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Walt Disney World 101: What You Need To Do Before You Go

Whether it’s your first trip this month, first trip in ten years, or first trip ever, there are always things that should be done prior to your Walt Disney World vacation. Disney is different from other vacations in that a little bit of extra planning is involved, so it can be easy to forget to do some things while you’re excited and waiting for your departure date to arrive. The following list includes my tips for what you need to do before you leave for your next vacation:

1) Pack the essentials

Before you leave for your Walt Disney World vacation, be sure you have all of the essentials packed– a variety of clothes, more than one pair of shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, chargers, medications, etc… If you leave any of the necessities behind, you’ll be spending valuable time and money replacing them while you’re there, and that’s time that would be much better spent enjoying your vacation.

2) Know your budget

It’s really helpful to know your budget before you arrive in the parks. Set money aside, give yourself a limit, buy some gift cards, do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from constantly having to check your bank account throughout your trip. The last thing you’ll want to do on vacation is keep having to stay on top of your finances. By figuring all of this out ahead of time you’ll be able to relax and have a more enjoyable time in Orlando.

3) Make dining reservations

Disney is one vacation where you really should be making at least some of your dining reservations in advance. You’ll probably be fine if you’re not visiting the parks during a peak season, or planning on going to one of the more popular restaurants, but just in case I would recommend making some reservations in advance. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

4) Make Fastpass selections

The same logic for dining reservations can be applied to Fastpass+ selections. Even if you’re not super into planning, or you feel like you don’t know when exactly you’ll want to ride Test Track before you even arrive, it’s really helpful to take advantage of the Fastpass+ service so you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to experience your favorite attractions with little or no wait. (Also be sure to make your selections for rides and not shows– you don’t generally need them for shows, so the benefit of using a Fastpass is much greater when it’s used for a ride!)

5) Create a plan

You don’t need to be an obsessive planner to have a little bit of a plan for how you’ll spend your time at Walt Disney World. By create a plan, I don’t mean plan out every detail of the day (because that probably wouldn’t actually be all that fun) but figure out which days you’ll be at each park, and a few other things like whether or not you want to park hop for instance. Of course, all of this can be done while you’re there, but I think it’s really helpful to know these things before you arrive so you don’t spend your time on vacation figuring out what the plan is.

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6) Add Magical Express to your reservation

If you’re flying into Orlando International Airport, and staying at a Disney resort, be sure to add the Magical Express service to your reservation. By doing this in advance, you’ll be able to use the complimentary luggage delivery service. Disney will send you luggage tags, so that you can skip baggage claim when you land in Orlando and go right to your resort on the Magical Express bus. Just make sure to pack any essentials in your carry on bag, as it can take a couple of hours for your luggage to arrive.

7) Read up on the parks

This tip is especially important if you either have never been to the Walt Disney World Resort, or you haven’t been in a long time. You may have been a pro during your last trip ten years ago, but a lot has changed over that time, and it would be way more helpful to read up on all those changes before you arrive. Gaining some extra knowledge from the parks can be easy, and it does not have to be time consuming. Reading websites like this while you have a few free minutes here or there, or bringing a Disney guidebook with you on the plane, will really help you be able to get the most out of your vacation once you arrive.

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.