Some people make the decision to go to Walt Disney World at a moments notice and head straight there! Others plan for years, checking off their to-do lists as the big day when vacation begins creeps towards them. Regardless of which type of Disney World goer you are, there are a few things everyone should know before they step foot on property. Check out these 15 things to know before you go to Disney World!
Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy
1 – What’s Your Budget?
We’re sorry to start off with this one because well, it’s just no fun to talk about – but it really makes the difference on what to know going forward. Considering how much you can and are willing to spend on things like your resort, tickets, travel, dining, and souvenirs is key. Be sure to look for the hidden costs like resort parking fees and always consider tips and taxes into your total.
2 – There are more than 25 Disney Resort Options.
The trick is to try to narrow down which Disney Resort to stay at! Disney Resorts are categorized in Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas. Value Resorts are the least expensive option but also offer the least amount of amenities. The price per night and the amenities increase as you go into Moderate and Deluxe options. If at all possible, however, stay at a Disney Resort. The perks are worth the cost!
3 – You Can’t Do It All!
Sit with this one for a bit before you start getting overwhelmed at which parks you want to do, which rides, which restaurants, activities, etc. Take it all in, but pick out the highlights you just know you can’t pass up. Have a list of must-dos to conquer and count the rest as sweet extras.
4 – To Hop Or Not To Hop?
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, park hopping will be subject to restricted capacity limits and will likely be very difficult if not impossible.
There are different levels of tickets from becoming an Annual Passholder to one-day tickets and special party tickets. Be sure to browse over these as needed, but pay close attention to the “Park Hopper” ticket. Some people live by the park hopper, which means you can jump from one park to another within the same day. We will say that if this is your first time to Disney, a park hopper is probably not the way to go. It’s an extra cost, and having one day in each of the parks never seems like enough time anyway!
5 – Disney Dining Plan Isn’t Right For Everyone.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, dining plans are temporarily suspended.
While you’ll likely hear it’s best to bundle your resort room, ticket, and Disney Dining Plan (DDP) – take a closer look at the DDP choices. Yes, it’s great to have that “all-inclusive” feel at Disney, but you are limited by your credits. Most of the time we vacation, we do not purchase the DDP because it actually costs more for us individually then it would for us to pay out of pocket.
6 – There’s an App for That.
If you haven’t already downloaded the My Disney Experience App, you’ll want to be sure to do so before arriving at Walt Disney World. This app can serve as a park map, make FastPass selections, make dining reservations, show you when and where characters are available, Mobile Order food at certain locations, and even gain access to your resort room. It’s a MUST, in our opinion!
7 – Some Dining Reservations are hard to come by.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, existing dining reservations have been cancelled through the end of 2020. A new 60-day booking window with reduced capacity will be rolled out soon.
The biggest mistake some fail to do before going to Walt Disney World is not making dining reservations. Guests can make dining reservations 180-days in advance (and up to 10 days of your vacation if staying at a Disney Resort). Restaurants like Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table will be booked up before you arrive, so this is a definite if there’s a restaurant you have your heart set on.
8 – You’ll Want To Save Room For Dessert!
Absolutely! The amount of desserts and sweet treats around Disney World is practically ridiculous… but in such a great way! There is no shortage of the good stuff, so don’t forget this as you eat your meals. Plus, it’s Disney – so don’t hesitate to eat your dessert before your salad from time to time!
9 – Keep an Eye on the Time.
Wear a watch or have your phone close to keep an eye on the time. We don’t always recommend this on vacation but it’s helpful to stay in the loop with park hours, Extra Magic Hours, character meet and greets, parades, fireworks, dining reservations, FastPasses, etc. Keep an eye on the time!
10 – The best attractions to FastPass.
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World in 2020, FastPass+ is temporarily suspended.
Do a little research on which attractions you’d like to do and which ones are popular enough to snag a FastPass for. FastPasses can be made 60-days in advance for Disney Resort guests, or 30-days in advance for non-resort guests. You’ll always want to be sure you have a grasp on the Tier System and what that means as you plan! Our top three FastPass picks for a single day in the park include:
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Peter Pan’s Flight (No Tiers)
- Epcot: Soarin’ (Tier 1), Frozen Ever After (Tier 2), Mission Space (Tier 2)
- Hollywood Studios: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Tier 1), Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (Tier 1), Slinky Dog Dash (Tier 1)
- Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage (Tier 1), Kilimanjaro Safaris (Tier 2), Expedition Everest (Tier 2)
11 – How Tall Your Kids Are.
When was the last time you measured your child’s height? This is especially helpful when you start to plan for which attractions to ride and to snag FastPasses for. Height Requirements are listed for each ride on the Disney website, so check those out before you go. If needed, you can always ask a Cast Member at the attraction for a Rider Switch which allows someone to wait back with the child unable to ride but still ride the attraction when the rest of the party gets off – much like a FastPass.
12 – Pet Care Help!
Need a place to put the fur-babies while vacationing at Disney? If you’re having a hard time finding someone to watch them at home or just don’t want to be separated from them, Disney has some great options. There are a few pet-friendly resorts as well as a Best Friends Pet Care for pet boarding. There are different packages at Best Friends Pet Care and trust us, your fur-baby can feel like they are on vacation just as much as you do!
13 – How To Pack For Florida Weather.
What’s the weather when you’re traveling to Disney? Chances are you’ll having sunny skies with a chance of rain – as that is Florida’s norm. But, there are times during the year that could boast colder weather, hurricane season, or extreme heatwaves. You’ll want to check this out in advance and pack accordingly. A light jacket, bathing suit, flipflops, ponchos, sunscreen, and sunglasses or just a few things that usually top our list.
14 – The Lay of the Land.
Honestly, one of the worst feelings is getting somewhere as large as Walt Disney World and not having a clue how to navigate through it. Of course, there will be times when you might feel slightly lost or just unsure of which turn to take next, but the very BEST thing to know before you go is the park layout!
15 – You’ll Want To Go Back!
You might as well understand this before you go – one visit is never enough! Chances are the moment you check out, you’ll want to check back in. Might as well ask if they are offering any “Bounce Back” deals for your next trip. You could even check out the Disney Vacation Club while you’re at it. Once you get the Disney taste, it’s easy to become a Disney addict!
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.