11 Ways To Add Extra Magic To Your Next Disney Trip

Disney's parks and resorts offer an experience unlike anything else you'll find at any other theme park. From the beautifully cultivated gardens and landscaping to the near-pristine level of cleanliness, every effort is made to create an immersively magical experience while you're on Disney grounds. Plus, there's so much for all ages to see and experience at Disney that you could visit a Disney theme park every weekend and still find something new with each visit.

With all that attention to detail, it's easy to see why so many hardcore Disney fans love going back time and time again and never get bored (and why those who have never been are so overjoyed when they finally get the opportunity). Pop into one of the dozens of Disney vacation forums or Facebook fan groups out there and you'll find thousands of people gushing over the clever and creative ways they get into the spirit of things with each visit. 

If you want to maximize the magic of your own Disney trip, hang onto your mouse ears and get ready to be inspired as we break down some of the best ways to make it an experience you'll never forget.  

Decorate your hotel room door and window

Every Disney vacation is something to celebrate, and a lot of people love to share their excitement by decorating their hotel room doors. They can even spend weeks or months planning their perfect door designs. The tradition has long dominated Disney Cruise stateroom doors and has been creeping its way into the resorts over the past couple of decades. It's particularly common at the value resorts, where doors are outward-facing and visible to passersby.

Twinkle lights, tulle, stickers, photos, and paper cut-outs are all popular choices for decorating resort room doors. Like the Disney parks themselves, door decorations also tend to reflect the next upcoming holiday. If you love this idea, don't just throw a roll of scotch tape in your luggage and start taping away when you get there since you don't want to leave a hard-to-remove mess behind. Since most resort doors aren't magnetic, Disney Moms Panel mom Jessica suggests bringing vinyl window clings and peel-off tape, which stick to the doors and windows without leaving a sticky residue when removed. If you want to surprise your family with a decorated resort room door when you get there or simply can't spare the luggage space for decorations, you can pay someone to do it for you. A handful of professional Disney door decorating companies will bring the magic right to your resort door and room with balloons, toys, and other magical details on the day of your arrival.

Try Pixie Dusting, the viral Disney kindness trend

Spend much time hanging out in Disney vacation forums and you're bound to see folks chattering away about "pixie dusting." Inspired by everyone's favorite Neverland fairy, the term refers to cast members' habit of occasionally blessing park guests with random surprises from Fast Passes to unexpected room upgrades. Since not everyone is lucky enough to experience getting pixie dusted by cast members — and let's face it, it's just fun to make other people smile — many Disney fans have started adding this feel-good activity to their own Disney bucket lists. These folks will leave room in their Disney vacation luggage for small goodies that they can either gift cast members to show their appreciation or even share with other guests — especially children — while they're at the parks.

One of the most popular choices for pixie dusting is to make a bunch of friendship bracelets to pass out at the parks. There's even a Disney Friendship Bracelets Facebook group where pixie dusters share photos of their bracelets and make plans to meet up at the parks. Other ideas for gifts include things like stickers, keychains, bubbles, temporary tattoos, lollipops, and fidget toys. And of course, it's never a bad idea to leave your favorite cast members a thank-you note before checking out.

Get into pin trading

Pin trading is another way Disney guests in the know like to have fun while they're at the parks. The pins, which feature adorable characters or other limited edition (and potentially valuable) designs, are available in most shops around the parks and resorts. There are a lot of folks who get really into this hobby, amassing vast collections of trading pins over their many visits to Disney parks.

That being said, you don't have to be a serious pin collector to get in on the fun — plenty of casual Disney fans can be seen rocking pin-filled lanyards, and it's a great way for younger park guests to connect with cast members while they're there. To participate, you'll want to pick up a lanyard and a handful of trading pins. When you see a cast member wearing a lanyard that features a pin you love, offer a pin they don't have and make a trade. If you find you really love pin trading, it's a great way to keep the magic going after your trip has ended. You can even join Facebook groups like Disney Pin Collectors, where you'll find other lanyard-loving types and can swap pics of your trading pin collections.

