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134 Top Trick and Tips For Planning A Disney World Vacation

After a few days break from the site, I am now rested and ready to start back to writing again. I started to look at all the tips, tricks, and hacks I have saved on Pinterest for Disney World, and thought that bringing all of the information I have learned to one place not only for myself but for my Disney Loving Readers too. 

I have been planning our Disney Trip for about a year now, and I am trying my best to save for it, but it isn’t always easy when life gets in the way. James and I will not be going down to Disney World until Galaxy’s Edge is open, so I have a lot of fun reading and watching all of these different tips. 

Disney World is HUGE

When most people think of Disney World, they automatically think of the Castle and don't realize that Disney World is actually four different theme parks, two water parks, and Disney Springs. Then you have the different Golf Courses, Hotels, and so much more. Walt Disney World is over 30,500 acres or about 47 Square Miles!

Below you will find my Top 134 Tips and Tricks for Navigating Walt Disney World.

134 Top Trick, Tips, and Hacks For Planning A Disney World Vacation

General Tips for Walt Disney World

  1. Work with a Disney-Certified Travel Agent like Destinations in Florida. This is a service offered to you at no additional cost, Disney pays the travel agent, and they have the knowledge to get you the best price!
  2. Not working with a Travel Agent? Do the math when using the special offers. Free dining may not save you as much as the 30% off your room at some of the deluxe resorts. 
  3. Stay on-site! Especially if this is your first visit. The resorts come in three tiers, Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. If is worth it if you can afford to splurge on the nicer hotel if you can afford it. You also have the added benefit of being able to make your FastPass+ selections earlier than those staying off site and pass holders. You can make these FastPass+ reservations 60 days ahead, 30 more days than those off site!
  4. Don’t forget your Magic Bands! These are your tickets to the park, the keys to your hotel room, your photo links, and your FastPass+ Reservations. You can even link your credit card to them 
  5. Download the My Disney Experience app to book dining reservations and Fastpass+. You can also change or cancel these reservations. 
  6. Ask your resort cast members or park guest services for a celebration button. Cast Members will celebrate with you and maybe even a few surprises will happen!
  7. If your child is too short to ride an attraction make sure to ask about a Ride Swap which will allow the parent that doesn’t ride (and up to 3 children) go on the ride with minimal wait when you get off.
  8. Want to ride up front? Ask the cast members, they are usually happy to accommodate!
  9. You must be at least seven years old to ride without an adult. 
  10. Get the Memory Maker! Not only does it include pictures with the characters and around the parks, but also the on ride photos and VIDEOS! The photographers also can do “magic shots” with fun magical surprises in the photos! Didn’t spend the money on Memory Maker? PhotoPass Photographer are still happy to take pictures with your camera. 
  11.  Advance Dining Reservations! You can start planning your Dining Reservations 180 days prior to your trip! The big ones go quick too, so make sure to get your dining reservations ASAP when your window opens. Resort Guest can make them for 10 days earlier also. 
  12. Make your ADR’s for odd times, early or late lunch and not at noon, This way you can be riding things while everyone is eating. 
  13. Check the menu online before making Dining Reservations. Lunch may be slightly cheaper with roughly the same menu as dinner. 
  14. Buy Disney Gift Cards at Target! Do you have a Target Red Card? Save 5% off with your Red Card. Not only can you use this to pay for items in the park, but to also pay for your vacation and food. 
  15. Picked up something while shopping? Have it sent to your resort so you are not toting around shopping bags all day.
  16. Did you buy something in the park and it broke? If you still have your receipt you can have it replaced free of charge. Spill your food or ice cream? This also applies. 
  17. Use Amazon to ship larger items you need to buy to your hotel. This can also help you save from checked baggage fees or overweight luggage. I believe there may be a fee but you can have them shipped upto two weeks prior to your arrival. 
  18. Buy a Disney World Guide Book like the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. *http://amzn.to/2G9r5Ow
  19. Planning to visit one of the parks multiple days? Watch the nighttime show the first night, then on other nights ride the rides during the nighttime shows.
  20. Don’t forget about the Magical Express! Disney will take your checked bags to your resort for you. 
