Chef Mickey's (Credit: Disney)

8 Disney Experiences You Shouldn’t Skimp On

We’re all about saving wherever we can while visiting Walt Disney World, but there are just certain experiences we don’t think you should skimp on if you’re looking for the full Disney experience. Use this list to make sure you don’t miss something that could help make your next Walt Disney World vacation a breeze: 


1. Disney Resort Stay

Staying at a Disney resort helps you stay close to the magic while also giving you some added perks, like complimentary Disney transportation which provides easy access to the theme parks. If you have questions about your park tickets, or any part of your stay, Disney Cast Members would be right on site at your resort to help, and you’ll even find Disney-themed accommodations at many of the resorts around Walt Disney World, with larger than life icons at Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Disney’s All Star Resorts, and characters blended subtly into room décor like the Moana details at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resorts

Credit: Disney

2. Memory Maker

For $179 (if purchased in advance), Memory Maker can help you get the whole family in the picture and get you higher quality photos from your trips around the Disney theme parks. You won’t need to worry about someone missing from photos or about handing your phone or camera off to a stranger as Disney’s PhotoPass photographers can get everyone in the shot. Additionally, Memory Maker includes ride photos and any photos taken by Disney photographers with characters. (Be sure to purchase in advance of your trip though, while it’s worth the splurge, the price goes up to $199 if you purchase during your stay.)

3. Park Hoppers

Park Hopper tickets give you the flexibility of experiencing more than one park per day. They will make your overall ticket price more expensive, but they’re help for times when you’re thinking of hopping over to World Showcase in Epcot for dinner in one of the countries, or for breaking up the day after a midday break at the pool. Park Hoppers also come in handy if you simply want to live spontaneously and check out a different park than where you started. 


4. Character Dining

Character dining is a must-do if your family is interested in seeing characters during your next Disney trip. While you can see characters out and about in the parks, you may find yourself worried it will take away time from experiencing other attractions. You’re going to spend time eating anyway, so if you can do so while seeing some of your favorite characters you’ll have more time to enjoy the rest of your vacation. Character dining often comes at a more expensive price, but these meals are typically served “all-you-care-to-enjoy,” and the ability to see the characters makes it truly worth it. 

5. Signature Dining

Theme park dining at Walt Disney World is not simply burgers and hot dogs! Another dining experience that is worth the splurge at Walt Disney World is the resort’s signature dining. Signature restaurants offer upscale experiences and menus in locations that come with immersive theming all around the property. Be sure to make reservations in advance, and note that some resort signature locations may have dress codes. 


6. Event Specific Merchandise

If you are at Walt Disney World for a specific event and you see merchandise you like, we recommend buying it! Events like EPCOT’s festivals or the seasonal parties in the Magic Kingdom come with merchandise that changes annually, so if you see a design you like and don’t grab it right away, it may be different at next year’s event. While some merchandise does stay consistent, this is especially true for yearly merchandise designs and items like the EPCOT festival-specific Dooney & Bourke bags. 

7. Special Events

Speaking of special events, we wouldn’t skimp on those either! If you are visiting during one of the Magic Kingdom’s seasonal parties, we’d recommend getting tickets (and you can actually save some money here by skipping your regular park ticket those days and spending the morning at your resort or at Disney Springs). Over in EPCOT, events like the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival may come with some extra spending implied as you taste your way around the world, but we promise doing so will be worth the added cost. 

EPCOT Food and Wine Festival (Credit: Disney)

8. Special Outfits 

Whether you are just getting into DisneyBounding or your toddler is looking to channel their favorite characters, dressing up at Walt Disney World can be lots of fun! You may even find a new outfit while you’re there- Disney Springs has lots of great Disney-themed clothing options, like the Dress Shop, where you can find dresses inspired by classic attractions and filmed to dress up your next day in the parks. 

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a graduate of St. Anselm College, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in History. She completed two Disney College Programs, one at Dinoland U.S.A., in Animal Kingdom, and one at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios. She is the author of “Brittany Earns Her Ears,” a memoir about her experiences on the college program, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.