1) Take Your Time – There really is so much to see and do during a Disney vacation. It can be overwhelming for both first timers and seasoned park veterans alike. Of course you want to make sure that you experience all your must-do attractions, but there is something really wonderful about taking your time through the parks. Some of my favorite moments at Disney World have been casually strolling through the park, taking the time to enjoy the moment and really look at my surroundings. Disney puts details into everything so make sure to look slow down, look up, and take it all in.
2) Make Dining Reservations in Advance – Nothing can drag a day down quicker than a hungry meltdown. Whether you are on the Disney Dining Plan, or are paying for each meal individually, it’s a good idea to schedule your dining reservations before your trip. If you are going to be a guest staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, you can start making your dining reservations 180 days before your trip. Some restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest are notoriously hard to book – even if you log on the second your reservation window opens. But even if you can’t secure these hot seats, there are so many amazing restaurants throughout Walt Disney World that you can be sure that you will be able to book something great for you and your family. During my last Disney vacation I enjoyed dinner at Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot and it was amazing! You can read my review of it here.
3) Fast FastPass+ Reservations in Advance – Similar to making dining reservations in advance, if you are a guest staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, you can begin to choose your FastPass+ experiences 90 days before your vacation. If you are looking to meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen, or ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without waiting half the day, make sure to book these experiences early. FastPass+ is a great feature and it allows you to plan your day and make sure that you experience all of your favorite attractions without waiting in line. To read more about what FastPass+ options are worth it, and which ones aren’t, you can read my suggestions for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
4) Take Lots of Pictures – Whether you purchased Memory Maker or are using your own camera, make sure that you capture all your memories! Photos are great way to get a free souvenir from your trip. Disney PhotoPass photographers are always happy to take a picture using your own camera at no charge, so don’t miss out on all the great photo ops. Not all photos have to be perfectly posed though. Take candid snapshots throughout the day and you may find that those photos mean much more than the staged ones.
5) Plan Your Day – If you’ve made dining reservations and booked FastPass+ options in advance, chances are your day is already pretty planned out. However, make sure to grab a map and Time’s Guide when entering the park so that you can quickly check when different parades and shows are taking place. I’m a little (okay, a lot) obsessive and I make an itinerary for each day before I leave for vacation, but if you aren’t as crazy as me, try planning your day over breakfast before you really hit the pavement.
6) Pack Light – I’m a notorious over-packer when it comes to my suitcases, but when I’m packing my park bag I like to pack a little lighter. I hate having to carry around a heavy back pack all day through the parks so I really only bring the necessities with me. This will vary for everyone of course by my bag usually contains; sunscreen, water bottle, wallet, phone, hand sanitizer, light jacket (depending on time of year), sunglasses, cliff bar.
7) Stay Hydrated – Central Florida can get very hot and very humid during the summer months. Beat the heat and stay hydrated! For me, it’s hard to remember to keep drinking water all the time. Instead of keeping your water bottle in your bag all day – carry it! This will keep it on your mind and you’ll be more likely to take a sip if you don’t have to stop and dig it out of your bag first. I’m a big fan of brining my own water bottle and refilling it at drinking fountains throughout the day. However, if you aren’t into that, any quick service restaurant will give you water for free if you ask for it – no purchase required!
8) Enjoy the Little Things – Remember when I told you to slow down and take your time? Well this goes right along with it. Take time to enjoy the little things! Sure, Space Mountain is amazing – but so is sitting and watching the ducks swimming by the castle. Don’t let your whole vacation pass you by as you rush to the next attraction.
9) Take a Break – Your legs and your feet will get sore throughout the day. You will feel overwhelmed by 3pm, and you will want a moment of peace and quiet to regain your strength. There are so many great spots to take a break at Disney World without having to leave the park for a siesta at your resort (but that is a great option too!). Whether you are in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom, there are always options!
10) Get Some Sleep – It’s so tempting to stay for extra magic hours until midnight (or later) and then get up early for extra magic hours the next morning. It’s great if you can find the strength to do that but make sure that you are getting enough sleep! Think about your normal, non-Disney day – you probably aren’t running around, walking, standing, etc for 12 or more hours each day. A Disney Vacation can take a toll on even the most fit person so do yourself a favor and let your muscles and mind relax at the end of a great day with some great shut-eye.
Do you have any more tips to add to the list? Share yours with me in the comments!