Get personalized character letters for your kids

If you're traveling with kiddos, half the fun of a Disney vacation is hyping up the adventure ahead of time. Kids' energy is infectious, and there's just something amazing about seeing their excitement as they realize their dream of coming face-to-face with a beloved Disney character is about to come true. You can supercharge that energy by getting them a personalized character letter via good old-fashioned snail mail.

To get your child's letter, have your younglings write out a letter to their favorite Disney character and address the envelope as follows:

Walt Disney World Communications 

P.O. Box 10040

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

Be sure to include your return address on the envelope, and within six weeks, your child should receive a letter and an autographed photo of their chosen character in the mail. According to Disney Parks Moms panelist Ritzy, "The response could be either an autographed postcard signed by multiple Disney princesses or one from the Fab-Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto)." It will make your littles even more excited about meeting their favorite Disney characters on the trip and give you something special to add to their vacation scrapbook.

Arrange a character wakeup call at Disney resorts

When your plans for the day include a trip to the Haunted Mansion and a casual stroll down Main Street, U.S.A., the last thing you want is to sleep the day away. Sure, you could set the alarm on your phone and wake up to the same morning routine you do back at home, but why not opt for the more magical choice and arrange a Disney character call to wake you up?

For guests staying at official Walt Disney resorts, arranging a wake-up call doesn't just mean a morning reminder from a front desk worker. You'll actually get a fun morning message from a Disney character to kick off the day! It's also a great way to get the younger members of your party moving after a long flight or an even longer day of logging in miles of park fun. Setting up your morning wake-up call is easy and just takes a minute. Simply locate the wake-up call button on your resort phone and follow the instructions to choose your desired call time. When the morning arrives, you'll get a pre-recorded message from a surprise Disney character like Mickey Mouse or Stitch to start your day right.

Hunt for hidden Mickeys

When you're visiting a Disney park, it can seem like everywhere you look, there are mouse ears — and that's because there quite literally are! Even when you're not inside the Magic Kingdom, you can find hidden Mickeys hiding all around you in everything from carpet patterns to manhole covers. Hinting for less obvious depictions of the world's favorite mouse is a favorite pastime of many repeat Disney guests.

The hidden Mickey phenomenon began with some Imagineers involved with designing EPCOT, which was somewhat less character-focused than the Magic Kingdom with its emphasis on science and futurism. Imagineers thought it would be fun to hide Mickeys in the details, giving park guests a hidden surprise to look out for by embedding the familiar three circles all around. These days, you can find hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the Disney resorts and parks. You can even pick up a printable PDF guide from bloggers like Mom on the Mother Road and take it with you to incorporate hidden Mickey spotting into your Disney vacation plans. If you need a little help getting started, AllEars.net has a hidden Mickey blog complete with videos of where you can find Mickeys tucked away throughout the parks and resorts.

Get matching t-shirts for your crew

Not sure what to wear on your Disney vacation? One of the most popular things to do is pick out a matching shirt for everyone in your party. Not only does it look cool and get everyone in the mood for a big-time Disney adventure, it's also a cool safety hack. Think about it: One minute, you're strolling through Adventureland with your party when you suddenly find yourself sidetracked by a Dole Pineapple Whip. Next thing you know, your crew is nowhere in sight and you're lost in a sea of Mickey ear-clad tourists. But just as panic sets in, you catch a glimpse of your party's matching blue tie-dye tees and breathe a sigh of relief. Plus, if you've got little Mouseketeers on your team, knowing what color to look for when they wander off can save you from a heart-stopping moment or two.

Matching family tees are such a popular item that you're likely to see quite a few groups wearing them as you wander around the parks. They also make a fantastic keepsake to hang on to after you come home. Etsy is full of custom Disney shirt makers that would love to help your crew design their next vacation tee, or if you want to take the easy route, you can pick up some shirts on Main Street when you first arrive at the park.

Decorate your stroller or mobility chair

When you're traveling with babies or children who ride in a stroller, you've most likely got a lot to keep track of — things like making sure you've packed enough diapers for a long day at Disney or keeping everyone happy on a long flight. One thing a lot of parents don't often have the luxury of thinking about is exactly how many other strollers theirs will end up parked next to when they board attractions that allow babies and kiddos.

