Walt Disney World Family vacations are a ton of fun, and the perfect way to make memories that will last a lifetime! Of course – in addition to fun, it might also be stressful, expensive, and time consuming to plan and execute a family trip to a place like Walt Disney World. But fear not! I have compiled this list of tips to help you make your Disney Vacation less stressful and more magical:
Know Before You Go: Disney World is a BIG place FULL of things to do, see, and eat. So, you’ll want to brush up – do some research (chip and co is a great place to start, plus the Walt Disney World official website has useful info too!), check out what rides and attractions you and your family might like, and look at some maps to get a lay of the land. There are plenty of great Guidebooks out there too, with a lot of in depth information and reviews to help you plan
Book Fastpasses: For those of you who don’t know, fastpasses are a way for you to avoid (some of) the long lines when waiting for popular rides/attractions. You can book them ahead of time, and can pre-select up to 3 per day. Let your family help too – and give them each a chance to pick at least 1 must do ride/attraction that you can book a fastpass for. Learn more about how fastpasses work here, and for the record – I HIGHLY suggest you take advantage of the ability to pre-pick some rides, because any time you DON’T have to spend in line can be used for other fun stuff (like obtaining delicious Mickey shaped snacks, for example)
Use ADR’s: This is another service Disney offers that I HIGHLY recommend you take advantage of. ADR stands for “Advance Dining Reservation”, and it is a way to essentially “pre-reserve” sit down meals at the Disney Parks and Resorts up to 180 days before your vacation. It isn’t a traditional “reservation”, but more like a “call ahead” where you arrive at a set time and are put next on the list for a table. These are basically NECESSARY for many of the more popular character meals, so if you have character lovers in your family – you better make sure you’re on the phone or online exactly 180 days before your trip to make those ADR’s for Mickey and the Princesses! I know it may seem NUTS to make reservations for a restaurant 6 months before you go on vacation, but trust me – it’s just something you need to do, as the days of just walking up to a WDW restaurant and hoping for an open table are OVER – ADR’s are the wave of the future, so you should definitely take advantage and book as many as you can!
Stay On Property: There are about a million places to stay in the greater Orlando area – and while many of them offer amazing lodging and plenty of amenities – for me, there’s no better place to stay than right in the magic, at a Walt Disney owned Resort Hotel. Not only are you as close as you can possibly be to the WDW Parks, but you’re able to take advantage of some other perks too. One of the BEST ones is Extra Magic Hours – where each day one of the parks stays open late an extra hour, and one of the parks opens up an hour early too ONLY for guests staying at WDW Hotels. It’s a great way to ride your favorite ride again and again with little to no wait, or to get some great photos in an almost empty Park
Let Disney Do The Driving: Don’t bother with a rental car – if you’re staying at a WDW Resort you really don’t need it, and even if you aren’t, many of the nearby hotels offer daily shuttles to the Disney Parks – so if I were you, I would sit back and let Disney do the driving! Once you’re on WDW property, you can take advantage of their transportation options – including monorails, boats, and buses to get you from place to place. And they even offer free shuttle service to the Orlando airport if you’re staying at a Disney hotel too – the “Magical Express” brings you to and from the airport and even takes care of checking your luggage for you too (another perk of staying on property…it’s starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?)
If You Need Help – ASK: You will not find better customer service anyplace, seriously – Walt Disney World employees are the nicest, most helpful people ever – so don’t be afraid to ask for directions, or assistance with anything you might need while at the Parks or Resorts. They are super knowledgeable, and if they can’t answer your question, they will promptly find someone who can. No one expects you to memorize a Disney guidebook before your trip – so rest assured knowing that Disney Cast Members are always there to help fill in the blanks and make your trip the best it can be!
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