Visiting Walt Disney World Resort is on the absolute must-visit list for kids of all ages (and a lot of adults, too). But a trip to the iconic mecca for all things Disney can be daunting due to the sheer amount of things there are to see, do and experience. Maximize your visit, save money, avoid stress and have the most fun possible with our guide to having the best time you can at Walt Disney World.
1. Avoid peak times if you can
The less crowds you have to deal with, the more you can see and do, but avoiding the biggest crowds during a Walt Disney World vacation comes down to flexibility. If you do not have to go during Christmas vacation or other school holidays, try not to as that is when you will be greeted by the biggest influx of visitors. Some off-peak times to plan your trip, if it works for you, include January to early February, May and September. Accommodation prices can also be lower during off-peak times. If you are going this holiday season, keep reading for helpful tips on to beat the crowds and save money.
2. Try the Single Rider line
Did you know there is a “single rider line” at Walt Disney World? Yes, there is a second, faster-moving line that puts visitors in single seats that need to be filled on any given ride. So as long as you do not mind riding in a seat away from your family or friends, you can get on a ride much faster. You can still wait with the people you are with, but you will be seated apart on the actual ride.
3. Stay on-site
Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort can be more expensive up front than finding a hotel outside of the park, but it will save you time and you won’t have to worry about paying for a rental car to get to the parks or worry about paying for parking. Not to mention, there are many perks to staying at a Walt Disney World Resort (of which there are various price points). Some noteworthy perks include free airport service, free resort transportation and parking (if you do have a car), extended theme park hours, free Wi-Fi and various dining plans.
4. Utilize FastPass+
Disney’s FastPass+ is definitely something to take advantage of during your visit. The helpful service allows you to reserve advance times on each day of your ticket for three attractions of your choice in a single park. FastPass+ service also includes select character greetings, shows, parades and fireworks. When it comes to rides, your FastPass+ reservations mean you get to bypass the line for that experience, so it is a good idea to use the service for the most popular rides and attractions. You can reserve online up to 30 days before your visit, or 60 days if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
5. Do some advance planning and research
Walt Disney World is vast, which can be overwhelming if you show up without having any idea about what you want to see and do. And since you may not be able to see everything, it is a good idea to prioritize the things you and your family want to do the most. Disney World makes it pretty easy to plan out what you want to do thanks to their “My Disney Experience” system and their free app that helps you keep track of all of your plans from dinner reservations to parade times.
6. Rent a stroller
Going to Walt Disney World means you have a lot of ground to cover and if you have little ones in your party who might not be able to walk very fast it can be beneficial to rent a stroller. You will move faster, cover more ground and won’t have to carry kids with tired legs. It is also a good idea to tie an identifying item to your stroller since they all look the same (a balloon or colorful ribbon works well).
7. Use Disney Dollars to help stick to a budget
Disney Dollars are the official currency of Walt Disney World and are accepted at ticketing locations, food and beverage venues, merchandise locations, recreation areas, your Disney Resort hotel front desk and concierge, and guest relations. They are available for purchase in denominations of $1, $5 and $10. Exchange your money when you first get to Disney World for no additional fee and it will be easier to stick to a budget you set. Disney Dollars are also a great way to avoid high ATM fees and a great way to give your child an allowance.
8. Pack snacks
There are many food options at Walt Disney World, but a lot of it is fast food and eating out all day can get pricey. While there’s nothing wrong with fast food, it is also nice to have healthier options. That is why we suggest packing snacks that can tide you over between meals so you save money and make sure everyone has healthy things to eat. Apples, oranges, berries, nuts, granola bars and veggies are easy to pack, easy to eat and will make it easy to stay energized throughout the day.
9. Keep track of ride wait and parade times
The My Disney Experience mobile app is great for keeping track of wait times for the things you want to see and do so you can plan accordingly. Knowing how long you have to wait, or what’s coming up in terms of parades or fireworks, means you can organize your day better and maximize your time.
10. Ride during parades
As long as it’s not a parade you want to see, skip it and enjoy a shorter line on popular rides. Visitors tend to take a break from rides during popular parades so that gives other visitors, who don’t care to see that particular parade, a good opportunity to access a ride in less time that it would normally take.
Lead photo: Anthony Quintano