Disney Glossary: Deciphering the Lingo

Amanda Williams Avatar
nightime fireworks at Magic Kingdom
“Happily Ever After.” nighttime show at Magic Kingdom Park (Steven Diaz, photographer)

Planning for a trip to one of the Disney Parks is daunting, no matter how many friends give you the best advice. Even with our handy guide to help you, you’ll still do well to start by learning the lingo of the mouse! Find out just what all the Disneyese means and use this Disney glossary to decode the thousands of threads, books, blogs and all the buzz surrounding “The Happiest Place on Earth!”

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, that little lyric is going to be in your head for the rest of the day. (Sorry, but we couldn’t resist.)

Like that silly phrase, an innocent bystander hearing a Disney superfan conversation for the first time might think it sounds like complete nonsense.

I remember sitting at a moms’ group drinking coffee, listening to my friend Katie talk on and on about “value” and “deluxe” and “cast members” and “character meals.” While some of it was self-explanatory, other parts were truly mind-boggling.

In all honesty, I believe one could become a scholar of Disney — there must be a Ph.D. to be had for the number of hours you’ll spend researching your first (and second and third) trip to Walt Disney World!

Start your education with this Disney glossary. Learn the words and you can sound like a Disney insider before you ever set foot inside the parks.

Disney Glossary

Read on for a list of some of the most common Disney jargon you’ll hear and consider this only a primer to your Disney Parks education (which has a bit of a learning curve to it)!

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Cast Member

Employees of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, international Disney Parks, Disney Store employees and just about anyone else who works for the Walt Disney Company.

Disney Characters

Disney glossary, this photo depicts a "Disney character," played by a "cast member" posing with "guests" for a "Photopass" picture.
According to our Disney glossary, this photo depicts a “Disney character,” played by a “cast member” posing with “guests” for a “Photopass” picture. Photo credit: Grisell DeNapoles

You’ll find these — everyone from Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Elsa and Anna, Kylo Ren to Donald Duck — on parade floats, at character meet and greets throughout the theme parks and at character meals.

Expect to wait in line for a photo with a Disney character at a meet and greet and make reservations for character meals. We like this one for a great half-price character meal.

Extra Magic Hours (EMH)

A perk for people staying “on-property” (see below), Extra Magic Hours allow Disney resort guests to get into one of the theme parks an hour early or stay two hours after it closes to the general public. Disney insiders refer to this Disney glossary entry by its initials, EMH.

Check the Disney calendar to see which park is offering EMH each day.

Disney Dining Plan (DDP)

Available to visitors staying at Disney resort hotels, there are three types of DDP — the Quick Service Dining Plan, the Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. Each offers a certain number of meals on a pre-paid package.

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Here’s our take on the three Disney Dining Plans to help you know what is right for your Disney World vacation.

Disney’s Magical Express

Disney's Magical Express -- the transportation between Walt Disney World resorts and Orlando Airport
“Disney’s Magical Express” bus whisks you between the Orlando airport and your Walt Disney World “on property” resort hotel. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

The complimentary bus that sweeps you off your feet (and handles your luggage) from the Orlando airport to your Walt Disney World Resort guest room. Don’t forget to make reservations for your return trip–you don’t want to make this (or any) costly mistake!

SheBuysTravel Tip: The Magical Express operates only to MCO. It does not serve the other Orlando airport, Sandford. If you book a discount flight to SFB, add on the cost of a rental car or a pricey cab ride to get to WDW. Here’s all you need to know about flying into Orlando. 

Disney Vacation Club (DVC)

The Disney version of a timeshare, DVC is for hardcore Disney fans who expect to visit Disney resorts regularly. The points can be used anywhere from Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to Aulani in Hawaii to Adventures by Disney (ABD) trips around the world.

Here’s our analysis of whether DVC is worth it and our tips on how to rent DVC points to get all of the DVC perks without all of the DVC commitments.

Disney Springs

Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs
Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland

This is the entertainment district at Walt Disney World. You’ll find wonderful restaurants, the coolest ever bowling alley, a cupcake ATM, Cirque Du Soleil and a car that drives into the water.

Here are our favorite things to do in Disney Springs with kids and the 8 things that are worth the splurge.

The best part about Disney Springs? No ticket is required for entry so it’s a great way to squeeze in a little free Disney magic.

