ARE YOU GOING TO DISNEY WORLD FOR THE FIRST TIME, OR LOOKING FOR NEW EXPERIENCES? Get our best Disney vacation tips!
There’s so much to do in the most magical place on Earth that it can be hard to know where to start. With our top 10 Disney World tips will put you ahead of the crowd!
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When you’re visiting Disney World, there are hundreds of sights to see and things to do. It can be hard to wrap your mind around everything that the park has to offer!
If you’re anything like me, you don’t know where to start when you enter the park.
Even though you prepared by packing a backpack full of snacks, drinks, and entertainment for long lines, you might find that it only takes you as far as you know where to go!
At the Disney property, with four parks to explore, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
Tips for the Best Disney World Vacation
After researching all of the Disney World properties, I’ve found some of the best tips and tricks that will make your Disney World vacation a blast!
With so many hacks to make your trip simpler and less hectic, these tips are worth a read. Without further ado, let’s look at the best Disney World tips that every park-goer should know.
1. Be Prepared & Pack Well
Coming to a Disney resort prepared can make the difference between a disastrous Disney vacation and one that’s completely stress-free.
To start, it’s worth knowing that Disney World has fairly lax regulations as to what you can bring into the park.
Bringing Food into the Parks
Yes, you can bring food and beverages into Disney World! You’re allowed to bring as much as you can reasonably carry into the park, as long as it isn’t in a glass container, is not alcoholic, doesn’t give off a super pungent smell, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated.
You can bring a cooler with bagged ice or ice packs, but you can’t bring a rolling container.
Bringing a cooler small enough to fit in your stroller or even an insulated cooler backpack is a great workaround!
Packing a Disney Bag
Their rules regarding bags are also fairly relaxed. You’re allowed to bring in a bag and you can even take it with you on rides. Check out our favorite backpacks for Disney World and the best fanny packs for Disney World.
If you’re worried about your belongings getting soaked on certain rides, they do offer locker rentals.
We have a list of what to pack in your Disney bag to keep you organized.
Knowing how to pack for Disney World and prepare for the weather is key.
Disney World knows that many people forget to pack umbrellas and rain ponchos, and with how famously unpredictable Florida weather is, you can end up paying extremely high prices to purchase Disney rain supplies!
It’s worthwhile to bring rain ponchos or enough umbrellas to cover your group.
Take Care of Your Feet
Many guests don’t realize just how much they’ll be walking at Disney World!
You’ll also want to be sure to prevent blisters at Disney World–your feet will thank you!
Plan Ways to Pass the Wait Time
The Disney World wait times can be long at times. Another great thing to pack is Disney line games.
It can be hard to withstand the boredom and heat when you’re in a 60-minute line for Space Mountain, but many people sell or offer free printable line games that can make it so much more bearable.
Also, being flexible is a huge bonus.
You truly can’t predict whether it will rain during your visit or a ride will be closed, but you can choose to enjoy the park for everything it has to offer.
Disney World is a magical place, and approaching it with an open mind is a wonderful thing.
2. Visit During the “Off-season”
If you can find the time to visit during a slow period, you’ll notice fewer crowds and a significantly shorter wait time for rides and attractions.
Plus, this is also often the cheapest time to go to Disney!
As a rule of thumb, it’s worth avoiding all holidays, particularly any that coincide with spring break, fall break, summer break, or other holiday break from school (unless you really have your heart set on spending Christmas at Disney World or enjoying Halloween at Disney).
It’s usually recommended to visit during September, October (not Halloween!), January, and February, avoiding holidays or common days off.
This can mean the difference between a 15-minute and 60-minute wait for a ride!
It’s worth figuring out if you’d rather visit one park or purchase a Park Hopper pass!
While park hopping can be a fun way to make the best of a short visit and see everything that Disney World has to offer, you might find that you prefer to take your time and fully enjoy each park – and you can save a lot of money on your park passes this way.
3. Enjoy the Parades
One way to add a major highlight to your Disney World trip is by watching one of the parades that take place.
