Ready to book your vacation to Walt Disney World? Whether you're visiting for the first time or are a returning guest, there are tips and tricks the pros use when navigating the resort. From how to avoid crowds to what to pack and how to avoid getting tuckered out, we've got a treasure trove of helpful advice to help you get the most out of your trip. With these 10 tips, you'll be visiting Walt Disney World like a pro.
How to Avoid the Crowds
Visiting on a weekday and when school is still in session will always be the easiest way to avoid the crowds at Walt Disney World. Weekends and school breaks like Summer and Spring Break are some of the busiest times at the parks. A great tip to get a head start on the day is by reserving breakfast at a restaurant inside the park. You'll be able to get in early, and get on some rides before anyone else. On-site hotel guests can get in early and stay late in at least one theme park every day as well, which is great for avoiding big crowds.
Plan (Far) Ahead
You're able to make up to 3 FastPass+ reservations per day, up to 30 days in advance, or up to 60 days in advance when staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. This gives you an opportunity to skip the lines at some of the more popular rides during you vacation. Also, you can reserve dining up to 180 days in advance! Be sure to book the restaurants you want most as early as you can, so you don't miss out. You could always cancel up to 24 hours in advance, in case you change your mind.
Choose Restaurants That Are Hidden Gems
Consider booking overlooked dining locations. While everyone is fighting over a coveted reservation to Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom, book yourself a meal at The Plaza Restaurant instead. Trail's End at Fort Wilderness, Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, The Wave at the Contemporary Resort and many of the newer restaurants at Disney Springs are wonderful choices that are highly underrated, but are just as good (if not better) than the others that always fill up fast.
Best Times to Book Your Dining Reservations
Reservations for table service fill up fast for the usual lunch and dinner times, but you may have better luck selecting an earlier or later time to eat. By selecting an unusual time to dine, you'll not only have a more pleasant dining experience with less people, but you'll be able to enjoy the parks when others are all at restaurants (which means shorter lines at rides for you). This goes for counter service locations as well, so eat early or late to avoid the lunch rush.
Resort Hop to Experience New Things
No matter where you are staying at Walt Disney World, or even if you're staying off-site, resort hopping is an exciting way to experience all new places to dine, shop and explore! You could spend an entire day exploring the resorts along the Magic Kingdom monorail line, trying out different restaurants and enjoying the incredible theming of the Polynesian, Contemporary and Grand Floridian. Or, hop on a boat to explore all of the Epcot resorts, like the Boardwalk, Beach and Yacht Club and more.
Spread Out Your Park Days
Walking around the theme parks all day can be a very tiring experience. Throw in the hot sunshine and you've got yourself a recipe for exhaustion. It's always a good idea to spread out the fun and try not to schedule too many park days in a row. You could enjoy a day by the pool, or spend some time exploring Disney Springs or Disney's Boardwalk while taking it easy. You may even want to only spend half days at the parks, so you'll have lots of time to re-energize before tomorrow's fun.
Take Advantage of Free Things to Do
There are tons of fun activities and entertainment options your family can experience between the theme parks, and they don't have to cost you a penny! You can enjoy live music at the Grand Floridian Resort during the day and Disney Springs in the evening. You can go on a scavenger hunt for hidden Mickeys at The Wilderness Lodge – just ask for a guide from the concierge. At the end of the day, you can watch the fireworks from select resorts, or catch a movie under the stars at most hotels on property.
What to Pack for the Parks
Two things you should always have with you in Florida, no matter the time of year, are sunblock and an umbrella or poncho. You just never know when it's going to rain, and you can always get a sunburn, even in winter! You should pack your phone charger as there are charging stations located in the parks. Other theme park bag staples include water bottles, a handheld fan, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and band-aids. You can never be too prepared!
Take Advantage of On-Site Transportation
Walt Disney World offers several free transportation options that make it easy to navigate between the parks, hotels and even Disney Springs. The monorails and boats make it fun to travel between certain resorts and parks. And the bus system can take you literally anywhere on property! Recently, Disney started offering the Minnie Van service. While you do have to pay to use it, it's the quickest way to get around, and they even include child seats in every Minnie Van. It's perfect if you're in a hurry and don't want to miss that dining reservation or FastPass+ time.
There's So Much More Than Theme Parks
With so much to do around Walt Disney World, you'll never have enough time to see it all. Many folks don't even know that there are two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach – at the resort. There are also two different mini golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf). For adults, there are nightclubs like the Jellyrolls piano bar at Disney's Boardwalk. Families can enjoy unique experiences at Disney Springs, or even catch a movie and a meal at the Fork and Screen theaters. The fun never ends when you're at the most magical place on Earth.