photo of castle during daytime
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Walt Disney World: Top tips and tricks to make your vacation magical!

No denying that Walt Disney World, one of the happiest places on earth, is expensive to visit. But visiting this beloved magical theme park on the East Coast is an incredible experience.

It is tough to plan this vacation because of the sheer size of the park and the numerous things to do in each of Walt Disney World’s 4 theme parks namely Magic Kingdom(classic Disney rides and Cinderella castle), Hollywood Studios(Star Wars: ROR, Toy Story Mania), EPCOT(Guardians, Remy’s) and Animal Kingdom which is where the fantasy world of Pandora is located in. Walt Disney World has water parks and mini golf courses too.

Compared to Disneyland on the West Coast which is small in size and has only two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure Park) located right next to each other, Walt Disney World need planning to a certain extent to optimize your days in the park.

Don’t fret, we got you covered with these incredibly helpful tips from experienced travel bloggers who have visited Walt Disney World numerous times.

1. Stay at a Disney Resort

grandfloridian resort
Photo by Kim Swanson

Staying at a Disney Resort not only provides that extra magical experience but other great benefits too.

A huge benefit to staying at a Disney Resort is the extra time you get in the park.  Every day, all the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks open an extra 30 minutes early just for Disney Resort guests.

Getting a head start on your day allows you to do a lot before the park opens to everyone else. Also, on select nights the theme parks stay open for extended evening hours just for Disney Resort guests.

Another great benefit to staying at a Disney Resort is you get to take advantage of their fun and convenient transportation. Once, you step foot on Disney property, you never have to drive again until you are ready to go home.

All Disney Resorts provide free transportation to their 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs either by bus, monorail, boat, or Skyliner.  Quick transportation to and from the theme parks is especially nice when visiting with young kids and needing that mid-afternoon break.

Recommended by Kim Swanson of Traveling Swansons blog.

2. Free Disney souvenirs

magic kingdom
Photo by Lanie van der Horst

Did you know that Disney gives out free souvenirs? Anyone can request a Celebration Button to announce a birthday, first-time visit, marriage, or even a fill-in-the-blank button for any type celebration.

Celebration buttons are handed out at a few different places including Guest Services, the ticket booth at each Disney Park, and the Disney Resorts. Sharpies are available for guests to fill in their name or reason to celebrate.

Personalized Celebration Buttons are a great way to get noticed at Disney World. Oftentimes, the cast members will read the button and give their wishes, even using the name on the button.

Sometimes, guests are given drinks, desserts, small Disney memorabilia, or personalized cards from a cast member after they notice the Celebration Button.

Recommended by Lanie van der Horst, Make More Adventures blog.

3. Lightning Lane passes

Photo by Josh Band

Disney’s Lightning Lane passes are a new option at Disney, having replaced the FastTrack+ system, which stopped during the Pandemic. If used correctly, they can be more than worth your money. They are included in the Genie+ service, but can also be purchased individually and the prices vary by date and park.

These passes allow you to skip the stand by queues as you pre-book a time slot to get on the ride. They include some of the most popular rides like Thunder Mountain and “It’s a small world”. Although, rides with the longest waits such as Avatar Flight of Passage are not included on Genie+ passes. These rides require an individual Lightning Lane booking and cost extra money, again, prices vary depending on dates.

Ensure your first booking is early in the day to get the most out of the standard Lightning Lane pass. This means you can make 3 reservations each day instead of 2, as you need a 2-hour gap between bookings. Are the Lightning Lane passes worth it? Yes, if you do not have that many days in Disney and want to do the best rides without queuing. If you have over a week in Disney parks, it’s better to just queue.

Recommended by Josh from A Backpacker’s World blog.

4) Mid-day break at Disney World

Lose yourself in the enchantment of Disney World, but don’t forget to take a break from its bustling environment. Mid-afternoon is an ideal time for this; when parks reach their maximum attendance, it’s tougher to get around and you won’t be able to move through the attractions as fast.

The park can be especially busy during special events, like the RunDisney Dopey Challenge.

Find a quieter spot in the park to unwind. Or, head back to your hotel for a swim and mid-day break where you can relax and in total comfort.

Whatever you decide to do, taking some personal time whilst visiting Disney World will ensure that you have the best vacation possible.

Embrace your inner child with a well-deserved rest – you’ll get back out there refreshed and ready for more!

Recommended by Debbie Fettback from World Adventurists blog.

Also read: Tips to enjoy Winterfest at California’s Great America with Kids

5) Make a Plan

Photo by Angela Spicer

One of the best pieces of advice for anyone thinking of visiting Disney World is to have a plan before you go. Within your group, if you all make a list of the “must do” things, you stand more chances of everyone getting to do their favorite things when they’re planned in advance.

