Apologies for the break in writing to my numerous fans (hi Dad & Savannah). Aside from the continued growth in business, which is totally awesome and I’m absolutely not complaining, I’ve been working on a fairly long piece over the past couple of weeks about this summer’s epic road trip. It’s either going to turn into a series of posts or a book at this point. Stay tuned.
I’m currently working on a number of Walt Disney World trips at the moment and I thought I’d share some of the top advice I like to give to anyone making their first trip to this gigantic destination.
Don’t try to do everything (IMPORTANT).
You will be tempted, everyone is; just don’t do it. Even at the slow times it is literally impossible and you will become both exhausted and annoyed very quickly.
Believe the transportation advice.
Disney advises that it can take up to 1-1.5 hours to get to your destination using resort transportation. Believe it and plan accordingly. This includes time to get through security and walking times from transportation drop-off to wherever your final destination may be.
Insider Tip:You can summon a Lyft “Minnie Van” to go anywhere on property for a flat $25 fee and save time if you find yourself in a crunch. Vans include car seats and boosters.
Download and use the “My Disney Experience” app on your phone.
This is truly your key to the “World.” You can see wait times, view your daily itinerary, select/change FastPasses, make/change dining reservations, see your PhotoPass photos, and even order park merchandise all from your phone. It is a must-have for this vacation. Log in using the same credentials as you would on the website.
Bring a back-up form of payment and an ID to the parks.
Connect your credit card to your My Disney Experience account and use your Magic Bands to redeem dining credits and charge back to your room. The system is very reliable but, just in case, be sure to bring a back-up form of payment and a photo ID with you when you are away from your room. [Note: If you do not have a Magic Band, you can purchase one before or during your trip.]
Don’t be scared to change your FastPasses (or any other plans).
It’s so easy. If you want to change things up, go for it! This is your vacation. Just make sure to change dining plans more than 24 hours in advance so you don’t get penalized ($10/person cancellation fee).
Insider Tip:If you miss the deadline, try shifting your reservation to a different time at the same restaurant to bring you outside of the 24-hour period. You can then cancel and reschedule.
Enjoy the “side-experiences.”
Walt Disney World has more to offer than just rides. There are a multitude of interactive scavenger hunts, pop-up shows and entertainment, and some excellent, and very unique, food and beverages to enjoy. Take a moment to slow down and enjoy the entire experience.
Don’t discount the slow rides and attractions.
When the parks are busy and you are starting to wear out, it can be really nice to take a break on rides/attractions such as the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority PeopleMover, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the American Adventure, The Walt Disney World Railroad, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, etc. They typically have little to no wait and it gives you a bit of time to rest and relax.
Enjoy the parks at off-peak times.
This advice goes for all times of the year. The parks are the least busy early in the morning (typically opening to about 1-1.5 hours after opening) and late in the evening (after/during the fireworks shows). You can expect the busiest crowds from around 10:00am to 5:00pm on most days. The only times this advice doesn’t work in the Christmas holidays (and that one week during April) when all bets are off and it’s every Disney fan for themselves.
Save time on dining
You can save a lot of time and headache by pre-ordering food on your my Disney Experience app (where available). Additionally, you can enjoy the multitude of awesome snacks available at the Walt Disney World Resort while grabbing your quick-service meals outside of peak hours. Peak times for dining are typically 12:00pm–1:30pm for lunch and 6:00pm–7:30pm for dinner. Again, during peak periods all bets are off. Plan for full-service meals well in advance of your trip and order ahead or you will be waiting in line to order and again for a table.
Note: Don’t forget to use your snack credits if you have the dining plan!
Take time to relax and enjoy your hotel/the rest of the resort.
You will get tired. I average around 22,000 steps on an average day at Disney and I absolutely don’t stay in the parks all day. Take breaks as needed. Try not to worry about what you might miss. Again, it’s impossible to do everything.
I always recommend an afternoon rest when the parks are the busiest (and hottest during the warm months). Personally, I almost always leave after lunch and don’t return until dinner.
If something goes wrong, tell someone.
This is important. Disney is known for their world-class customer service. If something goes wrong, please tell someone. Guest Services or the hotel Concierge are the best resources. They WILL make it better.