Deluxe Resorts

This is how to have a luxury Disney World vacation. These top-of-the-line resorts offer more amenities and more fine dining establishments. Our favorites include Animal Kingdom Lodge and Grand Floridian.

Dole Whip

Include the cost of Dole Whip when figuring out how much it costs to go to Disney World.
“Dole Whip” should be filed in the Disney glossary under “Yum.” This one is available at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Ah, the Dole Whip. When your Disney superfan friend says she’ll be getting her Dole Whip on soon she’s referring to the frosty pineapple concoctions available at Disney Parks. These delectable treats now available “grown-up style” with rum.

If you want to start a heated Disney discussion, ask whether folks are Team Dole Whip or Team Citrus Swirl. Our own writers are pretty split on this and vehement in the defense of their beloved treat.

Here’s the secret recipe for making a Dole Whip at home.


Likely one of the first Disney glossary words you’ll hear and one of the most important. FastPass+ is a ride line-skipping system at WDW that allows you to book a timeframe to come back to a popular ride.

Disney insiders know to consult their My Disney Experience app (more on that in a minute) to check ride wait times before booking a Fastpass in the park. They also know that FastPass+ can (and should!) be reserved before you arrive in Orlando


You, the families that visit Walt Disney World. You’re not customers or visitors. You’re guests.

Hidden Mickey

These are the Mickey Mouse designs — usually the three circles that form his head and two ears — hidden everywhere on Disney properties, from the murals to the shower curtains in the resort hotel rooms. One of the famous ones happens during the film on the Tower of Terror ride.

Looking for Hidden Mickeys is a great way to keep the kiddos busy during down time or while waiting in ride lines.


This colorful bracelet is your key to the kingdom. Really. It’s everything from your on-property room key to your connection to your Fast Passes and even your credit card-linked charge account.

Customize them ahead of time and have them sent right to you! Here’s everything you need to know about MagicBands. Feeling extra fancy? There are all sorts of ways to decorate and personalize them.

Memory Maker

This is the special package you can buy to give you unlimited downloads of the photos taken of your family by Disney’s professional Photopass photographers. These folks are staged near all of the most memorable places in the Disney Parks and can usually be found at character meet and greet spots as well. They take photos of your family, scan your Magicband and post the pix to your account for downloading later.

For a fun surprise ask your photographer about Magic Shots. These special images are available in certain areas of the parks. You’ll be asked to pose a certain way and when you check out your pictures online there might be an extra fun character joining your photo.

In a non-Covid world, the Photopass photogs will happily snap a photo with your smartphone if you hand it to them.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Book in advance to save money. 

Mobile Ordering

Looking for a quick and easy meal option? Use mobile ordering on the MDE (My Disney Experience) app to peruse menus and put in a pickup order. The app will notify you when your order is ready and you’ll pick up from the designated area.

Moderate Resorts

Disney Moderate Resorts are a huge step up from Value (see below), but of course not quite as high-end as what you’ll find at a Deluxe property. Moderate hotels tend to have a more subdued atmosphere and elegant theming – New Orleans French Quarter and a Caribbean resort. The rooms are lovely, the grounds beautifully landscaped, and the hotel lobbies and common areas all add to the feel.

If you’re traveling with pool-loving kids, moderate resorts can be a fantastic choice. All moderate resorts feature pools that include a water slide.


spaceship earth with the monorail going in front of it
The Disney monorail in front of Spaceship Earth, the centerpiece of EPCOT at Walt Disney World. Photo credit: Gene Duncan, Disney

The iconic Disney transportation system that connects Transportation Center, Magic Kingdom theme park and three deluxe resort hotels — Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.


If you’ve never been to Disney this one can definitely catch you off guard! Mousekeeping is just the Disney term for housekeeping. Just like the helpful cleaning critters in Disney movies, they magically make your room sparkle while you’re out enjoying the parks.

My Disney Experience (MDE)

The online Disney account where you can view and update your Disney family vacation plans. The name also applies to the app you can (and should!) download to your phone. Use it inside the parks for everything from checking ride wait times to ordering quick service meals.

Here are our pro tips for getting the most out of your app.

Off Property

Hotels and resorts that are not operated by Disney and aren’t located on Disney property. Some, such as the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, still are able to offer perks like Extra Magic Hours through special deals with Disney.

