1. Plan. Plan. Plan. We are Disney Vacation Club Members so we start planning as soon as we can, which is six months prior to our trip.
- Use the My Disney Experience on the official Walt Disney World website here. You can also download this app to your phone. With this, you can do everything...book rooms, make dinner reservations, reserve FastPasses, purchase Dining Plans etc.
- Make dinner reservations. Do not wait to book reservations at popular places like Cinderella's Royal Table or Be Our Guest Restaurant. They go fast! Also, don't forget to reserve FastPasses for popular rides like Peter Pan's Flight and Space Mountain.
- Plan your dinners and FastPasses at the park you will be visiting each day. It is not so much fun to spend the day at Animal Kingdom and realize you have a dinner reservation at Epcot that same day. We decide what restaurants we want to visit first. Then we book the FastPasses for the park that the restaurant is located in on that day.
2. If Possible, Stay In Disney. Even better, stay in one of the resorts located on the Monorail loop.
- It is much more convenient with children of any age to hop on the Monorail and head back to your resort any time of the day.
- Staying at a Disney resort allows you to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours...times when the parks are open exclusively to Disney Resort guests, as well as allows access to Disney transportation, including transportation to and from the airport.
- Ask for things you normally wouldn't think of. I always ask for an extra clean room...because... well...me. I also ask if any have been recently renovated and request one of them. And this seems silly, but I also ask for a room near the elevators. If not sometimes you walk for what seems like miles to get to your room after a long night at the park. The Disney Staff are always so kind, and will tell you they cannot promise anything, yet I have never been disappointed. : )
3. Be Realistic.
- Disney World is huge. No matter how many times you visit, or how long you stay, you will not be able to do everything. And that's ok.
- Remember, it is your vacation. Don't spend it in a frenzy trying to accomplish everything you've ever seen or heard about Disney. Prioritize, and be content with the memories you are making.
4. Do What Works For You. But be smart about what you do.
- Depending on the ages of your children, spending the entire day in the parks under the hot sun with huge crowds may not be the best idea. Just because you bought a park ticket does not mean you have you spend every minute there.
- When our children were small, we woke early and had breakfast, followed by an hour or so swimming at the pool. Then we all showered and put fresh jammies on. We snuggled and watched the adorable Mickey Mouse cartoons they play on the television and even took a quick nap. Then around four in the afternoon, we dressed and headed to the park for dinner and an evening of fun! We arrived as many were leaving. And honestly, the parks are just as beautiful in the evenings as they are in the daylight.
- Now that our children are older, we sleep later. Then we grab breakfast and eat by the pool, before returning to the room for showers. The older kids still rest so that we can stay as late as possible at the parks. We head to dinner and park fun around four and stay until almost closing.
- Do not. I repeat. Do not stay until closing. Leaving the park at closing means you are among all the other exhausted people heading to the Monorail and buses all at the same time. Recipe for disaster. Leaving a half hour or so earlier allows you to exit the park ahead of the crowd. Winning!
- Disney World can be overwhelming for little ones. When our kids were little, we allowed for a day in the middle of our trip to be a Rest and Relax Day. We slept in, spent more time at the pool, and went to the park later. This allowed for the kids to get caught up on sleep and enjoy the rest of the trip even more.
5. Miscellaneous Things To Know Before You Go.
- Don't let rain spoil your day. It rains a lot in Disney. Sometimes it is a quick shower, other times it's a downpour. One of the best times to be in the park is right after a storm. Everyone else leaves! One particular night after a thunderstorm, we were able to ride all the popular rides over and over again with no wait! Again...Winning!
- Purchase The Photo Pass Memory Maker. It allows you to have photos taken at any park by Disney photographers, and then download them as soon as you get home.
- Be comfortable. This isn't the vacation to pack your finest. Shorts, sundresses, sneakers and a light sweater for restaurants are about all you need.
- Ladies, leave your purse at home. I don't bother with a purse in Disney. I take my driver's license and have Steve carry it in his wallet. Then I carry a Disney backpack into the parks.
- Pack it lightly with sunscreen, hand wipes, a camera, and autograph books.
- Bring treats for your littles from home. There are Disney toys and stuffed animals everywhere!!! We always let our kids get a balloon the first night at Magic Kingdom, and then a few things throughout the week. I usually bring small surprises from home to leave on their beds at different times during our stay. : ) I get Cinderella barbies from Walmart, and jammies and shirts from The Disney Store website on sale. Just something extra to make memories without spending a ton of money!
- Above all...Enjoy. It is a magical place for you and your family. Relax and have fun. After all, it's not called The Happiest Place on Earth for nothing.
That's it, my friends. If you have any of your own tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
And...Have a Magical Day. : )