We’ve been home from Disney for a little over two months now and I already want to go back! I never thought I’d be one of those people who would want to go back to Disney when I arrived home, but boy was I wrong!
While we will probably visit other places on our list before we head back, I would not hesitate to book another trip to the most magical place on earth! Disney really was as much fun as they say. We had pretty good weather (a little cold!), minimal crowds, delicious food and laughed a ton. It was great to feel like a kid again for a week!
I had a lot of people ask me for Disney advice and recommendations while on our trip and when we returned. I compiled a list of 10 planning tips to help you out while you are planning a trip or thinking of planning one! Keep in mind this is from an adult vacation perspective with no kids! This is just what we did that worked well for us.
PS My favorite thing about visiting Disney was going to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Definitely stop by there if you are a fan while you visit Disney!!
Top 10 Disney Planning Tips
1. Stay on Disney Property This is of course a personal recommendation. However, this saved us so much time and trouble! We found a good deal at our resort and did not have to rent a car and deal with transportation. There is free transportation from Orlando airport and the buses to and from the parks were worth everything! We did not have to pay to park, walk long distances to the trams and then take those over to the entrances! Plus, at the end of a long day at Disney you just want to go back to your room and not worry about driving and waiting to get back to wherever you’re staying.
2. Use a Disney Travel Agent (TA)
Disney TA’s are FREE!I found a Disney travel agent in a Facebook group. TA’s will book everything for you including resorts, dining and Fast Passes. I did all of these myself and did not think I really needed a TA, but they were a LIFESAVER when we had to reschedule our trip due to Hurricane Irma. Instead of spending 4+ hours on the phone with Disney services, our TA took care of this for us. We had a free dining promotion with our original package and she was able to grandfather us into the promotion by moving it to a time when Disney does not really offer free dining.
3. Plan your trip at least 180 days out!
When you visit Disney, you can book your dining reservations 6 months in advance. This ensures you get to eat everywhere you want at a time you want (no 10pm dinners)!
4. Plan your trip around a crowd calendar
Plain and simple: Disney is a busy place! We wanted to be able to walk around the parks without feeling like people were on top of us and get to do everything with minimal wait times. There are free crowd calendars available all over on Google. These were really helpful in planning our trip and even picking a date to reschedule for after the hurricane. We had very low crowds and got to do everything we wanted at Disney because it was not as busy as normal.
5. Plan out your Fast Passes
I used WDW Prep School to help us with this! Since I haven’t been to Disney since I was 5, I did not know which rides we should go on. She helps you prioritize your Fast Passes for each park to ensure you get the good ones. We used her recommendations and a few of our own from research.
6. Get to the parks at rope drop and/or Book Early Breakfast Reservations
Arrive at the park 20-30 minutes before rope drop! This is how you will get on all of the rides that you don’t have Fast Passes for AND with minimal waits.
OR! Score early morning Breakfast Reservations
We got 8:00 am reservations for Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) and Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom). The parks are SO pretty and quiet in the mornings! Plus, you get to ride some rides before they even let anyone in!! We were able to ride Soarin’, Test Track, Navi’ River Journey and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with no wait times due to rope drop and breakfast reservations.
7. Don’t Overplan
Even though I am so far a Type A planner, I want vacations to be fun and have room to do things we might see and want to spend more time on! We booked all of our Fast Passes and a few reservations for dining, but left the rest of the days mostly open. This allowed us to jump parks once we saw everything we wanted, explore new things and truly enjoy ourselves with no time pressures!
8. Buy Disney Accessories ahead of time
If you want to trade pins or wear Mickey ears, I recommend purchasing these before you leave! You can get them on Amazon, Etsy or various websites for way cheaper than they will be at the stores on site. I also recommend personalizing your MagicBands for fun!
9. Bring 2 different pairs of shoes!
Even if you think you have the most comfortable pair of sneakers, bring two! You will walk A LOT in Disney. One shoe can cause rubbing and you might want to switch the next day. Also, band aids. Pack them.
10. Go during Disney Free Dining!
It’s no surprise that Disney is very expensive! Saving money on their (very expensive but delicious) dining was a must for us! I researched a ton before our trip and found out that Free Dining usually is for those who stay in the Fall. After talking with our TA, I learned we could book ahead of time and then apply the Free Dining promotion when it came out! Keep in mind there are usually restrictions for this. For example: I knew that certain resorts were usually not included in the Dining promotion so I purposely did not book any of those. Our TA was great at applying the promotion the day it came out! Another great reason to use a TA! Less time spent on the phone ☺
My 3 Favorite Rides: Toy Story Mania, Soarin’, Test Track 3 Things I Would Skip Next Time: Spaceship Earth, Finding Nemo Show, Tommorowland Speedway 3 Reservations I Would Book Again: Ohana, Be Our Guest (Breakfast), Tusker House (Breakfast)
Did I miss anything? Feel free to send me a message with any questions you have and I hope you have a magical time on your next trip!!