In contrast with many other theme parks, Disney has plenty of rides and attractions you can enjoy with a baby right on your lap — rides like It's a Small World or The Seas with Nemo & Friends are just a couple of examples. However, this sometimes means your stroller will quickly get lost in a sea of them. To make this less of a hassle and reduce the risk that they'll get separated from their stuff, a lot of Disney guests like to decorate their strollers with identifying signs or designs, making them easy to spot from far away. It's also popular to print out a name label. This is also a great idea for anyone who uses a wheelchair to get around but might end up walking onto a ride at some point.

What's great about this one is that it's not just practical, it's also festive. Even if you don't anticipate getting separated from your wheels, decorating with bunting or streamers is just one more cute way to express your Disney spirit. You could even consider adding festive lights to your wheelchair or stroller.

Schedule a commemorative photo session

These days, our phones can take some pretty fantastic photos. But if you've ever had a professional photo session, you know that even the very best phone pics cannot compare to the quality of images captured by a trained photographer with the right equipment. Even if you're a frequent Disney traveler, every vacation to a Disney resort is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

That's why many believe it's worth the investment to sign up for a professional commemorative photo session with Disney's Capture Your Moment service. And at $99 for a 20-minute session for up to eight members of your party, it's one of the best ways to spend your money during your Disney vacation. Photography sessions can be booked online or by using the My Disney Experience app — you can even add on extra time for a longer session if you'd like to get pics at more than one park location. You'll pay extra for photo prints, but if you've got a PhotoPass, you can download them at no additional cost.

When you set up your session, you'll be given a chance to choose from available locations like Cinderella's Castle or Main Street, U.S.A. Sessions are available at every Disney park including Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom. You can even bring props along for the session as long as they conform to Disney's park rules.

Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride at Fort Wilderness

If you like your adventures a little off the beaten path, schedule a detour to Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World Resort's camping and wilderness resort. Fort Wilderness takes full advantage of Florida's natural landscape, with 750 acres of natural cypress and pine woodlands dotted with campgrounds and cabins. What's even better is that you can experience it all from the back of a dreamy horse-drawn carriage. For park-weary travelers looking to unwind after a few days of long Disney lines, taking a cruise through the backwoods of Disney's chillest resort could be just what the doctor ordered.

The ride picks up near Crockett's Tavern, taking guests all around the campground where they'll get a chance to take in Florida's woodland wildlife including armadillos, deer, ducks, and rabbits. You'll also get to check out some of the RV setups, which can get pretty elaborate since it's common for Fort Wilderness campers to stick around for weeks at a time. The carriage fits four adults (if you've got three small children and two adults in your party, they can squeeze in). A 25-minute ride costs $65 and can be reserved via the My Disney Experience App or online up to two months ahead of your trip. It's important to note that carriage rides are popular, so it's recommended that you make reservations in advance.

Try Disneybounding

A common sight at the Magic Kingdom is a young princess or prince completely decked out in Disney regalia right down to the glitter and makeup, courtesy of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique's fairy tale transformations. But for grown-ups with big-time Disney dreams, showing up in a Cinderella gown or Captain Jack Sparrow garb is completely off the table thanks to Disney park regs. That's where Disneybounding comes in.

Named for the Tumblr blogger who dreamed up this brilliant pseudo-cosplay concept in 2011, Disneybounding is when Disney fans wear outfits inspired by their favorite Disney characters that don't break Disney's over-14 cosplay ban. To pull off a Disneybound look, start by choosing the Disney character you want to dress like. Consider their color palette, and then put together an everyday outfit that draws from that palette, accessorizing with details that fit the character's overall look. For example, if your character is Ariel, you might wear a long green skirt and a purple top, accessorizing with seashells and iridescent details. A great place to start is your local thrift store, where you can find a ton of unique clothing pieces to round out the look. And nothing pulls together a cute DIsneybound look like a pair of custom mouse ears from Etsy to match your character's look.