Planning for a trip to one of the Disney Parks is daunting, no matter how many friends give you the best advice. Even with our handy guide to help you, you’ll still do well to start by learning the lingo of the mouse! Find out just what all the Disneyese means and use this Disney glossary to decode the thousands of threads, books, blogs and all the buzz surrounding “The Happiest Place on Earth!”
It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, that little lyric is going to be in your head for the rest of the day. (Sorry, but we couldn’t resist.)
Like that silly phrase, an innocent bystander hearing a Disney superfan conversation for the first time might think it sounds like complete nonsense.
I remember sitting at a moms’ group drinking coffee, listening to my friend Katie talk on and on about “value” and “deluxe” and “cast members” and “character meals.” While some of it was self-explanatory, other parts were truly mind-boggling.
In all honesty, I believe one could become a scholar of Disney — there must be a Ph.D. to be had for the number of hours you’ll spend researching your first (and second and third) trip to Walt Disney World!
Start your education with this Disney glossary. Learn the words and you can sound like a Disney insider before you ever set foot inside the parks.
Read on for a list of some of the most common Disney jargon you’ll hear and consider this only a primer to your Disney Parks education (which has a bit of a learning curve to it)!
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Employees of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, international Disney Parks, Disney Store employees and just about anyone else who works for the Walt Disney Company.
You’ll find these — everyone from Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Elsa and Anna, Kylo Ren to Donald Duck — on parade floats, at character meet and greets throughout the theme parks and at character meals.
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Expect to wait in line for a photo with a Disney character at a meet and greet and make reservations for character meals. We like this one for a great half-price character meal.
Extra Magic Hours (EMH)
A perk for people staying “on-property” (see below), Extra Magic Hours allow Disney resort guests to get into one of the theme parks an hour early or stay two hours after it closes to the general public. Disney insiders refer to this Disney glossary entry by its initials, EMH.
Check the Disney calendar to see which park is offering EMH each day.
Disney Dining Plan (DDP)
Available to visitors staying at Disney resort hotels, there are three types of DDP — the Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. Each offers a certain number of meals on a pre-paid package.
Here’s our take on the three Disney Dining Plans to help you know what is right for your Disney World vacation.
Disney’s Magical Express
The complimentary bus that sweeps you off your feet (and handles your luggage) from the Orlando airport to your Walt Disney World Resort guest room. Don’t forget to make reservations for your return trip–you don’t want to make this (or any) costly mistake!
TravelingMom Tip: The Magical Express operates only to MCO. It does not serve the other Orlando airport, Sandford. If you book a discount flight to SFB, add on the cost of a rental car or a pricey cab ride to get to WDW. Here’s all you need to know about flying into Orlando.
Disney Vacation Club (DVC)
The Disney version of a timeshare, DVC is for hardcore Disney fans who expect to visit Disney resorts regularly. The points can be used anywhere from Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to Aulani in Hawaii to Adventures by Disney (ABD) trips around the world.
This is the entertainment district at Walt Disney World. You’ll find wonderful restaurants, the coolest ever bowling alley, a cupcake ATM, Cirque Du Soleil and a car that drives into the water.
The best part about Disney Springs? No ticket is required for entry so it’s a great way to squeeze in a little free Disney magic.
This is how to have a luxury Disney World vacation. These top-of-the-line resorts offer more amenities and more fine dining establishments. Our favorites include Animal Kingdom Lodge and Grand Floridian.
Ah, the Dole Whip. When your Disney superfan friend says she’ll be getting her Dole Whip on soon she’s referring to the frosty pineapple concoctions available at Disney Parks. These delectable treats now available “grown-up style” with rum.
If you want to start a heated Disney discussion, ask whether folks are Team Dole Whip or Team Citrus Swirl. Our own writers are pretty split on this and vehement in the defense of their beloved treat.
Here’s the secret recipe for making a Dole Whip at home.
Likely one of the first Disney glossary words you’ll hear and one of the most important. FastPass+ is a ride line-skipping system at WDW that allows you to book a timeframe to come back to a popular ride.
Disney insiders know to consult their My Disney Experience app (more on that in a minute) to check ride wait times before booking a Fastpass in the park. They also know that FastPass+ can (and should!) be reserved before you arrive in Orlando.
You, the families that visit Walt Disney World. You’re not customers or visitors. You’re guests.
These are the Mickey Mouse designs — usually the three circles that form his head and two ears — hidden everywhere on Disney properties, from the murals to the shower curtains in the resort hotel rooms. One of the famous ones happens during the film on the Tower of Terror ride.
Looking for Hidden Mickeys is a great way to keep the kiddos busy during down time or while waiting in ride lines.
