Disney Lingo to Know Before You Go

by  Christine Dayao | Jul 10, 2014
Epcot / Jonathan Novack/iStock

[Updated May 2016]

Disney World clearly covers all the bases when it comes to creating a whimsical atmosphere, from naming the rides, to piping the scent of freshly baked cookies out onto Main Street, USA.

So it’s no surprise that the Disney Imagineers have come up with some Disney-specific terms for even the most basic concepts, such as what they call their park employees and extended hours.

Here are 10 of the most common Disney terms to remember.

1. Cast Members
This is the name given to all park employees, not just the ones acting in the park stage shows. This term is a nod to the company’s film and television roots, and Cast Members tend to be exceptionally friendly and helpful. It’s Disney World, after all.

2. Resort guests
It seems obvious that anyone coming to the resort and the parks would be called “resort guests.” However, in Disney’s case this refers to those guests staying at any of the on-property hotels -- not just the ones that feel like big resorts.

3. Day guests
If you’re not staying at a Disney hotel, and you’re visiting the parks for a single day at a time, you’re a “day guest.” This type of visitor receives fewer perks than resort guests, including access to the parks’ extended hours.

4. Extra Magic Hours
You didn’t think Disney would simply call this “extended hours,” did you? These, in Disney-speak, are called Extra Magic Hours: each day one of the parks opens an hour early or closes two hours later for guests staying on property. A heads up about this, though: the park hosting Extra Magic Hours tends to be more crowded than the parks operating under normal hours.

5. FastPass+
This refers to Disney’s system of reserving times for select rides and attractions so you won’t have to wait in line. Ride reservations can be made online prior to your arrival, through the My Disney Experience smartphone app, through the hotel concierge, or at kiosks in the parks. Each guest is given three preliminary FastPass+ entitlements; once those are used up, they can reserve additional time slots one at a time.

6. MagicBand
No, this isn’t what they call musical performers in the parades. MagicBands are wristbands that Disney gives to its resort guests so they can access the parks, dining reservations, FastPass+ times, and more. Embedded with an RFID chip, the bands come in multiple colors and can be customized with your name. Day guests have the option of purchasing the bands at select shops on property.

7. Hidden Mickeys
Ready to add a scavenger hunt to your Disney vacation? All over the parks, you’ll see a large circle (the head) two small circles (ears) that resemble you-know-who. And we do mean all over. Check the waiting areas of rides and shows, hotel lobbies, and even the carpeting for these hidden gems. Whoever finds the most in your group by the end of your vacation wins.

8. Soft opening
This is the term for when a ride or attraction operates before its official opening date. If you’re lucky, you may just be able to go on the newest ride before the rest of the general public. Hello, bragging rights! Soft openings, however, are often unpredictable, and definitely not a guaranteed part of the Disney World experience.

9. Disney’s Magical Express
Here’s another perk for resort guests. Disney offers complimentary transportation service to and from Orlando International Airport, called Disney’s Magical Express. Board a motor coach on the airport’s lower level and from there you’ll be transported to your hotel. There’s even luggage service that delivers bags straight to your guest room.

10. Audio-animatronics
Those figures you see at many shows and rides aren’t just called robots. The Disney term is audio-animatronics, and their technology is designed specifically to make them human- and animal-like. In fact, many guests initially think the figures in The Hall of Presidents are actors.

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