A Walt Disney World vacation is expensive, and you are going to want to squeeze in as much fun as possible while you are in Central Florida. Here are seven general tips for the theme parks to help you do just that. They are in chronological order, and they are all important. Remember that knowledge is power, the more you know about Walt Disney World’s rides, attractions, and restaurants before you leave home, the better. It also makes sense to familiarize yourself with the layout of each park. Make a plan, but be willing to stray from that plan when necessary. There should be some spontaneity in your trip. Most of all, allow yourself to have fun! If you get stressed out over lines, rude guests, and tired children you will not want to squeeze anything into your vacation, you’ll just want to go home. Walt Disney World is the most magical place on earth, allow yourself to get caught up in the magic.
Dining at Walt Disney World can be an attraction in its own right. You’ll find everything from quick snacks to a AAA Five Diamond experience. Research the restaurants from home and decide which ones you want to try the most. If you’re looking at a table service restaurant, make a reservation as soon as possible. Reservations for most full service options can be made up to 180 days in advance. When you’re at the park on the day of your reservation, show up a few minutes early, if possible. Even with a reservation, you might have to wait a little while, and showing up early will help you to be seated closer to the desired time.
If it’s quick service that you’re interested in, skip traditional meal times. If you eat a late breakfast and an early dinner you’ll wait in shorter lines, which will get you back out into the park faster. You’ll then be able to hit the attractions again. Plus, be sure to take advantage of the My Disney Experience Mobile Ordering option available at numerous quick service locations throughout Disney World property.
Another huge time saver is FastPass+. You will need a Disney account and a ticket. If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel you can make your FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance, it’s 30 days for everyone else. You can make three reservations per park per day, and they all need to be in the same park. Do a little bit of research ahead of time to see which are the most popular FastPass+ selections, because some will fill up 60 days in advance. Make your reservations as early in the day as possible, and then when you’re there use all three. After you’ve used the last one you’ll be able to get another FastPass+ and so on until the park closes. The selection might not be as good, but it will still be one less line that you will need to wait in. You can in theory keep getting another one until they run out for the day, so take full advantage of the system.
5. Getting to the Park
In order to squeeze as many attractions in at the park of choice, you are going to have to get there. If you are taking Walt Disney World transportation, give yourself plenty of extra time. Remember, at the beginning of the day the buses, boats, and monorails will be crowded. The same holds true if you’re staying off property and you’re using a hotel shuttle. Arrive before the scheduled time to ensure your seat. If you’re driving, at the beginning of the day there will be lines to pay for parking and then parking itself will take longer than you might expect. Once you make it to the front gate, have your bags open, with all the pockets unzipped, and then place them on the table for bag check. You can’t be wearing a bag in bag check, so take off the fanny pack or shoulder strap before you reach security. Finally, have your MagicBand on, or your ticket in your hand when it’s time to enter the park. You can save a lot of time if you’re prepared, and that time can be spent on rides and attractions.
4. Arrive Early
You can’t be hitting the rides if you’re asleep, it’s as simple as that. If you want to squeeze everything in, you need to arrive at rope drop. The lines are the shortest of the entire day when the park in question opens, you’ll be amazed by how many things you will be able to get done. When you first arrive, head immediately to the most popular ride that you did not get a FastPass+ for. Ride that first, and then ride something else if you have time. If your first FastPass+ is for the first hour of the day, give it a little bit of time before you use it. Take advantage of the light crowds and ride something else first. Just don’t cut it too close, you don’t want to miss your time.
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3. My Disney Experience
The My Disney Experience App can be an essential tool to help you get the most out of your day. With it you can check Wait Times, change the time for the FastPass+ that you’re scared you’re going to miss, see if you can snag a last minute dining reservation, find characters, and then look almost immediately at the pictures. You can even find the nearest restroom, which will also save time. Familiarize yourself with the app while you’re still at home, that way you won’t be trying to figure it out while you’re in the park. Remember to close the app when you’re not using it because it will drain your battery.
2. Standby Lines and Shows
Since you can’t have a FastPass+ for everything, you will need to wait in some standby lines. Check the Wait Times on the My Disney Experience App to see where the shortest wait near you is. Since you’re trying to squeeze in as much as possible, if the park is crowded consider hitting some of the attractions that are known for shorter waits. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is a fun ride that is often overlooked, Carousel of Progress is a classic, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic is filled with favorite characters. All three of those Magic Kingdom attractions usually have short waits, even on busy days. If you’re trying to do as much as you can, you might want to also take in a live show. Many of the theaters are large, and if the show is Streetmosphere it can handle a crowd.
1. Stay Until Closing
To really get the most attractions in on any given day at Walt Disney World, you will need to stay at the park all day, from open until close. Also, don’t Park Hop, because that will take precious time out of your day. If you leave before closing, you’ll miss the fireworks or nighttime show, all of which are spectacular. If you stay until closing you’ll also see the crowds die down somewhat, so you might be able to go back and ride something that had a long line earlier. You might even be able to ride a favorite ride for a second or third time if you stay until the park is about to close.