This colorful bracelet is your key to the kingdom. Really. It’s everything from your on-property room key to your connection to your Fast Passes and even your credit card-linked charge account.
This is the special package you can buy to give you unlimited downloads of the photos taken of your family by Disney’s professional Photopass photographers. These folks are staged near all of the most memorable places in the Disney Parks and can usually be found at character meet and greet spots as well. They take photos of your family, scan your Magicband and post the pix to your account for downloading later.
For a fun surprise ask your photographer about Magic Shots. These special images are available in certain areas of the parks. You’ll be asked to pose a certain way and when you check out your pictures online there might be an extra fun character joining your photo.
In a non-Covid world, the Photopass photogs will happily snap a photo with your smartphone if you hand it to them.
TravelingMom Tip: Book in advance to save money.
Looking for a quick and easy meal option? Use mobile ordering on the MDE (My Disney Experience) app to peruse menus and put in a pickup order. The app will notify you when your order is ready and you’ll pick up from the designated area.
Disney Moderate Resorts are a huge step up from Value (see below), but of course not quite as high-end as what you’ll find at a Deluxe property. Moderate hotels tend to have a more subdued atmosphere and elegant theming – New Orleans French Quarter and a Caribbean resort. The rooms are lovely, the grounds beautifully landscaped, and the hotel lobbies and common areas all add to the feel.
If you’re traveling with pool-loving kids, moderate resorts can be a fantastic choice. All moderate resorts feature pools that include a water slide.
The iconic Disney transportation system that connects Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom theme park and three deluxe resort hotels — Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
If you’ve never been to Disney this one can definitely catch you off guard! Mousekeeping is just the Disney term for housekeeping. Just like the helpful cleaning critters in Disney movies, they magically make your room sparkle while you’re out enjoying the parks.
My Disney Experience (MDE)
The online Disney account where you can view and update your Disney family vacation plans. The name also applies to the app you can (and should!) download to your phone. Use it inside the parks for everything from checking ride wait times to ordering quick service meals.
Here are our pro tips for getting the most out of your app.
Hotels and resorts that are not operated by Disney and aren’t located on Disney property. Some, such as the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, still are able to offer perks like Extra Magic Hours through special deals with Disney.
Saying off property can save money but always check transportation and additional fees before booking.
Referring to lodging options at 25 different resorts/hotels within the 42=square-mile Walt Disney World property boundary. They are all accessible through one main Disney website /reservation line.
A special park ticket upgrade that allows you to move among the four Walt Disney World Parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) throughout the day.
It can be a great option for families with older children but you’ll want to read this post before you buy: Is a park hopper worth the extra money?
Quick Service Meal
Also known as counter service dining, this refers to any restaurant at Disney with an ordering counter (think fast food-style ordering). Part of Disney dining plans.
Another super important word in this Disney glossary, “rope drop” refers to the official opening of any of the Disney Parks. Disney regulars know to be standing outside the park before rope drop to be the first in line to ride the most popular rides.
This fun gondola transportation system connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at EPCOT to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort
Table Service Restaurants
Just as the name suggests, this dining plan option is a sit-down meal. Most character meals happen at table service restaurants.
Technically called the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC). It is the Walt Disney World transportation hub where guests can transfer to monorail, boat, or bus to get where they want to go. It’s also the site of the Magic Kingdom main parking lot.
Plus the TTC is also a pickup spot for taxis as well as a bus stop for the Orlando LYNX public transportation system.
There are people that devote what we assume must be a LOT of time to deciphering the best way to navigate the parks. They use criteria based on attraction/ride interests, age, length of stay. All of these variables analyzed go into what are called touring plans.
These are the lowest priced Disney resort hotels. Expect to get smaller rooms in a clean and convenient hotel. Still, you’ll get all the basics a family needs on vacation, including fun, kid-friendly theming and pools. On the downside, expect longer walks to the bus stop.
Our favorite value resort is Pop Century.
It feels like everything at WDW (Walt Disney World) has an abbreviation. Most are just the first letters of major words. However, others require some thought.
Doing your homework and research will likely lead to a better, more successful trip for your Disney family vacation. Pretty much every resort is turned into an acronym.
Here are some common ones:
ADR – Advanced Dining Reservations
AS – All Star Sports
AM – Can refer to All Star Music OR All Star Movies
AK – Animal Kingdom
CM – Cast Member OR Character Meal
EC – Surprisingly, this is still generally used for Epcot (formerly called Epcot Center)
CRT – Cinderella’s Royal Table (dining)
DVC – Disney Vacation Club
MDE – My Disney Experience (the app and the online reservation portal)
MK – Magic Kingdom
MNSSHP – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
MVMCP – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
TTC – Disney transportation and ticket center