  21. Get to the park early for Rope Drop. You can see much of Disney World while the rest of the guest sleep in. 
  22. Another perk for being at the parks early for rope drop is being chosen to open the park, a special honor for some families. 
  23. Wi-Fi is available in the parks and the resorts. 
  24. Bring shinny pennies and quarters to make pressed pennies around Disney World – there are several dozen in each park and in resorts too.
  25. When you are on the Disney Dining Plan you can order a large soda instead of a regular at no additional charge.
  26. Check Touring Plans Website for Current and Upcoming Closures
  27. While on the Touring Plans website, Check out the different touring plans for each park. These can help save you hours of waiting in lines. 
  28. Wait to exit the park, many guest rush to the exits to leave the mark leaving a huge crowd at the buses. Relax while visiting a shop or picking up a bite to eat. Don’t forget to watch The Kiss Goodnight. 
  29. Everyone knows about the hidden mickeys, some resorts even have scavenger hunts! Ask a cast member for clues if you need them. 
  30. Bring a portable charger!
  31. The hardest Fastpass+ to get is Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarf Mine train.
  32. Have you used up your fastpass+ reservations? use the My Disney Experience app to book more! They only let you book one at a time, but it can still help you beat the hours long lines. 
  33. AAA members, Active Military, and groups of 10+ can get discounted tickets through Disney. 
  34. You can watch Magic Kingdoms Nighttime Show from the Polynesian Resort. 
  35. You have several methods of Transportation to choose from. The Bus System, The Monorail, and Boats that will shuttle you from your hotel to the parks and Disney Springs. Just know to plan for time. Most of the time will be waiting for the transportation. 
  36. The Monorail and boats allow you to leave your stroller assembled where the buses require you to fold them up. 
  37. Dress for comfort and not to look cute! Inner thigh chaffing and sore feet are a big thing and can ruin your vacation. Don’t bring brand new shoes without breaking them in first. You will be doing a LOT of walking. Also, have you heard of the Disney Rash? Several of the groups I am in I have seen people posting photos asking why they have a rash. Build a Better Mouse Trip has a great article and image of the Disney Rash. 
  38. Bring a GOOD Stroller! Don’t bring the cheap umbrella stroller, bring one that lays down. If you don’t want to bring one with you, you can rent one in the parks, or order one on Amazon and have it shipped to your hotel. There are also off site rental companies too.
  39. Are you a baby wearer? DON’T LEAVE IT AT HOME! They can be heavenly when managing the parks and they free up your hands! 
  40. Bring ONE bag into the parks instead of toting around a purse, diaper bag, and other items. This makes bag check faster. Toss in a diaper clutch instead of using a diaper bag.
  41. Don’t forget the indoor shows! These are perfect for escaping the heat or the rain. 
  42. KEEP Hydrated! Make sure everyone in your party stays hydrated during your vacation. 
  43. In my Six Flags Over Texas Tips I mention the *Tile Mate Trackers. I am also going to put it here. Not only can you track your valuables, but put it in your childs pocket, clip it on their cloths, or any other items and if someone wonders away you can track them. 
  44. Have a free wake-up call from a Disney Character in the morning. 
  45. You can get in line for an attraction all the way until the park closes. 
  46. Characters will sign just about anything, unless the item is on your person. So you can not wear a shirt and have a character sign it. 
  47. Have a little princess or pirate? Pick up costumes before heading to Disney World to save money since the Disney Stores sometimes has them on sale. 
  48. Resort guest will start being charged for their parking starting March 21, 2018. If you are driving to Disney, know that you will be charged at checkout. Standard over night parking will be: Value Resorts – $13 per night | Moderate Resorts – $19 per night | Deluxe and Villa Resorts – $24 per night. Complimentary standard parking is still available at Campsites at Fort Wilderness. DVC members will not be charged when staying at DVC Deluxe Villas or using their vacation points to stay at resort hotels. Guest with disability tags and placards will still have overnight parking free of charge. 
  49. The disability parking lots fill up quickly so arrive early. If you lot is full when you arrive you will be sent to the regular parking lot. 
  50. If you need extra space for your wheelchair ramp, let a cast member know so they can place a cone next to your car to keep someone else from parking next to you. 
  51. Unless you’re staying in a Boardwalk-area hotel, you may not be aware of this section of Disney World. There are great restaurants, evening entertainment and a piano bar called Jellyrolls. This area is just outside of the World Showcase part of Epcot

