So You Plan to Brave Disney World... [Part 2]

Posted July 9th, 2018

So you did it. You bought your tickets to Disney! Maybe you told the family already. Maybe it's a surprise? Either way, you don't want to disappoint with long lines, missed rides, and a less than magical experience. Don't worry. We've compiled some of the best tricks in the biz!

Before you go

  • The best time to visit Disney World is either mid-late January or September. Crowds are thin as people are returning home from holiday vacations in January and heading back to school in September. The busiest, but most festive time is December when Mickey's Very Merry Christmas is celebrated.
  • Be sure to download the official Disney World app for real time wait times, step by step walking directions, an interactive park map, and more.
  • If you're a serious Disney-er, I'd suggest staying in a Disney World Resort Hotel. While the rooms might be a bit more expensive (although they do have value options and even a camp site), you get extra hours at the parks, free transportation and parking, dining plans, and, the coolest feature, magic bands!
    • Magic bands are accessible to all park goers, but only those who stay at Disney World Resort Hotel can link the bracelet to their credit card. Magic bands are plastic bracelets that house your room key, credit card, park admission tickets, fast passes, and PhotoPass.
    • Disney Resorts even have a magical express luggage tag option so you don't have to wait at baggage claim. Instead, Your luggage will magically show up in your hotel room!
  • If you purchase any souvenirs inside the park, have them sent to the front of the park, your Disney Resort hotel, or even your house! Then you don't have to carry your purchases all day and, if you're tight on space, you can have your purchases waiting for you when you get home.
  • Be sure to use FastPass+. All park goers get three FastPasses a day (one park a day), which you can choose early or use a kiosk in the park to choose the day of. You can choose your FastPass rides 30 days in advance (60 if you stay at a resort) and can change at any time. If you book your FastPasses in advance and use them in the morning, you can find a kiosk and book three more for that afternoon!
  • Another great add on is PhotoPass. It's definitely worth the money to avoid lugging around a camera and it's cheaper than purchasing individual ride photos. A PhotoPass allows you to view and download all photos taken of you in the parks, from ride photos (like the iconic Splash Mountain) to family photos in front of Cinderella Castle.
  • If you want to preserve all those photos, you could splurge for the MemoryMaker, which compiles all of your specific photos from the day to your My Disney account. MemoryMaker is cheaper to purchase prior to arriving at Disney, but if you choose to do so, purchase it more than three days before because it takes three days to begin working.

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While you're there

  • Check out which parks have magic hours each day and avoid them. If you want to participate in the extra hours in the morning, do so, but then head to a different park for the afternoon. The park with the extra hours tends to be way busier than the others.
  • Be sure to pack everything you'll need for the day! Some major packing points include: water bottles, snacks, throwaway ponchos, sunscreen, autograph book & sharpie, external phone charger, and cheap pins.
    • The awesome part about bringing water bottles is that you can refill them in the park free of charge!
    • What this about the cheap pins? Well, Disney cast members with lanyards of pins will trade pins with you, as long as the pin meets the requirements. You can buy tradeable pins at Disney, but it's much cheaper to buy them online before arriving. Check out this handy blog for the etiquette of pin trading.
  • Most people explore the parks from front to back since that makes logical sense when they walk in. If you want to avoid crowds, head straight to the back of the park and work your way to to the front.
  • The parades and firework shows are oftentimes the highlight of the trip. However, finding a good spot can difficult. If they are offering two showings, go to the later show. There will always be less people.
    • Another cool option guaranteed to get you a good spot for the fireworks is to splurge on Tomorrowland Terrace's dessert party.
    • As for the Festival of Fantasy parade in the afternoon, if you want to make sure you have a great view, use a FastPass. Once the parade is over, you can always go grab another FastPass for the rest of the day.
    • And for all parades and firework shows, get there early!
  • If you need a brief break from the sun and constant walking, take a ride on the Walt Disney World Rail Road in Magic Kingdom. You can rest in a chair and in the AC for 30 minutes as the train rides around the park and drops you right where you began.
    • Other 'breaks' can include shows like Country Bears Jamboree, The Hall of Presidents, Mickey's PhilharMagic, and more.
  • If you are eager to see lots of animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom, be sure to do that first thing in the morning. Most animals are fed right before the park opens, so they are already out and about. Plus, it's still cool so they haven't yet taken cover from the sun.
  • One of the most hidden, but sweetly surprising features of Magic Kingdom is the Kiss Goodnight. Typically, after the fireworks each night, guests make a mad dash to the exit. However, the park actually stays open an hour after the rides close. During this mostly empty time, the park wishes the remaining park goers goodnight with a subtle light show on Cinderella's Castle while "When you Wish Upon a Star" plays in the background.

Planning a trip to Disney World requires a lot of preparation and planning. Hopefully this list and our previous post, which gives an overview of each park, will help ease some of the pre-vacation work.

A couple last minute things to consider:

  • As Part 1 stated, our Spare Change Round Up feature is an easy way to start saving for your dream vacation.
  • Remember to let us know if you are going on vacation so your card won't be flagged for fraud! The easiest way to prevent this is to call 1-888-918-7313. For more information, check out our travel memos section.
  • Last, if you want a little extra cash for the trip, sign up for our Skip-A-Pay program and skip that month's loan payment. Use the spare cash for a Disney souvenir.

Have a magical trip!