If you are in the process of preparing for your arrival to the DCP, congratulations! Your magical journey is only a few short months away from beginning, and I know the excitement is building.
If you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking about the countless things you’ll want to accomplish on your program, like meeting every character and seeing every night time show.
But you know what? Those are -dare I say it- kind of cliche, and on every DCP bucket list. (You can see my previous one here.)
So while I do think those are things you should DEFINITELY try to accomplish (especially if this is your first time at Disney World), here are some things I think are worth doing that you may not find while you’re perusing the internet looking for bucket list ideas.
1) Watch Wishes From Different Vantage Points
Wishes is my all time favorite nighttime show at Disney. I love how it’s different during Halloween and Christmas; I love how Celebrate the Magic precedes it; I love how it’s the epitome of magic. And, up until a few months ago, I had only ever watched it from Main Street. And yes, Main Street is arguably the best view because you get to see the castle and who doesn’t love a good picture of Cinderella Castle with fireworks high above it? But, and stay with me here, there are areas of Magic Kingdom that give you an even better view of the fireworks, and if you’re a fireworks lover like me, you’ll want to check these spots out. Okay, so here are my suggestions:
Gaston’s Tavern, New Fantasyland
Be Our Guest, New Fantasyland
Prince Charming’s Carousel, New Fantasyland
Mad Tea Party, New Fantasyland
All of my favorite spots are in New Fantasyland because you literally feel like the fireworks are RIGHT. THERE. (Probably because they almost are!) So grab your friends, a Lefou’s Brew and a huge cinnamon roll and watch Wishes from a new spot next time you’re in the kingdom.
2) Take A Massive Amount Of Pictures
I know that we all take pictures anyway, but I feel like this needs to be said because I don’t just mean take pictures of the castle or of your favorite ride; take a massive amount of pictures with the people who make your program worth while. Now that so many of the people I grew close with during my program are gone, I realize that while I do have the fondest of memories, I don’t have enough pictures! And that’s insane, because I am a picture taking queen. (But seriously, I am, take one look at my Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.) So take pictures everywhere, no matter what you’re doing. Have a photoshoot in the middle of Magic Kingdom on the hub grass because why not? And bonus points if you get candid photos, because those are the best.
3) Try Different Restaurants On Property…Other Than The Obvious Choices
Be Our Guest is a dream, Chef Mickey’s is wonderful, and I’m sure Cinderella’s Royal Table is to die for (I have yet to eat there because paying $70+ in advance for a meal is a little steep, especially for a CP. You’ll find that out, though). HOWEVER, there are restaurants all across property, resorts included, that offer great food, a killer atmosphere and friendly service, just like those three do! And don’t limit yourself just to character dining experiences, either, because some of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at have no characters. Here are some of my suggestions:
Via Napoli, Italy Pavilion in EPCOT
Nine Dragons, China Pavilion in EPCOT
Teppan Edo, Japan Pavilion in EPCOT
Sci Fi Dine-In Theatre, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Mama Melrose’s, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Yak and Yeti, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom (I’ve actually yet to eat here, but I hear it’s SO good!)
1900 Park Fare, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Trails End, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground (BREAKFAST. IS. AMAZING. AND. CHEAP.)
Beaches and Cream, Disney’s Beach Club Resort (I have three words for you: Kitchen. Sink. Challenge.)
These are just a few of my favorite spots, and you know what the bonus is? You get your discount at a majority of restaurants, so why not try something new? If you want a review of some of the restaurants in the parks, my friend is currently eating his way around them, so take a look at some of his experiences here.
4) Have Sleepovers
Okay, I know this sounds very…middle school-ish, but just go with me here. Some of the best nights I have had on my program thus far have been spent with my closest friends all piled into someone’s room, living room, or even bed. We stayed up all night talking, watching movies, taking pictures and bonding, and I honestly believe that it helped solidify our friendships. You’re never too old for a sleepover, so grab your friends, pop in some Disney movies, make some popcorn and sing your little hearts out. (And Snapchat all of it so that you can watch it the next morning and die of laughter.)
5) Work In Different Locations
If you are in a role that allows you to pick up shifts in other places easily (i.e. merchandise, custodial, QSFB, etc.) then I HIGHLY suggest you pick up a shift and venture out of your home location! I have worked in a number of stores at Downtown Disney (mostly because it’s easy since I already work down there and know how to get there/where costuming is and all that jazz), but the BEST shift I have EVER picked up was a shift at Watto’s Grotto for Star Wars Weekends. It started early in the morning, but it was the best six hour shift I have EVER worked. I loved the costume, I loved the fast pace, I loved the energy and I just loved the interaction I had with guests! Working somewhere else is definitely nerve racking and a little overwhelming, but if you’re comfortable in your role then why not take a chance and work somewhere else? You might as well make the most of your time here 🙂
6) (Try To) Go To CP Events
Disney Housing actually does a decent job of putting on events for CPs throughout the months, whether it be welcome events, grocery bingo, pool parties or backstage tours of popular attractions. While there’s a good chance you may not be able to attend all or many of the events, try to go to at least one! My suggestion for the one you should go to? The CP Formal if you’re on the program for Fall/Fall Advantage and Starlit Splash if you’re on the program for Spring/Spring Advantage. Starlit Splash was easily one of the top 5 best nights I have had on my program. What’s better than having an entire water park to play in with your friends and fellow CPs with no other guests around? Nothing. So hit up those CP events! (Plus, free food is always a good reason to go. You know it’s true.)
7) Go To The Parks Alone
Okay, I know this one may sound strange to some of you. Like, why go to the parks by yourself when you can go with a massive amount of people and take Disney World by storm?! And yeah, that’s awesome, and I love doing that, but I actually really enjoyed exploring on my own, too. The great thing about going by yourself is that you can do whatever YOU want to do, and at your own pace. You want to ride space mountain five times in a row? Go for it. You want to do character hunting? Don’t forget your autograph book! You want to lie on the hub grass and take an endless amount of selfies? You go, Glen Coco. I spent a majority of Valentine’s Day in Magic Kingdom by myself, and honestly? I had a wonderful time. I ran into people I knew, and it was nice to spend a little time with them, but I really loved just walking around and doing whatever I wanted. I made fastpasses to meet characters and I even got Tinkerbell to send a special shoutout to my sister, who I was missing very much at the time. It was such an eye opening experience for me, so I challenge you to do the same on your program.
8) Make Magic, Even When You’re Not Working
The day I spent in Magic Kingdom alone, I met three little princesses while on line to meet Tinkerbell. They were SO excited about all the princesses/characters they were meeting and had the most fun sharing their experiences with me. Before we parted ways, I asked the three of them to sign my guide map so that I could always remember the beautiful princesses I met on Valentine’s Day. Their parents took pictures, the girls gave me hugs, and even though I wasn’t working, I knew I had made some magic. Simple gestures like that can have the biggest impact on someone’s vacation, and just because you’re not in costume doesn’t mean you can’t spread magic. ❤