Walt Disney World Resort Tips and Tricks

  1. You can store your luggage with Bell Service at your hotel all day if you arrived at your resort early and your room isn’t ready or if you are checking out but your flight isn’t until the evening.
  2. Enjoy a free campfire sing along with Chip and Dale over at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. You can even purchase a small kit to make your own s’mores over the campfire.
  3. If you are Disney Vacation Club member be sure to head over to the Contemporary’s Bay Lake Tower for the Top of the World Lounge. It’s one of the best places to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
  4. Don’t be afraid of having some fun by decorating your room window in a Disney hotel. Lots of guests do it, and it can be a lot of fun for the kids. Christmas lights, posed stuff animals, and homemade signs are just some of the things you can use to set the “scene.” Don’t be surprised if Mousekeeping has a little “fun” with your set-up, too!
  5. All Disney hotel rooms have a mini fridge in them. So if you want to save money bring food for you to eat breakfast in your room each morning.
  6. The monorail offers transportation from deluxe resorts to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and transportation center. It opens 30 minutes prior to park opening and up to 1 hour after park closure. (if you have early morning dining reservations, you will need to take a bus to get to the park)
  7. If you are at Disney World from Thanksgiving through December make sure you tour the deluxe resorts to see their amazing Christmas decorations.
  8. All resorts have multiple pools. The “main” pool is the best themed, has water slides at moderate/deluxe resorts, and will be the spot for resort pool side games. Other pools are usually quieter and more relaxing!
  9. Moderate and Deluxe resorts have more than just pools – you can take carriage rides, strolls, rent 4 people bikes, fishing, and more (fees may apply)
  10. Bring a power strip with you so you have plenty of space to plug-in all those electronics.
  11. If you are staying at the Art of Animation hotel be sure to drive underwater in the pool. Underwater you can hear some special sounds from familiar friends.
  12. Each resort has different themed menu based on hotel. Check it out before you pick a hotel and feel free to o to another hotel for a unique lunch 
  13. If you have time make your way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and watch the free roaming animals – it’s free!
  14. It is fastest to walk to the Magic Kingdom from Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and to take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary (unless there’s a line).
  15. There are basically two approaches to getting the room you want at Disney World resorts: booking a guaranteed room category or putting in a room request before your visit. Room categories are the rooms with specific views or locations. You can also make room request prior to your visits. These are just request. Make these request either during online check-in, calling and asking for the request to be added to your reservation or faxing a request to your room assigner. 

Magic Kingdoms Tips and Tricks

  1. If you want to catch the Magic Kingdom Welcome show be sure to arrive at the at least 15 minutes before park open.
  2. Want to avoid the craziness of watching the fireworks from in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom? The next best spot is from inside New Fantasyland by Beast’s Castle.
  3. Did you know there is a working Barber shop inside the Magic Kingdom on Main Street? They offer special packages for a baby’s first haircut as well as other services.
  4. Take the Keys to the Kingdom tour if you want to walk the utilidor underneath the Magic Kingdom.
  5. Have a conversation with Mickey over at the Town Square Theater in the front of the Magic Kingdom. This is the only place on property where Mickey isn’t so shy and will share a conversation with you 
  6. Hang out along Main Street to hear bands, Trolley Show, Barber Shop Quartet, and more
  7. Besides minor decorations in the Magic Kingdom, the only way Walt Disney World “celebrates” Halloween is with the hard ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which costs $70+/person to attend. It’s worth doing once, but even if you don’t do it, the fall is a great time to visit for light crowds and great weather.
  8. Hang around 30 minutes after park close at the Magic Kingdom and experience what is dubbed as Disney’s Kiss Goodnight.
  9. If you don’t want to wait eons at Enchanted Tales with Belle in the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, you should get a FastPass+ for it, or do it within the first or last hour the Magic Kingdom is open.
  10. Ever wanted to see Tinkerbell fly? Be sure to wait in front of the castle to spot her in the middle of the firework spectacular at the Magic Kingdom. This is the only thing that I remember from my trip here in 1990. It didn’t go so well… 
  11. Ride Splash Mountain, Dumbo, Astro Orbitter or Big Thunder Mountain during fireworks for an amazing, unique view.
  12. Unless you do it in the first 30 minutes the park is open, don’t do standby for Peter Pan’s Flight–use FastPass+
  13. The only place to meet the Beast is after dinner at Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom.
  14. Bibbity Bobbity Boutique will sprinkle your child in fairy dust for free if you ask.
  15. Fantasyland attractions are best experienced first thing in the morning or last thing at night to minimize waits.
  16. If for whatever reason you need to move down Main Street quickly, you can beat the crowds by going through the shops. This is especially nice when it is raining or extremely hot, as the buildings are air-conditioned.

