Whether you are a seasoned Disney traveler or this is your first trip, there are always ways to do and see more on your trip, plus relax and have the most amazing vacation ever! We have had many, many vacations on property and I always feel like I learn a little more with each trip! Here are 10 tips for getting the most out of Walt Disney World:
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10. Determine when to go
That is the first thing that you have to decide when you book your trip, and it is an extremely important decision as it determines exactly what you may be able to see and do while you are there, what the weather might be like and what the crowd levels may be. If you don’t care about the season and just want to go when there will be less people, then late January or September tend to be your best choice. If you are a Christmas fiend, then you definitely want to come in the late November to December time frame. The Food and Wine Festival at Epcot along with the fall and Halloween festivities are from September – November. The Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is March – May. So if there are certain events you are looking for, when you pick to go matters. So considering all those options are important to help get everything you want out of your vacation.
9. Select where to stay
Determine what your resort budget will be and then spend time reviewing the theme and amenities for each of the resorts that meet your budget to determine the resort that looks the most exciting and appealing to your family. There are people who feel that the resort is just a place to sleep, but you can get so much more out of it, especially if you are interested in the theme and history of that resort. There will be amenities and activities at the respective resorts that relate to their theme, and give you so much that you can do and enjoy.
8. Consider the dining plan
I feel that the Dining plans can be a really great value. I also love that they give your vacation an all-inclusive feel. You get to pay a set price in advance for your meals, so you aren’t worrying about that cost during your trip, since it is already paid for you. You can also order the most expensive entrée if you wish (which is especially a great deal if you are a steak fan) and get even more value of the dining plan while enjoying the benefits of not worrying about getting the credit card out to pay for every meal (other than gratuities).
7. Reserve your dining experiences
You will be so happy once you have all of your reservations done and ready in advance. You can begin making dining reservations 180 days prior to the date that you arrive on property. I recommend that you plan out your meals and be diligent about making your reservations at that point. You will be so glad when you get to show up for your vacation and not have to worry about it, experience a long wait to get in or possibly get turned away because there is no availability at all. It makes the vacation much more relaxing and ensures you get to enjoy your desired dining locations!
6. Book FastPass+ in advance
FastPass+ can save you a lot of time, especially if you pick good times. You are able to make your FastPass+ selections 60 days prior to your stay if staying on property and 30 days prior if not. You will want to try to pick FastPass+ options for the most popular attractions that tend to have the longest waits, since that will save you the most time. You also want to try to pick the times during the busiest part of the day, from about 11AM-6PMish. This will help keep you from being the ones waiting in line during the busy and hottest part of the day and you can enjoy shorter lines during the early and late part of the day when many other guests are eating meals or have left for the day.
5. Add Memory Maker to your package
There have been many questions about whether or not Memory Maker is worth it or not. I definitely believe it is. With Memory Maker you get all of your photos that are taken at various Photo Pass locations all over the Walt Disney World Resort. You also get all of your ride photos, ride video (yes, some of the rides take video!) and character dining photos in digital form. These can be quite costly if you want to purchase them separately, and with Memory Maker, you get them all. It is a great value and is a great way to document and commemorate your amazing vacation!
4. Take advantage of freebies
There are numerous free things to do around the resorts, the parks and Disney Springs. You can get mountains of Mickey stickers by collecting them from cast members. These make great scrapbooking material or souvenirs to bring back for friends. You can enjoy all of the resort amenities like pool games, a campfire, a movie under the stars, etc. Many locations offer free samples of treats, especially at Disney Springs. Do a little bit of homework on Disney freebies, and you will find tons of things. It is a great way to give your family extra entertainment and treats for FREE!
3. Budget in advance
I can’t stress this enough. The sticker shock of the prices can hit the credit card hard, especially if you didn’t do a vacation package. Do your homework and determine the cost for your vacation, how much you want to spend on souvenirs, etc. You can even challenge your family to save up together or do chores to earn spending money for the trip. This makes the trip even more special and you leave feeling satisfied with your trip and not like you need to get a second job!
2. Consider an authorized travel agent
Your first thought is going to be the cost. Agents that are authorized as Disney Vacation Planners are at NO extra charge. Disney pays the commission fees and the vacation package price is the exact same as it would be if you booked through Disney yourself. Many of the agencies may offer a slight discount to you and/or they may send you goodies to enjoy on your trip that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, so that is always fun! The benefits of an agent are that they can monitor for sales releases and deals and get the deal applied to your vacation. You could do this yourself, if you felt like constantly monitoring and waiting on the phone for a couple of hours, especially on the day that promotions are released, in order to update your reservation. They will also usually handle booking dining reservations, FastPass+, etc. so that you just have to tell them what you want to do and they will help put the plan together and get everything taken care of. It can make the vacation planning aspect much less overwhelming and help you get a lot of great advice!
1. Cut loose and have fun!
Don’t worry about what everyone around you is doing or what they think about your super awesome family t-shirts and silly hats. Just have a great time and focus on making memories with your family. Don’t stress about every detail being perfect and just that you and your family are perfect together in all of the spontaneous moments. I am a big believer in good planning, but not over planning. You want to leave plenty of room to enjoy each other and get on whatever ride you feel based on the mood of the moment. Do these things and you will have a great time and feel that you got the most value out of your vacation!