Saying off property can save money but always check transportation and additional fees before booking.

On Property

Referring to lodging options at 25 different resorts/hotels within the 42=square-mile Walt Disney World property boundary. They are all accessible through one main Disney website /reservation line.

Park Hopper

A special park ticket upgrade that allows you to move among the four Walt Disney World Parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) throughout the day.

It can be a great option for families with older children but you’ll want to read this post before you buy: Is a park hopper worth the extra money?

Quick Service Meal

Also known as counter service dining, this refers to any restaurant at Disney with an ordering counter (think fast food-style ordering). Part of Disney dining plans.

Rope Drop

Another super important word in this Disney glossary, “rope drop” refers to the official opening of any of the Disney Parks. Disney regulars know to be standing outside the park before rope drop to be the first in line to ride the most popular rides.


Disney transportation - skyliner
Disney Skyliner carrying guests high above Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.(David Roark, Photographer)

This fun gondola transportation system connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at EPCOT to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort

Table Service Restaurants

Just as the name suggests, this dining plan option is a sit-down meal. Most character meals happen at table service restaurants.

Transportation Center

Technically called the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC). It is the Walt Disney World transportation hub where guests can transfer to monorail, boat, or bus to get where they want to go. It’s also the site of the Magic Kingdom main parking lot.

Plus the TTC is also a pickup spot for taxis as well as a bus stop for the Orlando LYNX public transportation system.

Touring Plans

There are people that devote what we assume must be a LOT of time to deciphering the best way to navigate the parks. They use criteria based on attraction/ride interests, age, length of stay. All of these variables analyzed go into what are called touring plans.

Value Resorts

Pop Century is a "value" resort "on-property" Disney hotel, according to the Disney glossary.
Pop Century is a “value” resort “on-property” Disney hotel according to our Disney glossary. Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

These are the lowest priced Disney resort hotels. Expect to get smaller rooms in a clean and convenient hotel. Still, you’ll get all the basics a family needs on vacation, including fun, kid-friendly theming and pools. On the downside, expect longer walks to the bus stop.

Our favorite value resort is Pop Century.

Acronyms Guide

It feels like everything at WDW (Walt Disney World) has an abbreviation. Most are just the first letters of major words. However, others require some thought.

Doing your homework and research will likely lead to a better, more successful trip for your Disney family vacation. Pretty much every resort is turned into an acronym.

Here are some common ones:

ADR – Advanced Dining Reservations

AS – All Star Sports

AM – Can refer to All Star Music OR All Star Movies

AK – Animal Kingdom

CM – Cast Member OR Character Meal

EC – Surprisingly, this is still generally used for Epcot (formerly called Epcot Center)

CRT – Cinderella’s Royal Table (dining)

DVC – Disney Vacation Club

MDE – My Disney Experience (the app and the online reservation portal)

MK – Magic Kingdom

MNSSHP – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

MVMCP – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

TTC – Disney transportation and ticket center

What Disney Parks lingo is your favorite? Share with us in the comment section below and we might add it to our Disney glossary!

Amanda Williams is a journalist in rural Minnesota. Her stories have been published in Matador Travel Network, Midwest Living, Family Handyman, and several other publications. A solo mother of two young boys, she writes about adventures from National Parks to waterparks. She loves sharing tips and insider information for others to use to make their trip just a little bit better. She and her kids scuba dive and live for new experiences and thrills. Road trips are always on the horizon and she’s embraced van life and has driven from the Midwest to Alaska (via Canada) with her kids encompassing 32 days of wild adventures. Amanda is classically trained as a wildlife biologist and has worked as a National Park Ranger, in addition to other exciting jobs like being a wildland firefighter and even playing the part of a living historian, as a cook in a turn-of-the-century logging camp. Because of these outdoorsy experiences, stories relating to outdoor adventure are often a focus of her writing. She hopes to inspire other solo parents to take on Disney, camping, and trips abroad with their families with the confidence to make those memories, even as the lone adult in the mix! Her most recent obsession is photographing adventures from the land, water, AND skies, as a licensed small unmanned aircraft system (drone) pilot. Learn more about her at https://www.wayfaringmandy.com/ or follow her on Instagram, @WayfaringMandy.
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