It’s a small world signs in Walt Disney World

Disney World Terminology for Beginners

January 24, 2020

Disney World Terminology for beginners! “Today we’re going to MK for Extra Magic Hours and hopefully we’ll ride all the Mountains. Then, we’re Park Hopping to AK for a Character Dining ADR!” Say what?

You won’t need to learn a new language when travelling to Walt Disney World from the UK, but it can feel like you’re out of the loop if you’re not familiar with the Disney lingo. Covering a whopping 40 square miles, Disney World is the size of a small Country. So it comes as no surprise that, like any Country, Disney World has its own vocabulary and phrases.  To help you feel at home on your Disney Holiday, we’ve compiled a list of often used Disney World terminology and abbreviations below. 

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s)

Advanced Dining Reservations are restaurant bookings made in advance of your holiday. Reservations are available for table service, and a handful of quick service, restaurants. You can make these reservations 180 days before your trip, for up to the first ten days of your holiday (if you’re staying at a Disney Resort). We’d highly recommend making ADR’s, particularly for the most popular table service restaurants which book up quickly.


Disney refer to their rides, shows, experiences and encounters as ‘Attractions’. We expect that this is because some of the experiences in The Parks are not traditional ‘rides’ and feature show elements to them. This is all part of the Disney magic!


Walt Disney World is a completely immersive experience in which Guests are key and Cast Members are always ‘on show’. Because of this, ‘staff only’ areas are considered to be ‘backstage’.

Cast Member

Disney employees are known as ‘Cast Members’ rather than staff. This stems from the above idea that when you’re in Walt Disney World you’ve got front row seats to a magical production. This means that all the Disney employees that you encounter are ‘on show’.

Character Dining

Character Dining is any dining experience where you meet a Disney Character during your meal. Often these meals are buffets or prix fixe offerings, during which characters will stop by your table to sign autographs and pose with you for photos. You can meet characters from Mickey Mouse to Princesses depending on where you dine.

Disney Dining Plan

Exclusive to Disney Resort guests, the Disney Dining Plans enable you to pay in advance for an allowance of food ‘credits’ which you then redeem at participating kiosks and restaurants. There are three options of plan to choose from: Disney Quick Service Dining Plan; Disney Dining Plan and Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. Per person, each plan includes a refillable Resort mug (valid for the length of stay), and two snack credit per days. The remaining two or three meal credits per day are either redeemable at Quick Service locations or Table Service locations, depending on your chosen plan. All credits are ‘loaded’ onto your Magic Band at the start of your stay, and you can use any amount at a time. You could use them all on your first day, but we wouldn’t recommend it!

Extra Magic Hours

Essentially extra time in the Parks for Disney Resort Guests! Each day one of the Parks opens an hour early, or stays open up to two hours later, for Disney Resort guests (with valid tickets) only. Check out our planning guide here for more information on Extra Magic Hours and how to incorporate these in your holiday plans.


Included with your Park admission, Fastpass+ enables you to reserve your place on some of the most popular attractions. The number of selections held at any one time is limited, and you’ll be allocated an arrival window for each reservation. Bookings can be made using My Disney Experience, up to 30-60 days in advance depending on whether you are a Disney Resort guest or not. Check out our Fastpass Top Tips here.


You! Cast Members quite literally welcome you ‘home’ to Walt Disney World as a valued guest.

Hidden Mickey

Images of Mickey Mouse, hidden in designs or decorations around Disney Property. These are great fun to spot – we’d recommend a hidden Mickey hunt!


Smart, waterproof, bracelets that do everything from enabling access to the Parks with your theme park admission, to unlocking your Resort room door. You can also use them to check in at FastPass+ entrances and make payments on Property. These little bands are your must have accessory on a Walt Disney World holiday! What’s more, you can personalise your MagicBand with your name and choice of colour or design up to 10 days before your check in date.

Magical Express

Disney’s complimentary coach transfer service for Disney Resort guests between Orlando International Airport and the Disney Resorts.

The Mountains

The three ‘mountain’ rides in the Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder, Splash and Space Mountain. Although we’d highly recommend Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and so many others too!)


The Disney Resorts’ version of housekeeping!

My Disney Experience 

Your must-have tool for planning your Walt Disney World holiday. Available online and in an app, this enables you to manage your plans, make dining reservations and book FastPasses.

Once on your holiday, the My Disney Experience app gives you access to wait times, mobile food ordering, and character greeting locations.

Park Hopping

Spending time in more than one of the Walt Disney World Parks on any given day. How you hop between Parks will depend on where you are and where you’re trying to get to, for more information see How to Travel Between Disney Parks.

Do note: The ability to Park Hop will depend on the type of Theme Park Admission that you hold, so do check that your ticket permits this. However, the ticket commonly allocated with a UK package deal is Disney’s Ultimate, which grants you access to all four Theme Parks and both Water Parks.

On Property

Essentially the whole of Walt Disney World! The Disney Parks, Water Parks, Resorts and Disney Springs are ‘on property’.

The Parks

Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are together referred to as ‘The Parks’. Disney World regulars also abbreviate the names of each of the Parks: Magic Kingdom is ‘MK’; Epcot is ‘EP’; Animal Kingdom is ‘AK’ and Hollywood Studios ‘HS’. Old timers also refer to Hollywood Studios as ‘MGM’. This stems from its previous name of MGM Studios owing to a 1985 licensing contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studios.

The two Water Parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) are referred to as just that – The Water Parks – rather than being included with The Parks.

‘WDW’ is simply an abbreviation for Walt Disney World.

Quick Service 

Quick Service Restaurants are those that are counter service meals, where you go to a till to order, then collect your food and take it to a table. We’d traditionally consider them to be ‘fast food’ options, however the choices available at Disney World are much more imaginative than standard theme park fare! Mobile food ordering is also available at a number of Quick Service locations.


‘Resort’ is a reference to a Disney Hotel. All Disney Resort Hotels feature Disney theming, children’s playgrounds, pools, games arcades, souvenir delivery services, and planned activities.

Resort Mug

A refillable mug, that you can purchase at your Disney Resort. Included with a Disney Dining Plan, these mugs offer unlimited (non-alcoholic) refills from stations located at your Resort. Your drinks are literally ‘on tap’!

Rope Drop

That magical time, first thing in the morning, when the Parks open for the day. In some instances, Cast Members quite literally drop (or pull aside) a rope to allow Guests entrance into areas of the Parks. There will be a buzzing atmosphere and actual jogging as people head to their first ride of the day! (Although note that Cast Members head up the hordes, which creates a controlled level of excitement!)

Table Service

Waiter service restaurants, ranging from causal ‘family’ dining, character experiences, and dinner shows to formal Signature Restaurants.

Ticket and Transportation Centre

Easy to miss when considering Disney World Terminology, but the Ticket and Transportation Centre is often referred to, yet little seen. So it would be remiss of us to miss it out! This is essentially a transport hub in Walt Disney World. Here you can access the key modes of transport on Property: buses, monorail and ferries.


The miles of corridors located beneath the Magic Kingdom. These tunnels enable Cast Members to travel around the Park unseen. This upholds the magic; you won’t see a Cowboy strolling through Tomorrowland, cast members heading home, or truckloads of food being delivered.

We hope that this will leave you feeling like a pro on your holiday – you’ll look right at home wheeling out the Disney World terminology as you enjoy your break!

Have we missed any Disney World terminology? Let us know your favourite Disney terms in the comments, and if you need any help with the lingo pop by and send us a message!

©Mike Bunting

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