50 HelpfulTips For Planning Your Walt Disney World Getaway
With Fall on the way out and snowy weather just around the corner, we here at MickeyBlog can’t think of a better way to beat the winter doldrums then by planning a Walt Disney World getaway. When it comes to researching and planning your getaway, knowing where to begin can be a daunting task. However, we’re here to make it easy with 50 Quick Tips for perfect planning.
Consider this your checklist for all things related to your Disney getaway and if you need a bit of extra help you can always enlist the services of MickeyTravels at no extra cost to you (just fill out our form below!)
1. Pick Your Dates – The best place to start when planning a Disney getaway is to narrow in on dates. Packages can currently be booked through 2020. For a look at some of our favorite times to visit next year check out this article.
2. Decide On a Length of Stay – Do you want a short weekend jaunt or the opportunity to see and do it all? With four theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs knowing how much time to spend can be a tricky task. Check out this article to find out how many days we recommend.
3. Research Resorts – Disney World has almost 30 resorts within four different categories (Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa) and within these categories are a HUGE range of different price points. It pays to read up on properties to find the one best suited to your budget!
4. To Park Hop or Not to Park Hop? – Are you the sort of family that wants to cram in as much as possible or do your prefer to take your time to savor each park? Deciding whether to spend the extra money on a Park Hopper pass should definitely be a part of your planning process. Here’s a helpful article to help you decide!
5. Consider a Dining Plan – If you’re planning on having most of your meals in the theme parks, want to try out all the incredible snacks or consider character dining a must-do then pre-paying for one of Disney’s awesome dining plans may be just the ticket. Here’s some info on the dining plans to help you make up your mind.
6. Think About Working With an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner – Whether you’re looking for a trusted opinion on plans your making or are looking for an extra set of hands when it comes to organizing Fastpasses, dining plans and itineraries, Disney Travel agents will do this at no extra cost to you! Reach out to MickeyTravels by fill out our form below to find out more!
7. Know Your Payment Options – When you book a Walt Disney World Vacation package with resorts and tickets, a $200 deposit is due in advance. Nothing further is due until the 30-day mark. However, there is freedom and flexibility to make as many payments as you like in between making budgeting a breeze!
8. Set Up Your My Disney Experience Account- My Disney Experience is the dashboard form which you’ll manage all awesome aspects of your trip. Here you can book dining reservations, pick Fastpasses and so much more. The site can be accessed from your PC as a website or via downloading the app on your tablet or smartphone. For more info visit startyourmydisneyexperience.com.
9. Customize Those Magic Bands – One of the first fun tasks you and your family can enjoy together on My Disney Experience is picking your Magic Bands which will be used as a room key and holds all your ticket, Fastpass and dining info. Magic Bands can even be used as form of payment. Simply pick ‘My Magic Bands and Cards’ from the top drop-down menu to begin customization. Guests can pick solid colors and engraving for FREE or pay deluxe for bands featuring fun themes and characters!
10. Consider Memory Maker – For $169 if purchased in advance, you can enjoy unlimited photos during your Disney stay. Whether posing in front of Cinderella’s castle, having a character encounter or taking the plunge with Splash Mountain, photographers or cameras will be there to capture the magic. Memory Maker can be added directly to your vacation package and paid off as you go! For more info check out this article.
11. Book Those Flights and Magical Express – Though you can book flights directly through Disney, I always like to shop around. But whether your book them through Disney directly or on your own, be sure to take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express free airport shuttle. It will take you directly from the airport to your resort and depending on what time you arrive in Orlando may even pick up your luggage for you! Here’s everything you need to know about this convenient service.
12. Map Our Your Days – Before you go into the process of booking your dining and Fastpass reservations, its good to have a general outline of parks you’d like to visit when. This makes it easy for those other bookable components to fall into place. Check out this article for a bit of guidance!
13. Scout for Discounts – One of the cool things about booking a Disney World getaway is that (when available) discounts can be applied to your package even after you’ve booked. For this reason, it pays to keep tabs on current promotions or better yet, work with a Disney TA at no extra cost and they’ll do the discount hunting for you!