Disney World is so big, you could visit for three weeks and still never see everything. With the introduction of pre-booking park visits, a plan is easier to complete. We recommend deciding on two or three rides you’d really like to go on each day. Remember if you’re not purchasing Genie+ then you may be waiting in queues on busy days.

Alongside your favorite rides, decide on where you’d like to eat. Quick service locations don’t need to be pre-booked, but table service restaurants can be booked up to 60 days in advance depending on where you’re staying.

The last planning tip is to download the parks app before you visit and familiarize yourself with the layouts of the parks. This will help streamline your plans.

Recommended by Angela of The Life of Spicers blog.

6) Bringing snacks into the park

A great hack for visiting DisneyWorld is to bring snacks and food in order to reduce food costs.  Experiencing food at the parks is absolutely worth it, but three meals a day plus snacks can add up quickly. 

Plus if there are any food intolerance or limited time to find a place for a meal, bringing snacks and food is a great way to lower anxiety around this.  Tuna packets, protein and snack bars, chips, and sweets are all fine to bring as well as pretty much any food that does not need to be reheated.  The main issue is the size of the bags that enter the park, and it is important not to bring in glass containers or alcohol.

Recommended by Diana of Travels In Poland blog.

7) Dining reservations

Topolinos character breakfast
Photo by Kim Swanson

When planning a Walt Disney World vacation it’s important you make Advanced Dining Reservations; especially for some of the most sought-after restaurants.

Some restaurants at Disney World that book up quickly includes Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom, O’hana(dinner) at Polynesian Resort, Space 220 Restaurant at EPCOT, Oga’s Cantina at Hollywood Studios and the character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace in Riveria Resort.

If staying at a Disney Resort, you can make reservations for your entire length of stay up to 60 days before your arrival.  If not staying at a Disney resort, you can make dining reservations up to 60 days in advance.  Reservations can easily be made on the My Disney Experience app.

Some of the most sought dining reservations do book up 60 days in advance, so if there’s a restaurant you really want to eat at, you need to book it as soon as the booking window opens.

Recommended by Kim Swanson of Traveling Swansons blog.

8) Save Money By Booking The Lounge Option For Dining Experiences

disney dining lounge
Photo by Katie Caf

Did you know that for certain high-end dining experiences, like the brand-new Space 220 restaurant in Epcot, you can book the lounge option and have the exact same experience as those who booked a full dinner? Well, you can!

Some Disney dining experiences are so unique and creative that they have become a not-to-miss stop in the parks. But they also usually carry a hefty price tag, and a long 3-course prix-fixe menu can eat up hours of park time! 

For those that want to fit in all that they can into a day in the parks (and try all the snacks!) choosing the lounge over the restaurant during booking can be an amazing time and money saver. 

If you book the lounge option for certain restaurants in Disney you get the ambiance and experience of a high-end Disney dining experience without the hefty price tag!

Recommended by Katie of Katie Caf Travel blog.

9) Rope Drop Strategy

star wars
Photo by Faith Hansen

While rope drop can be tricky with little ones with smaller legs and strollers, it is a #1 tip when you are visiting Disney with a teenager.   Never heard of rope drop? While each of the Disney parks has an opening time, the publish time is when Disney allows guests onto the rides, not when they open the gates.

In general, Disney opens their gates from 30 minutes to an hour before the rides open. So the Rope Drop trick means arriving at least 45 minutes before the published time and going as far back into the park as you can until you literally reach the area that is roped off. Then as soon as that “Rope Drops “ walk directly to your absolute favorite, cannot miss ride. 

And what are those best rides to head to at Rope Drop? At Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride is an excellent choice. Avatar Flight of Passage is the #1 choice for Animal Kingdom. Epcot’s newest Guardians of the Galaxy is the best and most popular choice here. And for Hollywood Studios, it has got to be Rise of the Resistance. Unless you have a soft spot for Toy Story, and then it is Toy Story Mania all the way.

Recommended by Faith Hansen of 3 Tickets Please blog.

Also read: Best things to do in Yellowstone National Park as recommended by experienced travelers!

10) Entering rides almost at park closing time

Photo by Merry Allison

Disney World is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. This means that you will likely spend a large part of your day waiting in line, particularly for the most popular rides and attractions.

One great strategy to avoid long waits is to queue up for a ride a few minutes before the park closes. 

For instance, if the park is closing at 9 pm that day, you can technically line up at 8:58 pm (or even 8:59 pm) and still get on the ride. You will generally have a much shorter wait by lining up at this time. For instance, what may have been a 2+ hour wait earlier in the day is likely to now be only a 30 to 40-minute wait or less (though of course, this varies based on prevailing conditions.) 

You will want to make sure to queue up before closing time though, as they will generally not allow additional people to join the line after closing time.

Recommended by Merry Allison of Virginia Vacation Guide blog.

