Now that we are back from our trip to Disney World, I’ve had a lot of people reach out and ask for advice and tips on how to best plan a trip to Disney World. I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it over and over again: Disney World trips require planning, lots and lots of planning! For me, planning is half the fun! It’s the planning that gets me excited and carries me through the waiting period! So, here are some tips I can share with you about planning the best Disney World trip ever!
How to Plan the Best Disney World Trip Ever
1.) order your magic bands
Maybe you’ve heard of them, but if you haven’t, Disney uses Magic Bands for pretty much everything. And just as its name suggests, it is Magical! The Magic Band serves as your room key, park ticket, fastpass+, and credit card all rolled into one. Each family member on your reservation will receive their own band. They are included with your reservation, but make sure to order them with enough time for them to arrive before your trip. As long as you order them in time, three to four weeks before your trip your bands will arrive. Take advantage of online check-in before you leave for your trip, and when you arrive you’ll be able to go straight to your room and avoid the front desk! Your room may not be ready when you arrive, but you’ll receive a text/email with your room number once it is.
2.) reserve the Magical Express
Disney’s Magical Express is a coach bus that brings you from Orlando International Airport to your Disney Resort. You’ll have to sign up for this wonderful service prior to your arrival. You’ll need your flight information to do so. One of the great things about the Magical Express is that you don’t need to wait at the baggage claim for your luggage! Again, a few weeks before your trip, Disney will send you luggage tags to place on your luggage. As long as your flight arrives prior to 10pm, Disney will pick up your luggage and deliver it straight to your room for you! You’re then whisked away on the coach bus to your beautiful accommodations!
3.) Dining Reservations – reserve, reserve, reserve!
You can plan your dining reservations a whole 180 days prior to your arrival!! That’s a whole 6 months!! I know what you’re thinking, how do I know what I’m going to want to eat in 6 months! Unfortunately, if you don’t make your dining reservations that far in advance, chances are you’re going to miss out on some of the most popular dining options. Quick Service options (meaning cafeteria style dining) are always available at the parks, but if you are looking for a nice sit down meal or a character dining experience, then you’re going to need to plan these well in advance. Some of the most popular are ‘Cinderella’s Royal Table’, ‘Be Our Guest’, ‘Chef Mickey’s’, and ‘Ohana’. Definitely look into those!
Also, make sure you take your fastpass plans and other entertainment plans into account when planning your dining reservations. You don’t want to schedule a dining reservation during one of your fastpasses, or during the parades or shows if you want to check those out! Even more important, you don’t want to schedule a dining reservation at Magic Kingdom if you are planning on being at Animal Kingdom for the day!
4.) select your Fast Passes [helpful tips]
Fastpasses can be booked 60 days in advance for guests staying on property, and 30 days in advance for all other guests. It is crucial that you take advantage of this! Here are some important things to note about booking your fastpass:
- When you are staying on property, you are able to book fast passes 60 days in advance for the entire length of your stay. What that means is that you can book your fastpasses more than 60 days in advance when you plan for the days at the end of your stay. So you are essentially opening up your booking window and increasing the likelihood of getting a fastpass for the most popular rides. For instance, if you have a 7 day stay planned, your booking window opens up 60 days before your first day but even though day 7 is really 67 days out, you can still select fast passes for that day.
- Disney has divided the rides into tiers at three of the 4 parks; Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. There are no tiers at Magic Kingdom. Simply put, you can only pick one ride per Tier. The most popular rides are the ones that are split up into tiers. For example, at Epcot, Frozen Ever After, Soarin, and Test Track are all Tier 1 rides. This means that you can only schedule one of those rides as a fastpass selection. Your other two selections for the day have to come from Tier 2 or Non-tier rides.
- Disney has really made it easy for parents of itty-bitty ones to enjoy themselves as well! The Rider Switch program is just what it sounds like – it allows parents to take turns going on rides with the older child[ren] while the other stays behind with the one(s) who are not yet able to ride. The parent who rides first will get a ticket for the other parent to return at a later time with up to two other riders. If you’re really trying to beat the system here, you can have each parent book three different fast passes for a total of 6 fastpasses for the day. If you take advantage of the rider switch program, each parent still gets to ride all six rides! But you didn’t hear that from me! 😉
5.) Download the ‘My Disney Experience’ App
Consider this your vacation hub. This app contains all of the details of your vacation – your fastpasses, your dining reservations, your hotel reservations, your photopass pictures, and more- park maps, ride wait times, parade and show schedules, etc. It’s super handy for when you’re strolling around the park. Once you’ve used your first 3 fastpasses, you can log into the app and set up your next fastpass from the convenience of your phone! Disney also has mobile food ordering for select restaurants! You place your order on your phone and the food is ready when you arrive! With this app, the Disney World Resort is really at your fingertips.
6.) PURCHASE Memory Maker
What’s a vacation if you have no pictures of it to look back on? And mama’s, I’m not talking about the pictures you take of everyone else but you (I know I’m not the only mama who is the picture taker but never in the pictures)!! It may seem like an expense you can avoid, but it really is so much more than just a convenience. Not only do you not have to lug a heavy camera around the park to get your quality pictures, but you actually get amazing shots that you would not have even thought to take. The Photopass photographers are standing by and ready to take as many pictures of you and your family as you’d like. There is no limit to the amount of downloads you get. Plus, the photopass includes pictures that are taken on rides and in character meetings and character dining experiences.
Another cool feature is the magic pictures that are available. Basically, the photographer tells you and your family how to pose and then later on they insert a cool character or prop into your pictures! This made it so much easier for me to get Noah to take pictures, all I had to do was tell him to go ask the photographer if he could do a magic picture! Make sure you purchase it before your trip or you’ll pay more once you’re at the park!
7.) Watch movies to prep for your visit
Last but certainly not least, make sure to watch all of your favorite movies in anticipation of your trip! It’s a great way to familiarize your children with the loving characters of Disney!! We love watching our favorite Disney movies in the weeks leading up to our trip! It gets us all so excited and serves as great quality family time!
I hope this helps you with planning the Best Disney World Trip Ever! For more fun tips for your Disney World trip, head over to my post on avoiding the exhaustion of Disney World with an infant!