Make the best of your vacation with these Disney World Tips and Tricks.
We surprised our boys with a Disney World trip during Halloween time this last year and they LOVED it.
We’ve been a couple of times before, but I think this was the most fun trip yet.
Where to stay
We stayed off property in a timeshare condo. We had points that covered it so it didn’t cost us a ton out of pocket to book it for the week and it was really close to the parks.
We stayed at the Silver Lake Resort in a three bedroom condo. Our group of 14 fit there nicely. They have one and two bedroom condos, but if you need both like we did there is an outdoor that will lock allowing you to leave the interior doors to both condos open.
Since we had two condos we had two kitchens, two washers and dryers, and three bathrooms. That was a great help to get everyone ready in the morning.
The condos are close to Target and a bunch of restaurants including Chick-fil-a. It’s less than 15 minutes to the Magic Kingdom parking lot, which is the furthest one away.
Next time we plan to stay at a Disney resort. It costs more, but there are some great perks including location, transportation, and convenience.
If you are flying in you get a free shuttle between the airport and the resort. They will also send you luggage tags before your trip for your checked bags so that you can just get off your plane and get on the shuttle to the resort. They will pick up for bags from baggage claim and deliver them to your room.
I have also read that some resorts allow you to check in for your flight and check your bags right there so when you get off the shuttle at the airport you can just head straight to security.
You also get shuttles to all the parks and magic bands included. Resort guests can also make FastPasses before everyone else.
Be sure to check with Get Away Today and see what they can do for you on your Disney trip.
Where to park
Each park as it’s own parking lot. So keep that in mind if you plan to go park hopping. With young children, we found it easiest to just move our car when we changed parks. It is possible to get between the parks without moving your car, but we didn’t want to have to get all the way back with the sleeping kids in the dark.
If you are unaware, the Magic Kingdom parking lot is across a lake from the main gate. You will need to take the monorail or the ferry from the parking lot to the main gate so be sure to take everything in with you as a going back out to the car is a treck.
Also, don’t forget to take a photo of what row you are on. You don’t want to be wandering up and down the incredibly long rows in the dark trying to find your car.
Make FastPass+ and Dining Reservations ASAP
If you are staying at a Disney resort you can make your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance. Otherwise, you can make them 30 days in advance. Fastpasses open at 7 am EST 30 or 60 days out from your trip. You can only make FastPasses for days within those windows. So if you are going for several days you can make them for each day as they enter the 30-60 day window.
You can make dining reservations 180 days in advance or earlier if you are at a Disney resort. Some of the restaurants, such as Be Our Guest, fill up quickly so you’ll want to be sure to get your reservations booked ASAP for anywhere you definitely want to eat.
One of my favorite things to get at Disneyland is the Mint Julep. Disney World Magic Kingdom park has frozen ones at Casey’s Corner on Main Street. Definitely make a mobile order on the app so it’s ready when you get there. So yummy!
We also ate at the Diamond Horseshoe with our whole party. If you get the Saloon Feast it’s an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal of barbeque that includes dessert so everyone can fill up and leave satisfied. It’s also a great place for specialty diets, like gluten-free, since it’s mainly meat. We really enjoyed it and would definitely go back the next time we visit.
Find your favorite Disney characters
Another thing to be aware of is when and where you can meet your favorite character. You can check the calendar here to see who is available to meet. This is a helpful thing to look at when planning your Disney World trip. We didn’t look at it when planning what parks we were going to on which days and just missed Baby Groot and Star-Lord. 🙁
I love seeing characters at Disney World. While there are the ones who are out and about in the parks a lot of them have sets. So they are indoors and the line is indoors. Which makes waiting no big deal. We never waited very long to see anyone, so that was nice. Sometimes you are seeing two or three characters at a time, which is extra nice. Don’t forget to have your ticket or magic band ready for the photographer if you have the photopass.
Pin trading is huge and everywhere
Most of the cast members have pins on and are very willing to trade. I even saw several big boards with pins for trading.
We didn’t do the pin trading, but my sister’s family did and they loved it. They had prepurchased some pins for trading on eBay to save some money. Then they purchased starter kits with lanyards when they got to Disney World.
Magic Bands are worth it!
If you are staying at a Disney resort they are part of your package. They are your room key as well as your park ticket, FastPass, your photopass, and you can even attach a credit card to it so you don’t have to carry your wallet.
If you are not staying at a Disney resort you can still buy one either in the parks or online before you go. We got them on the second day when we realized how many times we were going to need to take our passes out for getting into the parks and to scan at the FastPass lines. Well worth it to us. You can not, however, add a credit card if you are staying offsite.
If you lose it simply tell guest services. They are more than happy to help and we were able to get two replaced. My dad lost his on Expedition Everest and we lost Loki’s somewhere around the park. He had it on his hand and when we went to scan it was gone.
Finding your stroller in the dark
If you are staying in the park late it can get pretty dark. And depending on where they have you parking your strollers for the nighttime shows there’s not a ton of lighting. So finding your stroller in the sea of other strollers can be tricky, especially if it’s black since the majority of them seem to be.
We saw a genius trick where someone had taken an LED light strip and wrapped it around their handle several times. It was so easy to spot their stroller that I wish I had thought of it. Next time we will be doing the same thing.
If you buy one of the Disney Popcorn tubs like the green alien from Toy Story or the Evil Queen’s bubbling cauldron you can get it refilled for a small fee. This is a great way to save some money on snacks and get a fun souvenir to take home.
Make sure to drink enough water
I am picky about my water. I don’t usually like tap water, but I can drink it if it’s very cold. However, the water in Florida is not something that I can drink unless I am desperate. We joked that it tastes like alligators and crocodiles, so we called it crocigator water. Haha.
In all seriousness, I would recommend either buying yourself some bottled water or Gatorade to take into the parks. Both can easily be frozen for a cool, refreshing drink during your day.
If you want to refill your water at a drinking fountain I would recommend packing some water flavorings. It will help cover the taste of the plain water. If it’s not something you typically buy I would highly recommend the TrueLemon or TrueLime ones. We love the peach lemonade at our house and I think the watermelon one tastes like jolly ranchers if you are into that.
A lot of the restaurants, typically the quick service, had ice water out for your convenience. You can get a cup but you can’t fill your water bottle for sanitary reasons.
Make sure small children have enough to drink and don’t get too hot. My niece got a mild case of heat exhaustion.
Being from Utah we aren’t used to humid climates. So that is one of the harder parts of Florida for us. September was still hot. My weather app one day said it was 94 degrees feels like 101 degrees with 94% humidity. We all just felt like we were melting.
We packed some cooling towels which were a great help. You just get them wet, water from the bathroom sink works great, and then snap them in the air a couple of times. They made it feel so much cooler and were such a great help with the overwhelming humidity.
Buy before you go
If you are going for Halloween time you might want to buy some of these fun jack-o-lantern necklaces for your group beforehand. They are very similar to the ones they are selling in the parks, except these don’t have the Mickey ears. However they are much cheaper, so I am okay not having the mouse ears.
Do you have any other tips for planning the best Disney World vacation? Comment below.
And be sure to check out my other Disney posts.