14. Booking Dining at the 180 Day Mark – If you want to dine with characters or hit up some of Disney’s most in-demand restaurants then booking as soon as your dining window opens up (180 days before your vacation) is advisable. This means you’re more likely to get all of the reservations you want!
15. Consider a Dinner Show – They may cost two dining credits but Disney’s duo of amazing dinner shows are definitely a treat! You can soak up the island vibes during Spirit of Aloha at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or have a rootin’ tootin good time at the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
16. Enhance Your Vacation With Some Awesome Extras – There are lots of special ways to add an extra bit of pixie dust to your Disney getaway. From fireworks dessert parties to pirate or princess makeovers, Disney World has it all! So use this as an opportunity to go on a Wild Africa Trek or get baby’s first haircut! These are the little additions that will create memories that last a lifetime!
17. Incorporate Some Fun Freebies Into Your Stay – Though many of the activities outlined above cost a fee there are also fun free things you can do while at the parks. Why not head over to Fort Wilderness for Chip and Dale’s Campfire Singalong or check out some Movies Under the Stars at your Walt Disney World resort! For a guide to some of these rare “no-cost” experiences check out this article.
18. Look Into Disney’s Awesome Dining Packages- Disney has a handful of fun dining reservations that come with extra perks. For instance, there’s the Fantasmic! Dining package at Hollywood Studios where you not only enjoy a meal but are handed a ticket for VIP viewing for the evening Fantasmic! Show. There’s a similar package for Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom. What we love most about both of these offerings is that there’s no extra cost so it feels like your getting something extra for FREE!
19. Pick Your FastPasses – Your Fastpass booking window opens up 60 days in advance if you’re staying onsite and 30 if you’re staying offsite. Like dining reservations, the early bird definitely catches the worm especially when it comes to popular attractions like Flight of Passage and Slinky Dog Dash. However, each theme park does Fastpasses a bit differently and some like Hollywood Studios and Epcot even have a tiered system. So do a bit of research before it’s time to book your reservations!
20. Grocery Delivery – If you’re staying at one of Disney’s Deluxe Villa properties, a cabin at Fort Wilderness or even a standard room, you may want to have some essentials like snacks, breakfast items and the all-important cases of water delivered to your room. To get you started, here’s an article we wrote outlining the various delivery options!
21. Make a Snack List – If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, then each member of your party will have 2 snack credits per day that you can spend to sample all the goodies Disney has to offer. However, not all snacks are created equal. Disney considers a bottle of water a snack but also a Dole Whip Float! Do a bit of research on snacks that your family wants to try during your visit! And maximize your credits! Going for higher cost items means your getting the most out of your dining plan!
22. Research Character Meet and Greets – Meeting Disney characters aren’t for everyone but if you have aspirations of cozying up to Mickey or getting a big hug from Baymax then do a little bit of research! You’ll find many of Disney’s most-popular characters scattered about the parks! Don’t miss your chance to get some fantastic photo ops. The My Disney Experience app is a great place to start and there are also websites devoted specifically to meeting the characters!
23. Download the Play Disney Parks App – Bored in line? There’s an app for that! Wanting to unlock special features at lands and attractions in Disney World? There’s an app for that too! The Play Disney Parks App is filled with fun ways to engage as a family and unlock some hidden fun during your visit! Don’t head to the parks without having it on your smartphone!
24. Stock Up On Cheap Items For Your Theme Park Bags – The Dollar Store is my best friend in the lead-in to a Disney getaway. Stock up on $1 ponchos, glowsticks, spray bottles, discounted band-aids, ibuprofen and other essentials. This saves you having to spend an arm and a leg for the same items when you are on the property.
25. Need a Stroller or ECV Rental?- Orlando is absolutely saturated with companies offering stroller or ECV rentals and many will even organize a drop-off point with you near your resort. However, some companies are more reputable than others so do a bit of research and make sure you’re going with a rental company you can trust!
