Friends from out of state will often contact me when it comes time to plan their vacations to The Place Where Dreams Come True because they know how much my family and I love Disney. Here are the Disney secrets I like to share with my friends…
12. Download the App – This is THE first thing I tell my friends to do. When you have the My Disney Experience App, planning your trip is so much easier. It’s a one-stop-shop to reservations, maps, fast passes, and wait time stalking. I don’t know how anyone ever did Disney without it.
11. Find Your Resort – Figuring out your resort can be tricky depending on budget. Most of the time, I direct my friends to comparison articles on our sites like this. Personally, I’m partial to staying off-property in order to save some money, especially since you can still enjoy the Disney resorts (see point 6 below).
10. Plan Your Park Days – Next I tell my friends to figure out which days they will visit which parks. The key to this step is noting when the Extra Magic Hours will be – use the app to find the scheduled daily hours (it seriously changes by the day, so check all of them). If you are staying on property, you will want to GO to the park that has Extra Magic Hours (special hours just for resort guests), but if you are staying off property, you will want to AVOID the park that has Extra Magic Hours (because it may be more crowded with resort guests). You’ll also need to figure out if it’s beneficial to have a hopper option on your ticket. To help with that, I usually direct my friends to this article.
9. Plan Your Days in the Parks – Trust me, this is different than point 10. 🙂 Now that you’ve figured out which day you will visit which park, it’s time to start reserving Fast Passes. Again, the app is your friend on this one! It has a description of each ride, and you can also take note of which rides tend to have the longest wait times. For Fast Pass tips, I direct my friends to our article.
8. Dining at Disney – This point is totally up to personal preference, but I like to remind my friends of two things. First of all, if food is important to you (meaning memories are made with good food in good restaurants) then make reservations EARLY. Read any of our multiple review articles on the great food available, and snag the tables that will add the best vibes to your vacation. Secondly, the counter service food at Disney is really good! So if eating fancy is more hassle than it’s worth to you…don’t bother! You won’t be resigned to just hotdogs and chips; you’ll still eat well, just for less money and time. Personally, I tend to fall somewhere in between – we make a few reservations here and there, but winging it at counter service has never let us down.
7. Shop Savvy – Oh my word, the cuteness of all the stuff at WDW is just over the top! Usually folks will want a souvenir or two (hundred) to remember their trip. I remind my friends to help their kids (or Disney Fanatic spouses, cough, cough) know their limits before being drawn into the big stores full of ALL THAT IS AWESOME. Also purchasing Disney Gift Cards at discount stores (like BJ’s) can help your money go further. Or consider racking up some reward points by signing up for a Disney Visa.
6. Resort Hop – Whether or not you’re staying on-property, you can still enjoy the amazing resorts at Disney. I tell my friends that if they can afford it, they should plan on one or more non-park Disney days to just explore the resort. For an example of just a few things you could do on a non-park day, check out this article.
5. Prep it Big – Countdowns! Calendars! T-Shirts! Notes in Lunchboxes! There are so many ways to build excitement for Disney vacations! I tell my friends to look up cute Disney countdowns on Pinterest. By the way, you can follow DisneyFanatic on Pinterest here.
4. Pack your Bags – Pack light! You don’t need as much as you think you do! Stock the basics: sunscreen, poncho (Dollar Store. Just do it. You’ll thank me.), walking shoes, hat, sunglasses, water bottle. You’ve got this. But for extra tips try this one.
3. Firework Frenzy – Don’t miss the fireworks! Bedtime shmedtime. I tell my friends you’ll never see fireworks like Disney does fireworks. Figure out what works best for you…a spot close to the exit for a quick getaway, or a quiet spot (like the rear of the castle, or a bench in your favorite World Showcase pavilion).
2. Don’t Go Crazy – Spoiler alert: you may not get to do everything you want to in one trip to Disney. Don’t let the pressure of “doing it all” drive you crazy! Do Disney YOUR way, not the way that any book or website tells you it “must” be done.
1. Go A Little Crazy – But still….have fun! Do your must-dos. Do it big. Make memories. Laugh a lot. Go ahead and be Fanatical…you’re in good company.
So now that I’ve shared my Disney secrets with you, I guess we’re friends, right? Let’s be Disney BFFs always, OK?
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper