Partners by wbeem on Flickr
Remember: YOU ARE ON VACATION! Now repeat it, make it your mantra.
1.) Walt Disney World… is big. It’s 43 square miles; bigger than the island of Manhattan. So big that it is estimated it would take someone in constant motion 2 months or more to experience everything on property. So I guess the point is, don’t go expecting to see EVERYTHING. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time! Leading up to our departure my family makes a priority list of attractions, shows, even dining experiences they want to make sure they add to their “Done” list. If this is your first trip, check out YouTube and type in the attraction you want to see. WDW is one of the, if not the most photographed and videoed spot on the planet. Usually someone else has done some leg work for you.
2.) Make Technology Work For You: It’s amazing what the Disney community as a whole has now compared to when I made my first trip with my Grandparents in 1986. Smartphone technology and Apps can help you not only create touring plans on your phone, but also log Advance Dining Reservations, see what the wait times are in the parks for attractions, even provide you with real time directions to whatever you seek. The “World” is literally at your fingertips if you have a smart phone on your hip in the parks. Here are some apps I have used: WDWMaps, WDW Dining, & WDW Lines. There are hundreds more.
3.) You can bring snacks, bottled water, wet wipes, etc. into the park with you each day. There is a great bag called an Overland Donner that has tons of storage and is easy to access as it sits on your hip not your back. If you bring any bags into the parks, you will have to stop at the check in stations outside the front entrance to each park to have them inspected before you can be admitted to the park. The guards are usually friendly and try to make this move smoothly so you can get on with your day.
4.) Wear Comfortable Shoes! Not just a tip, a necessity. You will be doing a lot of walking and nothing is worse than getting a blister on your first day and nursing it the remainder of your trip. Don’t wear brand new shoes immediately at WDW, break them in well before.
5.) Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This will allow you to know what park you will be in that day and also if you want table service those reservations fill up fast. Early bird gets the worm. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. Recently the Disney Parks initiated a Dining Reservation change regarding payment and cancellation. You can read more on that here.
6.) Enjoy yourself, a bad day at Disney is better than the best day at work. I have experienced once every trip there will be a fight, a major meltdown, etc. Roll with it, move on and compromise. Also, be flexible.
7.) BUY IT WHEN YOU SEE IT. There are plenty of shopping opportunities but some things on property are exclusive to just that particular shop or attraction. If you miss it you can call Disney merchandise and ask that it be left at Guest Services or mailed to you. Also, buying something doesn’t mean you have to lug it around all day, Disney has many available ways of holding it or even delivering it for you. If you are staying “On-Site” that is in one of the Disney Resort Hotels, you can have your purchases delivered there. If you are staying “Off Property” you can have your purchases sent to Guest Relations (located at the front of each park) and they will hold them there for you to pick up as you leave the park. Generally they will give you a time when your purchases will either be delivered to your resort or placed at Guest Relations.
8.) Make note of Guest Relation Locations, First Aid stations, Baby Care Centers, and designate a meet up place should you become separated. Also, when bringing children introduce/point out Cast Members along the way so if they become separated from you they will be comfortable looking for name tags and costumes for each park. The Clean Sweeps are one of the only costumes that do not change from park to park. They usually are wearing white bottoms, a white top with blue and yellow accents. They are also the most abundant front line cast members, and they have the most radios. I usually strike up a conversation with one or two of these cast members while we are touring and introduce my kids to them. This way they feel comfortable approaching Cast Members should they become lost.
9.) Utilize Fast Pass or Baby Swap wherever possible in order to trim down wait time in line. Fast passes are there, they are free, and boy do they come in handy. A quick flip idea. If you want to go on two “high demand” attractions, get a fast pass for one then queue for the other. By the time you are finished riding that attraction it will probably be time to get in the Fast Pass line for the first one. Not only knowing there is a Fast Pass system, but using it will go a long way to helping you enjoy your trip and minimize wait times (and stress).
10.) If you don’t get to see it this time around, make a note for next time. Disney isn’t going anywhere! While Walt Disney World is constantly updating, there are many things that remain the same. Each trip we add on 40% new and keep 60% old, we make a point to try new things each time, but also check in with the old favorites we enjoyed.
Got a tip or two that has helped you tour WDW? Post it below and help out new Guests!