Seventeen Tips To Start Planning Your Disney Parks Vacation

Are you looking for a few fast tips to make your Walt Disney World Vacation a little more magical? Well we've gathered up some secrets for general park tips and planning to make your trip a breeze!

17 Tips To Start Planning Your Disney Parks Vacation17 Tips To Start Planning Your Disney Parks Vacation

1) Research carefully while planning your Walt Disney World Vacation. There are many books, websites and podcasts out there that will help you make your way through the huge amounts of information that you're about to take on. A well researched trip can make the difference between doing things that you really want to and getting stuck in line or turned away from a restaurant you hoped to eat at.

2) Think carefully about what time of year you plan on traveling to Walt Disney World. Weather and crowd levels can have a big impact on the enjoyment of your trip. Be sure to plan your vacation when the weather will be what you enjoy and crowd levels won't bother you. Summer may offer more parades and live entertainment, but it's also the hottest and most crowded time of the year.

3) When planning a trip with children, check out age and height requirements for attractions and kids activities before leaving home. You don't want your child to look forward to a ride only to be disappointed that they are too small once you get there. Be sure to measure at home and see how your kids stack up.

Prayer Flags On The Path To Forbidden MountainPrayer Flags On The Path To Forbidden Mountain

4) Check the ride refurbishments status online before you leave on vacation. This can help cut down on disappointments once you get to the park. If you know that you're child or companion's favorite ride is close, warn them in advance and schedule something else to do.

5) Study the park calendars for when parades, live entertainment, and fireworks, are occurring during your stay. Make a plan ahead of time to find a spot where you can watch the show.

6) If you are going in the off season, do keep in mind that much of the specialty evening entertainment often only runs on weekends, so plan accordingly when scheduling your vacation and creating your touring strategy.

Spaceship Earth Reflects Beautiful Colors Nightly Spaceship Earth Reflects Beautiful Colors Nightly

7) Distances between the parks are considerable, so if you plan on park hopping to catch a specific show, be sure to allow yourself more than enough time to travel from point a and point b, arrive, and scope out the best seat.

8) For parents with kids too small to ride an attraction with height restrictions, considering using the child swap. Just tell the Cast Member at the beginning of the queue that you'd like to Child Swap. They will give the waiting portion of your group a Child Swap pass (similar to a FastPass) while the riding members of the group will proceed through the line.

9) Pick your park according to "Extra Magic Hour". Each day, a different Disney Park either opens early or stays open later just for WDW Resort Guests. If you're staying at a WDW Resort Hotel you can take advantage of the extra hours. However, this park often ends up being the most crowded on that day, so you may want to consider hopping to another park once the "Extra Magic" is over.

Cinderella CastleCinderella Castle

10) Taking a break in the afternoon can save your sanity. Get out early to the park of your choice; then take a break and return to your resort when the day is hottest. After everyone is rested, you can return back to the park in the evening to catch some of the spectacular nighttime entertainment.

11) Use Fastpass, It's free, it's simple, and it saves you from standing in super long line for the most popular rides. To save even more time someone with your party's park tickets to grab FastPasses for the attraction you want to ride most as soon as you enter the park or pre-schedule them online with FastPass+!

12) Walt Disney World is huge and it can be easy to become separated from your party. Be sure to have a solid & clear meet-up plan in place in case your group separated.

Right Next to the Magic KingdomRight Next to the Magic Kingdom

13) Every member of your party needs a way to tell time and get in contact with the rest of the party. Make sure that everyone, especially teens, has a watch and or cell phone on them for easy contact.

14) Every Disney Park has a tip board located in it's central hub. Check the tip boards periodically for attractions with short wait times that you can visit between Fastpass appointments.

15) When making a Packing list, be sure to print off a copy to keep in your suitcase and one for your travel documents. This way if your luggage gets lost or damage you already have a record of everything that was inside your bag.

