I’ve always been a big Disney fan, but that love was reignited through a recent trip to Walt Disney World. I just love all of the Disney magic, there’s nothing else like it, and I may currently be saving/planning for my next trip already!
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can be overwhelming. There are so many things to do, see, and eat, and most people don’t want to miss out on any of it. Here are my top 10 tips for planning your vacation to be as stress free as possible and even ways to save a bit of money at the (most expensive) happiest place on earth.
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It’s important to do a lot of research before going on a Disney trip. It’s hard to do Disney without having some sort of plan, even if it’s just knowing which park you want to go to on which day.
Don’t get upset by the word research, in this case its a lot of fun! One of my favorite ways that I “researched” for Disney World was by watching Disney vloggers on Youtube. This way you can actually watch people as they go around the parks, talk about the attractions, and get a feel for the atmosphere.
I also think it can be helpful to watch “haul” videos where Youtubers show the souvenirs they’ve picked up. This can help you plan your savings as it will give you an idea of what’s available and pricing.
Some of my favorite Disney vloggers include:
- Disney at Heart – their channel is almost entirely Disney vlogs, and they are super sweet and fun to watch.
- Gillian at Home – she does other vlogs besides Disney, but she has numerous videos from several trips over the years, and bonus: she also has videos from Disneyland in California and Disneyland Paris.
- Disney Kittee – she does have some Walt Disney World vlogs, but less than the other two channels, she has lots of hauls showing available Disney merch and has a lot of knowledge about Walt Disney World.
Another place where I did a lot of my “research” was the Disney Tourist Blog. I seriously think they have a review of every restaurant on property, tons of ride reviews, and sample trip itineraries, so they are a super helpful resource.
2. Get a Disney Travel Agent
If researching feels too daunting or you’re still just not sure about booking your trip on your own, look into getting a Disney travel agent. Most agents are free to you as they are paid a commission through Disney. Don’t ever go with an agent that will charge you for basic planning services! Just a simple search should help you find tons of qualified agents.
3. Know you’re not going to be able to do everything
I think a person could spend an entire month at Walt Disney World and still not make it to everything on property. Disney World is so extensive with having four parks, many resorts with their own things to see and do, and the Disney Springs area. There’s unfortunately no way to see and do everything. This is why researching is so important. Look at what rides sound the most appealing to you. Figure out if there’s an area of a park you cannot miss (for me it’s the World Showcase in Epcot). Get an idea of what you absolutely have to do, and you’ll be really happy with the outcome of your trip!
4. Have a Fastpass strategy
If you’re planning your trip yourself, you’ll want to be strategic about your Fastpass selections to minimize stress and maximize time. Disney offers each guest three Fastpasses for attractions where you select a time frame and can then board the ride after waiting in a much shorter line. If you use all three passes, you can actually book more!
One thing you may want to do is download the My Disney Experience app, and begin looking at ride wait times. You can get an idea of what rides tend to be most popular (anything involving a “mountain” or Pandora), and when the rides tend to have the longest waits (usually the afternoon). These are the rides and times you’ll want to book Fastpasses for. Disney allows guests staying on property to book their Fastpasses 60 days before their trips, so much sure you do this!
Another important thing about Fastpasses is to have a “strategy”. What I mean by this is try to plan your Fastpasses to where they make sense to the park layout. Again looking at where rides are on the My Disney Experience app or pulling up a park map online will help.
Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are not anywhere near each other in the Magic Kingdom. Space Mountain and Seven Dwarves Mine Train are close to each other. So you wouldn’t want to book your first Fastpass for Space Mountain, then Pirates, then go back to Mine Train. You’ll waste a lot of time running through the parks and exhaust yourself. Book the rides that are physically close together, close together time wise.
Are you unsure of which Fastpasses to choose? Grab my ULTIMATE FASTPASS GUIDE!!
5. Save slowly
I try to plan big things, like Disney vacations, as far out as I can. That way I can save smaller amounts over a longer period of time, and not feel so stressed about the cost.
Look at your budget and see what is affordable to you. When I planned my last trip, I saved about 10% of each paycheck, though if money felt a little tight I’d save less. I just tried to make sure I was consistently putting something toward my trip.
Also don’t forget about windfall money. This is money you get that you may not totally be expecting (or maybe you are expecting it, I count my tax refund in this category). If this money isn’t in your normal budget, then putting it toward your savings isn’t going to feel like you are depriving yourself of anything.
If you really don’t have any spare money in your budget, and you really want to make a trip like this happen, you’ll have to start increasing your income. Get a part time job. Sell items you aren’t using. Freelance online. There are so many ways to make extra money nowadays, so pick something and commit that money toward your trip!
I’m a packing procrastinator, as in, I typically pack the night before a trip. But I do always make sure to start making a packing list well ahead of time. Think about the items you need on a daily basis like toiletries, clothes, and chargers, and then think about more vacation specific items: sunscreen, swimming gear, the most comfortable shoes to ever graze planet earth (seriously). That way if you do pack last minute, you won’t stress about forgetting something because you’ll already know everything you need!
7. Don’t buy everything in the parks
Things like water, snacks, and meals in Walt Disney World are expensive! Walking up to a food cart and seeing $3 for one bottle of water can be stressful! And because you’re spending so much time outside, in the heat, in Florida, you need to stay hydrated.
There are a few ways to avoid the high water costs:
- Most quick service/counter service places around the parks will give you a cup of water for free if you ask for it.
- Starbucks. There’s one in every park and they’ll still give you water for free. I also know that the Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios Starbucks have containers of water sitting out (Magic Kingdom probably does too, I just haven’t been to that Starbucks).
- BYOB. You can fill water bottles with water at your resort. If you drive or rent a car, you can stop by a store before you get to Disney and pick up a 24 pack of bottled water for not much more than one bottle in the parks. If you don’t have access to a car but do have an Amazon Prime account, you can actually get items like water, soda, and snacks delivered to your resort through their grocery service! You can get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime as well!
The only thing I would say to splurge on, are some of the snacks around the park. Disney snacks are pretty unique, tasty, and fun for Instagram photos. Some of my favorites include the Mickey pretzel, dole whips, and the Night Blossom slush in the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom.
8. Take time to just stroll
I would really recommend having time that is not planned to the last second, where you can take time to just enjoy the atmosphere of Walt Disney World. Walking around the World Showcase in Epcot and Disney Springs are some of my favorite memories. These’s so many lovely sights and you will usually stumble upon some kind of live entertainment in both of these places. Plus, you might find a cool area you would have never know about if you didn’t let yourself just roam!
9. Take a break
It’s tempting to want to get everything you can out of a vacation, especially in Walt Disney World, but going for 12 hours nonstop in Florida heat is only going to bring on meltdowns, and not just for the kids. During the hottest part of the day head back to your resort and relax. Hit the pool or take a nap. Whatever you do just try to refresh yourself.
You’ll get much more out of the day if you take some time to rest! After your siesta you’ll be ready to go and have a fantastic evening!
10. Have fun!
The biggest thing to remember is that this is your vacation to the happiest place on earth! Have fun! That’s what it’s all about!
I hope you found this helpful, and if you have an upcoming Disney trip have a great, magical, wonderful time!
Don’t forget to pin this post to reference back to!