Walt Disney World Resort is a popular place to visit. And it is understandable why so many people want to experience the magic of its impressive four theme parks for themselves. Unfortunately, though, that means you can pretty much count on large crowds and heavy foot traffic being the norm anytime you decide to visit the Parks. Even those off-season times are prone to dense crowding at various times throughout the day. And when you have parades, shows, or other spectator-drawing occurrences to contend with, it can leave you feeling more than a little claustrophobic. It can also be somewhat frustrating when you’re trying to get from one section of the Park to another but cannot effectively navigate through all the people. That’s when knowing about all the hidden paths and shortcuts is handy. Some passageways are even hidden in plain view but are surprisingly underutilized. Others are connecting corridors you may not have ever considered but make perfect sense to use in hindsight. Here is a look at the hidden pathways and secret shortcuts you need to know about in each of the four Disney Parks.
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Magic Kingdom Park
The Emporium Escape
For anyone who has ever sought to bypass all the heavy crowds and congestion taking over Main Street, U.S.A., in favor of getting to other locations throughout Magic Kingdom Park much quicker, take note of this secret retail passage of sorts. When facing Cinderella Castle, you will notice a large store, The Emporium, to your left. What you may not immediately realize is the fact that all of the proceeding stores in this alignment are interconnected. So, if you need a quicker way to cover the length of Main Street, U.S.A., that comes with air conditioning and shade, you can enter the Emporium and keep navigating internally through each existing shop and then come out closer to the Castle, where you may then continue on to whichever Land or attraction you are trying to get to, faster.
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A Tomorrowland Terrace Traipse
Here’s another Main Street, U.S.A. navigational hack, particularly for those looking to get over to Tomorrowland quickly. Once you’ve passed the Plaza Restaurant on Main Street, you’ll want to take a right toward a somewhat unassuming walkway that leads through Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. Whether or not the restaurant is open at the time, this pathway always is. So, just head on through, keeping to the shade as you go, and come on out by that notoriously overly photographed Purple Wall in Tomorrowland.
From Fantasyland to Tomorrowland Expressway
Alternately, if you’re trying to make it on over to Tomorowland from Fantasyland, there is a convenient, somewhat less-utilized pathway. From Fantasyland, you’ll want to head for the Walt Disney World Train Station stop and gear right. Then follow what was once a designated smoking path that leads out next to Space Mountain. Do note that for a time, this shortcut was temporarily closed during the extensive construction phase of the new TRON Lightcycle/Run attraction.
The Frontierland River Path
You need to know about a surprisingly seldom-used pathway bordering the Rivers of America. It takes you straight from the Haunted Mansion attraction in Liberty Square right on over to Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland and provides the perfect solution for getting around during those times when the Festival of Fantasy Parade is passing through or any other times when there is more foot traffic in the area. As a bonus tip, this route can serve as the key to navigating throughout other areas within Magic Kingdom Park when you can take it over to Frontierland and then board the Walt Disney World Railroad to take you wherever else you need to go.
The Walt Disney World Railroad
Returning to the aforementioned Walt Disney World Railroad, it’s easy for many Guests to overlook the fact that this is much more than a mere Park attraction; it is a convenient source of transportation that can significantly reduce your in-Park travel time when you use it wisely.
You will find three train stations you can board throughout the Magic Kingdom. There is the front entrance station on Main Street, U.S.A., the one in Frontierland, and the furthest one in Fantasyland. The train’s full route offers you 1.5 miles of coverage and a leisurely 20-minute ride. Depending on where you embark and disembark, it can be a time-saver and alleviate the exhaustion of walking through stifling crowds on a hot and humid day.
Adventurous Adventureland Routes
There are a number of different secret pathways for navigating through Adventureland into various other areas within Magic Kingdom Park. For instance, a path just left of the Adventureland sign takes you right through Liberty Square, ending on the side of Cinderella Castle near Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland. The breezeway leading from Adventureland to Liberty Square, in general, provides a convenient route and is the perfect place to find a bathroom when you need it. Another breezeway, close to Aloha Isle in Adventureland, takes you right out into Frontierland, bypassing Pirates of the Caribbean. This route is especially helpful when the surrounding area is too congested.
