I was 5 when my family first traveled to Disneyland. From conquering the slopes of the Matterhorn to savoring my first chocolate-dipped ice cream Mickey, there was no question that I was hooked by Disney. Two years later, we made our way to Orlando where I discovered the wonder of not just Magic Kingdom, but Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios (now called Hollywood Studios), and EPCOT. Since that time I’ve been back to Disney World 10 additional times with an 11th trip on the horizon (not bad considering I’m from the West!) I have wanderlust for other places around the world as well but no matter what other trips I have planned, Disney World will continue to be an annual trip for as long as I can get away with it. Some may think that’s excessive or even boring to travel to the same place time and time again, but I beg to differ. Not only are my Disney trips some of the few times in my life when I can recall every member of my family being truly and fully together, but with every return trip I actually find MORE to do, keeping things fresh and exciting. Here are my top 10 tips for making the BEST Disney World vacation, ever!
1. Not Bored-Walk
Disney World is more than just a vacation… it’s an all around experience. Once you set foot onto Disney properties, there really isn’t a need to include other non-Disney plans (unless we’re talking about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but that’s an entirely different topic) Sure, you can stay at a hotel off Disney grounds, but, really, I’ve yet to find a good reason why you wouldn’t stay at a Disney resort. Not only do Disney accommodations come with a variety of perks such as: early and late admission to parks, as well as your choice of dining plans, but Disney also offers many great resort options for
any ALL budgets. Ranging from the luxurious Victorian-styled Grand Floridian to cabin-or-tent camping at Fort Wilderness Lodge, you can find that just-right resort for your Mouseketeering needs. My suggestion is to stay at one of the resorts in Disney’s Boardwalk area. Any one of these 5 hotels, sandwiched between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, puts you right in the middle of the action. You also have access to free transportation, a variety of delicious dining options, and a whole range of boardwalk-styled activities including boat and bike rentals, one-of-a-kind pools, miniature golf, and night clubs. It really is not a “bored-walk!”
2. The One-Two Poncho
I may love Disney travel, but that doesn’t mean I have to love Disney prices. Take a jab back at some of those Dumbo-high prices by going prepared with a few specific items you’ll be sure to use. Perhaps the best example of Disney’s inflated costs are the rain ponchos selling for $9 each. Reluctant as you may be, get caught in one of Orlando’s mighty downpours and out comes the wallet. Instead, buy a dollar store poncho before your trip and you’ll be the champ of the round. For more knockout suggestions of items to buy before your trip, check out this article from Naptime Tales.
3. Incredible “Extra Magic Hours”
Mr. Incredible himself couldn’t use his super powers to make this offer any better! Each day, Disney offers exclusive early morning or late night extended hours at one or two of their parks for Disney resort guests only (another perk of staying on Disney property!) All other ticket holders must arrive or leave for normal park hours only. This gives resort guests access to the parks’ most popular attractions but with only half the crowd. Lines are usually much shorter and it’s not uncommon to sometimes stay on an attraction for a second ride. Learn how to take advantage of this incredible super power of your own from WDW Info.
4. Only A Goof Waits In Lines!
Don’t be so goofy waiting in long lines! Take advantage of Disney’s FastPass + service that gives guests the ability to be around the park enjoying other experiences without having to wait so long in line for rides. You simply just reserve a one-hour window when you plan to experience a ride, show up any time during that hour, and you basically walk right on the ride. However, since you’re limited to only a handful of FastPasses per day, don’t become a Scrooge McDuck when waiting in line is your only option. Disney does a great job keeping lines engaging and interactive. Not even Donald Duck can find anything to quack about with this Disney service. For more info and tips for making your reservations, go to Disney Tourist Blog.
5. To the Parks… and Beyond!
Buzz Lightyear himself knows how there seems to be an infinite amount of fun, food, and entertainment at each of the four Disney parks. Once you enter a park, there really are enough activities to keep you busy the entire day, non-stop. But Buzz and Disney know that sometimes vacationers want to be away from all the crowds and find a way to relax beyond the parks. And with Disney, beyond you’ll certainly go! You and your Space Rangers can choose from all sorts of out-of-park activities from golf and horseback riding to enjoying one of Disney’s famous resort pools or ripping across the wake in your own personal speed boat. You can also get your splash on at one of Disney’s two themed water parks. And don’t forget to visit Disney Springs for world class shopping, dining, live entertainment, and movie theater options. With so much to do, it’s no wonder why I return to Disney World as often as I can. The options really do go to infinity and beyond!
6. We’re Following the Leader!
If you want to experience some truly unique and exciting offerings at Disney World, be like the Lost Boys and follow the leader… the tour guide leader, that is. Disney World offers well over a dozen year round and seasonal tours for exclusive behind-the-scenes action. Go on a wild Africa trek at Animal Kingdom, a tour of the nations at EPCOT, a private fireworks cruise, or even learn the power of the force on a 7 hour Star Wars tour at Hollywood Studios. Although these tours do cost additional money, they range in price for any budget and are WELL worth the splurge! There are even special tours for your favorite Little Buccaneer or Princess with the Pirates League or Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. With all the happy thoughts you’ll make and just a little bit of pixie dust, the guided tours will have you saying, “I can fly!” Read more from AllEars.net.
7. Be Their Guest Dining
With over 500 restaurants, quick stops, snack shops and more, Disney really does welcome you to “be their guest” when it comes to dining! Not only can you literally eat at Beast’s royal dining hall, but every restaurant offers unique and tasty options to keep the whole family happy. In fact, Disney is so committed to excellent dining services that guests can request to speak with the chef before ordering to custom request particular foods. This is especially accommodating for those with specific dietary restrictions and needs. Disney Food Blog is a great website to check out for a list of all menus, dining reviews, and tips for making reservations. Also, for guests staying at a Disney resort, be sure to look into booking your vacation with a dining plan option. Dining plans allow you to prepay for meals at a discounted rate for however many meals your selected plan allots per day. What a beauty-ful offer for otherwise beastly food costs at the parks!
Another food option worth mentioning to Disney travelers is grocery delivery services. For those who want to save some money or who have dietary restrictions, having a local grocer deliver your food right to your hotel couldn’t make travel any more convenient! Disney resorts are very willing to provide microwaves and mini fridges for those who need them. Read more from WDW Prep School.
8. X Marks the Spot
All good pirates and buccaneers know that vacationers find buried treasure with a good plan of action and a map. To make the most of each day, know which parks open early, stay open late, and know when and where certain activities and entertainment are offered. Be sure also to have a plan for breaks and meal times. However, even Jack Sparrow knows that the best adventures are those with unexpected detours along the way. Stick to your ultimate vacation goals, but be flexible to allow for spontaneous fun as well! For some of the best Disney planning advice, visit TouringPlans.com.
9. Early Bird Gets the
As Zazu can tell you and Simba both, the early bird not only gets the grub, but early park entrance too. Reserve a table for an early breakfast at one of the parks for a unique character dining experience as well as early access to rides before other visitors are allowed through the gates. Restaurant options include Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, Akershus and Garden Grill at EPCOT, and Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. Get more info about Disney World breakfast options here.