When I started dating Chris, I had only been to Disney World once. It was on a family vacation when I was 15. Chris's parents are Disney Vacation Club members, so now I've become a total Disney brat and get to go about once a year. 😇
Remember the two-part episode of Full House when they go to Disney World and Danny Tanner hands out itineraries to everyone? Yeah, I'm the Danny Tanner of our Disney trips.
Over the years I've gotten pretty good at this, so I thought I'd share some of my tips for planning a trip to Walt Disney World to make the most of your time there.
Stay in a Disney Resort
If you can, stay in a Disney resort. The rooms, restaurant, pools are all so unique and have attention to detail with Disney's magical touches. Their bus system between the parks and resorts is free and easy. The best part of staying in a Disney Resort is...
Extra Magic Hours
If you're staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, you have access to "Extra Magic Hours." Each day, at least one of Disney's park either opens an hour earlier or stays open later--but only if you're staying at a Disney Resort. Visit the park hours calendar and select the days of your trip to see which parks are open longer each day. Chris and I like to take advantage of the days Animal Kingdom opens at 8:00 AM since the animals are more active in the morning.
YOU GOTTA HAVE A PLAN
There is so much to see and do so having a rough itinerary will make your vacation go much more smoothly. Decide which park(s) you want to go to on which day of your trip. Be sure to schedule some downtime as well! If you're only going for a day or two, then by all means... rush around and experience as much of Disney as you can! However, if you're staying for a week, you'll get tired after a few consecutive days of the parks. Schedule a day for sleeping in, relaxing at your resort's pool, then going out to dinner. Trust me! You'll need it.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DISNEY'S WEBSITE & APP
If you're planning a trip, the Walt Disney World website is your new best friend. When you set up an account you can link your resort reservation to your park tickets and dining reservations. Your account automatically makes an itinerary for your trip that way.
You can add members of your group to your trip and pick a Disney character avatar for each of you! Be sure to choose a color for your magic bands. Magic bands are wristbands that serve as your room key and park ticket. You can also add your credit card to your account and make purchases by scanning your band! This is incredibly convenient when buying strawberry daiquiris by the pool. So I've heard.
The website is also great for browsing the attractions at the various parks. Walt Disney World has four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. There are also some waterparks that I've never bothered with... because that's not really my thing. You can (and should!) make dining reservations on the website too.
There's totally a Walt Disney World app that is very much worth downloading before you go. It has park hours, maps, ride wait times, and you can even see when and where your favorite characters will be for meet and greets! Log into your Disney account to sync your itinerary. (Download for iPhone | Android)
Make Dining Reservations
Disney has some truly amazing restaurants in theirs parks and resorts. If you want to experience them, you need to make reservations as far in advance as possible. This is usually the first thing I do after I've booked a room. For our Honeymoon, I seriously mapped out which parks we were going to go to on certain days solely based around the limited availability at Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom and my favorite restaurants in Epcot. Disney allows you to browse their restaurants and make reservations online, up to 180 days prior to your arrival.
Take Advantage of FastPass+
Once your park tickets are connected to your Disney account, you can use the "FastPass+ Service" to schedule up to three attractions in a day. You choose an available window of time to visit an attraction with little-to-no line. Prioritize and pick your top three things you want to do each day and be sure to FastPass them! (You can even FastPass waiting in line to meet Anna & Elsa.)
Think Outside the Park
Remember, there's plenty to do without even setting foot in a park.
Disney's Boardwalk is inspired by boardwalks in coastal cities in the turn of the century (think Coney Island and Atlantic City). There are cute shops, restaurants, entertainment, and a ton of charm. This is great nightlife spot! There's a dueling piano bar called Jellyrolls that is a fun time, but get there early if you want a table. During the day, the boardwalk is a beautiful place to stroll or rent bikes. I love staying at the Boardwalk resort because you can walk to Epcot.
Visit Other Resorts
All of Disney's resorts are fun to walk around. The classic Magic Kingdom area resorts are my favorite. Check out The Grand Floridian if you have a chance! It's stunning. (There are a few pictures of it in this post of mine.)
This post is just the tip of the iceberg of all that Walt Disney World has to offer.
What are your must-see attractions or planning tips for Walt Disney World?