Top 20 Disney Tips

Planning a family trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth? Here are my Top 20 Disney Tips:

  1. Use a Travel Agent: Their services are completely free to you. There are even ones who specialize in solely in Disney vacations. Reach out to your social networks to find a recommendation…there are lots of Disney super-fans who live for planning magical vacations.
  2. It Pays to Plan Ahead: 2019 dates have just opened — book everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in advance! I do not recommend taking a “let’s see where the day takes us” approach here…you will encounter 60-minute wait times for rides and restaurants that are fully committed.
  3. ADRs: Stands for Advanced Dining Reservations. ADRs become available 180 days out at 6 a.m. Eastern. Know your ADR date and be on your computer ready to go that day in order reserve your seats at the most popular dining experiences. (I missed the ADR date for our upcoming trip this Fall and the best spots are already booked solid.)
  4. Know Your Parks: Outline your child’s height & interests and buy tickets to the parks they will enjoy most. Each destination is different and unique…you will see certain characters at one place and not another.
  5. Accommodations: There are benefits to staying on-property at a Disney resort, but they can come at a higher price point. Know your budget and review with your travel partner what you really want out of the hotel experience. 
  6. Get the App: The free Walt Disney World app is awesome! It’s loaded with park maps, minute-by-minute wait times for every ride, and the day’s showtimes. You can also order food to-go through it. Download it before your trip and explore using it before your day at the park.
  7. Character Dining: Certain restaurants within the various parks & resorts have Disney characters walking around greeting tables free of charge. These are labeled as “Character Dining” and are noted as such when making your dining reservations. These tend to be the most popular, so again — plan ahead!
  8. Character Dining (another thing): Read the fine print. Know which characters will be making appearances and at what times. Many show up for breakfast but not for dinner. Know the prices and if meal plans can be applied.
  9. Character Dining (last one, promise): They are usually buffets and come at a higher price tag. My advice would be to only book one of these a day. Also, make sure your child would be into the characters coming by to say hi…if they’re scared by mascots or Santa, maybe pass on these until next visit.
  10. Character Meet & Greets: Aw man, I feel so bad for the sweet parents who wait in line for an hour so their little can meet Mickey in the park. You wait forever for a 30-second interaction. Maybe meet their favorite Disney hero at a Character Dining experience instead?
  11. Character Meet & Greets (another thing): Personally, we skip them while in the park. We just point at Mickey & wave as we move right on past his long meet & greet line. Apparently, the characters are much easier to meet & interact with on the Disney cruises. The cruises are pricey, though. A Disney cruise with my family is on this Mama’s wish list!
  12. Character Meet & Greets (last one, promise): See above, in my last point about the Character Dining. My heart goes out to the Moms who wait in line, only for their child to get suddenly bashful or even scared when the time comes to meet their favorite character. Know your child and just skip it if there’s a chance they’re not ready…my hope is that no one’s time is wasted in line.
  13. Parking & Transportation: Will you rent a car and drive to the parks? Arrange a personal ride service like Minnie Van? Or, are you staying at a resort that offers bus transport to the parks? Or, even better, can you walk right into the park from your hotel? Parking and transportation at Disney World can be a cumbersome process — know your options, restrictions, and plan in extra travel time.
  14. In-Park Transport: Disney World is HUGE…much bigger than Disneyland. How will your entire family get around upon entry? Think about baby wearing, strollers, wagons, or if needed, wheelchairs. Monorails and boats offers transport between parks & resorts.
  15. Shoes: Again, the park is huge. Miles and miles of walking. Lots of standing in lines. Wearing broken-in comfortable shoes is an absolute must. 
  16. Stay cool: If you are traveling to Disney World in the summer, prepare for intense heat & humidity. Dress appropriately. I’ve heard of people buying a battery-operated personal fan from the convenience store, tying it to a lanyard, and wearing it around their neck. Stroller fans are also a good idea.
  17. Stay dry: Florida is like the rest of the tropics: afternoon rains come & go intermittently. Bring disposable rain ponchos for your party.
  18. Fast Passes: Seeing long wait times for your favorite rides? You can reserve your place in line with Fast Passes. Jump on it as soon as you can: 60 days out if you’re staying at a Disney resort, 30 days out if you’re not.
  19. Build-in Breaks: It’s easy to get caught up in all the enchantment and blow-off taking a minute to rest. Don’t do it! There could be an epic-tantrum, over-tired baby, or hangry husband just around the corner. Take the necessary time to go back for a quick afternoon nap or for a sit-down lunch in the AC.
  20. Finally, Have Fun: Forget about how claustrophobic the crowds are, the crappy food cart grub, and the high ticket price. Don’t adult today. Have zero expectations. The magic of Disney will definitely sweep you away if you let it!


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