11) Use The Disney World App

magic bands
Photo by Victoria

One of the best ways to make your trip to Disney World easier is to use the Disney World App. 

See, this app was designed to help you easily purchase park tickets, organize your trip, book park entertainment, and so much more. 

Therefore, by using the app you can do things like make reservations at your favorite restaurants up to 60 days in advance of your check-in date. 

You can also skip the line at the front desk and check into your hotel instantly by using the app to unlock your room door. Plus, your hotel can also use the app to alert you the minute your room is ready so that you can drop off your stuff or relax if need be. 

However, you can also view your Disney MagicBands on the app, deactivate them, or even reset your pin if need be. Similarly, you can even view park maps, get directions, view spending patterns, and chat directly with staff if you have a question. 

Additionally, the app has a whole array of videos and stories to help get your family excited about their upcoming trip and the entire planning process. So, downloading and using the Disney World app is a quick and easy way to make trip planning a breeze.

Recommended by Victoria of Disney Trippers blog.

12) Tips for wheelchair use

walt disney
Photo by by Alanna Koritzke

No matter your reason for needing a wheelchair, Walt Disney World makes it easy for all visitors. At each park you can rent a wheelchair for $12 for one day, or $10 per day for a multi-day visit and no documentation is required. You’ll find the wheelchair rentals right inside the front gate in plain sight at every park.

As far as accessibility goes, when you arrive at the parks they will typically have temporary wheelchairs you can use to get from the parking lots to the front gates where you can leave the wheelchairs with a cast member.

When you approach lines for rides, a cast member will direct you as to which line to enter between the standby, Lightning Lane, or exit. This choice depends on which lanes are handicap accessible so it’s best to wait for guidance or ask which line is best.

This process runs more smoothly if the person in the wheelchair is leading the group as well.

Finally, cast members typically handle your wheelchair when you are getting on and off the ride, so it doesn’t get lost.

Overall, it’s an easy process and makes the parks enjoyable whether you’re on a solo trip or a family vacation to Walt Disney World.

Recommended by Alanna from Periodic Adventures blog.

13) Comfortable shoes

A comfortable pair of shoes is a must-do when you visit Disney World. It’s easy to underestimate how much you’ll be walking throughout the day and if your feet hurt you just won’t have any fun. Don’t forget about all that time you’ll be spending in line or shopping around and keep in mind that you won’t be sitting that much, except for on the rides.

Get a good pair of sneakers and avoid heels, flip flops or new shoes that you haven’t worn before. If you do make the mistake of wearing uncomfortable shoes, you might be able to find a fluffy pair of slippers in the Disney shop.

Recommended by Victoria Heinz My Australia Trip blog.

14) Reusable water bottle

We all know a trip to Disney World is expensive for families. When you add the cost of the hotel, souvenirs, snacks, genie+, and magicbands you are out several thousands of dollars. One of the best ways to save money at Disney World is by avoiding unnecessary cost such as bottles of water. 

The perfect hack for families is to bring a reusable water bottle for everyone with ice and get it filled with water where there are fountain drinks for free. You can ask for as many cups of water as you need to fill your water bottles.

The ice will help kept your water cold on those hot Florida days, or you can use them to keep yourself cool while waiting in line. Either way, after spending 3-4 days at Disney World you can easily save $75-$100 on drinks.

Recommended by Corritta of Itza Family Thing blog.

15) Bringing The Right Camera

It is important to bring the right camera with you to Disney World to capture the moment. In this section, we prepare for you some inside tips and hacks on how to select the best camera.

To capture a family portrait that you will remember for decide, you should choose point and shoot camera because it is easy to use and comfortable to carry. In addition, its long zoom features makes it an optimal camera for streets photography. With all the incredible features, the point and shoot camera comes with a reasonable price. Therefore, I can assure you that you will be satisfied.

Recommended by Ossama of Awesome Traveler blog.

16) Know about the seasonal events

A useful tip when planning a trip to Disney World in Orlando is to find out which events are taking place. There are amazing events that you might want to attend, and you can base when you travel to Disney World on the dates of these events.

Also, based on the events that take place, you can better decide which park to visit on each day of your trip. An example of a festival that can be great to attend is the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. This is a festival with floral displays, entertainment, and more. Furthermore, there are wonderful events during Halloween that can be great to attend.

Recommended by Dymphe of Dymabroad blog.

Also read: Disneyland tips – 16 tips everyone visiting Disneyland Parks in California should know!

Walt Disney World tips to make your trip extra magical
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About Priyadarshini Rajendran 201 Articles
Priyadarshini Rajendran is a travel enthusiast, avid reader and a passionate writer. She has a few of her books published and is writing more books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a software consultant taking breaks for her travels. Her blog is her passion and she writes about travel, books and food on the blog. She offers customized itineraries for South Indian destinations.

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