There’s a lot to know and a lot to consider when it comes to planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida. You could spend a year or more reading books about Disney World. You can ask panels online for their advice. You can ask your friends and family who’ve been to the parks before. But with so much information out there, how do you know which tips and secrets are most useful and most important? Here are 20 to get you started.
20. Start planning now.
There’s a lot to decide when it comes to your Disney World getaway. Which resort will you book? How many days will you be at Disney? Which character dining experiences do you hope to have? Which restaurants are you just waiting to try? Better start planning now.
19. Start saving now.
There’s no other way to say it. A trip to Walt Disney World can be costly, so it makes sense to begin saving for your trip as soon as you know you’re going—even if that’s a year or more in advance.
18. You’re going to need more than one day per park.
This is especially true for Magic Kingdom. Each park has so much to offer, there’s no way you’ll see a majority of it in just one day at each park. If at all possible, plan to be in each park for at least 2 days. You’ll still have things left on your Disney World bucket list for your next trip.
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17. You need a park bag with you each day.
Having a backpack with you in the parks is perfect for carrying snacks for your kids, medications that don’t need refrigeration, extra pairs of dry socks, a portable phone charger, pennies and quarters for pressing, pins for trading, gum, ponchos and sunblock.
16. B.Y.O.G. – Bring your own gum.
If you like to exercise your jaw with Trident, Orbit, Wrigley’s and the like, be sure to pack your own because Disney World does not sell gum in any of its four theme parks.
15. Don’t be too cool to use a map.
If this is your first trip to Disney World, you’re going to be surprised at how massive it is! Each park offers a park map just after you scan your MagicBand at the entrance. Don’t think you can figure it all out without a map. Pick up a map and make good use of it so that you don’t spend half your day in the park getting lost, heading the wrong way or flagging down every Cast Member you see so you can ask for directions.
14. You can stick to your diet.
Disney World restaurants offer endless options for healthier eating. Whether you’re watching your calories, fat or sugar intake, Disney World restaurant menus have options for you! You don’t have to give up your healthy eating habits just because you’re on vacation.
13. Expect the crowds.
Disney World is a huge place, but it is also a very well attended place. Crowds are simply part of the experience—especially if you visit during peak seasons. Knowing that it will be crowded before you go keeps you from being surprised at the amount of people in the parks.
12. You can still have fun despite the crowds.
The crowds at Disney World won’t keep you from having a great time. A few things to remember to help you deal with the crowds—be sure to use your three FastPass+ selections each day you’re in the parks. This will almost eliminate your wait for certain attractions. Get to the parks at opening so you can be one of the first in line for popular attractions. And at Magic Kingdom, ride the “mountains” first—Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain. These attractions get busier as the day goes on.
11. Don’t sleep in every day.
Yes, you’re on vacation, so you deserve to sleep in a few times, but don’t do it every day you’re going to the parks. You’ll miss special experiences earlier in the day, you’ll encounter longer wait times at bag check and you’ll be paying for full-day tickets and only getting half the day out of them.
10. Experience the classic attractions.
Thanks to the magic of Disney, old is never old; it’s classic, and “old” never means “outdated.” Take the time to experience the attractions that were at Disney World on its opening day in 1971. A few of these are Peter Pan’s Flight, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean.
9. See the parades.
Some people purposely miss the parades because they think everyone else will be enjoying them, which will make wait times super low at attractions. Wrong. Parades are only 10 to 15 minutes in duration, and the attractions remain open. The wait times aren’t largely affected by the parades, and the parades are so worth the time. They’re spectacular.
8. Yes, your four-year-old is old enough.
“Is my child old enough for Disney?” “Will my preschooler get everything out of Disney?” If your child is old enough to recognize a Disney character, be delighted by the sight of bright red balloons and enjoy desserts shaped like Mickey, she’s old enough for Disney. Going to Disney with a preschooler looks different from going to Disney World with teenagers. But that’s ok. It’s never too early to introduce your kids to the Disney phenomenon.
7. Take a day to rest.
About mid-way through your days in the parks, it can be a good idea to take a break. Instead of going to the parks that day, spend the day exploring your resort. Go swimming. See the nighttime movie outside. Have dinner at one of your resort’s restaurants. Go to bed early. You’ll be recharged for the last half of your trip.
6. Don’t go to EPCOT on Tuesday or Thursday.
These are historically the busiest days at EPCOT. Go on a Monday when everyone else is at Magic Kingdom. You’ll see a slight difference in crowds.
5. Try the Dole Whip.
I can’t explain this phenomenon with words. Yes, it’s just pineapple soft-serve, but there’s something truly magical about enjoying it on a sunny day in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom. Don’t go home without trying it!
4. Take lots of pictures.
Don’t see all of Disney from the viewpoint of a viewfinder, but take lots of pictures. There are so many wonderful backdrops, including Cinderella Castle. Pictures help you relive the vacation of a lifetime once you get home.
3. Act like a kid.
Well, in some ways. We’re not talking about having tantrums because the queue is too long or being fussy because it’s hot. We’re talking about letting yourself feel that Disney “magic.” It’s a real, actual experience, and there’s enough Disney magic to go around, as long as you let go and immerse yourself in it.
2. Slow down.
Don’t spend all of your time racing to your next FastPass+ time. Don’t force so much into your day. You’ll only make yourself frustrated, disappointed and cranky. Instead, take the time to really enjoy and experience every little thing. Notice the blue sky, notice the beautiful, full trees in the parks. Take several minutes to gaze at Cinderella Castle and wonder, “How’d they do that?” See the animals at Animal Kingdom. Talk to your spouse. Reconnect with your kids. Do the important things. You’re on vacation.
1. Plan for your next trip.
On the plane ride home, make a list of experiences you missed and hope to experience next time. Include a list of things you loved and want to experience again. Think about which resort you’d like to stay in next time. No matter what, start planning now for your next trip.