You want your Walt Disney World vacation to be as magical as possible, but a little planning can go a long way to ensuring everyone in your family will have a blast. From tricks that can save you money – to others that can save your sanity – here are 11 secret vacation tips for visiting Walt Disney World.
Tag your stuff
Be sure to put luggage tags with contact information on all of your personal belongings, including backpacks and purses. That way, if they become lost at the theme parks, someone will be able to locate you on the same day. Another tip is to set your phone's lock screen as an image with an alternative phone number where you can be reached, as well as your name and hotel (excluding the room number). This way, even without the passcode, someone can get your phone back to you.
Bring a phone charging cable with you to the parks, as there are several locations where you can plug in and recharge. Sure, they offer power rod rentals and backup battery packs for purchase, but why spend money when you can charge up for free instead? Ask a Cast Member for the closest charging spot, and if you can't find one, the nice folks at Guest Services may be able to plug your phone in behind the counter as well.
You can ask for free cups of ice water from all quick service restaurants and even most snack stands throughout all of the theme parks. Not only does that keep you from having to carry around heavy water bottles all day, but it will save you lots of money on drink purchases. This tip is especially helpful in the hot summer months, when it's very important to stay hydrated.
If you find yourself at the parks having forgotten something (like, say, putting on deodorant that morning) you can ask a Cast Member at most gift shops to see if they have what you're looking for. You'd be amazed by the necessities that are hiding in a big drawer behind the register. Everything from single-use packs of various medicines, baby supplies, tissues and even disposable razors in case you need one at the water parks! The hotel gift shops carry even more toiletries, but it's nice to know there are useful items available for purchase at the parks, too.
Perks of staying on site
There are so many great reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World hotel. For starters, you can use Magical Express to get a free ride to and from the Orlando airport. If you buy anything on property, you can have it delivered to your hotel room for free. You’ll be able to go to a select theme park an hour early and stay later after the park closes to regular visitors! Plus, on-site guests get to make their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of their visit, which is twice as early as other guests.
You can get anywhere on Disney property without ever having to drive yourself. The resort bus lines travel from every on-site hotel to every theme park and Disney Springs. There are monorails to take you between Epcot, the Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts. You can even take boats between Hollywood Studios, Epcot and many of the hotels on that side of the resort as well.
Save a non-park day
The theme parks are a blast, but save a day or two for non-park fun as well. Walt Disney World is a big place, and there are other fun activities to try, like mini-golf at Fantasia Gardens or exploring Disney Springs. Plus, a whole day at the hotel pool for some fun in the sun is always a welcome treat. Spend time taking it easy and you'll feel refreshed and energized the next day for another trip to the parks!
You can reserve dining reservations for most table service locations up to 180 days prior to your trip. The sooner you book, the better chance you will have of getting a table, so don't wait until the last minute! You can always change your mind later, as long as you cancel at least 24 hours prior. Bonus tip: If you really like a dish, don't be afraid to ask your server for the recipe. That way you can bring a little magic back home with you!
Meet & Greet like a pro
You can purchase an official autograph book at any Disney World gift shop, but be sure to bring your own Sharpie marker and take it with you everywhere. Your autographs will look much cleaner, and you can even get different items signed, like shirts or hats, with it. If you're looking for a specific character, ask a Cast Member at any Meet & Greet where to find them, as they'll be the ones to know. Always ask for a free character sticker when meeting someone new and for a free sprinkling of real pixie dust, head to Castle Couture in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.
The parks tend to get a little busier in the afternoon, and the kids might start to get a little crankier, too. Taking a relaxing break back at the hotel for a nap or a quick dip in the pool can do wonders to keep your family's morale up. A quick rejuvenating break will help everyone prepare for a fun evening filled with more rides, fireworks and fun!
Save 5% on Purchases
If you use your Target REDcard to purchase Disney gift cards in-store, you'll receive a 5% discount, as with all your Target REDcard purchases. Since you can use Disney gift cards to pay for everything, from dining to souvenirs and more, at the Walt Disney World resort, this is an easy way to save 5% on nearly everything during your vacation. Wholesale stores like Sam's Club also offer discounts on Disney gift cards occasionally.