can unwind at the Laughing Place playground hidden near this ride.

Not many guests are aware of the awesome hidden playground just outside of Splash Mountain. It's a great place for kids to unwind and let loose when they need a break. Bonus -- it's in the shade, so adults will also like it.

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