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10 Insider Disney Tips From a Professional Travel Agent

Tips from a travel agent
Credit: Jen Retzlaff

As a Disney travel agent, I love helping others have magical vacations at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruises. After years of planning my trips and helping others plan their trips, I now have tips and tricks for magical experiences. I am sharing ten of my top tips to help you have a magical trip to Walt Disney World. Use these while you are planning and while you are at Walt Disney World for a magical time.

Related: Planning a Trip to Disney in 2024? Stay Away From These Time Frames

10. Have a Plan

A trip to Walt Disney World begins with a plan. Although you don’t need a minute-by-minute laminated plan like I did on my first trip, it is crucial to have a general plan of attack.

Before you leave, review the maps of the four main Disney parks. Get familiar with where rides are located. This will help you feel more confident in the parks trying to navigate them.

I also recommend taking time to create a must-do list. No matter how long your vacation is to Walt Disney World, you won’t be able to see and do it all. Instead, create a list of the top must-do experiences in each park. Make sure you focus on those during your trip, and anything else you get to do is extra magic.

With Walt Disney World’s size, having a plan is critical to success. You don’t want to waste time being lost and frustrated during your trip.

magic kingdom in the rain free disney world

Credit: Brett Kiger, Flickr

9. Prepare For Weather

Even though Walt Disney World is a magical destination, it doesn’t control the weather. No matter when you visit, make sure you are prepared for the weather.

We highly recommend having rain gear all year round. Rain storms pop up suddenly in Florida, and you might be soaked if you aren’t prepared. No one likes being wet while walking around, so having rain jackets, ponchos, umbrellas, and even extra shoes can save the day.

Bring gear to keep you cool during the warmer months of the year. Having portable fans, cooling towels, and water bottles can help you manage the heat and humidity. Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses as well.

For those visiting from November through February, be aware that Flordia can get cold. During these months, make sure you have layers. When the sun goes down, you will want coats, mittens, scarves, and gloves.

By taking time to pack for the weather, you will be more comfortable in the parks. No matter when you visit, weather can be a big factor. Go prepared to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact your trip.

Family with Cell phone at Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

8. Use My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience is Disney’s official app. This is essential to a successful Walt Disney World vacation. Before you head out for your trip, download the app. Make sure you get logged in and take time to navigate it.

The app has a lot of essential and helpful information. You might feel overwhelmed if you don’t look at it before you arrive. I highly recommend ensuring you understand where to find some critical information that will be helpful during your visit.

The main feature you will need is the maps. These will not only help you navigate your way around the parks but also show you wait times. This can save you time when determining how to move through the park.

My Disney Experience is also where you will book Genie+ and individual Lightning Lanes, make mobile orders, and see your photos taken on rides or by Disney’s photopass photographers.

I love My Disney Experience the majority of the time; however, I have used it for many years now. If you aren’t as familiar with it, scroll through it before arriving on your Disney vacation. You will be a lot less frustrated.

7. Take a Break

As you plan for each day in the Disney Parks, make sure you take breaks. Getting caught up in the magic and skipping breaks can be easy, but they are crucial to preventing meltdowns.

If you plan a more extended vacation, consider taking a whole break day during your trip. This can allow you time to sleep in, enjoy a slower pace, and experience some of Disney’s magic outside of the parks.

I still recommend taking breaks for shorter trips where you want to maximize your time. Taking breaks in the middle of the day can be a fantastic way to refresh and regroup for evening magic. We like to swim and nap during the heat of the day.

If we don’t feel like returning to our Disney resort, we schedule a relaxing sit-down meal at a nearby motel. When in Magic Kingdom, we love heading to Steakhouse 71 in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This is a fantastic dining experience and is typically extremely quiet during the middle of the day.

We head over to get something at Ale & Compass in Disney’s Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. Now, with the new Boardwalk Bakery, we could see this being an excellent location for an after-meal and break.

No matter how long or short your trip is, make sure you schedule some downtime. Take breaks, so allow yourself to reset. Doing this will make your trip that much better overall for everyone.

Courtyard Pool with Guests at Grand Floridian

Credit: Disney

6. Take Advantage of Your Resort

It isn’t a secret that a stay at Walt Disney World is expensive. Take time during your visit to enjoy what you are paying for at the Resort.

Walt Disney World Resorts have fantastic, fun-themed pools. Enjoy some swimming during your vacation. The feature pools at each resort will offer fun games and entertainment for the whole family during the afternoon.

Related: Disney Resorts Not Worth Staying at in 2024

Disney Resorts are beautiful. Enjoy an evening stroll around your Resort to enjoy all the special details you might miss otherwise. Ask at the front desk to see if there are scavenger hunts or hidden Mickeys that you could look for while at the Resort.

Also, make sure to ask for an activity guide. This will let you know what crafts and other activities are happening during your stay. This guide will also have what movies will be featured at night. Movies Under the Stars is a magical way to enjoy an evening at Disney.

So often, we are so focused on the Disney Parks that we miss out on the magic at the resorts.

2_portable charger

Credit: amazon

7. Portable Charges Are Key

Because My Disney Experience is so essential to a successful experience, having a charged phone is also super important. You don’t want to end up with a dead phone in the middle of the park. Without your phone, you can miss out on a lot of information.