Epcots Tips and Tricks

  1. If you don’t have a fastpass+ and want to ride the new Frozen ride, make sure you go AS SOON AS THE PARK OPENS! This ride will be long all-day-long!
  2. Want to save time waiting for Test Track? If you and your family don’t mind getting split up, take the single rider line.
  3. When watching Illuminations keep the direction of the wind in mind. Pick spot downwind and you will be in a giant cloud of smoke. Use the flag atop the United States pavilion as a guide for the wind direction.
  4. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member you have access to a secret lounge inside the Imagination pavilion at Epcot.
  5. Need to quench your thirst? Club Cool inside of Epcot offers a free sampling of various Coca-Cola flavors from around the world. Play a prank on one of your family members by telling them how good Beverly is. 
  6. Do you have a Disney Chase Visa? You get a free exclusive photo experience at Epcot. Visit their location next to Journey into your Imagination with Figment.
  7. Kids often find World Showcase in Epcot boring but great for adults. So, Disney offers Kidcot Fun Stops with crafts for the kids. If that is your kid’s thing, there is also an Agent P challenge that takes you through all the countries in Epcot.
  8. Cast Members in the world showcase are truly from the country they are stationed in and can give you lots of information on their native homeland and speak in their native tongue for you. 

Hollywood Studios Tips and Tricks

  1. If you are a Disney Chase Visa cardmember there is also a special Star Wars photo opportunity inside Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  2. Head over to Star Wars Launch Bay at Hollywood studios and look out for the Jawas. If you’re a Star Wars fan you may already know that Jawas are scavengers they will trade with you. They do NOT accept money but will trade pins, maps, and other trinkets you may have on you.
  3. Hollywood Studios has had MANY closures in the last several years to make room for the new Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land projects. In the meantime, the park is a little more difficult to navigate and there are fewer things to keep you busy during the day. There are many things still worth seeing, but you might want to start at another park and hop over for ½ day here.  
  4. As Disney attempts to keep guests semi-entertained at Hollywood Studios with all their closures they’ve added a lot of Star Wars parades, shows, character interactions, and fireworks – see times guide for current offerings.
  5. If you are visiting when there are two showings of Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, always see the second showing. The line will be much shorter and you’ll get better seats. We prefer to get Fantasmic Dining Package and have a separate line with guaranteed seating

Animal Kingdom Tips and Tricks

  1. Looking for activities to do while taking a day off from the parks? Head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and check out their reserve of animals. They have dozens of viewing areas scattered throughout the resort. 
  2. The best time to visit Kilimanjaro Safari is at sunset. This is when the animals are the most active. They are up and roaming and ready for their dinner.
  3. Look closely at the trees inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may just spot DiVine. This a walking vine that hides among the trees along the walkway. She makes a wonderful photo opportunity as well!
  4. You will get SOAKED on Kali River Rapids

Disney Springs and Dinning Tips and Tricks

  1. Don’t expect to walk up to a sit-down restaurant and be able to get a table. Especially for larger parties you almost always need a reservation to eat at a sit-down restaurant.
  2. Last minute dining reservations can be found; check your Disney app the day before for last minute cancellations
  3. Walt Disney World is partnered with Coca Cola and only serves Coca Cola products. If you are like us and NEED Dr. Pepper or love Pepsi, bring a case with you. 
  4. There is a Startbucks in each park and you can use snack credits for drinks or pastries.
  5. When you are ordering at quick service location the cashiers take orders from both sides of the podium. People tend to just line up on one side and not use both, it’s a great way to get your food a little faster.
  6. Want to enter the parks before everyone else? Book an extra early character breakfast inside the park to enter early.
  7. If you are on the meal plan and you eat at your resort and already have a refillable mug you can ask them to trade your drink for an extra dessert instead!
  8. Disney Springs is not something to overlook on your vacation. With the recent renovations, it is back bigger and better than ever. Disney Springs is packed with shops like the Lego Store and features unique experiences like amphicars and Characters in Flight.
  9. At 50’s Prime Time Cafe  and SCI FI Dinner you can get a milk shake as your beverage included with the dining plan (plus you still get dessert!)
  10. When booking your sit down meals, do keep in mind parade and firework times. You won’t want to miss fireworks on your trip just because you were finishing dinner. If you do book your dinner during this time, choose restaurants that has viewing of the fireworks. 
  11. Tonga Toast is a must eat Disney treat. It’s banana stuffed french toast and it’s served over at Kona Cafe inside the Polynesian.
  12. The Garden Grill at Epcot serves delicious food family style, allows you to meet farmer Mickey / Pluto / Chip / Dale, all while rotating ever so slowly
  13. If you can’t score a hard to get Be Our Guest reservation for dinner then go at lunchtime when they don’t require a reservation. 
  14. If you like to drink a lot of coffee or soda consider getting a length of stay refillable mug.
  15. La Nouba is a Cirque du Soleil show and it shouldn’t be overlooked during your trip. 
  16. Don’t waste Disney Dining Plan snack credits on bottled water or fruit. 
  17. You can share meals (even on the dining plan) assuming they are not buffets.
  18. Character meals are a great chance to not only eat a yummy meal (many are buffets) plus see some characters and get autorgraphs from the convenience of a table.
  19. Resort pizzas are a great value when using your dining plan and are actually pretty good!
  20. Disney Springs is also a great place to spend an evening perusing the shops and getting dinner.

