If you’re planning a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth, you’ll want to read these tips!
Disney World is full of surprises – some good, and some not so good. But with a bit of preparation, you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way!
We’ve put together a list of our best tips for planning a successful Disney World vacation.
We have a lot of information to give, such as guides to the finest restaurants in Disney World, lists of souvenirs you should avoid buying, and more. But if we had to pick just one thing, what would we tell people all the time when they say they’re going to Disney World?
We go to Disney World every day, and we’ve stayed in all of the hotels. We eat at all of the restaurants there, and we’ve seen a wide range of items. So trying to narrow down our thoughts on providing planning advice is difficult! But rather than asking our staff for their most-frequently-used suggestions.
We’ll break it down so it’s more manageable. There are a few packing suggestions, as well as some things to think about before you go and some tips to remember while you’re gone!
The finest Disney World holiday begins with exceptional packing skills.
Bring your favorite pair of comfy shoes.
If you don’t have very comfy shoes, begin by making certain you wear them. This is a crucial distinction in Disney World since you’ll be walking all day long.
The parks and hotels are quite distant from one another, and our correspondents walk 10-12 kilometers every DAY on average. Look for the most comfortable pair of walking shoes for people with high arches to ensure you have as few blisters as possible while on vacation.
If you’re headed to the Magic Kingdom, this is not the time for stilettos or cheap plastic flip-flops (unless you can walk miles in them and feel comfortable —in which case, congratulations!). We understand that taking attractive photographs of the Cinderella Castle is one of your goals. But before you go, trade out your adorable shoes.
In fact, we recommend bringing a pair or two of walking shoes in case one of them becomes uncomfortable.
Because we always want to have a Plan B, you should make sure to bring some moleskin and band-aids along in case the dreaded blisters do appear.
PACK FOR ALL KINDS OF WEATHER
Aside from comfy shoes and blister treatments, you’ll need to bring gear for every variety of weather. The climate in Orlando may change within minutes, and if you’re visiting Disney World for a few days, there’s a good chance it’ll pour at least once.
We don’t want you to spend $12 (or more) on a plastic poncho in the parks. Instead, bring your own raincoat or buy one from Amazon and take it with you.
The weather changes with the seasons, so layers are a good idea when visiting the parks. Keep your jacket or sweatshirt on early in the morning or during the winter to be able to remove it and walk around in a t-shirt as soon as the sun comes out.
Please don’t forget to bring sunscreen! Even if it’s winter, you can burn if you’re in the sun all day.
Before Your Trip
There are a few necessary tasks before you travel to the parks, whether it’s by automobile or airplane.
EARLY PURCHASE OF PARK PASSES IS REQUESTED.
You’ll need to make Park Pass Reservations first.
This system was created in the Disney parks after they reopened following the pandemic shut-down. It began as a method to limit capacity and has stayed since then, despite various adjustments returning to normal.
As soon as you’ve decided when you’ll be going to Disney World and have purchased your tickets, we recommend reserving your park passes. The parks’ passes do run out from time to time, and you can’t get into a park without a reservation. It would be terrible to go to Magic Kingdom expecting a wonderful day only to discover that you don’t have a reservation and can’t get in!
Reservations for park passes are free for every day that someone has a Disney World park ticket. Annual Passes let you hold a certain number of permits at once, and the amount is determined by the pass you have.
For example, if you’re visiting two or more parks in a single day with Park Hopper, you’ll only need reservations for the first park you visit. You’ll be ready to go to any other parks after you’ve scanned into that location.
For large events and holidays, these passes may go quickly a few weeks ahead of time. Typically, we don’t see them fill up too swiftly for the rest of the year. If you’re visiting during Spring Break, summer vacation, or Christmas season, you might want to get these passes a few months before hand.
MAKE DINING RESERVATIONS ONLINE
You can make dining reservations for table-service restaurants at Disney World up to 60 days before your trip. If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel, you may reserve your entire vacation 60 days in advance. You can make reservations 60 days in advance of each day if you’re staying off-site.
If you’re planning a five-day vacation at a Disney World resort, you can make dining reservations for all five days 60 days before your trip’s start date.
