I love making itineraries for my Disney vacations. To me, it’s almost as much fun as actually being there! And I’m always flattered when my friends ask me for help building their own vacation plans. Here are the ten things I tell them!
10. Download the App
Download the My Disney Experience app. You can use it for all your planning needs. Plus, it’s easy to use and you can carry Disney info around in your pocket!
9. Party Time
Magic Kingdom hosts two major parties during the year: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Both of these parties are hard-ticket extras (meaning a regular ole’ park ticket won’t get you in). Guests with party tickets can enter the park starting at 4pm. If you decide not to attend one of these parties, consider relaxing and enjoying the hotel pool during the day.
8. Look up Park Hours
You can do this on the app! See, it’s already coming in handy! Knowing when the parks will be open during your vacation is the first step to creating your itinerary. Don’t forget about Extra Magic Hours, where one or more park either opens an hour early or stays open a couple hours late, just for guests staying at Disney’s resort hotels. The extra time is terrific perk for guests staying on property. Just remember that park hours are subject to change.
7. Shop Smart
Just because the park is closed does not mean that the stores are. While everyone else stampedes for the exit, step into one of the major stores. Now is also a great time to grab a sweet treat! I like to think of this as bonus time, and I can shop for gifts or souvenirs without doing during the day when I could be experiencing other attractions. When you’re done shopping, chances are the lines for boats, buses, or Monorails will be substantially shorter.
6. Make Fastpass+
To make the most of your Fastpasses, plan them for the late morning and afternoon, when lines are at their longest. You can use the My Disney Experience app for this step too. Don’t spend a Fastpass on fireworks or parades unless someone in your family really goes nuts for them.
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5. See the Second Show
Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios) often has more than one showing. If that’s the case during your trip, plan to see the second show, since it will be significantly less crowded than the first! That means less time waiting in line, and more time having fun!
4. Consider Kid’s Routines
If your children are used to a certain schedule, whether it be meal times or naps, do you best to stick to that schedule. Your little ones will be overwhelmed by new experiences, so keeping at least one thing familiar can help reduce the temper tantrums. You don’t need to go all the way back to the hotel for a nap: if your kids sleep in the car, hop on the Monorail, a Friendship Boat, or the Walt Disney World Railroad.
3. Take an Off-Day
If you’re taking a long vacation, or have small kids, consider spending a day hanging out at the hotel pool. Having a break part way through your trip can be refreshing, and allow you to have more energy for the upcoming days. Don’t want to stay at the hotel all day? Explore Disney Springs for a few hours. This shopping mecca has no admission, and can fill the day at a much slower pace than the parks.
2. Make ADRs
Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) are necessary for the popular restaurants at Walt Disney World. These can be made on the app, up to 180 days ahead of time. Make reservations with where you want to be each day in mind. Booking a reservation for Via Napoli (Italy pavilion in Epcot) on a day when you want to be in Animal Kingdom may not make the most sense. Be flexible with park plans and meal times, so you can enjoy your favorite restaurants or try a new one!
1. Check out a Crowd Calendar
There are several crowd calendars available online, which predict how busy the parks will be on any given day. I like to look at several different calendars, to compare the predictions. This info, coupled with the park hours, should factor into your decision on what park to tour each day of your vacation.
Bonus tip: visualizing your schedule can help you plan better. If the Disney app’s organization isn’t cutting it for you, try using spreadsheets, or other calendar apps. Or, go low-tech like I do and just write it all down, somehow my own handwriting helps it all make sense!