If your family is like mine, Disney World is a big deal. The kids constantly beg to go. You plan months (or even years) in advance to ensure it’s a perfect trip. And I’ll say, no matter where you stay or how you do Disney, it’s a pretty magical experience! We’ve done Disney a few times now and while the first trip I was completely overwhelmed, I’m beginning to feel like an old pro at making the most of our days at Disney. So, on the heels of our return from the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I figured I’d share with all of you my best tips for making the most of a Disney Vacation.
Enlist the Help of a Travel Agent
Planning a Disney trip can be overwhelming. There’s restaurants to book, reservations to link up and Magic Bands to order. Thankfully, there are many agents who work with Disney and can help streamline your process. The best part is, it doesn’t cost you! So as soon as you start thinking of booking that trip, take a look at whether or not using a travel agent can help make the process much simpler for you!
Download the App
Just trust me and do it. Not only will you be able to check your schedule, you’ll also be able to see maps to find that ride you’re looking for, book and change fast passes and view restaurant menus! It’s a must!
Stay on Property
Part of the magic of Disney is staying on the property. There are a variety of resorts that range in price from value to deluxe. Obviously, you pay for more amenities (like being on the monorail) but the variety offers options that work with every budget! On our last trip, we were able to stay a Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside (a moderate resort). In addition to a fun New Orleans vibe, we opted to book a room that had fireworks that could be see on the headboards.
While that seems like such a little thing, it’s the little touches that make Disney truly magical and staying on the Disney property is the only way to experience many of them!
Book Your Fast Passes Early
As part of your Disney experience, you’ll receive three fast passes for each day to use with your park tickets. These are golden people! They get you right past those lines and onto your favorite rides. Once you’ve booked your tickets, you’ll get notification that you can schedule your fast passes and trust me when I say you want to do it early…especially if you’re hoping to score a fast pass to some of the more popular rides like the Frozen ride of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
If you can’t get fast passes for a certain ride, be sure to keep checking back as people’s plans change and they may change their fast passes as well. In addition, once you’ve used your three daily fast passes, you can book more on the app from the inside of the park! Be sure to take advantage of as many of these fast pass perks as possible!
Pay Attention to Ride Restrictions
Disney is designed for children of all ages but it’s good to remember that certain rides (like Expedition Everest in the Animal Kingdom for example) do have height restrictions. You can easily check these restrictions on the Disney Planning App and measure your child before your trip so that you don’t waste a fast pass on a ride they can’t experience. In addition, there are measuring posts outside of each ride that has a restriction…ensure your child meets the minimum requirements BEFORE standing in line!
DO the Dining Plan
I can’t say this enough….DO A DINING PLAN! It will make your trip so much easier and you’ll also likely save on food costs by going this direction. There are a variety of dining plans available so find the one that fits your needs the best. The dining plan we chose included a fast lunch (there are a variety of options through the parks and hotels), a snack and a sit down dinner. We could use the snack to purchase a quick breakfast or even save it for indulge in a little Mickey sweetness in the park.
And the sit down dinners? Well, do your research in advance because Disney has no shortage of amazing options! From character dinners to our interactive experiences, there is no reason that each and every meal you enjoy shouldn’t be magical!
As a added bonus, your meal plan is loaded right onto your magic bands, ensuring that eating requires no more than a simple tap of your band!
See the Shows
In addition to rides and character meet and greets, the Disney parks offer a variety of amazing shows! While I’ve yet to see a Disney show that I didn’t love, it’s best to plan in advance for the ones that you just can’t bear to miss. Do a little research to ensure that you know WHERE and WHEN the shows you want to see are taking place. Then make sure you’re in the right park in plenty of time. We had the chance to see the NEW River’s of Light Show in the Animal Kingdom and I highly recommend checking it out! It’s great for any age!
Definitely don’t forget to end each night with a magical fireworks show! From magical Princess themed options in the Magic Kingdom to Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular in Hollywood Studios, ending the day with Disney fireworks is pretty much perfection!
Add on that Park Hopper
To park hop or not to park hop….is really not even a question! With four amazing parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios), you’ll want to make sure you can see and do it all! It was not uncommon at all for us to start the day in one park and end it in another. With the easy to use bus transportation and the monorail that quickly gets you from park to park, choosing a park hopper really makes sense!
Not only will the ride from one park to another give you a little break to recharge but it will help ensure that every moment of your stay is filled with as much magic as possible.
Find out About Magic Hours
Different parks have early and late hours that are available to those staying on Disney properties. Find our what they are and take advantage of them! You can easily ask for the Magic Hours at the front desk of your hotel or even check out the hotel’s channel where you’ll see each days extra hours of fun. During these Magic Hours, lines are generally shorter and you can enjoy some of your favorite rides from the day in the dark!
Let Your Inner Child Shine
I’ll be honest…the Disney magic is contagious at any age. It’s one place that I can take my kindergartner and my teen and know that they will both have a ball. But it’s also a place where I can find my inner child. While you’re at Disney, don’t forget that the experience is about more than the kids. It’s about you having a blast as well. So ride that ride. Meet those characters. Do all the things you want to do! After all, if your inner child can’t come out at Disney, where can it?
A trip to Disney is truly magical and I have to say, I think everyone should experience it! So start planning! Whether you want to visit in a week, a month or a year, planning early and planning well can help make your Disney vacation a true Dream!
Tell me, have you been to Disney World and if so, what is your best planning tip?