26. Work on a Safety Plan – Don’t be a lost boy or girl! It’s always good to discuss with your family what to do in the unlikely event that you become separated while at the parks. A Cast Member once told me the best advice should someone get lost is to not wander the park. Find the nearest Cast Member. Disney has an awesome system in place to reunite lost little ones with your parents but let’s make it easy on them! There are tons of articles written on the subject so do a bit of research and come up with a plan of your own!
27. Disney Visa Rewards Card – If you’re a Disney Visa Cardmember and have used your card to pay off your vacation, chances are you have rewards dollars that you can use while on holiday! Rewards are issued in the form of a reward card that you need to request Chase send to you. Do this a few weeks before your vacation so that you are taking advantage of this awesome perk. The alternative is to wait at Guest Services at a theme park to get one but this usually involves long lines that are best avoided!
28. Check-In Online – Prior to your vacation, guests have the option to check-in online using your My Disney Experience account. This is a great way to let housekeeping know when to have your room ready, set up charging privileges and highlight basic room preferences before you arrive! It also means that in some instances (if you sign up for text notifications) you can bypass the lobby and head directly to your room! It’s a real timesaver! For more info about online check-in check out this article.
While at Walt Disney World:
29. Ask for An Upgrade – When you do arrive at your Disney World resort, it never hurts to see if there’s an upgrade available. You never know if you might get some pixie dust sprinkled your way! But keep a positive attitude! Upgrades aren’t a “right” but a magical gift that you may be lucky enough to get from time to time!
30. Don’t Forget About Your Refillable Resort Mugs – If you’re on the dining plan, you’re entitled to one refillable resort mug per person. You can pick these up at the food court at your resort. Resort mugs can be used for FREE refills at any of the beverage stations at your Walt Disney World resort (but not at the theme parks.) You can save a ton of money by using this often! Not on the dining plan? Don’t worry! You can purchase a mug for $18.99 to use during your stay. Here’s more helpful info about refillable resort mugs.
31. Get to the Theme Parks Early – The first two hours that a theme park is open are the least busy of the day! It’s also the only time that you can walk right onto Splash Mountain, get off and then ride Splash Mountain again. Maximize your time by using early morning to get to most of those rides you didn’t get Fastpasses for. You’ll be surprised at how much you can squeeze in before the parks start to swell!
32. Take Breaks – Don’t underestimate the crazy amount of walking you’ll do at Disney! During my last trip, I walked 35 miles over 5 days! Now imagine small kids, sweltering heat and heavy crowds! Plan some siesta time into each day where you can kick back, relax and re-hydrate! Your body will thank you!
33. Check Bus Times Using the My Disney Experience App – Disney World is adding new functionality for the My Disney Experience app constantly and here’s a helpful one that’s slightly under the radar! You can use the app to check what time the theme park buses are departing from your resort! This eliminates the need to wait around for 30 minutes until your bus turns up.
34. Use Mobile Ordering – No longer do you need to stand in those hideous quick service lines at Disney World! Now you can order your food in advance with the My Disney Experience App and it will be waiting for you. With Mobile Ordering, you can order and pay for your food while you stroll the parks or while in line for your favorite attractions. Let the eatery know when you’re on the way and head to the designated pick-up window where your food will be waiting!
35. Don’t Forget About Your 4th and 5th Fastpasses – Once you use the three Fastpasses that you pre-booked each day, you can log onto My Disney Experience and book a 4th Fastpasses. Once you’ve used your 4th you can book a 5th and so on! Though availability for FastPasses can get pretty tight as the day goes on, you may be able to use a couple extra Fastpasses to dodge those long lines.
36. Unlock Your Room Using Your Mobile Phone – If you left your MagicBand in your resort room not to worry. You can also the My Disney Experience app to gain access to your room. Simply activate the service when you arrive at your resort room and you’ll be ready to go!
37. Go For a Ride on Disney’s Skyliner System – Enjoy a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World by hopping in a gondola and heading off to Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, Riviera Resort, Hollywood Studios or Epcot! Get to and from the theme parks has never been so easy!
