Disney World vacation planning can be both exciting and stressful. After spending so much time saving and preparing for your trip, you want everything to go perfectly. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you get there.
Disney World is an amazing place, but it’s also extremely busy. Even the slow season isn’t slow anymore. Honestly, you should never expect to go and not have crowds (but be thankful if you do). You have to be prepared to battle the crowds before you get there.
FastPasses are a Disney goers best friend. They cut the lines down on the more popular rides. Do you research before getting FastPasses though. Some rides are more worth it than others. If a ride normally only has a 10 minute wait time, 20 on busy days, why get a FastPass for it? Save them for the rides with the longer waits. If you’re staying at a resort, you can make your FastPass reservations 60 days before you arrive. Some families say they download the app before that a check what the wait times look like. They also go online to see what rides are best and most popular. I won’t get into that now, but there are definitely rides you should and shouldn’t get FastPasses for.
When you’re trying to get FastPasses and dining reservations, don’t just check the morning, afternoon and night button. Go through hourly and see what pops up. Sometimes you will find things you didn’t see on the hourly view. Just a couple of weeks ago I was able to find a dining reservation in the hourly view that didn’t show up on the afternoon view.
Set the Big Things
There are some things you know for sure you’ll want to do. Things like parades, fireworks and special shows. Know when these are before you go because you can’t rearrange them based on crowds. I have families come in with binders, spreadsheets and everything in between to make sure they don’t miss anything. Take a look at the times guide and plan around what’s happening at the park that day.
Also, be sure to get there early. You’ll want to be finding a place around 20-30 minutes before the show starts. If it’s really busy that day, try more like 40. It can be annoying to wait, but it’s worth it. That way, you’ll be able to find a spot front and center and won’t miss any of the action. I always suggest to families get a snack or something and just hang out for a bit. Use the time as a break from the madness.
Now that your FastPasses and big plans have been set, go from there. When you get in the park, take a look at the wait times. If there are some times that are shorter than others, go there first. There are some people who like to go from area to area and get everything done in each of those, but I recommend making a list of everything you want to do before you get there. Once you’ve listed all of the rides and attractions you’re interested in, take a look at it when you get in the park. The 10 minutes it’ll take to get from one side of the park to the other and the 20 minutes you’ll spend in line will still be shorter than the 50 minutes you’ll spend on the ride in your area.
Of course, walking back and forth across the park several times is not the most efficient way to do things. But if you have to do it a couple of times, or just go to an area right next door, it’ll be worth it.
If you’re planning a full blown vacation, a dining plan is the way to go. You can get so much food for such a good price and in all my time seeing people’s dining plans, the thing I see the most is people with too much food.
Just a little bit about the types of dining plan food options and what they are:
- Snacks – can be found all over the parks and resorts. There is something at every quick service location that is considered a snack, at the snack carts and in the merchandise locations. Also, anything on the Starbucks menu is considered a snack (a real selling point for me haha).
- Quick service – These are the places you go and order your food, pick up your food and then go sit down and eat it. It does not necessarily mean fast food, it depends where you’re eating at.
- Table service – These locations are the sit down restaurants where you will have a server and the food will be brought to your table.
What’s Included with a Dining Plan
The quick service dining plan is a good idea if you have younger children who you don’t think will want to sit at a restaurant for their meals. This plan includes two snacks and two quick service meals per night per person.
The regular dining plan is good for families and people who are planning to spend most of their time walking around the parks doing rides and shows. This plan includes two snacks, one quick service meal and one table service meal per night per person.
The deluxe dining plan is good for people who are going to Disney World to eat. I mostly see adult couples or friends who are traveling together get this, because it’s a lot of food and most beneficial if you plan to eat at mostly sit down restaurants for all of your meals. If includes two snacks and three table service meals per night per person.
All of the dining plans also come with a refillable drink mug, which you can refill as many times as you’d like in the resort, just not at the parks.
Tips and Tricks
Here are my top tricks for visiting Disney World.
- Never pay for water! All of the quick service locations will give you a free cup of water if you ask for it.
- Go on the rides with long waits right before or after fireworks, or even better, during
- Take advantage of extra magic hours
- Go online when you make your resort reservation to customize your Magic Band colors (otherwise you’ll be stuck with iconic gray)
- Do online check in
Leave any questions or your own tips in the comments below!