Vacationing at Walt Disney World is almost always going to be a good time from the attractions to the food, the resorts, recreation, shopping, and all around Magic. But there are a few things you can do before and during your vacation to make it the Best Vacation Ever!
10. Make a packing list. And use it.
While Walt Disney World is not located in the middle of a deserted island it is inconvenient if you forget key items for your vacation. Not only do you have to take time out from your fun, you may end up paying WAY more for that item than you would have at home. Not to mention transportation if you need to go offsite to find something that Disney doesn’t carry. Make a detailed packing list (or do a google search for Walt Disney World packing list), customize it to your family or vacation, and use it when you pack checking things off as you go. Trust me, I have a friend who didn’t pack any shirts one trip (know how much a single WDW t-shirt will run you?), and I know another guy who forgot to pack underwear. But other things may be missed too like portable chargers, sunscreen, small bills for tipping, etc.
I know that a Walt Disney World vacation is a splurge for most people—just getting to go on the vacation. But if you are able to build a little extra into your budget I recommend splurging for one super special activity for your trip. It adds a little something extra to get excited about, a VIP type feeling, and great memories to look back on. My suggestions? A Fireworks Dessert Party; a Behind the Scenes Tour; Lunch with an Imagineer; Private Fireworks Cruise; or Guided VIP Tour.
8. Early to Bed Early to Rise
It is unrealistic to think that you are going to be able to get up early every morning to make “rope drop” or park opening. Especially if you are staying out late every night to catch fireworks or some other nighttime park fun. An ideal Walt Disney World Vacation is all about balance. Try to alternate your schedule to offset later nights with a morning to sleep in a little bit. Or an early morning when you get to the park before it opens to beat the lines with an early evening spent relaxing at the pool before going to bed early. If you can work out that balance you will be much happier with yourself (and everyone around you) a few days into your trip.
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7. Find a Unique Activity
This may go along with the Splurge option a little bit, but I like to look for something unusual or “off the beaten path” for my family to do each trip. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost any money though—just something that gives a little different twist to your trip, that you will talk about for years to come (like the time we waited out a horrific rain storm by taking a monorail tour of resorts and finding the pressed penny machines), or that gives you an experience you can’t get at home. We’ve done early morning fishing excursions (I caught the biggest fish); gone trail riding on horseback (my horse was named Cheeto); taken archery lessons (my son asked for a bow & arrows for Christmas that year); gone on a dessert crawl through the Epcot resorts; ridden Surrey bikes; rented pontoon boats . . . .all so much fun.
6. A Gift for your Room
Sometimes it is just fun to come back to a surprise in your room. There are many ways to do this. I’ve done it myself in the past—sent hubby off with the boys while I put up a few decorations for Christmas and put out some stockings with goodies. I’ve also done DIY birthday decorations . . . just make sure it is not anything that could damage the room. You can shop online at Disney Floral to choose flowers, balloons, gifts or elaborate room decorations to be delivered to your room. Or you can use an outside vendor like Mouse To Your House to put together a snack basket or custom gift to deliver to your resort. Just an extra little touch of magic.
5. Plan Ahead
This almost goes without saying. If you want to have the best Walt Disney World vacation you have to plan ahead to work with their system. Dining reservations open up 180 days in advance—and many of those popular, must-eat restaurants fill up (or are already filled) at 6 months out. FastPasses reservations open 60 days in advance for onsite guests. So, before that 6 month mark you want to have your vacation package booked and in place with a solid idea of where you are going to go each day so that you book your dining reservations in the correct parks. Many websites offer crowd calendars for trip planning to help you choose travel dates, but also park days within your vacation. Of course, you can make changes to your plans, but having that in place to make dining at 180 days and FastPasses at 60 days is going to give you the very best chance of getting the things you want.
4. Take a Minnie Van
Yes, the Minnie Vans are more expensive than taking an Uber or a regular Lyft transfer. But—they are so cute and so clean. Think about taking a Minnie Van maybe just once during your trip, it is silly but you feel like a VIP! The best ways to take advantage of the service: dining at a resort where you are not staying; getting to Magic Kingdom (you get dropped off where the buses drop guests); traveling to Hoop Dee Doo Revue (it takes you right to it).
3. Be Flexible
Despite all of that planning in #5 things are going to happen and plans are going to change. Whether they change 3 months before your trip, 3 weeks before your trip, or during your trip. You have to keep in mind that you can make changes and it won’t be the end of the world. If you have to cancel that Be Our Guest reservation because everyone is tired of restaurants and they just want to ride attractions—it is okay, it will not ruin your vacation. If it rains and storms and you can’t get to the pool or waterpark in the afternoon like you planned, you may have to shift some things around to go in the morning before storms hit. Flexibility and balance are the keys . . . some of your most memorable vacation moments will likely come when you are doing something unplanned or that was a change of plans.
2. Schedule a Resort Day
This is something I tell my clients all of the time. Walt Disney World is exhausting. You are paying a lot to stay in a resort with a lot of amazing amenities (whether it is Pop Century or Grand Floridian). Plan to have a day when you sleep in, hit the pool, participate in the scheduled recreation activities, and just explore your resort. If you want to add to it, go play mini golf, visit Disney Springs, have a nice dinner at another resort you can explore. All of Disney is not in the parks—some of the best parts are the resorts.
1. Love the Ones You’re With
Always keep in mind that this vacation is about being with whoever you are with—whether it is your family; your newly married spouse; your friends meeting up from around the country; your child; your parents . . . . THEY are why you are vacationing. Walt Disney World is just one amazingly fun backdrop for your adventures. Keep it in perspective and some of those little irritations of waiting in line, or missing a reservation will start to fall away. Don’t worry so much about the My Disney Experience app, take in the details around you with the people around you. The time spent with them is what will make this the Best Walt Disney World visit yet.
What are your tips for having the Best Walt Disney World vacation ever?