A trip to Disney can be as stressful as it is exciting. After all, it’s not cheap. It’s only natural to want to stretch every dollar (click here for money-saving tips). Add to that the many moving parts that come with a Disney trip: reservations for this, reservations for that, Genie+ here, Magic Band+ there, and it can get confusing. Never fear! We are here to help you de-stress your Disney planning so that the only thing you need to focus on is the fun!
The very first thing you should do after buying your tickets is make your park reservations. Not doing so could really throw a monkey wrench in your plans! Park reservations do fill up, and you don’t want to be left with admission tickets but still unable to visit the Parks. By making your reservations right away, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. You can constantly adjust them later (as long as the Park you want is available), but by making reservations as soon as possible, you’ll at least breathe easy knowing you won’t get all the way there only to be turned away at the gate.
Make Your Dining Reservations (but don’t stress about them)
Here’s another thing you need to reserve in advance. The most popular restaurants at Disney World require reservations. A good rule of thumb is that if a server brings your food to you, you need a reservation. If you order from a counter, no reservation is necessary. Go ahead and look at menus, reviews, and options as soon as you start planning and make a list of the sit-down meals you’d like. You’ll be able to make your reservations 60 days in advance, and trust me, you want to be ready. Many places will fill within minutes of reservations opening up (at 7:00 am EST). If you strike out, don’t worry. Cancellations do happen. Keep checking the website (or sign up for a service like MouseWatcher, who will alert you to openings for a fee).
Remember to Rest
Don’t push yourself. If you’re not typically an early riser, don’t feel like you have to start now. You’ll hear well-meaning experts tell you to “rope drop” (arrive at the Park right when it opens), and that’s excellent advice, something I do myself, but if you’re a person who loves their sleep, then don’t feel you must sacrifice it. There’s room in the park for early birds and night owls. The crowds are lowest first thing in the morning, peak in the afternoon, and thin as the evening progresses. You’ll have just as much low-crowd fun in the last couple of hours a Park is open as you will the first.
You’re not going to see everything. Even if you’re there for a whole week, there’s just no way to do it all (reasonably at least … we’ve had some crazy trips where there was no rest, but we don’t recommend it). Make a list of your “must-do” attractions and hit those up first. That way, if you run into any snags, you can always come back to them. Then once your top priorities have been accomplished, fill your day with everything else.
Don’t forget this is a vacation! It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement but allow yourself some grace. Rest when you’re tired. Disney has a few world-class spas. Book a down day and get a massage and a pedicure, your aching feet will thank you. If a spa day isn’t your speed, plan a day in the middle of your trip to lounge by the pool and take in the sights of your resort hotel. There are many incredible details that people miss because they’re so busy rising from one activity to the next. The parks will still be there tomorrow and you’ll enjoy them so much more if you take time to rest.
Take it from a bonafide Disney Commando who has absolutely disregarded all of her advice above, if you take small steps to reduce your stress you’ll have a much better vacation. Disney memories last a lifetime, make sure they’re the best they can possibly be!