Top 10 Expert Walt Disney World Tips From a Former “Magic-Maker”

Walt Disney World is the ultimate dream for most families who are looking to go on vacation and having a handful of Walt Disney World Tips can make your trip.  And I don’t blame them, it’s an awesome place!  Being the Disney fans that we are (and having spent years “working for the Mouse” myself), here are our top Walt Disney World Tips for other travelers!

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We are experts when it comes to visiting Disney!

Walt Disney World Tips #1:  Timing Matters!

Do – Visit During the Off Season

Crowds can be enormous during peak season, which means long lines.  So you won’t be able to do as much, plus peak season can be the most expensive when it comes to transportation and hotels.  The best times to visit are the Fall (mid-September / October), mid-January through early March.  Late April to May usually isn’t bad either.  You will see a pattern here that coordinates with kids being in school.  So go ahead, take the kids out of school to get more out of your vacation.  Seriously, don’t they give a “Disney World out-of-school pass?”

Don’t – Visit During Major Holidays

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and 4th of July are completely INSANE at Disney Parks.  Honestly, they close the parks to capacity on these days, and people actually line up outside waiting for people to leave the park so they can come in.  It’s miserable, don’t do it.  If you want to see the parks lit up for the winter holidays (which is beautiful and worth it), then plan to visit early to mid-December to beat the holiday crowds.

If you do plan on visiting during Christmas don’t miss out of these 5 valuable tips of Surviving Christmas at Disney.

Crowds at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Christmas
Crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Christmas

Walt Disney World Tips #2:  Accommodation Choice Really Is Important

Do – Stay on (or Very Near) Disney Property

Disney resorts are amazing, and worth every penny. They provide convenient access to the parks, free transportation, as well as great concierge services that will help you with pretty much anything you need. The hotel properties and service are of the highest quality, and their rooms are designed with family needs in mind. The theming around the hotels bring the magic from the parks to your room, which is always fun. Plus, you can book package deals with tickets, rooms, and dining altogether.

Read also 5 Reasons You Should Stay at a Disney Resort!

Character Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort
Character Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort

However, Disney Resorts are not cheap.  If cost is an issue, then a good alternative is to stay at a resort very nearby, such as the Downtown Disney area.  Some of these resorts even offer transportation and similar amenities, such as character breakfasts, as Disney properties. These hotels are a fraction of the cost of a Disney Resort. Trust me after spending 12 hours at a theme park, you will want a quick and easy trip to your hotel!

Don’t – Stay at a Cheap Motel on I-Drive or on 192 in Kissimmee!

There are a lot of dirt cheap hotels around the Disney area…but beware!  Many hotels in the Kissimmee area will advertise that they are practically next door to Disney, which isn’t always true.  Plus, if they are dirt cheap, then there is a good reason!  I’m not being snobbish, but being very serious. You may also be tempted to stay on International Drive (I-Drive) because that is also another big touristy area.  There are some nicer hotels in this area, but a lot of sketchy ones too.  And I-Drive is actually a pretty good distance from Disney, especially if traffic is backed up (which it often is).  So be sure to check reviews very carefully if you want to stay in these areas.

Walt Disney World Tips #3:  Don’t Rush!

Do – Stay for at least 5 days, preferably 7

There is no way to do Disney in a few days, with 4 theme parks alone you will need at least that many days!  Taking into account that you may want a day to rest outside the parks at the pool, or maybe even going to a water park, you can see that the days add up.  Plus, your Disney park ticket actually costs less per day the more days that you stay.  So it’s not much more expensive to add a few more days.  You will be happy to have the extra time to relax and not rushing around.

Don’t – Forget to Relax at Your Hotel!

Enjoy your vacation!  Spending every waking minute at a theme park will quickly burn you out, and may cause some family friction.  So build in time on your itinerary to relax.  Take a swim at the pool, or a nap in a hammock under the palm trees.  Go to the spa, or maybe play a round of golf.  There are so many things to do, especially if you stay at a Disney resort!  In fact, you could spend days enjoying yourself at a Disney Resort and not even enter the park (we have done that before).

Enjoying the ambiance at Disney's Boardwalk Resort
Enjoying the ambiance at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Walt Disney World Tips #4:  Water, Water, Water!

Do – Drink Lots of Water!

Florida can get crazy hot.  But even worse is the humidity, especially if you are not used to it.  Be sure to hydrate constantly.  I’ve seen many guests over the years pass out due to heat exhaustion and dehydration, not a good way to spend your day.  So be sure that you drink water, and LOTS of it throughout the day.

Don’t – Pay for it!

Many guests think that they need to buy bottles of water to carry around with them, but you don’t.  Any quick service restaurant or drink stand that has cups with ice will give you a free cup of water.  You just have to ask.  They won’t deny you water.  After all, they don’t want guests passing out all around from dehydration either.  So drink up!

Adult Itineraries (1)

Walt Disney World Tips #5:  Think Beyond the 4 Main Parks

Do – Visit the Water Parks!

People often forget that Disney has some pretty awesome water parks too.  Both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are an absolute blast, and they are a fun break from the regular theme parks.  These are not your typical water parks.  They are very Disney, with awesome themes and really fun slides.  From lazy rivers, to snorkeling alongside sharks (yes, you read that right), to giant wave pools and super scary thrill slides, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the water parks.  You can buy water park tickets separately, or include them in your package with your other park tickets!

Don’t – Miss Out on Shows & Activities Outside the Parks!

There are shows around Disney property that are not in the parks.  Our favorite is the Hoop-de-doo Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.  This old time dinner show is full of dancing and singing that will have your rolling with laughter.  There is also the Luau at Disney’s Polynesian resort, which is another dinner show.  And on some nights there are shows and concerts happening at Downtown Disney, so be sure to check those out!