Trolley on Main StreetTrolley on Main Street

16) When purchasing merchandise, ask them to send it to package pick-up in the park for you to pick up later. If you're staying at a Walt Disney World Resort it can also be delivered to your Hotel the next day.

17) At the beginning of each day, take a clear, upclose picture of your party. That way if you get separated you have an image you can show security of look like and what specifically they are wearing.

Do you have any great general tips for Disney travel that you want to share? Leave a comment below and give us your best!

Mike Posey wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 17:08:

Mike Posey's picture

A good way to save for your upcoming trip is to purchase Disney gift cards. We buy them ahead of time when our budget allows it at our local Fry's Grocery store (it is part of the Kroger family of groceries). At these stores, you also get the points for your customer loyalty card at a high rate that you can use at their gas stations.

Sam wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 18:53:

Sam's picture

On the same note as what Mike Posey said, you can also save money on Disney gift cards at Target. You get 5% off when you use your Target REDcard.

Amanda wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 19:09:

Amanda's picture

We did the same thing at Target. I have a Target debit card that gives me 5% off all purchases, and I get an additional 5% shopping pass after using the card so many times. We purchased $50 Disney gift cards for $40. We had enough cards saved up to buy our Season passes!

Dam0409 wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 19:14:

Walk against not with the crowd. Wait times are much shorter.

Dina wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 19:28:

Dina's picture

If you can, plan on skipping lunch. This saves time and money. Have a good breakfast, than a snack or two, and then end the day with a great dinner in the Parks or at one of the AMAZING resorts. You need to make dining reservations ASAP (180 days before your arrival). There are soooo many different kinds of restaurants and sooo many to choose from. Do your research !!! Without dining reservations, your wait time for any of the table servce restaurants could be at least an hour. :o( Plus, there are tons of great food courts at the Resorts to save time and money.

BowlingRon wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 20:00:

BowlingRon's picture

At the Magic Kingdom when you enter...walk down Main Street..and start your day to the LEFT (Adventureland), not to the RIGHT (Tomorrowland). I bet 90% of the guests start their day to the right. By going left, you'll likely get to lunchtime before you meet the bulk of the crowd at the backside of the parks. You'll likely do your first 2 or 3 attractions with hardly any crowd at all.

Donna wrote on Wed, 10/23/2013 - 21:29:

Donna's picture

Take a pic of the back of your photo pass card, so if you lose it, you have the numbers and can still access your photos. You can preregister the card as well on the website, but your 30 days begin as soon as you do...which limits your time if you are at DisneyWorld for a couple of weeks.

Paula B. wrote on Sat, 10/26/2013 - 22:18:

Paula B.'s picture

My husband & I catch the first bus that arrives unless we have breakfast reservations in a specific park. We eliminate the *where are we going first discussion*, avoid long waits at the resort bus stop, and treat each day as an adventure.

Kristen K. wrote on Sun, 10/27/2013 - 15:00:

Kristen K.'s picture

Wonderful tips everyone! Thank you all so much for sharing!

Lora Kyle wrote on Sun, 01/18/2015 - 16:25:

Lora Kyle's picture

When we go to Disney, we always get the dining plan. We eat breakfast at the hotel, have our big sit-down meal at lunch, a snack in the afternoon and our counter service meal in the evening. It helps with the wait times as most people wait until evening for their sit-down meal.

Vicki wrote on Sun, 01/18/2015 - 19:04:

Vicki's picture

We ship a box of breakfast bars and bagels to our resort two days before we fly to Orlando. Saves time and money on breakfast. We also always pack dollar store ponchos in our sling pack along with a fleece jacket in a gallon zip lock back to shrink it down as small as possible for layering at night.

Noel wrote on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 02:39:

Noel's picture

if using hard tickets register them online and take a photo of ID number on back in case tickets get lost.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 14:06:

Kristen K.'s picture

Great tips! I love the idea of shipping easy breakfast items down ahead of time.

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