If you’ll be in Disney World for more than a few days, we recommend making dining reservations. It’s fantastic to have a few sit-down meals on hand while on vacation at Disney World.
If you have reservations at nearby sit-down restaurants, you won’t have to worry about long wait times at counter service eateries if it’s a particularly busy season.
Also, there are a few restaurants that are simply too delicious to miss, and many of them need reservations. Some fan favorites include Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s Ohana Restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Steakhouse 71 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
You’ll need reservations if you want to dine at a table service (not fast food) restaurant at Disney World. While these locations can sometimes accommodate folks without reservations, it is considerably safer to go in with a reservation. So be prepared to grab your reservations 60 days ahead of time!
LEARN HOW TO USE THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP
With the introduction of Mobile Order (which we’ll get to later), Genie, and online waiting lists for lounges, using the My Disney Experience app on your phone is essential in the Disney parks.
There are several tools available with the app to assist you during our stay in Disney Parks. You may also see which restaurants are open in each park, as well as the wait time for all attractions. Interactive maps are also included to help you navigate around the parks.
If you want to use your Lightning Lane tickets at any of the parks, you’ll need the app to make your selections throughout the day.
Before you go to Disney World, make sure the My Disney Experience app is installed and up to date on your smartphone. You should be signed in to your Disney account and linked with all of the information you’ll need for your vacation!
You can familiarize yourself with the software before you arrive, allowing you to better understand what is available and which tools will be most beneficial. You’ll avoid having to pause in the middle of your park visit this way.
Make a list of your most important tasks.
Make a list of your most important goals for the holiday before you go to the parks. There’s just far too much to do in the parks that you won’t be able to accomplish everything.
Visit several parks in the region. Each park has its own attractions, so make a list of those that appeal to you. Consider doing some research on the various activities available at each park and which ones pique your interest. Make a list of must-dos for each person in your group and start with them.
After you’ve completed all of those activities, anything else you do in the parks is a bonus! Having those lists, on the other hand, might assist prevent leaving Disney World with any regrets because you forgot to go on one ride or didn’t have time to eat a particular snack.
You’ll be able to apply your research as you travel and advise yourself on which activities are absolutely essential. Because of your study, you’ll know all there is to know about the various attractions and other things to do in the area.
PLAN FOR RESTS THROUGHOUT YOUR TRIP
You’ve probably guessed that a Disney World vacation isn’t always a relaxed one. You may find yourself speed-walking between attractions and waking up several hours earlier than you do at home, with so much to do.
To avoid burning out midway through your journey, make sure you take plenty of rest time each day. This might be a lunchtime table service reservation, a trip to a show like Mickey’s PhilharMagic or the Hall of Presidents, or simply planned sitting on a bench and resting your feet.
We all know how tempting it is to keep going, but you don’t want to strike the 3PM wall and discover that you’re not having a good time. It’s much better to do fewer things well than to complete everything and be unhappy throughout the process!
During Your Trip
You’ve completed all of your preparations, your luggage is loaded with all of the necessities, and you’ve arrived at Disney World!… What’s next?
ARRIVE AT THE PARKS EARLY
Many people take vacations to relax and recuperate from a hectic daily routine. A Disney World vacation is seldom that. If you want to get the most out of your trip, it’s best to arrive at the theme parks before they open so you can go straight to the most popular attractions. You may avoid waiting in multi-hour lines later in the day this way!
The rope-dropping method is a former Cast Member practice in which cast members held up a rope until park opening time, and then they’d let it fall once guests were allowed inside. This may still occur in some areas of the parks, but there isn’t always a real rope involved.
Check the My Disney Experience app (which you downloaded before your trip) to see when each theme park will open on each day. The opening hours of these attractions differ from park to park, and even vary on a daily basis, so double-check them before deciding what to do first thing in the morning.
We recommend arriving at least a half-hour before the park’s opening time. Also, keep in mind that if you’re staying at a Disney World hotel, you may take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry, which allows you to enter each park 45 minutes before the scheduled start time. In that scenario, arrive an hour before the designated opening time.
