How to Disney 101
Going to disney is something I do often and consider myself somewhat of an expert at. While each trip is unique to the guest, knowing a few tips can greatly improve your time. I will get into some real secrets in later posts but this first one will focus mainly on how to tweak simple things to make sure your trip runs smoothly. I will cover benefits/costs of staying on property, how to navigate transport, how to save money on food, and some general tips on how to make the most of your time in the parks while beating the Florida heat.
Staying on property has huge benefits. You do not have to worry about transport to/from the airport, parking at the park, or fighting traffic out of the parks. The value hotels are affordable most of the year and provide a great place to sleep. Another benefit is the ease of leaving the park during the hottest and most crowded times of the day to head back to your resort for a little pool time or a nap. This makes it a whole lot easier to stay late.
With your resort stay you also get to utilize magic hours in the park. These are available only to resort guests and can be very valuable in managing your time wisely. Magic hours let you go into a park early/stay late. The park that is offering magic hours varies by the day so I suggest you plan which days you will spend in what park based on these extra hours. Using your magic hours lets you free up some fast passes for rides later in the day.
Other advantages of staying on property include sending merchandise to your resort, not having to carry keys, charging food and merchandise to your room, and booking fast passes 60 days before your trip rather than 30 for off property guests. While these are huge advantages for those who don't frequent disney Airbnb can be booked for almost half the cost and you get an entire house... Sure you have to drive or Uber into the park but you save quite a few bucks for food and drinks.
A good knowledge of WDW transport is not required but it can help save time. Especially when you travel during a busy season. My friend and I went to Disney for New Years last year and ran into a problem with the time it was going to take us to get from our resort to Epcot. The New Years Eve traffic had hit full swing and our bus driver informed everyone that it would be a 2 hour trip from All Star Movies to Epcot. Normally a 15-20 min ride. After initial panic I realized there was no traffic to Magic Kingdom with a monorail connection from there to Epcot. 30 minutes later we were through security at Epcot and in line to ride frozen. It pays to take a look at all the different ways to get to each park in case traffic shuts down the bus system. With Ferries, the Monorail, Buses, MinneyVans, and the soon to be running gondolas there are plenty of ways to get from park to park with little delay.
<<Croissant Donut (a must get in epcot!)
Food is where I spend most of my money at Disney. As an annual passholder I no longer feel the need to stay on property every time. I sleep in past magic hours and mosey into the park several hours after opening anyway. I enjoy the food tremendously and therefore save money for food by staying in an airbnb. The food can be expensive but doesn't have to be. If you do stay on property a meal plan can make life easier and save a bit. Not having to fork out money on every meal is nice. Scan your ban and use a pre bought snack or meal. If you opt out of the meal service ordering food from the kids menu will save a bit without sacrificing the quantity of food you get. Quick service is cheaper than a sit down and often offers the same food. The biggest tip? WATER IS FREE!!!! Do not spend money buying bottled water. Any quick service will give you free ice water. Bring in a reusable water and refill with the free filtered water. My favorite thing is getting a Venti Ice water at starbucks to fill up my insulated water bottle.
Like I said up top staying on site allows you to head back for an after lunch nap or dip in the pool. It's a great way to stay relaxed and rested after and early morning and late night.
If you need a break during the day most parks have places to hang out in the AC.
The America Pavilion in Epcot is one of my favorite places. It features Voices of Liberty which is the most underrated thing in WDW in my opinion. That followed by the America Show will get you a good hour seated in the AC.
Magic Kingdom has Carousel of Progress. Grab one of those free waters, walk into the theater and enjoy a good 40 mins of a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. It shines at the end of every day. You could always splash down at Splash Mountain as well, or take a ride on The People Mover.
Hollywood Studios offers the muppet show.
At Animal Kingdom you can enjoy quite a few theater shows including Nemo, Lion King and It's Tough to be a Bug.
Always make sure to check out Happily ever after. Get to the castle early, sit and relax, and enjoy your front row seats to the most spectacular firework and projection show you will ever see. Fantasmic is a must in Hollywood Studios and Rivers of Light is a great show no matter how much people complain about it.
Hope this helps someone plan their vacation! If you have any other tips you think someone should know go ahead and comment. If you have any questions ask!
Enjoy your time at the Happiest Place on Earth!