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This option is only available during especially busy times or when Disney Cast Members are trying to manage crowds in accordance with a special event. A hindered path, usually blocked off by moveable prop walls, runs on the opposite side of Main Street, U.S.A. When it is available, the route takes you from Tomorrowland, by way of the Plaza, out toward the front of the Park, letting Guests navigate to the main exit faster.
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Odyssey Pathway into World Showcase
Did you know that there is a very simple way to the World Showcase from World Discovery in EPCOT? Just take the pathway close to Test Track that’s long been used to get to EPCOT’s Odyssey Center. Continue around the building, and you will eventually come into EPCOT’s World Showcase via the Mexico Pavilion.
From World Nature to Canada
Alternatively, there is another pathway to know about if you are trying to get to the World Showcase from EPCOT’s World Nature or vice versa. This route leads into the Canada Pavilion and can be found by heading left away from the pavilions comprising the Land and the Seas with Nemo & Friends. Then, follow the garden path that will eventually take you to Canada.
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Hollywood Boulevard Giftshops
As is the case at Magic Kingdom Park, all of the shops running along Hollywood Boulevard within Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park happen to be interconnected. So, if you find yourself looking to beat the heat at midday or would instead enjoy a diversified retail route that lets you check out the goods along the way, this is undoubtedly a tidbit to keep in mind.
Commissary Lane Routes
You may want to know about a couple of ways to navigate Commissary Lane. First, there is a shortcut leading from Grand Avenue (near the Muppets section) into Toy Story Land. And when you happen to be heading over to either Echo Lake or Grand Avenue, you may notice a small path directly behind the restrooms, running parallel to the Star Tours attraction. If you’re seeking this pathway out from Echo Lake, it can be found to the right, just after the Mickey Shorts Theater. If venturing from Commissary Lane, it is right after the Red Carpet Dreams Character Meet and Greet area.
The Brown Derby Bypass
If you’re trying to make it over to either Toy Story Land or Animation Courtyard but find yourself stranded within the Sunset Boulevard/Hollywood Boulevard vicinity, unable to get through the brutal crowds, then here’s a hack to help you out. You can inch on over to the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge via the outdoor setup for the former Starring Rolls Café. This cut-across passageway will drastically reduce your travels and provide for a far less congested walk, getting you closer to where you’re trying to get to.
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Animal Kingdom Park
From Africa to Pandora
Did you know that getting to Pandora—The World of Avatar from Africa is actually very easy to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park? Before you even consider turning around and walking back to the front, keep going toward the Festival of the Lion King theater. Stay on the path, and you will eventually come up to the restrooms over on the left side. If you keep on this route, you will come to a walkway straight into Pandora, close to Satu’li Canteen.
Passing Through the Tree of Life
More than just an iconic Park centerpiece, the Tree of Life on Discovery Island is actually a connecting point that leads to all the other lands branching off of it. It also happens to offer up one of the unlikeliest shortcut hacks you can take at Animal Kingdom Park. Instead of making your rounds through the different sections circularly, you can literally cut through the Tree of Life. As you may know, the Tree’s base houses the theater attraction It’s Tough to be a Bug! But did you know that if you head past the exit doors for this attraction, you will find a small opening leading to the other side?
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From DinoLand to Asia
Given my love for riding both DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest, this is one route I utilize rather frequently. From DinoLand U.S.A. there is a path leading right out to the front of the building housing Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! If you continue straight, it will lead you right into Asia.
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Harambe Market Cut-Through
Let’s say you’re trying to get on over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch or Gorilla Falls sans the usual hustle and bustle of Africa. Think it can’t be done? Think again! Just cut through the Harambe Market area of the Park, and you’ll find it’s both a time reducer and a less crowded alternative to venture by.
With ongoing construction, refurbishments, and the temporary closures that may result, some alternative routes and hidden passageways may not always be open and accessible at a particular time. That’s why staying up-to-date on all the latest developments within Disney Parks is always a good idea. All the same, these are very helpful hacks to take note of and are sure to make a difference in how efficiently you navigate all your Disney vacation to-dos.