We are not going to lie. The Travel Children family love Walt Disney World. I mean, we really love it! We enjoy visiting it so much that we have managed to get our Disney vacation planning down to a fine art. We want to share with you our top Disney World tips and what you need to know to make sure you have the best vacation possible.
Prepare before you even leave home
Sure, everyone wants to be spontaneous once in a while, especially on vacation. However, being spontaneous in Disney World will lead to waiting in huge lines and not being able to find a seat in the restaurants. Trust me, planning before you leave will save you loads of time and its actually really fun to anticipate your visit.
Creating an itinerary is one of the most important things you can do. We usually prepare a pretty detailed itinerary, but at the very least you should know what parks you want to visit each day and have a rough idea of the attractions you want to experience. This is particularly important when it comes to booking FastPass+ (more on that below).
I am a fairly obsessive travel planner and actually plan my entire day to make sure I am hitting the most popular rides when they are least busy. These are called ‘touring plans’ and there are loads of websites out there to help the first-time visitor create the best touring plan for them. A good rule of thumb is to visit the most popular rides early, which leads me on to…..
Be at the turnstiles before the park opens
Now, I enjoy a lie-in as much as the next person but when I am in Disney World I prefer spending less of my time in lines and more time on rides. Getting to the park for ‘rope drop’ means you will be ahead of the crowds who are still in bed. Make sure you check park hours in advance.
Later in the day, the parks will get increasingly busy so hit the headline attractions as soon as the park opens. The lines build throughout the day but you will already have enjoyed the most popular rides. Suggestions of popular rides to prioritise (where lines can grow quickly) are:
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise
- Epcot: Frozen Ever After, Soarin, Test Track
- Hollywood Studios: Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, Nav’i River Journey, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris
The strategy of which attractions to visit first will tie in with your FastPass+ selections.
FastPass+ is a online system that allows you to book time slots for specific rides. As long as you link your tickets to the Disney website or My Disney Experience app, you will be able to book FastPasses in advance. I strongly recommend doing so as soon as you are eligible to do so. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can make FastPass reservations 60 days before the first night of your stay. Otherwise, you can reserve 30 days before your visit to that park. Each reservation is a one hour slot and you can ride anytime within that hour.
I would suggest you make FastPass selections for the most popular rides that are available when you book (see ride suggestions above). Be aware however, apart from Magic Kingdom, the parks have tiered attractions and you can only book one Tier 1 ride in advance. Tier 1 rides tend to be the most popular rides in each park.
You can book an initial 3 FastPasses for one park only, but once you have used these you can get another one in any park, use it and repeat. When you are in the parks, you can either book at FastPass kiosks (marked on the park map) or on your app.
FastPass+ can seem complicated at first, but used properly it will really bring your wait times down.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, a day in the parks is tiring. By minimising backtracking you will save yourself a lot of walking. While we are on the subject make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes! Secondly, backtracking wastes time. The parks are a lot bigger than you think, so try to experience as many of the attractions in one area as you can before moving on.
Captain Jack says don’t backtrack
There is nothing worse than arriving at an attraction with your excited child, only to find out they are not tall enough. Check height restrictions in advance so you know what rides to bypass.
You are going to be hungry after all that fun. If you want to eat at a table service restaurant, be sure to book in advance especially of you have your heart set on character dining. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days before your visit. If you don’t have a reservation, tables may be available on the day. I would suggest visiting Guest Services to check on availability. If you don’t manage to snag a table, there are numerous quick service options available. My advice would be to go around 11am for lunch or 4pm for dinner to avoid the crowds.
Take a break
If you are travelling with children a full day at the parks can be very tiring, especially if you arrived early and plan on staying late for fireworks. It is often worthwhile to take a break to avoid meltdowns later. If you are staying nearby, especially at a Disney resort, head back for a few hours in the afternoon. You will avoid the afternoon crowds and can have a nap or cool off in the pool. If you can’t go back to your hotel, there are spots you can have some downtime in the park, like theatre attractions or in the kids’ water play areas. After all the fun everyone has had in the morning, you will definitely appreciate the change in pace.
So there you have it: The Travel Children’s top Disney World tips. Have you been to Disney World? What are your favorite attractions? Do you have any Disney World tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.