15 Things to Buy From the Dollar Store!

  1. Autograph Journals – The autograph books at Disney are cute, but you can save a lot of money by picking up a few Disney themed journals at the dollar store
  2. Ponchos! Disney Worlds Ponchos will cost a lot more than the $1.00 Ponchos you will find at the Dollar Store. Get one for every member of your family, and a few extra to cover your strollers and other items. Amazon has a great 20 pack available for a great price too. *http://amzn.to/2GbtgRx
  3. Toothbrushes! Pick up a new toothbrush from the dollar store as a travel toothbrush for each trip. 
  4. Sandwich Bags – Did you know that you can bring your own food into the parks? This can be a great savings because the food in the parks are EXPENSIVE. 
  5. Trash Bags – They are not only great for keeping your car and hotel room clean, but you can collect all of your dirty clothes in.
  6. Tissues and Wet Wipes – You can never have enough tissue or wet wipes on hand. 
  7. Mesh Laundry Bags – I wish I had done this when we went beach camping, but these bags are great not only for laundry, but keeping sand out of your car. 
  8. Glow Sticks – Every theme park I have been too as vendors selling something that lights up at night. Head off the kids asking for these by buying a few at the dollar store ahead of time. This will save you money and a headache from the kids asking for them. 
  9. Bubbles – Disney always has some sort of bubble blower, at $20+ for them it can be a little expensive. If you stop at the dollar store and pick up your own bubbles, it can help save a lot of money, plus it is a great way to distract kids while waiting in line, but please keep other guest in mind! Bubble in others faces are no fun!
  10. Hand Sanitizer – Germs, do I need to say more?
  11. Earplugs – Skyler has sensitive hearing, and for the night time shows, these can come in handy to protect her ears. 
  12. Souvenirs – The toys and souvenirs at the parks can be expensive. If you pick up a few from the dollar store ahead of time it can help save a ton of money. 
  13. Pool Toys – Having a extra day or break day and plan to spend it at the pool? Bring your own pool toys and goggles. 
  14. Crayons and Coloring Books – Another great distraction item is coloring! Stop by the dollar store and pick up a few Disney Themed Coloring Books and Crayons.
  15. Night Lights and Flash Lights – Pick up a night light and flash lights for your family at the Dollar Store. This can help prevent stubbed toes! 

What Is In Our Park Bag *** Bonus!

The last two years, I have used a Fanny Pack at Six Flags Over Texas. This year, I am going back to a backpack since Rhyan and James are joining Skyler and Me on our Day Trips to Six Flags Over Texas. Why am I adding what is in our Park Bag Here? I most of what we bring into Six Flags will be the same as what we will be bringing into the Disney World Theme Parks. 

First thing first, is our bag. I am buying the JanSport Disney Backpack (Luxe Minnie) later this week, well because I love Disney.

  1. The second thing that I never forget is my wallet. Inside of my wallet will be my ID, Annual Passes, and a small bit of cash. When we head to Disney, we may not have Annual Passes, but I will have Disney Gift Cards. Last thing in my wallet is my credit card. The wallet below might just be a hint at James for my birthday.
  2. Cell Phones
  3. Cell phone chargers cords
  4. Cell phone charging brick
  5. Sunscreen.
  6. Camera (like my Yi 4K Action Camera)
  7. Extra camera batteries.
  8. Extra SD Cards
  9. Sunglasses.
  10. Hand sanatizer
  11. Poncho or Rain Jacket
  12. Autograph Book and Click Sharpie (I don’t bring one to Six Flags)
  13. Wet wipes
  14. Travel Tissue pack
  15. Coloring Book and Crayons
  16. Glow Sticks 
  17. Zip Lock Bag (for your camera on water rides)
Are young babies and tots going with you? Here is a list of items that you may need while at the Parks.
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Baby food
  • Bottles and formula
  • Pacifier
  • Sun hat
  • Blanket or snuggle toy
  • Small toys
  • A change of clothes
  • Gallon Ziploc bag
  • Stroller cover
  • Battery powered fan for stroller

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