To make sure you don’t miss the best part of the show, it’s a good idea to check the schedule beforehand and arrive early to get a great view.
The Magic Kingdom is the best park to visit if you want to see a parade, especially the popular Festival of Fantasy.
It includes floats that can appeal to any visitor, whether you want to see the Little Mermaid or Peter Pan (or even the refurbished edition of the dragon float which famously caught fire in 2018!).
The Festival of Fantasy parade starts in the back of Frontierland and proceeds all the way east through Liberty Square, before turning down Main Street and finally arriving in Town Square.
There are some great spots you can reserve a seat at to enjoy the show, whether you prefer dinner at Tony’s or a window seat in Casey’s Corner.
If you can manage to find a good spot near the floats, however, you can have the best view and even a chance of interacting with your favorite characters!
It’s absolutely worth checking when the parade starts and getting to your viewing spot early to enjoy the parade with a close-up view.
Also, as everyone gathers to view the parade, you may find it difficult to leave for food or a restroom break – and even harder to get back to your viewing spot.
Making sure that you stake out prepared with snacks and beverages will make a huge difference, as will going to the bathroom beforehand.
Not a fan of parades? Use this time to hit up some of the most popular attractions!
4. Choose Seating for the Mouse House’s Best Views
If you’re visiting Disney World for the first time, it might not occur to you that where you sit has a major influence on how much you enjoy the park overall.
This is one of my favorite Disney World tips because whether it’s restaurant seating or roller coaster seating, it can make a huge difference!
Requesting a window seat at any restaurant gives you the opportunity to see more of the magic. This rings particularly true for some of the best-placed restaurants in the parks.
Window seats in the Sanaa at Disneys Animal Kingdom will allow you to view the lush safari as you eat, while guests at Tokyo Dining in Epcot can overlook the beautiful World Showcase Lagoon with incredible floor-to-ceiling windows.
If you ride the Kilimanjaro Safari, choosing to sit on the left side will give you a much better view of the animals.
The right side tends to have a better view of the giraffes, but almost all of the other animals who live on the Harambe Reserve will be visible on the left side.
Certain other ride seating requests can make a big difference. If you’re boarding the Millenium Falcon at Smugglers Run, the pilot seat will give you an incredible view.
The right side of Splash Mountain will give you the biggest splash, and the front row of any roller coaster will ensure your view is thrilling.
Also, if you want one of the best views available in the theme park, going on the Expedition Everest ride in the Animal Kingdom is a perfect way to see it.
As you climb to the peak of the ride’s highest hill, you will be able to see almost every corner of Disney World!
5. Transform Special Occasions With Signature Disney Magic
If you’re celebrating a special occasion at the most magical place on Earth, you’re in luck.
The park has a ton of services to offer to make these special events so much more magical, and accessing them is as simple as contacting guest services.
If you’re looking to celebrate a birthday, reserving a signature dining experience (or even a character dining experience) can be a great way to add to the magic.
Just remember to make reservations well in advance!
Disney World also offers gift cards, flowers, gift baskets, and more that can be added to your Disney resort hotel room before arrival.
If you’re planning to pop the question somewhere special, Disney World offers enchanting extras which can make the moment so much more magical.
These services include romantic dining settings, proposal photography, gifts like flowers and cake, and tons of romantic and tasteful Disney merchandise offered around the theme park.
If you arrange a Quinceañera with a team of Disney planners, you can request unforgettable additions like a Disney character visit or even arrive at the celebration in Cinderella’s enchanted coach!
No matter what you’re looking to celebrate, contacting guest services and working with Disney’s staff to plan magical surprises can take your special moment to the next level.
6. Don’t Wait to Dine
If you’re worried about long waiting times at Disney World restaurants, you’re not alone.
Most guests look for Disney World tips to make dining easier, and luckily, there are some great strategies you can use.
Planning out your dining before visiting the park is a great way to ensure you don’t spend hours at the park hungry and impatient.
Luckily, Disney offers lots of options to make your dining experience much easier (and even add-ons to make your meal super special!)
