Walt Disney World In Orlando: Fun Guide For The Whole Family
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Heading To Disney World? Here Are 17 Need-To-Know Tips To Make Your Disney World Trip A Success
Walt Disney World may be the most magical place on Earth, but planning a vacation there can be more than a little stressful. But never fear, because TravelPirates's own Disney amusement park expert is here to share 17 must-know tips to make your trip a dream come true.
1. Download the free My Disney Experience App. You can use it to check wait times for rides, manage dining reservations, choose FastPasses, plan an itinerary, and more. All Disney parks and resorts have free WiFi, so it won't burn your data.
2. Check out a crowd calendar before planning your trip. By traveling in times like September (after Labor Day), November (minus Thanksgiving week), the second half of January, and most of February, you'll save a lot of time, energy, and money.
3. We recommend staying on Disney property for the most stress-free vacation, unless you're planning to visit other Orlando theme parks. The Disney All-Star resorts and Disney Pop Century are budget-friendly options, and you'll still enjoy benefits like:
- Free airport transports with Disney's Magical Express
- Regular bus transportation to all the Disney parks
- Extra Magic Hours (when the parks are open early or late for resort guests)
- Free Magic Bands
4. If you're traveling with a large group, you can save a chunk of change by buying Disney park passes through offers by tour operators. You can save more than $70 per ticket versus gate price—that's like eight plates of Mickey waffles.
5. Be on top of FastPass+ selections. The reservation period opens up 60 days before your trip for resort guests, and 30 days before if you just have park tickets. Passes disappear fast for popular and new attractions, so you won't want to delay.
6. Dining reservations are a must if you want a sit-down meal in Walt Disney World, even in low crowd seasons. If you aren't sure about your plans, grab the reservations anyway—you can cancel up to 11:59 pm the day before the reservation.
7. Bringing your own food into the Disney parks is totally allowed, and is a great way to save money. Disney hotels allow free package pick up, so you can ship yourself a box of bread, peanut butter, cereal, and snacks to enjoy on your trip.
8. Don't buy water bottles around the Disney parks. Any food counter that sells soft drinks will serve you free ice water upon request (pretty great on those hot Florida afternoons). You can also bring a reusable water bottle and fill up at water fountains.
9. You probably won't want to carry a heavy bag around all day. We've found a drawstring backpack is just the right size: it fits into all the personal item pouches on the rides, and will leave your hands free for ice cream.
10. It helps to plan out your days in advance. Pick out FastPasses and rides in such a way that you won't zig-zag to different attractions. Try to move in a circle around the parks. Your feet will thank you later.
11. Take advantage of single rider lines, which often move pretty fast. They're available at three popular attractions: Test Track in Epcot, Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom, and Rock 'N' Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.
12. Unless you want to watch them, plan around parades and fireworks. Wait times will drop during these events. Just make sure you're on the correct side of the park before they start, because certain routes will be closed off and you could end up stuck.
13. Save your feet some trouble and try out some shortcuts. Some of our favorites include taking the Magic Kingdom Railroad to Frontierland or Fantasyland, and taking the boat ride between Hollywood Studios and Epcot's less-crowded back entrance.
14. Embrace the Magic Band. Provided free to resort guests, and also available for purchase, this colorful bracelet serves as your park ticket, FastPass, room key, and credit card. You won't need to carry a wallet at all—just your ID if you plan on drinking.
15. There are cast member photographers stationed in key spots around the Disney parks. While they take professional photos you can later purchase, you can also ask for them to take a picture with your personal camera and they'll oblige.
16. Hold off on buying souvenirs until the end of the day to save yourself the trouble of carrying around—or even losing—your purchases. However, Disney resort guests can elect to have things sent back to the hotel for free!
17. Disney World is a great place to celebrate special events. If it's your birthday, anniversary, or even your first visit, ask at the check-in desk for a button to wear around the parks—it might help you score some free goodies.
Bonus Tip: Disney World's cast members go to infinity and beyond to make vacations incredible. If someone really makes your day magical, you can thank them with a "Great Service Fanatic Card" or a shoutout on Twitter (@WDWToday with #CastCompliment).
By Alanna Smith