There are, as I mentioned, six Disney theme parks in the world, and I have been to three of them. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Walt Disney World, but I did work there for a while. At this point, I know what I’m doing. Here are a few tricks to make your Disney trip easier and more fun.
- Plan ahead. The Disney properties are full of award-winning restaurants. While you may be able to get reservations when you get there, it will be easier to book in advance. If you know you want to meet a lot of characters, you can book a character meal and take care of two priorities in one. It’s also a good idea to look at the maps and list of attractions before you go. If we hadn’t, we would have missed La Tanière du Dragon at Disneyland Paris. It’s unique to that park and tucked away; it would have been easy to miss if we hadn’t been looking for it. Speaking of planning and knowing what you want to do…
- Fast passes are your friend. They work a little differently at each resort. At Walt Disney World, make the FastPass+ kiosk your first stop. There are some rides that always have a long wait, but you can tell what’s popular that day and compare it to what you want to ride. These you can change later if you want to do something different or, on the flip side, you can book them up to 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a Disney hotel.
At Disneyland, each ride has its own kiosk, so head straight for the one you want most. Everything is close enough that it won’t be too far out of your way to begin with. This is one of the ways the app will come in handy. It can show you wait times for each attraction so you can tell which rides you’ll need the fast passes for.
You can also get fast passes for the best view at certain shows, which reminds me…
- View your day holistically and prepare to stay late at least one night. Every park has a show of some kind and it usually involves fireworks. I’m biased: I think everybody needs to see Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios but, honestly, there are no bad shows at Disney, and they’re usually celebrating something.
Each park also has parades, shows, and character meet-and-greets throughout the day. Pay attention to the times and prioritize. You’ve got a lot of options but you can miss them if you don’t time it right.
- Get the Park Hopper. It’s a little more expensive, but trust me. If you get to a park and realize it’s too crowded, if you have a meal reserved in one but want to start elsewhere, or if you get to your last day and realize there’s something you haven’t done yet, you’re going to be glad you have the option to go back and forth. It makes scheduling SO much easier.
- Pick a couple of things to focus on and just let the rest happen.
Most of these tips are about planning, which does help ensure you don’t miss out on your must-sees. But you can also miss out if you aren’t open to possibilities. There are often performers in the streets or you’ll notice a super short line for something you didn’t think you’d want to ride. Plan for those things that are most important to you, but leave room for Disney magic. It’s everywhere and it’s often the parts you don’t expect that you’ll remember most.
There’s not really such a thing as a bad Disney vacation…at least, not that I’ve experienced yet, but these things always make my trips a little less overwhelming.
Have fun at the Happiest Place on Earth, whichever one you decide to visit.