1. Know what’s included with your resort stay
There are a lot of perks to staying at a Disney resort! The magic starts right when your flight lands at the Orlando International Airport, as Disney resort guests can hop right aboard the Magical Express, a complimentary shuttle service to their resort. From there, transportation to all of the theme parks is included as well as Extra Magic Hours (which allows for more time in the theme parks), and early access to FastPass+ selections.
2. Make FastPass+ selections in advance
Speaking of FastPass+, if you have your tickets and resort stay taken care of, you’ll want to book some of your FastPasses in advance. Some attractions run out of FastPasses well in advance, and if you have your heart set on riding them it never hurts to book early. Didn’t get the ones you wanted? No worries, we have a solution for that too...
3. Get to the parks early
When you arrive at the parks early you’ll be able to experience some of your favorite attractions with little or no wait. You won’t be able to sleep in, but if you miss out on some of the FastPasses you were hoping to get, arriving at the parks at or shortly after they open can take some of the stress out of waiting in long lines later in the day. Plus, arriving early means you’ll also be able to take photos with fewer people in the background and you’ll be able to experience some character meet and greets that do not run later in the day.
4. Take a midday break
Tired from getting to the parks early? Take a break! It may be tempting, but staying in the parks for the entire day will probably tire you out pretty easily. Head back to the resort and spend some time in the pool, or do some shopping at Disney Springs (which is much less crowded during the day while everyone is at the parks). For a shorter break, find some air conditioning, grab a cold cup of water and relax right in the park.
5. Stay at the parks late into the evening
We don’t necessarily recommend staying in the parks from open to close, but regardless of when you return to the parks staying later in the evening offers another opportunity to experience attractions with shorter wait times. It also means seeing the fireworks, meeting different characters, getting nighttime photos and more. Just be sure to take your time leaving the parks so you don’t get stuck in the post-closing crowds at the exit.
6. Send your purchases back to your resort
One of the coolest parts of shopping in Disney is that you don’t need to carry everything you buy with you. You can send whatever you purchase right back to your Disney resort free of charge. Simply ask the cashier at checkout, and you’ll be able to pick up your items at the gift shop at the resort the following day.
7. Know which cast members need to be tipped
Taking any vacation means budgeting a decent amount of your budget for tips. In Disney, housekeeping cast members, servers, bell services, and Disney’s Magical Express drivers should all be tipped. Contrary to other destinations, Disney’s concierge cast members are working a non-tipped role. Want to show your appreciation for non-tipped cast members? Take down their name and work location and let guest services know or Tweet a #CastCompliment.
8. Make dining reservations early
Like FastPass selections, dining reservations in Disney can book up fast. Avoid disappointment by booking reservations at your favorite restaurants early. Don’t be worried if you don’t get the reservations you were looking for right away--keep checking in the time leading up to and during your trip, as other guests cancel all the time and something may open up.
9. Every seat is a good seat
Many guests tend to get annoyed when cast members ask them to move all the way down during shows in the parks. Don’t worry if you end up in the back or on the end in a show. Disney’s theaters are truly designed so that every seat is a good seat. If you move all the way to the end you’ll be able to make room for more guests to experience the show and you’ll keep wait times at their shortest.
10. Check height requirements in advance
If you’re visiting the parks with little ones, checking height requirements in advance can really help avoid meltdowns in the parks. If you know in advance that the kids aren’t tall enough for a ride, you can avoid trying to get on it in the parks which may lead to disappointment when they learn they won’t be able to go.
11. Always ask a cast member if you need help
If you have questions about anything at all during your trip, never hesitate to ask a cast member for help. So many ‘mistakes’ guests make in the parks would be avoided if they spoke to a cast member. If you’re not sure of something, there is no need to guess because cast members are located all over the parks and they’re happy to help steer you in the right direction.