15 Things You Need to Know Before Going to Disney World

Everyone gets excited when planning a trip to Disney World, The Happiest Place on Earth®!! So much to see and do – the costumes, the characters, the cast members, the parades, the floats, the colors, the fireworks, the food, the rides, and so much more! What’s not to get excited about!! However, if you don’t plan carefully, the trip could end up costing you your children’s college fund!

Here are 15 tips to help you plan your trip that will:

  • Save money on accommodations
  • Beat the crowds and get you on rides quicker
  • Save you money on food
  • Get unlimited photos with the characters
  • Do the “Princess” thing with your princesses
  • Have the BEST vacation EVER!

1. Order/download your FREE Disney Planning video

Each year, Disney World is proud to present new attractions and things to do. So, whether this is your first visit or your 20th, get the FREE video and preview all the latest things to see and do.

2. Plan the attractions you want to visit accordingly based on the duration or your stay

Allow plenty of time to go through the whole attraction before rushing off to the next one. Take your time to enjoy it! Disney World is 43 acres with 4 theme parks and 2 water parks loaded with thrills and adventures for everyone! Plan accordingly: consider your children’s ages as well as any parents and grandparents. You will want to come back again and again with so much to see and do!! There’s always next time!

3. BUNDLE, BUNDLE, BUNDLE your deals!

Once you’ve decided where you’ll be spending your time, it’s time to select your hotel accommodations, etc. Disney offers many packaged deals that include airfare, hotels choices, an assortment of attractions, Fast Passes, Photo Packages, Meal Packages, etc. Be sure to visit My Disney Experience to book your choices and to save money. Select the one the ones that fit your budget, then get the family to weigh-in.

4. Staying on property also allows you to enter the park an hour earlier than other guests

Use that time to catch breakfast with some of the cast – makes for great photo ops! The kids will hardly finish their breakfast–they will be so excited to go see and do!

5. Birthday Badges

If there’s a birthday being celebrated, plan on asking the front desk of your hotel for a Birthday Badge! Or one of the cast! Not only will the birthday boy or girl get lots of birthday wishes, they may even get freebies!

6. New this year: MagicBands

MagicBands! These bands are embedded with sensors and linked to your personal information, allowing you to effortlessly access the plans and vacation choices that you’ve made with My Disney Experience. With your MagicBands you will be able to:

  • Unlock the door of your Disney Resort hotel room.
  • Enter theme and water parks (with valid admission).
  • Check in at FastPass+
  • ConnectDisney PhotoPass images to your account.
  • Charge food and merchandise purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room
  • Add a touch of magic to your vacation by unlocking special surprises, personalized just for you, throughout the Walt Disney World Resort!

7. How to Get a MagicBand or Card

You will automatically receive a MagicBand if you stay at a Disney Resort hotel or you can click on this link. DO NOT PACK your MagicBands. They are your “key” to getting into the resort and much more.

Time for the Pre-Planning!!

Once you’ve booked your vacation, it’s time to start planning other things that will make your trip even more enjoyable. A little pre-planning goes a long way!

8. Download the “My Disney Experience

You can book your FastPasses (up to 60 days in advance) and be notified if an attraction breaks down. You can update your reservation times, especially if the line is moving too slow.

9. Bump ‘n Go Packing

While staying on property has its perks, here is one way to take full advantage and use every minute available. To avoid delays in the mornings, especially when it comes to getting everyone dressed and out the door, pack everyone’s clothes in sets. Choose the outfits, lay them out together, shirt on top, then “army-roll” them! Done! DO NOT PACK your MagicBands. They are your “key” to getting into the resort and much more.

10. Travel Light!

By “army-rolling” your outfits, you will not only save time, but you will be able to pack more in less space, using fewer pieces of luggage. Choose fabrics that won’t wrinkle and everyone can grab ‘n go. Avoid carrying purses thereby making you less of a target and eliminating any chance of walking off without it. If you need to carry one, choose a cross-body style where you can see it at all times.

Your privacy and security are paramount. Park entry is typically paired to each guest’s identity with a fingerprint scan. It’s an unpublicized fact that you don’t have to supply one. Just tell gate attendants you’d rather use a photo ID.

11. Designated Drawer

Another great idea is to dedicate one of the hotel dresser drawers to watches, phones, keys, MagicBands and any other “smalls” you plan on carrying daily. Avoid the early morning fumbling and searching – it’s all in one place. Wear your MagicBands everywhere you go!

12. Dining with Cinderella

This is by far the most popular meal, held inside Cinderella’s Castle, featuring Cinderella’s Royal Table, a true princess meet-and-greet. Reservation slots open exactly 180 days in advance at 7 am Eastern time. Warm up your speed dial – the slots disappear quickly.

13. Insider Tip: The Best Times to Visit Disney World

Playing hooky with your kids can be fun, especially if you go to Disney World during the school year! During September prices are lower and the weather is still great!

Early May before school ends is also a solid choice. Christmas is a nightmare!

14. Best Time to Watch the Parades & Fireworks

There are several parades at Disney World – the nighttime ones are illuminated and the park lights are dimmed! They are the best since it’s also relatively cooler as well. Stay out of Adventureland and Frontierland starting 30 minutes before parade time or you will get stranded there until the parade is over.

One of the best views of Epcot’s World nightly pyrotechnic show, IllumiNations, is from the lagoon’s edge.

For the best seat in the house to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, the California Grill, on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, not only has an ideal panorama of them but also has an outdoor observation deck with the soundtrack piped in. You will need to book this weeks in advance. Be sure to ask the phone agent to seat you at the correct time; they have each day’s park schedule handy.

15. Saving Money on Food

Here’s how you can save $2 – $3 off the price of a counter-service meal:

  • Order it without potato chips or French fries – the visual menus lead you to believe you can only order the meals one way. However, you can order them à la carte—so ask.
  • Stretch your dollar further and ask them to hold the ice; Cokes are already cold and poured chilled to prevent frothing and keep service quick.

Finally, if your feet have had it, the best place to take a break is on the Walt Disney World Railroad — it’s the only ride that you can ride for as long as you want. The round trip takes about 25 minutes. So, if you’re tired, sit back and enjoy the scenery!

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