Disney World is HUGE, and it can be daunting even for even seasoned Disney World veterans to consider all the options and figure out what to do on their next vacation. With a couple of Disney vacations under my belt (8 Disney trips and counting!) I’ve gathered up a little bit of knowledge along the way!
Today i’m sharing my top Disney World vacation tips, all the things i’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) and have come to know from our Disney vacations. I’m mostly chatting about the Walt Disney World parks in Florida but many of the tips also apply to the Disneyland Parks, Universal, Busch Gardens…any theme parks really.
Set up a MyDisneyExperience account – A MyDisneyExperience account is a must when going to Disney World. It is your all access hub to your FastPasses (more about that in a minute), dining reservations, official Disney resort reservations, PhotoPass photos, and more (it even tells you real-time wait times for rides, how cool is that!?).
Fastpass+, Fastpass+, Fastpass+! – Fastpass+ is also must do if you want to avoid long lines at some of your favourite rides. It’s essentially a ride reservation system that gets you into a much shorter line at an appointed time. The MyDisneyExperience (mentioned above) app is the best way to Fastpass+ rides in advance from your phone. You gotta be quick though, many Fastpass+ slots for the day can be swiped up as soon as 9am in the morning. You can Fastpass+ up to 30 days before your vacation if you already have your tickets or up to 60 days in advance when staying at a Disney Hotel and you can have up to 3 per day.
Plan your days (but not too much!) – We’re not big fans of over planning our trips but we do make a list of things we want to do in each park and plan the days around them to eliminate indecisiveness when we arrive. This also ensures that we’re getting to all of our must-do’s while at WDW. However, we don’t have kids yet and can afford to be a bit more flexible with our days. With kids you might want to plan a little bit more if you want to catch certain characters, parades and shows. Double check park opening and closing times as well as Extra Magic Hours to help plan your days.
Plan your Disney dining in advance – If you are planning on dining at a Disney restaurant or want a character dining experience for your kids make sure to book ahead, ideally before your vacation with the MyDisneyExperience app. Make a list of the restaurants you want to dine at before the reservations open, and then secure reservations as early as possible.You can also call ahead to reserve to avoid any disappointment. You can always choose later if you want to keep these reservations, but be a nice human and be sure to cancel any reservations you won’t use (there’s a $10 per person cancellation fee if you don’t cancel your reservation over 24 hours in advance). There are also lots of great food options in the park that you don’t need any reservations for.
Comfy footwear for all that walking! – Comfy flats are essential for all that park walking, you can easily cover up to 10 miles in a Disney Park day. Personally I’m not a sneakers type of gal so I pack other lightweight options like Havaianas, Saltwater sandals or Keds. (although not the most supportive for my feet, I find these all work well for me) I also always make sure to pack some band-aids, blister pads and these Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin in our park bag for any pesky cuts of blisters that might arise. if you buy a new pair of shoes for your big WDW vacation, be sure to break them in before you go.
Give your feet a break – Get familiar with which rides at each park that have short wait times to get on and that are somewhat of a lengthy duration (and air conditioning!) to give you and your feet a break! For example – Magic Kingdom: Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney World Railroad, People Mover, Epcot: Living with the Land boat ride, Hollywood Studios: Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Lights Camera Action Stunt Show, Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Express Train.
A large, lightweight bag/backpack or crossbody is essential – something to put your essentials for the day in so you can carry all of your items without having to rent a locker. Great to pack ponchos, sunscreen, park maps, water bottles and even something warm if you are staying around for fireworks etc. A little tip is to also bring a large waterproof ziplock back so you can put your phone, camera, GoPro etc. in when going on water rides.
A water bottle with filter to stay hydrated – It gets super hot on park days in Florida and you’ll need to keep hydrated. Did you know you can always get a free ice water from any Counter Service restaurant inside Disney World? There’s also free fountains throughout the park. Personally I’m not a fan of how the fountain water in the parks tastes so a filter bottle is a must.
Pack the hand sanitizer – Unfortunately the parks are not magically germ-free! A hand sanitizer is a must in my opinion and I love the Bath and Body Works versions. I pick a certain scent and only use that one scent while at Walt Disney World, that way when we return home the smell takes me back to my happy place!
Bring an extra battery for your phone – While you might be having too much phone to be taking photos you don’t want your phone battery to die just before that all important castle or character shot! Or, in case of emergencies. An extra portable battery is a life saver.
Save on Disney merchandise – I’ve started to buy gifts, especially for kids out of the parks. We have found lots of great items in the souvenir shops on International Drive as well as the Disney stores at the outlets. You can also find great Disney gifts in Walgreens and CVS.
Celebrating something? Make sure to get a button – If you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, on honeymoon, graduation (whatever really!) make sure you get a pin from the Guest Services desk at any of the parks. For certain pins, they’ll even write your name on it! It’s a lovely keepsake and cast members and other guests throughout the day wish you “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations!”. It also comes with some perks too like a free cupcake in the restaurants!
Pack to perfection – Make a handy packing list (stay tuned for one coming soon!) and make sure you pack all your essentials before you leave home to avoid having to run out and buy essentials when you arrive. Make a list of the certain essentials you’ll need during your Walt Disney World trip, such as Disney items, autograph books for the kids, extra SD cards for your camera or Polaroid film and pick them up before you go.
Remember, this is the most magical place on Earth so don’t stress yourself out trying to have all the fun. Take time to enjoy it!