Whether you’re a regular visitor or just returned from your first magical journey to Walt Disney World, you’re probably ready to return. You might be making a list of restaurants to try or rides to rope-drop. As with all things, there is probably room for improvement in your itinerary. Disney World vacations can be complicated to plan and it’s likely you missed the mark on something. (We’ve all been there.) To make up for some of these shortcomings, we’ve put together a list of tips to make your next trip even more spectacular.
1. Stay on Property
Despite the many conveniences, there is an astonishing number of people who have never stayed on Disney property. If this is you, splurge on your next trip and stay on-site so you never have to leave the magic! While these rooms come at a cost, you can’t beat the amenities. Not only do all of the resorts have Disney theming, but they also come with 24/7 cast member guest service. Resort stays also include free transportation throughout Disney World. This includes buses, monorails, a sky gondola, and various boats. You can take advantage of this when you’re heading to the parks. Speaking of which, you’ll be granted early access as an on-site guest as well. The in-house perks are simply without compare.
2. Keep Your Transportation Options Open
While all resorts have free transportation, some have more options than others. If possible, stay at a hotel with at least two methods of transportation. Disney busses are the most plentiful, but during busy times, they have the longest waits. (And sometimes, busses are standing room only!) Some of the most beloved resorts are on the Monorail or Skyliner Gondola line. These high-capacity, constantly running forms of transportation can get you to select parks quickly with shorter waits and less crowding on board. Applicable resorts include The Grand Floridian, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and many more! Trust us. You’ll be glad to have some non-bus alternatives.
3. Feast Like Royalty
Everyone loves a good corn dog or Dole Whip, but there is something to be said for a wonderful sit-down experience. Even if you’re traveling with kids, schedule at least a few meals that focus on food over characters. These restaurants tend to be outside the parks. So, take a couple of hours out of your schedule to venture to a Deluxe resort for an exceptional meal. Favorite spots that exceed in cuisine and ambiance include the Contemporary’s California Grill, the Polynesian’s ‘Ohana, the Grand Floridian’s Citricos, and the Fort Wilderness Resort’s Trail’s End Restaurant. Your food will be amazing at these locales and you’ll get a much-needed reprieve from the parks. What more could you ask for?
4. Pack for Comfort
If you’ve ever forgotten sunscreen at the beach, you’ve learned your lesson. Similarly, anyone who hasn’t packed smart for Disney has suffered the consequences. To ensure the best trip possible, pack a wardrobe with accessories to improve your long park days. Bring several pairs of walking shoes with good support. (Be willing to splurge on a couple of brand names.) For clothing, especially in the summer, pack light-weight outfits that can get wet and sweaty with little damage. If you burn easily, pack sunhats and baseball caps to shield your face and eyes. And lastly, consider bringing a Body Glide stick if you’ve ever dealt with chafing after a long hike. Simply put, your focus should be on function over fashion. Feel free to pack impractical and stylish outfits for shorter days or fancier dinners. When it comes to open to close park days though, heed these tips.
5. Make Time to Rest
When vacationing at a resort the size of San Francisco, it’s hard to slow down. Unless you can change the laws of time though, there is no way to accomplish everything at Disney World. What’s our advice? Stop trying. Shift your mindset so you are focused on enjoying what you do, instead of fretting about what you missed. Additionally, plan time to relax in your schedule. Plan a designated sleep-in late day or plan a whole day by the pool. Take the kids back to the resort for naps or stretch out on the lawn by Cinderella Castle. You may not ride Space Mountain three times that day, but the rejuvenation will be priceless. Be kind to your body. This will ensure a vacation that is untainted by pure fatigue.
6. Shop Smart
The shopping at Disney World is endless – from the parks to the hotel lobbies. While you may tire of seeing the same stuffed animals and general WDW apparel, there are many souvenirs with a long shelf life. When shopping, consider splurging on something a little more meaningful or practical. For instance, that light-up Tinkerbell wand may only work for a night, but that high-quality Princess Tiana dress may be worn by your daughter for years. Also, instead of buying another pair of mouse ears for yourself, consider buying that one-of-a-kind painting to hang in your living room at home. Take your budget into account of course, but remember that everyone deserves a little indulging.
7. Explore Disney Beyond the Four Gates
The four main parks are undeniably treasures to explore. There are countless attractions, restaurants, and magical nooks. Despite that, don’t forget about the property as a whole. In addition to the parks, Disney World is also home to two waterparks (one is temporarily closed) mini-golf courses, professional golf courses, two shopping areas, and centers for recreational activities. Take advantage during your rest day to explore one of these options. We can guarantee you’ll love experiencing Disney’s magical touch outside the park hustle and bustle. There is a “whole new world” to see!
8. Complete a Crazy Bucket List Item
Assuming you’re a repeat visitor, you probably have a Disney wish list. Examples could include rope-dropping the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday, attending a special holiday-themed after-hours event, drinking (responsibly) around the World Showcase at EPCOT, or finishing a famous Kitchen Sink sundae at the Beaches and Cream restaurant. Don’t just dream about these ideas. Make them happen! For your next trip, make it a point to accomplish one of these goals. Then keep up the tradition. In a place that’s steeped in nostalgia, it can be easy to repeat the same itinerary over and over again. In the flurry of that, don’t forget about the things you’ll get to “someday”. Make sure someday comes.
With this list in hand, we’re confident that your next trip will be even more memorable than your last! Good luck with your planning!