Keep in mind that not every ride opens early with Early Theme Park Entry. Only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open for that half-hour in the morning at Magic Kingdom. Double-check with Cast Members to ensure you’re going to an operating ride and not just wasting your time.
Whether you’re visiting a Disney World resort or not, the early hours of the day are some of the most popular ride times. If you don’t want to get up early for your vacation, stay in the parks until closing time because late-night hours can also bring decreased queue lengths.
USE MOBILE ORDER
If you’re searching for a simple way to cut down on wait times at Disney World, Mobile Order is worth a try. This is another feature of the My Disney Experience app.
You can use your iPhone, Android device, or other web-enabled smartphone to place an order for food from any of the quick service restaurants in the parks and choose a pick-up time. You may skip the line and go straight to the pick-up area to get your meal when your return time arrives.
Not all quick service establishments use Mobile Order, but many of them do. Simply open My Disney Experience and look for the button that says “Order Food.”
The first step is to choose a return time. You can either pick the nearest possible time (if you’re hungry now) or Mobile Order early in the day and select a later arrival time. We recommend placing your orders as soon as you reach the parks so that you know you’ll have food when you need it. If you wait too long, order windows may fill up, leaving you waiting for hours to collect your items.
Choose the meals, sides, drinks, and more you want for your order. Some of these are configurable, allowing you to request additions or removals of toppings or substitute the side item.
You can go back and change your order at any time before it expires. When your flight lands, go to the restaurant and select “I’m here” on the app. You’ll be notified when your food is ready, and you may go inside to get it!
This is a simple method to avoid a line, and it may help you avoid grumpy tantrums later in the day!
USE SINGLE RIDER LINES WHEN POSSIBLE
Single Rider lines are available on a few rides in Dinsey World, which are separate lines for individuals who don’t mind riding alone. When other groups on the ride aren’t full, Cast Members will beckon people from this line to fill in the gaps.
These lines frequently travel faster than normal standby lines, so if you’re the only one in your group that wants to ride a certain attraction, this method can help.
It’s not uncommon for the single rider line to move ahead of the standby queue, but keep in mind that it isn’t guaranteed. It all depends on how the standby and Lightning Lanes groups fit into the ride vehicles. Single Rider might take a long time even if there aren’t many extra spaces available from these groups. When standby is excessively lengthy, single rider is often a faster way to board.
However, if you’re just one of many passengers in your party who doesn’t want to wait, Single Rider is typically a shorter wait time than standby. So, if your friends aren’t interested in riding a certain ride or you all prefer riding alone, this could be a time-saver.
BE AWARE OF THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS
There are certain things in Disney World that you will just be unable to avoid or repair. If it’s a particularly busy day at Magic Kingdom, for example, there isn’t much you can do about it.
You may be able to alleviate the problem with careful planning. On that chaotic day, for example, you might use Mobile Order to bypass queues and sneak away to a calm place to allow everyone a rest from the commotion of the park.
You can’t control the weather, but you may pack a rain poncho and sunscreen in case of any unexpected showers or scorching heat.
Remember, though, that you can’t do it all to make for a perfect holiday. It’s all about your reaction when the inevitable hurdles appear! Pack your forgiving pants and keep in mind that some things are beyond your control.
This lesson builds on the previous one. Don’t be afraid to modify your itinerary if an issue arises that you are unable to correct.
If you’re going to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for Early Theme Park Entry and a Cast Member informs you that it won’t open right away, you may either get angry at the Cast Members and ruin your day, or swerve to the right and ride Space Mountain instead.
When it comes to planning for a Disney World vacation, research is essential. If you find yourself in a bind and need to come up with a plan B, do your homework first so you can make quick and informed decisions if required. We really want everything to go well for you during your visit, but with years of Disney World vacation experience under our
Have a few backup options on hand for your plans so that you aren’t stuck if the first option fails. As we said before, there’s a lot to see in the parks, which may help when you’re looking for a new strategy.
These are our tried-and-true suggestions for people who tell us they’re going to Disney World! We hope that, if nothing else, they’ll help you as you get ready to go.