If you’re set on dining at a particular restaurant at a particular time, making your dining reservations as early as possible is important.
Some popular restaurants, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, can be difficult to get reservations for, so you want to jump on it early.
Even if it feels a little silly to make these reservations months beforehand, you’ll be thanking yourself when you get to enjoy your favorite restaurant in the park.
Researching the menus and dining experiences of different locations beforehand can make a huge difference in how you experience the theme park.
Whether you prefer a full-service meal or something quick and easy, Disney offers great options for anyone. This also holds true for anyone with dietary restrictions.
While the parks offer great options for almost any diet, it’s important to know where to go to get the right food that makes your trip magical.
Using the My Disney Experience app mobile ordering option is one of the best things you can do to make getting food so much simpler.
When you use the mobile ordering option, there’s no need to go through a long line or wait impatiently nearby for what might feel like hours on a hungry stomach.
You can order from a distance when you’re getting hungry, and pick up your meal just as it’s hot and ready.
Don’t ignore the kids’ meals! It can be difficult visiting Disney World on a budget and not knowing where to cut costs.
The kids’ meals can be incredibly delicious and offer generous portions, so they’re worth considering if you’re not looking for anything like a princess’s banquet.
The adult portions can also be large, which can make them perfect to share with a friend or partner!
7. Make Your Wishes Come True with Disney Genie
While you may have heard about the discontinuation of Fast Pass, did you know that Disney offers a new stand-in service known as Disney Genie?
This app serves as a digital assistant which will help you make the best of your trip as you give it information about your interests and plans.
Genie and Genie+ can be complicated to understand compared to the programs offered before their time, but they can be extremely useful once you know how to apply them to your Disney vacation.
Here are a few important things to know:
- There is a difference between Individual Attraction Selection and Genie+. Individual Attraction Selection allows you to pay a fixed fee for the lightning lane of a particular ride, for a maximum of two qualifying rides. Genie+, meanwhile, operates much more similarly to FastPass+ and offers lightning lane reservations as long as they’re available. However, the selection is limited to less popular rides. If you want to use the lightning lane of a popular ride, you’ll likely need to purchase an Individual Attraction Selection ticket.
- Make sure to give Disney Genie information about your trip so it can provide the most relevant suggestions! For example, if you scroll to the bottom of your My Genie Day page, you can tell the app your park hopping plans and it will shape its suggestions around this.
- Note the pricing of Genie+ and the Individual Attraction Selection. Genie+ will cost approximately $15 per ticket per day, while Individual Attraction Selection costs can range from $7 to $15 per ride depending on factors that Disney privately calculates on an hourly basis. Of course, both of these fees are in addition to your base Disney World ticket price.
8. Ride Disney Transportation
Many people don’t know this (making it a super valuable Disney tip!), but a lot of the transportation around the park is free, whether you’re staying at a Disney hotel or not.
You can use the free options like the monorail, boats, buses, and Disney Skyliner that will take you all around the Disney resort. It makes it so much easier to navigate to the parks!
If you’re worried about transport around the Disney parks, don’t fret! Our Disney transportation tips are a great resource.
Disney World has a highly planned transit system with tons of options that will make sure you get to your magical destination right on time. Beyond being affordable and reliable, these transit options can be a fun addition to your trip.
The monorail is also an incredibly unique part of the Disney World experience, and worth trying. The monorail is accessible from Magic Kingdom, the Transportation & Ticket Center.
It can also be accessed from the Disney hotels on the Monorail, including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (as a bonus, Disney resort guests get access to Extra Magic Hours!).
Riding the monorail is a smooth and fun experience that comes with a great view.
There are also ferries available at many locations, although it’s worth checking before visiting Walt Disney World to see if any are running.
Disney World offers a ferry from the Transportation & Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom, as well as a few guest-servicing boats scattered around the Disney resorts and three of the parks (not including Animal Kingdom).
Lastly, there are always Disney buses to ride.
These reliable buses will take you anywhere you need to go on a regular schedule and arrive with the smile of your favorite Disney characters printed on their sides.
