Considerations were made by some of the brands mentioned in this post. All opinions are our own.
Disney has become one of our most looked forward to visits of the year – but it didn’t start out that way. Our first trip to Walt Disney World could have undeniably been called a bust. We did everything wrong from not making any dining reservations, to not choosing the right accommodations to meet our families needs and then finishing it all off with completely overlooking the need to schedule our FastPass choices ahead of time. However after that first initial visit (when we did everything wrong) we’ve learned a few tips and tricks that have allowed us to make the most of our Disney Vacations – and we hope these tips also help you!
Make the Most of Your Disney Vacation with These 8 Simple Tricks
Knowing park etiquette is difficult when you didn’t even know there was a park etiquette! Luckily for all of you, we learned everything the hard way so you don’t have to. Here are our best tips for rocking a visit to Walt Disney World – even if it’s your first visit.
Choose the right hotel for your family. We love the Disney hotels because of their easy access to the parks, themed rooms and continuing Disney magic. Staying at a Disney hotel means extra magic hours, free parking at your resort, and Disney magic that continues through out the evenings. One of our favorite Disney hotels to stay at is the Grand Floridian – read my review on TravelingMoms to see why.
While there are many perks to staying at a Disney hotel, there are also other options available to consider. The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista is an off property resort that still offers a ton of perks that help make a Disney vacation magical. Staying at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista allows you to still have free parking at your hotel, bus service to and from the parks, and a few other surprises that keep the Disney magic going even after you’ve left the parks – like Mickey shaped waffles for breakfast and character meals in the hotel restaurant! There are also other special incentives like daily scheduled activities for the kids, a beautiful outdoor pool area (complete with an outdoor cafe’ serving specialty drinks for the adults) and an on staff “Director of Fun” who’s job is to make your stay at the Wyndham the best it can be. Rooms at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista start at $79 for the Garden Inn rooms and $109 for the Tower rooms – some of which even overlook the Disney parks!
Schedule your FassPass selections ahead of time. I didn’t even know what a FassPass was on my first visit. The FastPass allows you to choose your “must see” attractions and pick a time that works for you to visit them. When it is your time – you can bypass the long line and have a shorter wait in the FassPass line. Once you’ve used up your selections, you can add more. Hint – there’s an app for that and you’ll want to download it before you head out.
Schedule your meals. I know it can be hard to schedule meals ahead of time, but doing so has made my experiences at Disney so much easier. Meals can be scheduled as early as 180 days out, but you can even do it the same day if something becomes available. To make your meal reservations simply log in to your MyDisney account and choose “dining reservations”. If you don’t want to plan ahead, there are still some quick service places to eat – just try to not wait until you are absolutely starving to get a table. Wait times can be long. Another option is to try getting a table at the restaurant in your hotel – as long as it’s not a character dining meal location the wait times are typically shorter.
Meet characters while you eat! Many of the restaurants at Walt Disney World offer a character meal where you can sit down for a meal and meet a few of the characters at the same time. This is a great opportunity to get some pictures with the characters without having to stand in long lines or stalk them through the parks. Making reservations can be done through your MyDisneyExperience. If no tables are available when you check – keep checking. Often reservations are cancelled or changed and tables open back up. Prices for the character meals can be as low as $13 per child and $25 per adult – although the price varies per venue and meal selection.
Avoid park burnout. Another things I love about staying at a resort hotel is that you can take a break back at your room, go for a swim or even spend some time playing at one of the small park’s located near the resorts. However, if you’re not staying at the parks there may be a few ways for you to get a park break as well. Did you know that you can visit Cinderella’s horses at their stables near the Fort Wilderness campground? You can even go for a carriage ride through the campsite or rent bikes to wander around the paths near Port Orleans on your own. Some of these expeditions cost extra, but they are a nice way to leave the park hustle and still savor the magic.
Bring it to the park with you. Yes, you will want to be sure to come prepared with all the sunscreen you might need during your time in the parks because purchasing it on site can be costly. Also, did you know that you can also bring your own water and snacks into the parks with you? A great way to save money!
Get in all your extra magic. Remember that several of the parks offer daily parades and fireworks at night. Also, if you’re staying at one of the Disney hotels, the magic doesn’t stop when you’re done in the parks! Many of the hotels offer campfires and s’mores (sometimes with characters) and free movies in the courtyards at dark. Be sure to check with the hotel front desk for times and locations.
Have a plan. There is so much to consider when planning a Disney vacation and I’m afraid that my advice is just the beginning. The best advice I can give to you as you are heading in is to be prepared as much as you can ahead of time – aimless wandering didn’t work for my family and left us having spent an entire day without accomplishing anything. To help you along, one of the best ways I learned to be prepared is to take a screenshot on my phone of important information – such as parade times or character sighting times. Opening up a screenshot to double check times was so much faster than trying to find the information on the internet again and again.
We absolutely love Walt Disney World and look forward to visiting whenever we can. However, from that visit onward we’ve learned to be more prepared – but still not lose that exploration side of us. For our trips I always try to leave a few hours of each day for aimless wandering – sometimes you might be surprised at what you find.
Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear them!