25 MUST HAVE Tips & Tricks
Our Disney vacation was honestly one of the best family experiences we've ever had. We went when A was 9 and L was 8, so they were still young enough to enjoy it all, but old enough to remember everything as well!
We were able to visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Read below for all my tips, tricks, and advice on how to navigate such a fun-filled trip.
Grandpa, Grandma & my niece were able to join us on this trip of a lifetime!
Before Your Disney Vacation
- Buy Your Tickets and Book Your Room - You MUST have a ticket or annual pass if you are planning on going to any of the Disney parks. However, you do not have to stay at one of their resorts. But if you choose to (and there are a lot of reasons you might want to) there are 32 resorts to choose from so you have plenty of options!
- Download the My Disney Experience (MDE) App Right Away! It is available from the app store here and is an absolute must have. It will let you purchase tickets, link all your reservations, PhotoPass pictures (more on that below), search ride wait times, access maps, look up restaurants & menus, and even shop for souvenirs!
- Order Your MagicBands - Another ones of the "Must Haves" is a MagicBand. This is your literal KEY to everything Disney. It will unlock your room door (if you are staying at a Disney resort), be your ticket to get into the park, connect your PhotoPass pictures to your account, charge your restaurant bill to your room, and more. If you order them online, you can coordinate your whole family's bands!
- Book Your FastPass+ Attractions ASAP - You can schedule 3 attractions per day that allow you to "skip the line." When you purchase your tickets, you can book your FastPasses up to 30 days in advance, and if you reserve a Disney resort room, you can choose up to 60 days in advance! Choose your attractions as soon as you can because they do fill up quickly and you want to pick the most important (to you!) ones first.
We used one of our FastPasses for "Enchanted Tales with Belle" and both kids got chosen to be in the show!
- Make Your Dining Reservations - There are some restaurants in the park that are almost impossible to walk into and eat without a massive wait. You can make reservations up to 6 months in advance for your dining experiences through the MDE App, online, or by calling Disney directly.
- Make a Plan - It's 100% worth it and will save you time if you make a list of what attractions/characters/rides are most important to you and figure out the best times to go. Then you can make an itinerary for your Disney vacation. Otherwise, you may find yourself wandering aimlessly staring at a map, trying to figure out where Tinkerbell is located while your toddler has a meltdown...
During Your Disney Vacation
- Arrive Early - Check out the park's opening time and try to be there an hour before, if possible. The lines can get extremely long and you want to get in line right away for a ride or character visit!
- PhotoPass - There will be professional photographers located throughout all of the parks that will take your picture at the perfect locations. If you have a MagicBand, they can link it right to your account so you can see them on the app or on their website later. (They can also take your picture with your phone or camera too!)
- Purchase MemoryMaker If You Can - If you are like me, you're the one always taking the pictures and never actually in them yourself. MemoryMaker organized all those pictures they took throughout the park (which I was in!) and even added some fun extra details....
MemoryMaker added Chip in!
Space Mountain captured by PhotoPass!
- Bring a Water Bottle - You can fill it up for free at any cafe in the park with fountain drink service. Florida is hot, so drink as much as you can.
- Use the Rider Switch/Child Swap Service - Perfect if you have a child that isn't tall enough to ride, but another one is. One parent can ride with the older one, while the other waits with the younger one. Then you can switch places without having to wait in line a second time!
- BYOS (Bring Your Own Stroller) - If you have younger ones, walking all day is probably going to wear them out - plus you'll have extra storage for souvenirs and gear. Stroller rentals at Disney are pretty expensive ($15/day for single, $30/day for double) and that can add up quickly. Bring your own if possible to save money.
- If It Rains - Be prepared by bringing your own ponchos and/or umbrellas because the ones in the parks are expensive. But don't get too cozy - often those afternoon Florida rain clouds pass by quickly and you'll be back to sun in no time.
- Bring Your Own Food - Yep, you read that right. You can bring your own food/snacks into the parks to save on money! This is especially helpful when you have kids that are picky eaters or when trying to pinch pennies.
- But Splurge on a Few Disney Treats - There are just some things that can't be replicated. Disney ice cream, LeFou's Brew, and the infamous Dole Whips for example...
- Bring an Autograph Book - Yes, you can buy them at the park, but it's so much cheaper to make your own! Customize and personalize your own pages and print them off at home to bring with you. And don't forget a marker or pen for the characters to sign with!
- Parades - You'll want to find a spot for the parade at least 30-60 minutes before it starts...but if you decide to skip the parade(s) - lines for the rides are shortest during this time as everyone else is occupied with holding their spots or watching the parade!
- Pack Cell Phone Chargers - This is a big one, especially with the usage of the MDE app. My cell phone is my lifeline in the park, so I never leave home without extra chargers. You may even want to bring walkie-talkies for your group. If you get separated and don't want to rely on cell coverage, this could be a lifesaver!
- Buy Your Souvenirs Ahead - We purchased our Disney vacation shirts, stuffed animals, mugs, frames, etc ahead of time off eBay and Amazon and saved tons of money. We were able to wear our shirts to the park, we all coordinated, and we had more money to spend for the actual trip.
- Get a Free Button - Stop in a guest services and get a FREE button to celebrate any special occasion: birthday, engagement, just married, anniversary, 1st visit, etc. This is one way to remember your Disney vacation always!
- Trade Pins - You can trade metal pins with Cast Members or fellow guests wearing lanyards, which is fun way to interact and meet new people. Of course, you need to have your own pins first, so start stocking up!
- Pick a Spot for the Fireworks Show - This will depend on whether or not you want to see the projections on the Castle, if you mostly want to see the fireworks, or if you want a quick exit afterwards. Our favorite spot is toward the back of "The Hub" near Casey's Corner - far enough back that we can see all the fireworks and make a quick(ish) exit.
After Your Disney Vacation
- Make a Photo Album/Collage/Frame - Have all the characters sign an 8x10 mat and then use it to frame your favorite picture from the park! And don't forget to share and post all your Disney vacation pictures all over social media to make everyone else jealous!
- Binge Watch Movies & Listen to Playlists - Feeling like you want more Disney? Re-watch all your favorite movies and listen to Spotify Disney playlists. It'll make you feel (sort-of) like you are back in the land of Disney.
- Start Planning Your Next Disney Vacation! - Disney is AMAZING at making everyone feel happy (cast members are specifically trained how to be the best at customer service) and returning from a trip can be a harsh check of reality. So start planning the next trip and look forward to making more memories!
Until next time!
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