38. Stay Hydrated – Orlando can be hot any time of year. That’s why it’s super important to stay hydrated. My family stops about every 30 minutes to refuel! You can bring bottled water with you into the parks, all of the theme park eateries will also hand out cups of water for FREE so do hesitate to ask!
39. Don’t Miss the 3:00 Parade – For visitors to the Magic Kingdom, the daily Festival of Fantasy Parade is an absolute sight to behold. This afternoon cavalcade features characters galore, whimsically wonderful floats, catchy tunes and even a fire-breathing dragon. Line up early if you want to watch it on Main Street but I prefer the Hub near the train station for smaller crowds and plenty of awesome sightlines.
40. Have Theme Park Souvenirs Shipped Back to Your Resort for Free – If your little one falls in love with a giant monorail set as soon as you walk into the parks, not to worry! If you’re staying onsite you can ask the Cast Member at the shops to ship the items back to your resort. There’s a 24 hour delivery window after which you can pick up your items at your resort gift shop!
41. Be Prepared for the Rain – It rains in Orlando A LOT! However, with a little advanced planning, it doesn’t need to put a damper on your Disney days. Throw a couple of disposable ponchos in your theme park bag each day. Also, highlight a couple of attractions that you might head to if one of those afternoon downpours should occur.
42. Don’t Forget About First Aid and Baby Care Centers – Whether you get a bruise, cut or pounding headache, don’t forget that each park has a First Aid Center with an on-site nurse. New moms should also take advantage of the Baby Care Centers providing a tranquil quiet space to nurse and look after baby. You’ll find both facilities noted on your theme park maps!
43. Don’t Forget About Minnie Vans – If you’re running late for a dining reservation or don’t feel like using the resort buses, Disney in conjunction with Lyft offers a special Minnie Van service to take you around Walt Disney World Resort and beyond. Not only is it convenient but the vans are red with white polka dots! Find out more about the service here.
44. Know What to Do If an Item Gets Lost – Lose a pair of sunglasses on Expedition Everest? Misplaced a souvenir you just bought? Don’t worry. Disney has a pretty simple and effective system in place designed to reunite you with your lost items in no time. Check out this article for a quick rundown on Lost & Found.
45. Find a Perfect Fireworks Viewing a Spots – If you’re visiting Disney World, Magic Kingdom’s incredible evening fireworks display is a must-do. Plaza Gardens do offer the best sightlines but may require that hold down your spot well in advance. There are also some less busy-alternatives which may be more your style. If so, here are some suggestions.
46. Go To Guest Relations For Any Hiccups- Whether it’s losing your MagicBands, not having dining credits show up on your account or any other imaginable hiccup, head to guest services. You’ll find a guest service building near the front of every park and they’re here to help make your visit smooth sailing.
47. Don’t Forget To Tip Mousekeeping- Each day while you’re at the parks, your Mousekeeper has been working to keep your resort room squeaky clean! Don’t forget to tip them a little bit each day to thank them for a job well done. For other tipping, advice check out this article.
48. Don’t Let Left Over Dining Credits Go to Waste- If you’re on the dining plan and have leftover quick service or snack credits on the day you check out- don’t let them go to waste! Head to your resort gift shop and ask a cast member to show you the non-perishable items you can use your credits for! From Krispie treats to lollipops and chocolate goodies you can take candy or savory sweets back home with you to enjoy!
49. Take Advantage of Bounceback Offers – Loved your vacation so much that you’re already thinking about the next one!? Disney often runs special Bounceback Offers for guests who re-book while still at Disney! Reach out to your Travel Agent or Front Desk to find out what offers may be available during your stay.
50. Don’t Forget to Download Those Memory Maker Photos – If you paid for a Memory Maker package don’t forget that you only have 30 days to download all of your wonderful holiday photos before Disney removes them from the system.
We hope these 50 tips will help ensure that your Disney visit is smooth from start to finish! Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for even more tips, tricks and planning advice.
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Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to assist you with everything from finding your perfect package to helping you plan lots of special touches to make your visit truly magical. Best of all my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along on Facebook