Walt Disney World Tips #6:  Disney Resort Perks are Awesome!

Do – Take Advantage of Extra Magic Hours if you are Disney Resort Guests

Another advantage to staying at a Disney Resort is that you get special park access!  Extra Magic Hours are for resort guests only.  So each day there is 1 park that opens extra early and another that will stay open extra late.  Take advantage of these hours because the parks are not very crowded during these times, which makes it great to get in a bunch of your favorite rides in a short amount of time.  For example, during the summer months the Magic Kingdom may stay open until 3 am (seriously) – and you can practically walk right on many of the popular rides without a line.  This is an AWESOME perk.  We took full advantage of this during our 18 hours of Disney that ended in a Proposal.

Don’t – Forget to Take Advantage of Resort Activities Too!

There are so many activities at Disney Resorts, they are almost as fun as the parks!   They may have movie nights, themed events, and pool parties with DJ’s!  Some resorts will have games and other activities such as roasting s’mores over the fire!  So there’s actually a lot to do at your hotel, which is a nice break from the parks.  Imagine relaxing at your hotel all day, enjoying the pool and napping while the parks are crazy busy.  Then you go in at night after dinner and ride all your favorite rides, with hardly any crowds.  Yup, it’s worth it!

disney world tips
Relaxing by Disney’s Coronado Springs resort pool – complete with cascading water fall down the pyramid!

Walt Disney World Tips #7:  Efficient Use of Time is Key

Do – Utilize the Fast Pass System At All Times

Disney’s “Fastpass” is basically a reservation system.  You go to kiosks for different rides and get a time to come back later.  You can only have so many of these out at a time, so you will have to wait until you use one, or a certain amount of time passes until you can get another.  This helps Disney spread out the ride demand, keeping the lines shorter.  When you come back at your reservation time, you will practically walk on the ride with hardly any wait.  Make the most of your time by always having a “Fastpass” on the clock.  That way you spend your time enjoying the park instead of standing in line!

Don’t – Go to the first night Parade at Magic Kingdom

Often times during the year the Magic Kingdom will have 2 night parades.  If that’s the case, then beware that the first parade will be the most crowded, and people will start lining up early.  Take advantage of this time to go ride the rides, then attend the 2nd parade.  It is usually much easier to find a seat at the 2nd parade, and you don’t have to get there very early for a good view.

disney world tips
Disney’s Night Parade

Walt Disney World Tips #8:  Amazing Nighttime Shows!

Do – Check Out the Fantasmic Show

The Fantasmic night show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a must.  It is the best night show anywhere on Disney Property.  Incorporating story telling, fireworks, music and awesome lighting, your are transported through Mickey’s imagination.  The stadium is enormous, seating around 8,000 people!  People start lining up outside the theater well before the show starts.  You will want to get a good seat, it’s worth the wait and it’s a perfect way to cap off an awesome day at the park!

Don’t – Miss the Iconic View of Fireworks Over the Castle

The Magic Kingdom fireworks show is incredible.  You can actually see these fireworks almost anywhere inside the Magic Kingdom.  However, the quintessential place to watch them is on Main Street USA, preferable at the end toward the castle.  There will be crowds, but if you get there about 15 minutes before, you should be able to get a spot (unless it is peak season).  This is the best photo opportunity to get the fireworks in the sky right behind Cinderella’s castle.  Even though I have seen the show hundreds of times, I still always want to watch them from Main Street.  It gives me goose-bumps every time!

disney world tips
Special thanks to Liz’s dad for this awesome pic!

Walt Disney World Tips #9:  Let’s Face it, You Have to Eat!

Do – Look into the Disney Dining Plan

Meals can become a very expensive part of your trip.  Unlike Disneyland, because of where the Disney World Parks are located, you cannot easily leave the parks to eat and return (unless you stay at a Disney resort).  So, you are going to spend money on food…period.  The Disney Dining Plan is a convenient option.  You can book this as a package along with your Disney Resort room and park tickets.  This is a helpful option because meal expenses can add up, and the package gives it to you in one lump price.  There are different packages available, so be sure to pick the one that best fits your family’s dining preferences.

disney world tips
Who doesn’t like a Mickey Mouse waffle?

Don’t – Miss Out on These Top Goodies

There’s nothing like having a seat on Main Street USA, eating a classic caramel apple while waiting for the parade to start.  Or there is the classic Mickey Mouse ice cream pop on a stick, which my dad insists he must have at least one a day while visiting the parks!  But one of my personal favorites are the pineapple Dole whip and floats!  Imagine, tangy pineapple ice cream or my favorite, a float of vanilla soft serve in fresh pineapple juice!  You could double up on the pineapple with Dole soft serve and juice, but the creamy combo of the vanilla and pineapple is heaven!  Also, some of these snacks are included in some of the Disney Dining Plan options!

Walt Disney World Tips #10:  Plan, Save…and Forget About It!

Do – Save Up & Plan Your Trip in Advance

Obviously, an awesome trip to Disney doesn’t come cheap.  But I really do believe that it is worth it.  You will have so many memories that will last a lifetime.  So go online and get some ideas for the different packages available, and start saving up.  Set a goal and plan it out in advance.

disney world tips
The Legend of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom is a must see!

Don’t – Fret About Your Spending…just enjoy it!

The great thing about booking a package with your hotel, tickets, additional shows, activities, water parks, and dining plan in advance, then you will know up front most of your cost!  So just save up enough to at least cover all of this, and you shouldn’t need to worry about spending while you are on vacation.  Just sit back, relax, and enjoy your well deserved vacation.

disney world tips
Riding Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Are you looking for more insider Disney tips?  Check out all of our complete Disney Travel Guide HERE!!

Book Your Disney & Other Orlando Activities HERE!


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