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8 Tips for a Successful Weekend Trip to Walt Disney World

Often a Walt Disney World vacation will take a week or longer. After all, there are four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and much more to see and do. Many people do not realize that Walt Disney World is also a fantastic weekend destination. Here are eight tips to help you get the most out of a short trip.

8. Start or End With a Resort Character Meal

If you’re only spending a couple of days at Walt Disney World, you will want to save time wherever possible. You have to eat, so why not make a reservation for a character meal for when you first arrive? You’ll be able to start your trip with a fun Disney activity, but you won’t need to spend the extra money to get into a park. You’ll also be able to take some great pictures, and there will be a few less characters that you will need to stand in line to greet the next day. A resort character meal is a great way to end your weekend trip as well. Again, you won’t need to add a day to your theme park ticket, but you’ll end your weekend in the best way possible.

7. Bring (or Rent) a Car

Walt Disney World transportation is incredible and convenient, but if you don’t have a lot of time it is nice to have access to a car. You’ll be able to get where you want to go without having to wait for a crowded bus. Less waiting means that you’ll have more time to hit the rides, and returning to your hotel at the end of the night will be much easier.

6. Watch Wishes from a Magic Kingdom Resort

Getting out of the Magic Kingdom after Wishes can be a chore that takes quite a bit of time. Instead of getting stuck in the end of the night crowd, leave a little bit early, and watch Wishes from one of the Magic Kingdom resorts. Make a dinner reservation at California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and watch from 15 stories up, or in the same hotel grab a double espresso and a cookie at Contemporary Grounds and enjoy the nightly fireworks on the nearby outdoor deck. All of the Magic Kingdom Resorts have great places to watch, and you won’t have to worry about getting caught in the large crowd leaving the Magic Kingdom.

5. Avoid Long Weekends

Does a three day weekend sound like the perfect time for a quick trip to Walt Disney World? Thousands of other people agree. Three day weekends are usually packed. Not only do tourists decide to make a quick trip to Central Florida, many locals will visit the parks as well, since they won’t have to take a day off or take the kids out of school. If you want to make it a three day weekend, consider taking a personal day from work for the extra day. If not, be prepared for large crowds.

4. Stay Out of the Parks?

Have you ever considered visiting Walt Disney World and not stepping foot inside one of the four theme parks? A weekend trip is the perfect time to give that a try. Enjoy Berries and Cream Pancakes at Trattoria al Forno, then head to Senses for a couple of hours. If you’re not in a theme park you can go for a horseback ride, rent a boat, or spend a day exploring Disney Springs. Once the evening rolls around enjoy dinner at Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, then head outside to see the animals. If you’re staying on property, take advantage of the pools! Your best day ever at Walt Disney World could be a day that you don’t enter a theme park.

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3. Utilize Park Hopper and FastPass+

If you don’t like the idea of skipping the parks, you will want to maximize your time in them if you’re only staying for the weekend. The best way to do that is to use FastPass+. Make your reservations in advance for the attractions that are the most important to you. If you aren’t staying long you won’t be able to hit everything, so make sure that you reserve your favorites. Once you’ve used all three FastPass+ choices, make a fourth reservation through the My Disney Experience App. If you want to hit all four parks in one weekend, you’ll need to use Park Hopper as well. Check times before you leave home so that you’ll know when the shows are. Give yourself enough time to travel from one park to the next. You don’t want to miss something because you were late.

2. Consider an Annual Pass

If you live close enough to Walt Disney World that a weekend trip is possible, then you probably live close enough so that several weekend trips will be possible. Think about buying an Annual Pass. That will give you the motivation to keep returning, after all, you don’t want to waste it. You will also receive many discounts, including on some restaurants, merchandise, lodging, and more. Free parking is included, as is Memory Maker. If you live in Florida, there are even more options. Not all Florida Resident Passes come with all benefits, so look them over to see which one will work the best for you.

1. Don’t Overdo It

If you’re only staying for a weekend there’s a good chance that you will try to cram in as much as possible. Don’t overdo it. You won’t get to see and do everything in 48 hours, so don’t even try. Pick the aspects of a longer Walt Disney World vacation that are most important to you, and concentrate on those things. Instead of rushing from one ride to another, walk at a normal pace and enjoy your surroundings. Allow yourself to have a great time, and start planning another weekend getaway to Walt Disney World as soon as you arrive home.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.