Top 10 Disney World Tips (every first timer should know!)

My family is headed to Disney World this fall and this is our first time as a family and we are learning new things on how to make the most of our trip.  We have been talking with a few different resources and we will be sharing everything we learn along the way and our first is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  Amanda Shellenbarger is a mom of two kids and is a huge lover of anything Disney.  She has been to Disney over 20 times!  

Planning a Disney vacation is overwhelming and sometimes very un-magical, that's where Amanda can come in and help!  She will design the perfect trip for you and your family all at the perfect price and all FREE of charge!

Amanda’s Top Ten General Tips for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

1. Disney World is HUGE!  The Walt Disney World property is two times the size of Manhattan!!! There are so many things to do at Disney World that you can’t possibly do it all. So my motto is to enjoy what you are doing each moment and never worry about what you are not doing! Each time you visit Disney, you’ll experience the magic in a new and exciting way.

2. Stay on the Disney property! We used to always stay off property as we thought it would be cheaper. Now, we will never stay off property again! When you stay on the Walt Disney Resort property, the magic never ends! There are some many benefits to staying on property including the time and money you save from being in the World. You can create a Disney package that will fit your family and your budget with your accommodations and tickets and even add on a dining plan. Each day at least one of the parks is open extra morning or evening hours (extra magic hours) for resort guests only! Many resorts offer free nightly entertainment with activities such as movies under the stars, making s'mores with Chip and Dale, or enjoying a nightly parade on the Seven Seas Lagoon. When you stay on property, you receive free transportation to and from the airport. The resort transportation to the parks gets you to each park quicker and you arrive closer to the opening gates! Disney Cast Members are available 24 hours each day to make your vacation relaxing and carefree!

3. Timing is everything!  If possible, book your vacation at least 180 days in advance. Disney Dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance of your arrival. If you want to be sure to get reservations for the most popular places such as the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast’s Castle, Cinderella’s Royal Table in Cinderella’s Castle or Chef Mickey’s, you need to make those early!

4. Dining Plan.  If you are staying on the Disney property, you take advantage of the Dining Plan as it saves you money! At certain times of the year, Disney may offer free dining, but if it’s not free dining during your stay, I think the dining plan is worth every penny. The Disney Dining Plan includes 1 sit down meal (table service), 1 quick service counter meal and 1 snack per day. Theme park food, resort food, and characters meals are not cheap. We have found the Disney Dining plan usually saves us hundreds of dollars for our visits compared to paying for meals and snacks out of pocket. If you are doing character meals and/or princess meals which are typically your more expensive meals, then you save even more with the Dining Plan.

5. Beat the crowds with Fastpass! For the most popular rides and attractions, Disney offers a Fastpass. For these rides obtaining a Fastpass can save you hours! When you obtain your Fastpass it will tell you a time to come back to ride the ride. This time can be anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. When it’s your time, simply show your Fastpass and enter the special line, and you will have minimal wait time.

6. Utilize Child Swap! Many visitors to Disney World do not know about the Child Swap option. If there is a ride that not everyone in your party wants to rides or a ride where not everyone meets the height requirements, all of you can get in line for the ride. When you enter the line ask the Cast Member if Child Swap is available. The cast member will give you a special ticket if Child Swap is available. When it’s time for your party to ride, those who want to ride get on board. For the child who doesn’t want to ride, one parent stays behind with that child. When the party is finished riding, the parents can swap off and the other parent can then ride with the rest of the party again without standing in line again. Both parents get to experience the ride with the child(ren) who want to ride.

7. Pack your own poncho! It is very normal to have sporadic showers in Florida. You don’t want to miss out on your precious park time for a little rain. Go to the dollar store and buy a poncho for everyone in your party. Take it in your park bag each day. When it rains, everyone huddles under cover. You can put your poncho on and avoid lines on the attractions. You can certainly purchase ponchos in the park, but you’ll pay quite a bit. So be prepared and save some money.

8. Take a stroller or rent one for kids under 8! There is so much walking that your kids will tire out quick with their short legs even if they are used to walking a lot. In every park there are sections for stroller parking. You can park your stroller and enjoy that area of the park without the hassle of having to have it with you. But when it’s time to move on to another area of the park, you’ll be happy to have that stroller!

9. Pack a small cooler to take into the parks. Disney does allow you to take in food and drinks. You will want to drink lots with all the walking you will be doing. Pack refillable water bottles or other drinks. Pack some snacks so you do not end up over spending on food in the parks.

10. Hire a planner!  Do not plan your Disney vacation yourself! Disney is overwhelming to tackle alone no matter how many times you have been. Disney is constantly changing and evolving so things may be quite different this trip compared to even a year ago. I recommend using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner that offers first class concierge services for free. Let them do all the work for you by helping you find the best deals, choosing the best resort, booking all of your dining reservations, planning your park days and more. From the first time we used our Disney Vacation Planner with MickeyTravels, I knew I’d never do it on my own again! And now I am lucky enough to be able to help others plan a magical vacation with my free services!

Amanda Shellenbarger
Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
MickeyTravels, LLC
704-651-1195 / 888-732-8242
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