Spend the extra cash to avoid the parking rush
If you are not staying at one of the Walt Disney resorts that provide free shuttle service, I highly suggest planning ahead when it comes to parking. It is going to be busy no matter what time of day you go (who doesn’t want to visit the happiest place on earth, right?), but go as early as you can. When you find yourself with the choice between standard and preferred parking, splurge the extra $15 and go for preferred. It was a 5 minute walk from our spot to the ticketing booths as a preferred parker. If we had went standard, we would have had to wait for shuttles to come pick us up (it is that far).
I will say that even if you are staying at a hotel with shuttle services, use them with caution. Depending on your hotel, there are only certain time slots when the shuttle will come. It is very important to make sure you ask your concierge for the shuttle schedule before you start your day! It is very convenient, but just make sure that you keep track of your time. Keep in mind when you want to leave and when you want to come back.
It is NOT a walk in the park
If you thought that once you get past the parking situation that you can just walk right up to the park, then you will be sorely disappointed. There’s another step you have to take! You also have to take the monorail or a ferry over to your World of choice (remember, it’s not only Magic Kingdom! There’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios). This ride adds another 15-20 minutes onto your trip, so keep that in mind.
Don’t go during the summer. But, if you do, STAY HYDRATED!
Here’s a big tip from a Florida native: DO NOT GO TO THEME PARKS IN THE SUMMER! Florida summers are notorious for being unbearable to tourists and locals alike. Ever been inside a sauna? That is what it feels like once you step outside your door. It is not just because it is sunny and bright, it is because the air is filled with humidity! It sucks the life out of you sometimes. The best way to combat that? Go in October or November. Can’t go during that time? Better bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a spray bottle fan, and good old dihydrogen monoxide.
I was surprised by this fact, but they actually let us bring our own bottled water inside. Take full advantage of this! Water costs at least $6-7/bottle if you buy it at the park. And trust me, you are going to need it. Stay hydrated and take rests in the shade if you need to. The good thing is that most lines at Disney are covered! It is still humid out, but at least you won’t have the sun beating down on you and your kids.
Leave your selfie stick at home
I know you have already envisioned filming yourself on Thunder Mountain taking on the bumpy turns and partaking in joyous screams. (Make sure you don’t drop anything like I did) Nip that dream in the bud because the newest craze in picture taking is actually banned! Sure, they allow water and food in the park, but selfie sticks? Uh-uh, they confiscate it from you at the entrance. But no fear! You can fill out a slip that allows you to pick it back up again at the end of your day.
You like saving money, right? We all know that vacations cost a lot of that green paper stuff. Tickets to Disney are almost $100 for adults now! Isn’t that crazy?! On top of that, you have to pay for parking, lunch/dinner, and souvenirs. If it’s your first time, you might even go way overboard and stockpile on Disney pins, costumes, professional photos, Mickey ears, candy, a balloon with another balloon inside in the shape of Mickey… the works. And that’s totally fine! These are memories in the making…
But what if it’s your second or third time and you don’t feel like spending a fortune on souvenirs? But you still really, really want them?
Here are some tips:
~Don’t buy any stickers, magnets, keychains, pins, T-shirts, etc. at the park gift shops! They are completely overpriced! On International Drive (where all the restaurants and outlets are), there are discount souvenir stores all over the place that sell them for a fraction of a price. They literally have everything you could want.
~Make your own Mickey Ears. It’d be a great project to do with friends or family!
~Don’t buy those “professional” photos they take of you at the park. Stage your own Disney photo ops and edit them yourself at home! It is so easy! Here are some apps you can download on your phone to do it (PicMonkey, Canva, Lomotif).
Let everyone know you’re celebrating
There are multiple reasons why someone might be visiting Disney. They may have never been before, it’s their birthday, their anniversary or it’s a family reunion. Whatever the reason, Disney is there to celebrate with you! At the ticketing booth, be sure to tell the cast member what you are celebrating. They will then give you a specific pin with your name on it. It was my mom’s birthday and everyone gave her a genuine greeting! It was cute seeing little kids (and older kids at heart) wearing “It’s My First Time” pins too! They really know how to make you feel special here…
***There’s an app for that (My Disney Experience)***
I saved the best for last…
Disney Theme Parks have always been really great about “fast passes”. Unlike their competing neighbors (*cough* Islands of Adventure *cough*), you have never have to PAY EXTRA for them. They used to have these machines hidden off to the side where you can get fast passes for a ride. You’d pick a future time and print out a ticket.
Now there is something even more convenient! Introducing My Disney Experience , your new best friend. This bad boy app can do so many amazing things. It has an interactive map of the park (including location finder), easy access to the ugly photos they take of you on the rides, and…MOST IMPORTANTLY…it allows to sign up for FastPass+.
All you have to do is register, connect your purchased tickets to the app, and pick your times for FastPass+. The coolest part is that everything is connected to your ticket (which is the size of a credit card)! You’ll stand in line a few minutes before your allotted time, put your card to the Mickey scanner, see it turn green, and you’re in!
CHECK OUT MY DETAILED POST FOR USING THE FASTPASS+ COMING SOON!
Remember: When you first use it, you can sign up for THREE different rides. Make sure you keep in mind the times and locations of these rides when selecting. You want to be there on time! After the first three, you can only sign up for one at a time. Tip: Once you’ve scanned your card for that FastPass, you can immediately sign up for another one! Also, if you have the opportunity to sign up for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Roller Coaster – grab it! – they are the first to go.
Whether you follow these tips or not, enjoy your trip to Walt Disney World. It is an experience you cannot miss!