Not only will you not be able to book Genie+ reservations, but you also won’t be able to place mobile orders or see basic information such as wait times.

Make sure you don’t get cut off by having portable charges packed. We highly recommend having a portable charger for anyone who has a phone. There are so many different options to choose from when it comes to chargers. Choose one that will fit your needs.

We like having smaller ones in the parks as they take up less room and aren’t as heavy to carry. Keep in mind if your charger needs a cord to pack that as well.

Disney does have some places to charge phones, but you would need cords to do so. Toss in those portable chargers each time you head out of your Resort room. Doing so will keep you from being stuck without a charge.

8. Be Flexible

Although we think having a plan when heading to Walt Disney World is super important, we also think being flexible within that place is essential. No matter how much you plan, things will happen to throw off your plan.

Ride breakdowns, kids meltdown, and experiences take longer than anticipated. All of these things, and more, can throw off your schedule. Don’t let this stress you out. Instead, be flexible in your plan.

Because you have taken time to make a plan, you will be prepared to pivot your plans when you need to. Be okay with adjusting when it means everyone has a more pleasant experience.

Go into the day with a general idea of what you want to accomplish, but be willing to adjust and make a new plan as needed.

Listen to those in your party and be aware of what their needs are in the moment. If someone is hungry, tired or overwhelmed, it will be better for everyone to adjust instead of trying to push through.

epcot monorail, cloudy sky in the background, reflective water, epcot's world nature in the background

Credit: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

9. Take Advantage of Disney Perks

Not only should you take time to enjoy your Disney resort while on your Walt Disney World vacation, but you also want to ensure you take advantage of all the perks of a stay.

Guests who stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can take advantage of free transportation to and from the four Disney Parks, Disney Springs, and Disney water parks. This is a stress-free way to get to the parks each day.

As mentioned, guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort can take advantage of early entry. This allows them to enter any of the four Disney parks a half hour before the posted opening.

Early entry is a fantastic way to get ahead of the crowds. It allows guests to experience some of the top rides, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain, before Magic Kingdom even opens to regular park guests.

Those staying at a deluxe resort like Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Beach Club Resort can enjoy extended evening hours. Unlike early entry, extended evening hours happen on select evenings at specific parks- typically either Magic Kingdom or EPCOT. This perk gives guests three additional hours to enjoy the park after it closes for the evening.

Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel also can take advantage of charging to their rooms. Instead of worrying about carrying around a credit card, guests can use their MagicBands, Key cards or use the My Disney Experience app to charge back to their rooms.

Take time to learn about all the advantages of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and then make sure you are using them during your trip.

Walt Disney World Blessed

Credit: Disney and Canva

10. Enjoy the Magical Moments

Finally, my biggest tip for a great trip to Walt Disney World is to enjoy the magical moments. No matter how much you plan and prepare, slow down to take those magical moments that pop up suddenly during your trip.

This could be watching your little one dance away during the Disney Junior Dance party. Maybe they want to watch the castle stage show for a third time in Magic Kingdom or have one more Mickey pretzel as they chill on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle.

epcot family

Credit: Jen Retzlaff

No matter what magical moment pops up during your trip set that schedule, plan aside, and enjoy it. It will be those magical moments that you remember for years to come. Although we love laughing about how many times we were able to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, what we remember is that midnight swim after the fireworks at our resort.

Walt Disney World is full of magical moments, but it can be easy to miss out on them when we get too wrapped up in our must-do list. As I mentioned, be flexible within your plans to take in all those magical moments. If you don’t slow down, you will miss the magic right before you.

Those are ten of my top tips for having a great tip at Walt Disney World. Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World is a lot of work, but keeping these ten tips at the forefront of your planning will be much easier.

Focus on those must-do experiences, and then slow down, relax, and enjoy all the magic and pixie dust in the four Disney parks and Disney resorts. By slowing down, you will genuinely make magical, solid memories together, which is essential.

There are a lot of tips and tricks to help you have a great time at Walt Disney World. I hope these ten will get you started as you prepare for a magical and exciting trip to Walt Disney World.

Have a great time during your Walt Disney World vacation. Head in prepared, and you will be ready for a fantastic time.

Related: Planning a Trip to Disney in 2024? Don’t Miss This Essential Read

 

About Jennifer Retzlaff

My name is Jennifer Retzlaff and I became a lifelong Disney fan during my first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of my life. I live in Iowa with my husband and two kids who are growing up too quickly for my liking. I started introducing my love for Disney early to my family with a Disney honeymoon and then trips when our youngest of 18 months. Since then, our family has been to Walt Disney World over five times and we continue to plan and dream for the next trip. I love the magic that Disney brings to people through the theme parks, cruises, adventures and movies they create. As a teacher, I try to bring that magic into my classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” I recently reached a dream of mine as I joined Magic Vacation Planner as a personal travel advisor. With this team, I can now help others plan magical vacations. As a passionate writer, I also have my own blog at magicalvacationsbyjen which is also where you can follow me on instagram for trip reviews along with tips and tricks for your next magical vacation.

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