Tips for planning a great Disney vacation

by Casey Morris on March 28, 2015

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You’ve finally decided to take the plunge and go for it—a trip to Walt Disney World that is! Planning your trip can be overwhelming; from choosing the right Disney resorts to making the right reservations for meals and everything in between. There are hundreds of tips that will help make your trip magical but here are a few that are sometimes overlooked but are very important to anyone visiting one of the most magical places on Earth.

 

Tip #1 for ANY Disney vacationer: BE FLEXIBLE!

–Your vacation will be a million times better if you accept the fact that not everything will go according to plan. Things will happen unexpectedly, rides will break down, kids (and some adults) will have meltdowns, transportation will be late, rain is inevitable, and you will have to wait in line at some point. The best thing to do is have a good plan in place but understand that your plans may change and have an open mind—an afternoon spent relaxing by the pool will give everyone a chance to recharge!

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—One small example of something unexpected-a crane was behind the castle for our entire trip! This is definitely minor in the world of vacation horror stories and ended up being an easy fix with a computer.

 

Tip #2: Plan Early!

–Since dining reservations can be made 180 days prior to your arrival date and character meals as well as other popular table service meals fill up very quickly, it is important to know which reservations you want to make beforehand to ensure you will get the best times available.

–FastPass+ reservations are also another important element in planning early. These reservations can be made 60 days prior to arrival for guests staying at a Disney resort and 30 days prior to arrival for all other guests. The most popular FastPass+ reservations will be gone within minutes so knowing exactly what FastPass+ reservations you want will ensure your trip includes all your family’s favorites.

–Planning each day according to which park you will visit and then which attractions you’re interested in, which characters you want to meet, and your top choices for restaurants will help ensure you fit everything into your trip. By ensuring everyone’s wishes are planned out, your vacation is sure to be magical—just don’t forget Tip #1 when making your plans!

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—The Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of those hard to get reservations that require early planning! This is my family meeting Beast after dinner at Be Our Guest.

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—Anna & Elsa meet and greet is currently one of the hottest FastPass+ reservations and are gone in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds!

 

Tip #3: Bring Things from Home

–If you have small children, bring a stroller from home (just be sure it folds in order to get onto Disney’s transportation). You will walk miles (yes, miles-and a lot of them) on your trip and little ones will not be able to keep up all day. And while you can rent strollers at the parks, they can be very pricy and are not very compact or comfortable. To find your stroller in the stroller parking area (there can be so many and they are constantly being moved by a Disney cast member to keep some sort of order that only they understand), put something on the handle that will make your stroller stand out-a bright bandana tied around the handle will ensure you can find yours easily.

–Bring snacks and bottled water from home. Something small like crackers or a granola bar can help keep children happy between meals and prevent hunger driven meltdowns. Bottled water is one of those things that no one wants to waste a snack credit on or pay a ridiculous price for but is very important when dealing with the heat of Florida.

–If you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay the high prices for souvenirs at Disney World, buy before your trip and bring them with you. You can find a ton of cool Disney things at places like Target, Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, and of course the Disney Store. Disney costumes are a prime example of this-buying a princess dress at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is very expensive in my opinion, but bringing your own from home allows you to still have the full effect of the princess makeover without breaking the bank (they even have changing rooms inside the boutique).

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—Strollers are a lifesaver for little ones and will save you from some of those horrible meltdowns when a child is tired and has simply had enough!

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—You would never know this costume brought from home was actually purchased at a Disney store on sale and saved my family well over $150 compared to the prices of costumes at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

 

Tip #4: Make the Most of Rider Switch

–The rider switch option is absolutely wonderful for parents who have children with differing opinions on which attractions they want to ride. Many people do not realize this option even exists and others are unsure how it works-here’s how it works: the entire party enters the attraction line, the persons not riding will be given a Rider Switch pass and asked to wait in a designated area-they are now referred to as Party 2, the remaining party (Party 1) will continue in line and ride the attraction, afterwards Party 1 will regroup with Party 2 and then the “non-rider” will stay with Party 1 while the adult from Party 2 and one other member of Party 1 hand their Rider Switch pass to a cast member to begin their ride and avoid waiting in line again. This option is offered at many different attractions throughout the parks at Disney World.

 

Tip #5: Arrive to the Parks Early

–Getting up early may not be ideal for your family, especially on a vacation, but it may be one of the best choices you make. Getting an early start will ensure a less crowded bus or ferry. You can often get reservations at many of the breakfast character meals early, even before the parks open, which puts you in the park before anyone else. This will give your family a chance to take that magical picture without anyone else in the background and you will also see the park in a whole new way without all the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Many times the parks will open up to 15 minutes prior to the published park hours which will allow you to be first in line to some of the most popular attractions that can have long wait times later in the day. Another great benefit of arriving early is getting to see the Welcome Show at Magic Kingdom. This show includes singing, dancing, numerous Disney characters, and even features a family that is picked each morning to help welcome everyone to the park.

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—An early appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Cinderella’s Castle can get you in the park before anyone else, and makes it easy to snap a picture of your princess and the castle without the normal crowds.

 

Every family vacation is different but taking time to research and using tips that have helped others is important to make your trip the greatest. Disney strives to meet the dreams and wishes of all ages and I can guarantee that there is always something that will make each trip to Disney World magical and unforgettable.

 

Megan Evans

Pirate and Pixie Dust Destinations Agent

Find me on facebook!

 

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” -Walt Disney

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