9. Install the My Disney Experience App
It’s absolutely worth getting familiar with the My Disney Experience app before you visit the park.
This official app is a hidden gem, and if you can get a grasp on all of its most powerful features, you’ll find that it makes your Disney World vacation so much better (this app is a good source for Disney World tips, too!).
While the My Disney Experience app has been around for a few years, this Disney app is updated frequently and gets better and better by the day.
Once you’ve registered for an account on the app, you can start with the basic interface and learn some of the best features as you go. The design is very intuitive!
10. View Disney’s Animal Kingdom (For Free!)
Even if you aren’t planning to stop in the Animal Kingdom park, there’s still a smart way to see many of the beautiful animals which inhabit Harambe Wildlife Preserve.
The Animal Kingdom Lodge has a great view of the safari, and you don’t have to be a guest of the resort to stop in.
A great way to stop in the Animal Kingdom Lodge is to make a dinner reservation at one of their excellent restaurants.
You can even request a table with a great view from the windows! You’ll have a magical experience viewing the wildlife with an incredible meal.
11. Highlight Your Night With Fireworks
Disney World’s famous fireworks shows are a sight to see, and there are plenty of places to view them throughout the theme parks, although some are better than others.
Whether you want to see the Disney Enchantment Fireworks Show in the Magic Kingdom, or the Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular in EPCOT, you won’t regret watching the show from one of these great views.
The fireworks shows are more popular than ever before, so it can be hard to get a good spot in conventional viewing areas.
Worse yet, it’s so crowded that it can feel nearly impossible to do anything, much less have the ability to eat and go to the bathroom and other things that will keep you comfortable.
Best Fireworks Viewing Locations at Magic Kingdom
Finding an alternative spot has the advantage of being so much more comfortable, and you won’t be competing for a good view.
If you want to see the Disney Enchantment Fireworks Show in the Magic Kingdom, some great unusual spots around the parks are perfect for seeing this famous show.
Main Street and the space in front of Cinderella castle are typically the most crowded, and worth avoiding.
If you stop in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse in Adventureland, you’ll get a great view of the fireworks. The only drawback with this viewing spot is that you won’t get to hear the soundtrack that is played along with the fireworks.
You can also try to view the fireworks from the other side of Cinderella’s castle in Fantasyland, which essentially gives you the opposite view of where the fireworks are conventionally watched.
You’ll feel like the fireworks are right above you!
Lastly, if you’ve booked a room at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, they try to make it as comfortable as possible to view the fireworks from the beach.
There’s great seating available on the beautiful shoreline, and there are even speakers placed around the resort so that you can hear the music.
The only drawback with this spot is that you won’t see the projections on the castle that constitute part of the show.
Of course, you can always ask a cast member for their recommendations of where to find a good spot.
Best Fireworks Viewing Locations at Epcot
If you want to see the Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular at EPCOT, there are also a lot of great places you can go to see this firework marvel at its best.
Many of the restaurants around EPCOT offer great views! If you make an advance dining reservation for the Rose and Crown or La Hacienda De San Angel, you can view the fireworks from just behind the large windows inside.
Going to Disney’s Boardwalk is also a great way to see the fireworks. You won’t be able to see the portions of the firework show closer to the ground, but you’ll see the fireworks in the sky from a whole new perspective.
Enjoy Your Disney Trip!
No matter what you’re looking for, the Walt Disney World Resort has something magical to offer everyone, and you’re sure to have the best time on your vacation.
Planning your visit to the park and finding out more about the attractions that are most enchanting to your family is a great way to bring your Disney World vacation to its maximum potential.
With just a bit of planning, you won’t regret visiting the most magical place on Earth!
More Vacation Planning Resources:
- How the Disney Payment Plan Works
- Disney Honeymoon Packages
- How to Prevent the Disney Rash
- Disney Family Shirts to Wear to the Parks
- Best Age to Go to Disney World
- Disney World Coupons for Kids
Be sure to save these tips to your Disney planning board on Pinterest!