If you haven’t noticed, Disney World is huge. There are things to do, people to see, and food to eat. It’s exhausting, expensive, and wonderfully magical all at the same time and simple factors can make or break your trip. To help make your trip to Walt Disney World as perfect as possible I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you before you leave, when you get there, and throughout your experience. The five tips that I consider to be the most important or helpful are in bold! If you have any more tips for twenty-somethings, feel free to comment.
Before You Go
1.Decide when to go. Disney World is always busy but the slowest months are May and October. The logic behind this is based on public school breaks. May is located between spring break and summer so families have either already gone or will be going later. October is the same: after summer but before winter break. My last trip was in May and the longest line we waited in was probably no longer that 25/30 minutes. The busiest times will obviously be the summer months and crowds also peak during December.
2.When making hotel plans, request a room with a microwave. All rooms come standard with a mini-fridge but only a handful will have a microwave or a coffee maker. Disney wants you to spend money on their food, not make it yourself, but the amenities are available if you ask for them. Another way to guarantee a place to prepare food is to make a reservation at a villa or in a suite. These options are far more expensive but are certainly more comfortable.
3.Research Disney Dining Plans. I’m almost positive that you won’t need one but researching may help you to decide that you would, in fact, like one.
4.Make dining reservations. Whether you have a Dining Plan or not, table service restaurants will almost always require a reservation. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and some of the more popular options will require that you make a reservation that far in advance (some places will fill up 180 in advance at 6:30 in the morning). Table service restaurants are located in all park, in many hotels, and at other Disney locations. Do your homework and figure out what’s right for you. Once you’ve made your reservations, plan the rest of your trip around these times; Disney often charges a fee for missed reservations.
5.I realize that you’re grown and capable of packing your own suitcase but these are the items that I would double, triple, a million times check that you have:
*Hand sanitizer! Thousands of people have touched that turnstile before you.
*Sun block. There is nothing more miserable then getting on and off rides, walking, and wearing a backpack with sunburn on your shoulders and legs. Don’t be stupid.
*A camera (and the extra batters or charger to go with it). If Disney is nothing else it’s a fountain of photo-taking opportunities.
* Your phone charger. By far the easiest item to forget.
*Band-Aides. Blisters suck!
*An umbrella. When it rains in Florida, it RAINS in Florida. Ponchos are about $8 at Disney and while they work, an umbrella will keep the rain from beating on your head all day.
*A sweater. When the sun goes down it gets chilly and then you’ll get cranky. Entering an air-conditioned queue is not fun when you’re already shivering.
*A backpack. You WILL have stuff that you’ll want to take into the park with you and it will be a nasty realization to find out the you don’t have a bag or that your bag is too small/large or uncomfortable.
*Comfortable shoes. Disney World is not a fashion show so it’s important to give up fashion for comfort. You’ll be walking roughly 10 miles a day and no matter how hard you try, you will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER be the worst dressed one at Magic Kingdom.
*Extra clothes. What if it rains? What if you spill something? What if something rips? Bring extra clothes and plan out your outfits before you leave. This sounds silly, yes but at 6am when you’re hungover, exhausted, and preparing to get the the park early it’s so nice to already know what you’re wearing that day.
*A water bottle. You’ll need to stay hydrated but you don’t need to pay $5 every time you need something to drink.
*Travel-sized bottles. Don’t miss your plane because your shampoo was too big.
*Make sure to leave room in your bag to bring new stuff home!
6.Get a Disney gift card. If there is one amazing way to save money it’s this one. Before you go, go to CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, whatever and find one of those gift card trees. There will be a Disney gift card that’s good at the parks, stores, etc. Pre-load that card with your spending budget. We get two: one for gifts and the like, and one for our food. When the card is empty, you’re done spending. Period.
7.Purchase, pack, and bring your own food. Disney’s favorite way to take your money is through food. If you bring your own you will probably spend less than half of what you would have spent if you were to buy every bite at Disney. My suggestions are Poptarts for breakfast in your room and 100-calorie packs (or similar), clementines, Uncrustables, and fruit snacks for the day. I then allow myself one snack and one protein in the park and of course go crazy during my “sit-down” meals!
When You Get There
1.Take a photo of your Key to the World card and set the photo as your iPhone’s lock screen photo. That way, if you lose the card, you can show the picture to a cast member in order to get a new one and if you lose your phone, your name and info is displayed so that your phone can be returned to you.
2.Get a button! Disney manufactures several occasion buttons to make your trip more special. Your options are just married, 1st time at Disney, birthday, family reunion, anniversary, or a blank one to add your own celebration. If you get one and wear it it’s amazing who will talk to you! The trip will be even more enjoyable!
3.Download Disney park apps to your phone. These apps can tell you when characters will be around, what wait times are, when parades and shows are happening, and even which attractions are closer to your current location. They’re a huge lifesaver!
4.Get a times guide. There are general guides and park-specific guides. These guides will tell you when the parks are open each day, what shows are available at what times, where characters will be and when, and if anything is closed. Use this guide to utilize Extra Magic Hours and to character stalk!
During Your Trip
1.Get to the park early! This is not an option! You’ll get to see the opening show and you’ll have your pick at attractions before the mid-morning crowds arrive.
2.Visit characters at all parks. Magic Kingdom is the obvious place to find your favorites but I think that I’ve seen more in EPCOT or Animal Kingdom. The lines to see them will be shorter in other parks, also.
3.Split up your day. Disney is huge and exhausting. Get to the park before it opens, take your time with half of the park, then go back to your hotel and REST! You’ll skip out on the highest temperatures and the biggest crowds and the park will still be there after you’ve napped so you can visit the second half. Then you’ll be rested enough to make poor decisions later in the night.
4.Use Fast Pass. If the line is 40 minutes or longer use Fast Pass. This will cut down on your waits dramatically! It’s also a wonderful feeling to walk past hundreds of people and piss them off by getting on before them.
5.Go to Down Town Disney. There are a ton or restaurants to choose from and you’ll still be in a Disney-filled environment without all the stress of crowds or lines. I also suggest purchasing most (if not all) of your gifts here. You won’t have to carry shopping-bags around the parks this way. Remember, though, that this is a public area not requiring a ticket so the crowds will be quite different. Riff raff, if you will.