12 Disney Tips & Tricks
April 2, 2019
Earlier this year, we took our son, Harper, on his first Disney World vacation. We’re grateful we waited to go until Harper was seven, so he’d remember the experience and have patience with the lines. The highlight of his trip was Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom – a ride that tells the story of Brer Rabbit with a surprising thrill at the end! At the end of the day, we dined with Disney characters at The Crystal Palace. It wasn’t a Michelin three-star meal, but the enchanting space and character interactions made it completely worth it. Harper was even given a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy because a Disney cast member said he was the most polite child they’d seen all day! We were proud of our sweet son, and he didn’t let go of Mickey for the rest of the trip.
Disney World is truly a magical experience, but you might find yourself feeling scattered and wasting time if you don’t make a plan. Our trip was fun for all and stress-free because we took the time to map it out in advance. Here are some of our tried-and-true tips that helped us create a perfect family vacation at Disney World:
1) Download the My Disney Experience App
Make sure you download this app months in advance. It’s a Disney vacation lifesaver! It has everything you need to book a hotel, make restaurant reservations, reserve FastPasses+, and more. You can explore the parks and make day-to-day plans long before you step foot in a park. The app makes it easy to make the most of your time in even the smallest of ways. (There are even games to play with your kids while you wait in line!)
2) Stay at a Disney Resort Hotel
From the lobby to the rooms, you’ll find incredible features that make the resorts as magical as the parks themselves! Your kids will be entertained every step of the way when you book one of these creative accommodations. Not only are the themed resorts incredibly cool and immersive, but you get tons of benefits for staying in one. Extra Magic Hours, complimentary Magic Bands, and free transportation to the parks are just a few of the perks that will leave your family feeling like Disney VIPs.
3) Utilize Magic Hours
If you do decide to book with a Disney Resort Hotel, you’ll score some extra time in one of the theme parks before opening or after closing. We made sure to utilize Magic Hours when we went to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. With the thinner crowds and shorter lines, make sure you take advantage of this exclusive extra time!
4) Get a MagicBand
If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, you’ll receive a MagicBand for free. But you should consider purchasing one even if you stay at another hotel. These all-in-one bands act as a park ticket, room key, FastPass+ reservation, credit card, and much more. Having one for each member of your family will be sure to simplify your Disney vacation.
5) Be Savvy with Your FastPass+
Wait times in lines at Disney can stretch for hours, taking huge chunks from your available time in the parks. Disney’s FastPass+ lets you bypass long lines in the heat for the all best rides. This is especially helpful if you have small children who might lose patience with lines quickly!
With the purchase of theme park admission, you can make FastPass+ selections for attractions, entertainment and Character Greetings up to 30 days in advance of each day of your theme park visit. If you also have a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you can start making your FastPass+ selections as early as 60 days prior to your check-in date.
Check out my FastPass+ Blog Post for more FastPass+ tips & tricks.
6) Take Advantage of the Rider Switch Pass
Some of the rides were too scary for Harper, but Erik and I didn’t want to miss out! One of us would hop on a ride while the other stayed back with Harper. With the Rider Switch Pass, we could exchange places without having to get back in line again. Make sure you tell one of the ride’s greeting Cast Members (a Disney employee) that you’d like to use Rider Switch before you enter the line.
7) Order Ahead with Mobile Food Ordering
The grab-and-go restaurants can have lines that are nearly as long as the rides. Bypass the order lines with the My Disney Experience App. You can review the menus of select restaurants and place an order from anywhere. When you get to the restaurant, use the app to let them know you’ve arrived, and your meal will be ready for you in no time!
8) Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance
It’s nearly impossible eat at some of Disney’s best table-service restaurants without advanced reservations. Make a reservation up to six-months in advance, and keep track of your dining plans with the My Disney Experience app. Dining at one of these themed restaurants is an experience not to be missed!
9) Embrace the Rain
Florida weather can be pretty unpredictable, especially in the summer. Don’t let a little rain catch you off-guard. You can still have a great time if you plan for it! Tuck a compact umbrella and ponchos into your bag, and your family won’t skip a beat no matter the weather.
10) Bring Snacks
If hunger strikes while you’re waiting in line, you’ll be grateful to have some snacks on hand. Bringing in snacks and unopened water bottles is a great way to save some money. You can also get FREE ice water from any of the park’s food vendors if you don’t want to carry around heavy water bottles.
11) Pack a Portable Charger
Don’t miss out on any photo ops because of a dead battery! We used a portable charger to keep our phones going from morning to evening without being stuck at a power outlet. I love my Mophie powerstation charger for our iPhones. It’s long-lasting, lightweight, and charges an iPad too!
12) Buy Disney Trade Pins at the Disney Outlet
Harper loved trading Disney pins with Cast Members and other kids. Buy pins at the Disney Outlet in Orlando in advance to prep your kid for interactive trading fun while saving money. These neat collectibles will be a treasure for your children and are a fun way to decorate a Disney backpack!
Photos by: Catherine Ann Photography