There are a 1,000,001 blogs, vlogs, YouTube channels, Insta accounts and more that can help you to plan your Disney Trip. (My favorite has been the Disney Food Blog YouTube channel. Their focus is obviously food, but they do everything Disney!) Having fallen deep into the rabbit hole of Disney planning, here are my top 10 tips:
TIP #1: Leave your skepticism at home. It’s no fun for anyone if you are too cool for school at Disney. Lean into it. Buy yourself a silly shirt and some sparkly Mickey ears and go. Disney is not about reality but rather escaping it. I’m certainly not recommending escapism as a general life philosophy (I study human rights violations and war crimes for a living!) but rather as a way to enjoy 4 or 5 days away with your family.
Tip #2: Stay as close to the parks as you can manage. We did not fully appreciate the value of being on the monorail or within walking distance of a park until we were schlepping back and forth to buses in the heat of the summer.
Tip #3: MinnieVans are worth every penny, but they do cost a pretty penny! When we got tired of waiting on the buses (see above), we got hooked on MinnieVans. These adorable, polka-dot vans operate like a Lyft (and work through the Lyft app) and can drop you off right at the parks’ gates (unlike a regular Lyft/Uber). *Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.
Tip #4. If your kiddos might be even remotely interested in meeting characters, character meals are where it’s at! They are air-conditioned (do not discount how important this is!); you don’t have to stand in line (ditto); the characters come around to every table and spend plenty of time with each kiddo, taking pictures and signing autograph books; and a slow(er) meal will help build in some relaxation time into your day.
Tip #5: If you want to prioritize character meetings (see Tip #4), think about the Disney Dining Plan. Although not everyone likes the DDP, if you do the math on the character meals, it turns out to be a decent deal. And remember, for many of these character meals, you are not going for the food but rather for the experience.
Tip #6: Book your FastPass+ tickets as soon as your window opens but be flexible. You are guaranteed not to get every FastPass+ that you and your family would like. Enjoy the rides and experiences with shorter lines. Take it all in. Some of our best experiences where the little rides and shows we did in between our FastPass+ reservations. You can also book one additional FastPass+ at a time after you’ve used up your original 3 for the day. We didn’t find that there were any reservations left for the most popular rides or attractions, but we did always use those bonus passes to enjoy another experience.
Tip #7: Speaking of FastPass+, don’t use them all on rides. Use them for shows, character meetings and other experiences, too. Many of the rides at WDW are fantastic, but leave time for the other stuff, too. It is just as magical.
Tip #8: If you have kiddos that wants to do the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique, don’t do it in the Magic Kingdom and then expect them to be happy walking around the park all day in full hair and makeup and a polyester costume. I would highly recommend getting the makeover done at Disney Springs or (coming soon!) the Grand Floridian and then heading over to a character meal at one of the resorts. (We did 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian right after BBB.)
Tip #9: Take the time to enjoy your resort. We didn’t do a “resort day” but instead went over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on our non-Disney parks day. We had a great time there but we needed a day to just relax. Moreover, there was so much to do at our resort and we barely scratched the surface. You are paying for all of those amenities and activities, so take advantage of them!
Tip #10: Finally, as with all trips, things will go wrong. It took us 24 hours to fly from Nebraska to Florida. One day a kid woke up with a 104 fever. Even if you are indulging in a bit of escapism, life still happens. Build in some buffers and downtime and don’t hesitate to reach out to Disney or use your MyDisneyExperience app to alter your plans.