Disney World Tips

One of the most important parts of family is creating strong bonds through shared experiences.  Vacations are a great way to do this and at some point or another you may feel the need to take a vacation to Disney World in Florida.  If that’s the case for you, here are some tips for how to make the best use of your time and money:

  • Arriving early is key.  By arriving when the park opens, you can cover ~3x more ground than later in the day due to limited lines.  Hurry to the FastPass lanes to reserve an early spot at the most popular attractions.  Getting an early time allows you to get more FastPasses throughout the day because you can only get the next one at the start of the one hour time window for redeeming the Pass.  If you’re staying on site, take advantage of the 8 am to 9 am Magic Hours where you can squeeze even more in.  Use the early time to hit the short rides that have a long wait (e.g., Dumbo)
  • Don’t feel the need to arrive super early for the plays (Nemo) or stunt shows (Indiana Jones) unless you feel the need to have the best seat.  If you arrive on time, you’ll likely still get a spot and be able to use the time you would have spent waiting for the show to start
  • Use an app such as the Unofficial Guide to Disney to help you optimize the sequence of attractions and rides.  The app knows the best path based on the wait time history it’s gathered
  • Character Dinners sound nice, but they’re really just an expensive way to get autographs.  There are generally four characters at each meal and they spend about two minutes at each table.  You can meet the same characters at Character Spots in each of the parks.  If you arrive early, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes.  Cinderella’s Castle is really the only one that has special mystique because it’s held in the castle
  • Food is very expensive.  It’s hard to find anything under $3, so pack as much of your own as possible
  • If you’re on a meal plan as part of your package, keep in mind that there’s no distinction between a child and adult meal for quick serve meals (there are for table service).  You can get an adult serving and split it among a couple of kids.  Note that your meals are based on the number of nights you stay, not the number of days you have park tickets for.  Snacks are generally considered as anything under $4, which could be a cup of coffee or a nice double scoop serving of Edy’s ice cream.  Snacks can also be found in stores as prepackaged foods
  • When you buy a quick serve meal, you’ll often get a 20% off coupon that can be used at the largest retail store in each of the four theme parks.  Though not every single item is sold in these stores, they carry the most popular.  Hold off on your purchases and then buy everything with the coupon.  The coupon must be used before noon, but the stores will hold your merchandise and forward it to the front of the park for pick-up on your way out
  • There is a lot of walking through the day due to the size of the parks.  A stroller for every kid under eight is recommended if you can manage it.  Double wides are very difficult to maneuver through the thick crowds and narrow store isles, so two singles or a front/back double is recommended.  If you can, bring your own because Disney charges ~$15/day to rent theirs
  • Tickets are very expensive for the first two days and then very cheap for extra days.  Consider spending more time to maintain a relatively leisurely pace.   One full day at Hollywood, Animal Kingdom and Epcot is adequate, and two if possible at Magic Kingdom as long as your kids are in a specific age range (i.e., if you want to do little kid things like some plays and big kid rides like roller coasters, you may want more than one day at each park).  If you have the time and not the money, it’s cheaper to add an extra day than to pay for the Park Hopper option, which allows you to go to more than one park in a day
  • Disney pushes their picture card, which is very expensive.  You can hand your camera to their photographers and they’ll take a picture or two for you
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