For many families, Disney World is the perfect vacation spot for their family. However, I’ve talked to many people who have had really bad experiences in Disney, and have decided that they won’t be returning. The truth is that if you aren’t careful, it is possible to have a miserable experience in WDW. Between the high cost, the fastpass system, heavy crowds and the Florida heat, there are a number of reasons why many don’t enjoy their time. But Don’t Listen To Them!! We are going to share some Walt Disney World advice that can help your family to have a great vacation.
By the end of this article, I’m confident that you’ll take away 3-4 nuggets that will help your family to have a great time in Disney.
Advice for Planning a Disney Vacation
It all starts with the planning. While you can still have fun on a “spur-of-the-moment” Disney trip, you’ll enjoy it more if you plan. Why?
Restaurants are a big draw for many adults, and the best restaurants open for reservations 6 months in advance! For a few of these, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Be Our Guest, you’ll need to be online 6 months in advance to get a reservation.
Planning in advance will also help you get fastpasses! Fastpasses enable you to skip the lines and ride some of the top attractions with a very small wait. This is obviously a good thing! But recently Disney changed things and now you have to prebook fastpasses. For guests that are staying onsite, you’ll need to book your fastpasses 60 days in advance.
Steps for Planning:
- Choose WHEN you want to go. Weather and Crowd Levels can play a huge part in whether you family enjoys the vacation. A quick and simple tip regarding crowd levels relates to the school calendar. Think about when school is in session. If you plan your vacation while MOST schools are in session, you’ll be in great shape. If you try to go when school is not in session (summer, spring break, thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) you’ll face heavy crowds. For a detailed breakdown of each month of the year, read our article When to Go to Disney World
- Use a Crowd Calendar to schedule your days. I know it may sound painful, but you need to create a daily schedule for your vacation. This isn’t like going to the beach and just relaxing the whole time! But we have a good reason for this advice. As an example, we’ll talk about the most famous park, the Magic Kingdom. The MK is super busy on Saturday. Why? Because Saturday is the day most guests arrive, and is the last full day of most people’s vacations. Because of it’s popularity, guests love to begin and end their vacation in the MK. What does that mean for you? It means the MK will be SLAMMED on Saturday! So avoid it. Use our crowd calendar to help you figure out when to go to each park. We are confident it will help you save time and enjoy your vacation.
- Choose your fastpasses wisely. It’s important to make smart choices, because some rides have wait times of up to 90 minutes. But if you follow our advice on choosing your fastpasses, and then on booking your fastpasses, you can make the right choices. It’s important to choose the headliners, and to get online as early as you can to make fastpass selections. 60 days in advance (for resort guests), you can get online at midnight and make your choices. Focus on these rides: Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Soarin and Toy Story Mania. These are rides that carry really high wait times, so you want to make sure you get fastpasses for these headliners.
- Choosing your resort. Disney has many different resorts. Then when you expand that to Orlando, there are literally hundreds of choices. So what do you choose? Well we love the Disney resort experience. For a first-timer, start with a moderate resort. If you start with a value resort, you may be a bit underwhelmed by the quality of the resort. However, if you start with a deluxe, you may end up spending a lot of money for a resort that you never spend time at. What you need to do is develop your own routine that suits your family. Some people love the parks so much that they don’t see any reason to stay at an expensive resort, as they are never there! Others love to experience the fun of being in the resorts, and simply want the nicest accommodations that they can get. Until you know what’s best for your family, stick with a moderate resort.
Disney World Touring Advice
Once you’ve planned your trip, it’s time to go to Disney. But how can you deal with the heavy crowds? What if you are forced to go during school vacation periods, where crowd levels are high? Fortunately we’ve got you covered with a few basic steps.
- Always get to the parks early. No matter what time of year it is, you can usually tour very effectively in the first few hours that the parks are open. But to do this, you have to arrive early!! How early? Usually 30-45 minutes before the gates open is just fine. I know you probably want to sleep in on your vacation, but so do many other Disney guests. Due to this, the front gates are usually packed with people from 11AM-1PM. Everyone loves sleeping in on vacation! But if you are going to stay ahead of the game, you have to get there early and get your touring done while everyone else is asleep. Now while this might not sound like fun, please understand that EARLY is a relative term. Most mornings the gates open at 9am, so we’re only asking you to arrive at 8:15-8:30. This is our most important tip, and we repeat it all over our website. No matter what park you choose, or when you go, getting there early guarantees you a few hours of fun. Take advantage!
- With the new fastpass system, it’s important to create a daily schedule for your vacation. It’s not necessarily to plan things out by the hour, but it is possible to do that! With big groups, we realize that it’s hard to be the person that tries to force everyone into a specific plan. But I do recommend reading our touring plans for a couple reasons. First of all, they give you an idea of how much you can accomplish in one day. If you finish a day at the Magic Kingdom and don’t get to ride all of the main headliners, you may be doing something wrong. We have a lot of trial and error that have gone into our touring plans, and I’m sure you’ll benefit from them. Best of all…they are free!
It’s basically impossible to give you all the details of a Disney vacation in a single blog post. This article has no doubt given you some tips and advice that can be invaluable to your upcoming trip.
If you need help in planning your vacation, we’ve got you covered in two ways. First, you can use our site. Have a look around at the hundreds of articles we’ve posted. If you have a question, we’ve likely covered it in the past. If not, use the comment form down below, and we’ll answer your question!
Second, we’d also like to let you know about our Disney World Planning & Touring Guide. This book is almost 300 pages, and it’s full of detailed information that can help you to plan your entire vacation. We’ve gotten a lot of great reviews on our Planning guide and I’m confident that it can help you plan your entire trip from planning to touring!