Walt Disney World is, without a doubt, the #1 vacation destination in the world. There is more to see and do than can be done in one trip, or even several trips. Perhaps you may go just once in your lifetime. It’s important to make the most of your time. Here are some great tips to make your vacation magical!
1. Consider using a Disney-certified travel agent. In most cases, their services are free to you. Let the experts help you plan your trip.
2. Do your homework! At the very least, read a guidebook or visit a Disney World trip-planning website like this one. Have some idea of the scope and layout of this massive vacation destination.
3. Pre-order a planning DVD. A few months before your vacation, call Disney (or go online to Disney.com) and order this free DVD. This is a great tool for planning and getting your family excited about your trip.
4. Stay onsite at a Disney Hotel. You may pay a little more, but you gain many advantages such as free transportation to/from the airport and from your hotel to the theme parks, extra park hours, and the world famous Disney service. For more info. on Disney resorts, check out these related articles: 8 ‘Must Read’ Tips for Choosing a Disney Resort. Can I Afford to Stay at a Disney Resort?
5. Buy the proper tickets. Disney tickets have many options and add-ons. Don’t purchase something you won’t use. Also, purchase only authorized tickets. Stay away from Craigslist or purchasing leftover tickets from another person.
6. Make a plan. Have an idea what you want to do each day of your vacation. Disney World has four theme parks, two waterparks, two dining/shopping/nightlife areas, five golf courses, and many other activities.
7. Use Fastpass+. Go to www.mydisneyexperience.com, or download the app to your device. You can reserve times to experience the most popular attractions, with no lines.
8. Arrive early! Yes, it’s your vacation, but arriving at the theme parks 30-60 minutes before opening will put you ahead of the crowds.
9. Don’t skip the parades and fireworks! These could very well be the highlight of your trip.
10. Make dining reservations early! Part of the fun of a Disney vacation is enjoying their well-themed table-service restaurants. Reservations open 180 days in advance. Many restaurants fill up quickly. You can find current menus online. For more info. on Disney dining, read: Disney Dining Tips and Tricks
11. Eat at off-peak hours. Beat the crowds by touring during meal times, and then enjoy a meal when the restaurants are less crowded.
12. Make special dietary requests. Disney chefs will do their best to accommodate any special dietary needs you may have. Add any requests when making your dining reservation.
13. Do a character meal. This is a great way to see the Disney characters, without standing in line. There are several to choose from, both in the theme parks and at many of the hotels. For more info. on Disney Character dining check out: Top 10 Disney Character Meals.
14. Consider a dinner show. Disney World has several, including Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review at the Disney Campgrounds, The Luau at Disney’s Polynesian resort, and Mickey’s Backyard Barbeque, also at the Disney Campgrounds.
15. Park for free! If you have a car, be aware Disney hotel guests park for free at the theme parks.
16. Take an afternoon break. If you go to Disney between April-September, it will be hot! Go back to your hotel for a swim and/or a nap during the heat of the day. Your family will thank you.
17. Be prepared for rain. In central Florida, it rains every afternoon in the summer. Purchase some ponchos (or better yet, bring your own) and continue touring. The rain won’t last long. 8 Sensational Things to Do When It Rains
18. Budget for souvenirs. Everyone will want something. A typical t-shirt is ~$30; a coffee mug is ~$15. Discuss an amount beforehand with your kids. Ask about package pickup, so you don’t have to carry your packages around all day.
19. Explore your hotel. All the Disney hotels are well-themed and clean. Enjoy the pools, the grounds, the shopping, the restaurants, and ask about children and family activities.
20. Travel during the off season. If you can swing it, travel during the school year. Except for holidays, crowds are lower, and so are room rates. The weather is usually mild during the winter. The trade-off is shorter park hours and attraction refurbishments.
21. Grab a free button! If this is your first trip, or you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or a honeymoon, go by Guest Services and pick up a button. Cast members and even other guests will congratulate you.
22. Use Disney’s Photopass. Let Disney cast members take your family photos, so everyone can be in the picture. When you get home, you can add special borders and icons to enhance your pictures.
23. Wear proper shoes. The average Disney guest walks several miles per day. Make sure you take care of your feet!
24. Purchase an autograph book and an oversized pen for your child an for character autographs. Characters are everywhere! Be prepared!
25. Check the height requirements. If your child is looking forward to Space Mountain or Test Track, make sure they’re tall enough to ride. Save your child (and you) the disappointment.
Do you have any Disney tips to share? Tell us in the comments below: