Learn How to Plan Your Trip to Disney World Like A Pro
A trip to Disney World is absolutely magical. For some, a Walt Disney World vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
To make the very most of your Disney experience, make sure you plan your trip in advance. It’s a great way to ensure that you don’t miss the things you want to see or do.
Read on to discover four tips that will help get you started planning your trip to Disney World like a pro!
1. Know When to Visit
The Disney parks can be super crowded during school breaks. A good rule of thumb is to avoid those times of the year. My biggest tip is to choose the right time to go.
If you can pull the kids out from school, even better. Luckily, we have always been blessed with amazing and very understanding teachers.
Summertime is slightly crowded but not as bad as it used to be. The only thing besides bigger crowds is the heat. I know that we go to Florida to escape the winter, but it can get VERY hot.
So, definitely plan for that. The months of September and October do seem to be the best times to go. Children are going back to school, and it’s less busy.
TIP: Get to the park super early on holidays. They often meet capacity before 2 PM – 3 PM at Magic Kingdom and other parks.
If you want to experience the holiday season at Disney World, we recommend going when it first begins. It is much less crowded at that time. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is jam-packed.
This past year, the park even had to close down the admission gates for a short period. So it isn’t a surprise that they quickly met capacity inside.
2. Choose the Best Tickets For You
I am a big fan of the Park Hopper passes since we like park-hopping and visiting multiple parks a day. In addition, if you are staying on property, you already have the benefit of early admission to the parks.
TIP: Keep an eye on their site and social to see if you can catch a deal. A couple of times a year, they will often provide a free dining plan when you book.
I recommend the 5-day and 7-day Park Hopper tickets. I find they offer huge savings! Simply because you will want a rest day in between or a chance to enjoy the resort amenities and pools.
If you stay for eight full days, 6-day or 7-day passes work.
Ideally, buying nothing less than a 4-day ticket will save you money. However, you can also add on to your Park Hopper tickets, and for a small upgrade charge per person, you can opt for the Park Hopper Plus option.
This will allow you to spend a day or two at the water parks.
3. Length of Stay
Six or seven days is the perfect length of time for a first-time visitor. That amount of time will give you enough time to experience all the parks. Plus, you will still have time for some downtime in your hotel room and swimming pool.
You still may not see everything on your first trip, but it’s okay. You can plan to catch certain things on your next visit.
If it isn’t possible for a return visit, make a list of things that you simply cannot miss and use your My Disney Experience app to help you.
Also, staying on-site is beneficial as you get free transportation, Extra Magic Hours, free MagicBands, and more.
One of the many great benefits of staying at Disney World resorts is that you get early access to book your FastPasses+.
Up to 60 days before your arrival. You also have access to Dining Plans. A big plus too is that you never leave the park or the fun!
Just remember, it’s tough to see everything at Disney, so just make the time to do what you want, and believe me, you’ll have an amazing time.
4. Plan an Itinerary
You may think that you can just walk through any of the parks and go on any of the rides that you walk past. Doing it this way, you may miss a lot. Plus, some rides have really long lines as the day goes on. You will want to go on those rides earlier in the day or book a FastPass+ for them.
TIP: Download the ‘My Disney Experience’ app to book your FastPasses. You get a limit of 3 pre-planned FastPass+ uses per day. These initial FastPass+ reservations may only be used in a single park per day per ticket. Once you’ve used your advance FastPasses, you can get one additional FastPass+ reservation at a time on the day of your visit.
You may also find that there are some rides that your family is not even interested in going on. Again, going to the Disney site can be so helpful.
You can look over the attractions and see if your family will be interested or meet the height requirements. The ones that they don’t fancy, well, those are the ones that you can walk right past.
While an itinerary is important, we also recommend not packing your itinerary too full. This will save you from fizzling out, which we all know can be no fun!
5. Take Some Time to Meet the Characters
A big part of Disney magic is meeting your favourite characters. Depending on the time of day and year, the lines can be super long. Under the heat, it can feel even longer.
Luckily, you can use your FastPass+ at certain Character spots. You should reserve one to use for Mickey at Town Square and Tinkerbell at Town Square Theater, and meet Cinderella and Elena at Princess Fairytale Hall. You can find these all at the Magic Kingdom.
TIP: Our favourite meet and greet where you can get a lot of the classic characters is at the Epcot Character Spot. It’s indoors, accepts FastPasses+, and you can see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy Duck. One right after the other.
Of course, there are many other character spots to hit up that don’t have the option of a FastPass+.
The best bet to catch your favourite character is to have the My Disney Experience mobile app to see where they’ll be.
6. Where to Eat
There are many places to eat at Disney World. However, I will never do Disney without a Dining Plan. I’ve said it many times, and I stand by it. You may want to consider purchasing the Dining Plan too.
This plan will ensure that you can eat for one low price throughout your day. You get 1 Quick-Service Meal, 1 Table-Service Meal, a refillable drink mug, and 2 Snacks.
There are other options as well. Also, depending on the time of year, you can take advantage of a free dining plan. Be sure to keep an eye out for these promotions.
We are foodies, so we love to indulge in Disney’s delicious offerings. We usually have a light breakfast by using a dessert credit, a quick-service lunch credit, and use two dining credits to eat at one of Disney’s more upscale full-service and Signature dining restaurants.
TIP: Try one of the NEW Rose Gold cupcakes and make sure to try a Dole Whip.
You need to be aware of that if you eat at any of the sit-down restaurants, you will need a reservation.
Many times, those reservations need to be made well in advance. We are talking six months in advance at times.
You may want to consider your meal options before you even consider the rest of your itinerary for your trip.
Character Dining Experiences also need to be booked ahead of time, and they fill up quickly. If you can, make arrangements at the time of booking.
7. Plan to Spend Time in Pandora
Pandora – World of Avatar is the newest land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is the newest and biggest addition in over a decade at Walt Disney World.
To me, it’s a must-see. Not only is the land itself incredibly beautiful, but the rides and food are also amazing too.
TIP: Definitely get a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage. Wait times can be up to 3 hours+. Then, come back at night to see Pandora come to life.
You have to experience the Avatar Flight of Passage ride. It’s a ride where you are matched with an Avatar, and you are linked with a banshee.
Then you take flight! It is a delight for your senses and can be described as Soarin’ combined with the most amazing rollercoaster you’ve been on.
To date, it is one of the most exhilarating rides that I’ve been on. The Na’vi River Journey is beautiful and is great for all ages. It also has a much less significant wait time.
Plan Your Trip
There are a plethora of other things that you need to know about Disney World before you go, including the parades, shows, shopping, fireworks, and more.
You will have a lot to do before your trip, but if you do your research, you’ll have a wonderful time once you arrive at the most magical place on Earth!
Be sure to have your ‘My Disney Experience‘ mobile app handy at all times, with free park-wide WiFi–you’re all set. In addition, you can see the parade and fireworks times on the app.
Also, if you turn on notifications, the app will send you helpful notifications of available rides and shows near you.
One thing is for sure, while you may plan out your itinerary from Day 1, just be prepared to go with the flow. Plans change due to things out of your control, but you can always make the most of it.
Make sure you check out my post if you need more information for your next Disney Vacation. You can find out more about Disney packages and see if they’re worth the money!
Do you have any tips to help plan your next trip to Disney World?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.