10 Tips to Tackle Disney Like a Pro!
Spring break is coming which means if you’re a mom of young kids, you might be planning a trip to Disney World. Last summer I made a brave decision to take my two kids to Disney World by myself, and, well, I survived! I was quite nervous and there were many issues including multiple meltdowns, but I did it. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure was fun! Shoutout to all the single moms who do these kinds of things ALL THE TIME.
Once you start looking into your trip, you will quickly discover that you there’s a LOT of information. It’s SO overwhelming! I highly suggest you do NOT wing this trip. Instead, carefully and thoughtfully plan your Disney stay. I know many of you don’t have time for the deep-dive, so I’m giving you the top 10 tips you need to make your trip seamless and successful.
First, I wanted to give you a bit more information about our trip. The kids and I stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando for five days and visited four different parks. I picked Animal Kingdom Lodge because of all the animals! From our room, we watched as giraffes walked and ate, exotic birds flew, and other amazing animals grazed in their habitats. Our four parks included: Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon.
We began our day at one of the parks around 10am, took midday breaks, finished at 4pm, then headed back to our hotel. For dinner a couple of evenings, we went back to the parks where we ate fabulous meals and watched fireworks.
Disney Survival Tips
When I first started planning my Disney vacation, I realized how different this planning would be than any other trip. It’s overwhelming, to say the least… but I know if you follow my simple tips, you will not struggle.
Tip #1 | Hire A Planner
You could spend weeks getting educated on the Disney way and trying to figure out how to plan your Disney trip…OR… you can hire a FREE planner! Yes, free. Disney offers a service that connects you with a planner who helps with everything, from booking your hotel to your fast passes and more! You don’t pay the planners directly; Disney pays them! I worked with someone I found out about through a family member. Her name is Kelly McKellar and she was a huge help. I also have another friend, Mary Vaughn, who can help with your planning!
Tip #2 | Fast Passes
Your planner will help with all of this, but here’s the scoop:
Get as many fast passes as you can! If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you get three fast passes per person per day for FREE. You can also make reservations 60 days prior to going. If you are not on property, you can book 30 days in advance.
If you are staying on property, magic bands are free and will be shipped to you in advance. The earlier you book your fast passes, the better.
Tip: Club Level Access gets extra fast passes! Stay in a room on the property that’s Club Level so you can pay to get extra passes. You also get lots of snacks and drinks with this access. We actually ate dinner one night at the club. It was yummy appetizers.
Also, make sure to book your fast passes in the correct geographic order. Trust me, you don’t want to be walking back and forth all over the park. Do everything in order of location.
Tip #3 | Book Popular Rides In Advance
You’ll want to book popular rides months in advance! For example, Pandora/Avatar in the Animal Kingdom books up well before you get there. Your planner should also recommend the best rides! Just in case they don’t, here are a few of the best rides in each theme park:
– Magic Kingdom: Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Peter Pan, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
– Epcot: Soarin’ Around The World, Frozen Ever After, TEST Track, The Seas With Nemo And Friends
– Animal Kingdom: Pandora/Avatar, Kilimanjaro Safari, Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, DINOSAUR
Tip #4 | Plan on 6 Rides Max
We did about six rides per day and you must have fast passes to do all six. Honestly, six is pretty ambitious. Four or five might be better.
Tip #5 | VIP Day
Consider doing a VIP Day. Their tours around the park are AMAZING! I will say that they are VERY expensive, but I was so glad we did the VIP tour on our first day in the parks. The VIP guides will either pick you up at your hotel or meet you in the park, depending on your preference and show you EVERYTHING. After the tour, they can take you back to your hotel. The VIP guides have universal fast passes so you do not wait in long lines.
Tip #6 | Dining Plan
The dining plan was awesome! It works just about everywhere on the Disney property. You can use your magic band to scan and get food. We were a bit too aggressive with the size of our plan and had a lot of meals and snacks leftover. The meal plan is a great way to save money and simplify things!
Tip #7 | Take Breaks
This is especially important if you have younger kids. We started our days around 10 am and finished around 4 pm to head back to our hotel. We would rest for a bit then head back to the park for dinner and fireworks around 7 pm. Although this worked out for us we were still pretty tired! In hindsight, we easily could have stopped at 2pm and skipped one or two rides to keep everyone happier.
Tip #8 | My Disney Experience App
The app is SO worth it! You can use it to access dining reservations, fast passes that you booked, modify reservations, etc. I changed my dinner in France two hours before with no problem! We also reserved lunches in advance on the fly.
Tip #9 | Take Uber or Lyft
Disney has buses that take you from your hotel to the park. We didn’t use this option because you have to wait for the bus in the heat and they make multiple stops, so you don’t actually know when you’ll get there. Using Uber or Lyft got us to the parks from our hotel in under 30 minutes. There was no waiting and it saved us some time and sanity. HIGHLY recommend!
Tip #10 | Use Contemporary Hotel Path
Use this path to enter the Magic Kingdom. It saves you around 45 minutes and you don’t have to wait in line at the main entrance! We gleaned this gem from our LYFT driver and I was shocked at how much time it saved us.
So there you have it! My kids and I survived Disney World and if you follow these 10 tips, you may survive it too. Also, check out what I wore to keep cool during my trip.
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