All right~ show of hands. Who here has, at one time or another, wished they had ALL the pixie dusted nuggets of wisdom before planning a magical family vacation to Walt Disney World? My hand is up there, too! I can honestly say that, even after moving here, I am STILL looking to uncover the best Disney planning tips to maneuver the parks and maximize the fun. I mean, it’s no secret that it can be daunting with four parks, hundreds of restaurants and so many magical adventures waiting to be had. Well, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you fear. A group of my Disney-loving blogging friends and I got together and created a list of our favorite tips that may very well help you breathe a little easier as you being to plan out your next Walt Disney World vacation.
So, my dear Disney friends ~ what say you?
What is YOUR Best Disney World Planning Tip?
Eighteen of my friends and I thought long and hard on the best pieces of advice we thought we could give others beginning to plan their magical family adventures. Some of us were running on the same train of thought, while others had some pretty unique ideas and tips to pass along.
Patty Moliterno, A Mother’s Random Thoughts and WDWPov
- Don’t expect to do it all in one trip. Have each child (and adult) select one restaurant that they must eat at, and 1-2 rides per park that are must-do’s for them. This way, everyone gets to do some of their favorite things.
Tammy Graham, Living the Disney Dream
- A Walt Disney World vacation is not a sprint. Stop and soak in the experiences, take breaks and be in the moment.
Kim Seghers, This Ole Mom
- My best Disney World planning tip is for first-time visitors to Disney World to read as many Disney World tips and articles from different websites and blogs and to hire a travel agent that specializes in Disney World vacations to help plan you the best and most magical Disney World vacation tailored for you and your family that your budget allows.
Janice Brady, An Open Suitcase
- Planning a Walt Disney World vacation for those that don’t visit often can seem overwhelming for sure. Walt Disney World is now so full of things to do there is no way to do everything in one trip, so don’t try. Choose your favorites or one thing for each family member and do those things. Don’t overfill your itinerary with sit down dining reservations or you will spend a good chunk of your visit sitting in restaurants. Sadly, for those that will only get to visit once or twice in their lifetime, there is no way they can experience even half of what WDW offers, so I always suggest they use an authorized Disney vacation planner who will help them get the most done of their trip in the least stressful way.
Melissa Russo, The Farm Girl Gabs
- Don’t over plan your day. Disney can be overwhelming, especially for small children. Take a break in the afternoon.
Carrie Hurst, A Princess and Her Pirates
- Get to the parks early and take a midday break on most of your days! Maybe you don’t need one everyday, but I think having a midday break, no matter your age, is a must!
Lucy McKenzie, Gigglebox Tells it Like it is
- Purchase Memory Maker in advance. It will not only save you money, but you will be able to get some amazing family pictures with some Disney magic, as well as all the ride pictures. Take a backpack filled with snacks, drinks, battery backups for electronics, and any toys to preoccupy little ones. It will help keep the kids from melting down and save you some money. Also, plan your trip, but make sure that your plan may not happen exactly the way you have it planned. Be flexible.
Devon Weaver, Mama Cheaps
- Plan ahead, but do not let it stress or overwhelm you. Book FastPasses and dining when your windows open.
Jamie Welch-Schelin, Florida’s Family Fun
- Take your time ~ don’t rush.
Lisa Cameron, Adventures in Familyhood
- Make your FastPasses for mid-morning to early afternoon. Take advantage of morning Extra Magic Hours (or rope drop) and get to the park early. Ride as many rides as you can before your FastPasses begin. After all 3 are done, there’s still plenty of time left in the day to get more FastPasses.
Megan Miller, Gingy Love
- Have low expectations and enjoy the magic.
Theresa Mabe, In Sight: Full Life
- Take screenshots of any plans you have made in My Disney Experience and send them to the other guests in your party. Technology is never 100% reliable and you don’t want to miss out on a FastPass or dining reservation that you’ve scheduled because you can’t get the app to load or your phone died, preventing you from double checking the timing or location of your plans.
Emily, The Journey of Parenthood
- Go when it’s low crowds. Touring Plans is THE best planning tool…use it!
Ashley Saunders, Ashley & Company
- Stay on property – the perks are the best, especially be able to book FP+ and dining ahead of time.
Angie Rumpf, Disney Parents
- Spend some time online researching planning tips. Parents who have “been there, done that” will spill their secrets happily to make sure that other parents can deliver the Magic, as well.
Janine Young, Along With the Youngs
- Book 180 days out and go for your restaurant bookings and 60 days out for FastPasses. If there is a ride or restaurant you want, plan around when you can get the reservation or FastPass.
Jennifer, My Boys and Their Toys
- Order your FastPasses ahead of time! It’s so important to plan ahead.
Allison, Jones Family Travels
- I know vacations are time for you to sleep in…nope, not on a Disney World vacation. Be sure you wake up early and get to the parks, right before opening. You should be able to get through most of the rides and attractions, before lunch. Head back to your resort for naps or pool time in the afternoon. Then, head back to the parks in the evening hours for Extra Magic Hours and the cooler weather. Taking that afternoon break helps with the crowds and you miss the hottest part of our Florida weather.
What’s MY best advice when planning a trip to Walt Disney World?
We make our table service reservations for lunch. This gives us the morning to get FastPasses out of the way (or relax at the pool), then walk it all off after and into the evening. This also leaves the potential to only purchase / eat dinner according to our appetite and not out of obligation. Potential money-saver!
There’s a lot there to absorb ~ quite a bit about FastPass selection, dining reservations, expectations to hold, doing your research and even about where to stay. I can remember planning out our very first family trip to see Mickey Mouse back in 2007. It was the proactive research I did ~ and moms / friends like the ones above who provided those “experienced” nuggets of pixie-dusted wisdom ~ that helped me better plan and organize our first huge family vacation helped me plan one of THE best vacations ever. Honestly, it was the trip that sealed our affection for this vacation destination.
So, what piece of information above gave you that sigh of relief you have been looking to breathe? I know, I know. There is SO much to experience at Walt Disney World ~ but remember this. Live in THAT moment ~ the one you are spending inside the magical gates of Magic Kingdom, walking World Showcase at Epcot, free-falling at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or taking a safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Plan, yes. However, be prepared to adjust and just have fun making those memories.
Do you have any Disney vacation tips to share? Feel free to list them below ~ I’m sure we would ALL love to learn from your experience or expertise.
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