Join Bethany Chapman, authorized Disney Vacation Planner, and me in our Series: Top Tips to Maximize Your Disney World Vacation.
Don’t miss Part 1: Top Tips For Planning Your Disney World Vacation – Initial Plans
You’ve set your Disney World travel budget. You’ve booked your lodging and determined how many days you have available for exploring Disney World. It’s time to move on to the next phase of planning that vacation!
Here are seven more travel tips to consider in the months prior to heading out the door on your magical vacation to Disney World.
1. Purchase Your Disney Theme Park Tickets
Knowing how many days are set aside for the theme parks will guide you to which Disney World park ticket to purchase. But before you purchase those tickets, also think about how you’ll spend your Disney World days. Ask yourself these three key questions:
- Will we explore just one theme park per day?
- Or do we want the option to visit more than one theme park in a single day?
- And, do we also want to experience a Disney water park?
Visiting one theme park a day can reduce the overall ticket price. The down side? If you want to hop between parks on the same day, you’ll need to use another park entrance ticket.
Now, let’s talk ticket options, because that’s where it can get confusing! It’s also where, once again, a Disney Vacation Planner can come in oh-so-handy. Let’s take a quick look at the three main Disney World ticket options.
- Base Ticket – This is your “must-have” ticket. It provides entrance into one theme park of your choice (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios). It does not provide entrance to Disney water parks or other DisneyWorld fee-based areas.
Everyone needs a Base Ticket. Not everyone needs the add-on options. But you might! Here’s the two ticket options worth considering, depending on your travel plans.
- Park Hopper Option – Provides same-day access to all four theme parks. In other words, you can hop from park to park during the same day on just one ticket.
- Water Park Fun & More Option – Provides entrance to Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, ESPN Wide World of Sports, DisneyQuest, or one of several Disney golf courses. The number of entrances depends upon the type of Base and Hopper ticket purchased.
The Park Hopper is awesome for those “second visit” days to revisit favorite rides across all parks. If you are really adventurous, with lots of energy and time, add both options. Then you can hop between parks as well as enjoy a water park all in one day!
Our Top Tip: Purchase theme park tickets before heading to Disney World. It can save money, and it will most certainly save time spent standing in the ticket line on your first park day.
2. Order Your Disney MagicBands
Whether you stay on property or off, you’ll want a MagicBand. These nifty, waterproof bands are the keys to simplifying your theme park experience. And if you stay at a Disney World Resort, your MagicBands are complimentary just for staying at Disney.
So what is a MagicBand, and why do you want one? Let me give you 5 reasons why! Each MagicBand is loaded with features designed to streamline your day in the park, including:
- Customized with your name printed on it – making it a great “after-trip” souvenir!
- Serves as your theme and water park entrance tickets.
- Allows rapid check-ins at FastPass+ entrances.
- Unlocks your Disney Resort room (if staying on property).
- Allows park food and merchandise purchases to be charged to your Disney Resort.
Magic Bands are just so convenient! No more digging out those entrance tickets or Fast Passes. Just snap up your wrist, flash that Magic Band, and you are good to go. Learn more about Magic Bands, including ordering, customizing and using them.
Our Top Tip: You don’t need a MagicBands when staying off-property. But for $12.95 and the convenience factor, you might want one!
3. Reserve Your FastPass+ Rides
The kids keen on an Anna & Elsa Meet & Greet? An Expedition Everest roller coaster ride a must? Then don’t miss your window to make reservations via FastPass+!
What’s a FastPass+ reservation, you ask? It’s a free ride and attraction reservation system that allows you to bypass the wait lines. With Disney FastPass+, paid theme park ticket holders can pre-reserve three rides or attractions per day for the same park. Yeah! Now you can skip the line to your favorite ride!
Staying at a Disney Resort? Here’s a huge perk for you – first dibs at FastPass+ selections! You can begin making reservations 60 days prior to your arrival date. Not staying at a Disney Resort? Sorry. You’ll have to wait until 30 days prior to your arrival. 🙁
Our Top Tip: Mark your calendar! You’ll want to make your reservations the minute your window opens. The early time slots can fill up very fast.
4. Consider Ground Transportation Options
No need for renting a car while at DisneyWorld, especially if staying at a Disney Resort. Complimentary buses, boats, and the Monorail can get you from Point A to Point Z, and practically everywhere in between within Disney.
Arriving at Orlando International Airport? Disney has you covered with their complimentary Magical Express airport shuttle. Today’s plan includes Magic Kingdom in the morning, lunch at The Grand Floridian, then Blizzard Beach for the afternoon? Yep. The DisneyWorld transportation system can get you there too.
Our Top Tip: Driving to DisneyWorld? Park your car at the resort or theme park, and let the DisneyWorld transportation system take over.
5. Evaluate Your Vacation Dining Options
Another big expense at Disney World is feeding your family. One option if staying at a Disney World Resort with a Magic Your Way Vacation package is to add on a Disney Dining Plan. There are several options from which to choose, depending upon your dining preferences. If you plan to eat meals on Disney property, a Disney Dining Plan might make sense.
But a Disney Dining Plan may not “fill you up” nor is it always within your budget constraints. Here’s another option – consider preparing some of your own meals. Just one meal a day can save your travel budget a substantial chunk of change. Same for purchasing your own snacks instead of relying solely on pricey resort purchases when the munchies hit.
But what if you don’t have a car to get to the grocery store? Or don’t have the time? No problem! Have groceries delivered to you. How convenient is that! And it’s not nearly as pricey as you would think. A fan favorite is Garden Grocer. They have everything you might need, and they deliver to all the Disney Resorts, and off property places too.
From food and beverages (including beer and wine) as well as non-food items like baby supplies, beauty products and even gluten-free, organic and kosher options, Garden Grocer can set you up and save you money.
Our Top Tip: Prepare breakfast in your room (unless included in a package). Eating breakfast “in” saves your wallet, and it also saves time that’s better spent getting to the park earlier.
6. Keep Searching For Disney Discounts
Everyone wants a Disney discount, right? The good thing is that Disney World offers Room & Rate Packages throughout the year. When you see one, grab it! They often don’t last long. And keep looking for discounts after you’ve booked. One never knows what offer might pop up.
So how do you score a discount if you’ve already booked? That’s where a Disney Vacation Planner like Bethany has it’s advantages. She can be your “eyes and ears” to find those elusive discount packages, and if she finds one, she’ll apply it to your trip, saving you money! Woohoo! More money for souvenirs.
Bethany’s Top Tip: Book your Disney vacation based on what you can afford without a discount. Then, if you don’t score a discount, you can still afford your trip.
7. Determine Your Travel Photography Plan
What better way to remember those magical Disney moments than with photos and videos? So before packing your bags, prep your camera gear. This is one place you’ll want to capture every moment. Check out these two posts, 10 Tips For Travel Photography, and 9 Favorite Free Photography Apps You Need Before Your Next Vacation for more information on preparing your camera gear for travel.
What’s that you say? Taking photos not your thing? Don’t want to lug your camera around the park? Good thing Disney has you covered! Purchase the Disney Memory Maker package and all your photos taken by those wandering Disney PhotoPass Photographers, those hysterically funny moments captured on Splash Mountain, the video of you screaming down the Tower of Terror, that memorable dinner with Cinderella, are all yours forever and ever. Learn more about Memory Maker, and how purchasing it at least 3 days prior to your arrival saves $30.
Bethany’s Top Tip: Love the Memory Maker option! Some of my most favorite Disney photos are those taken by the Photopass Photographer. Not to mention, I’m actually in photos instead of always taking them!
Share Your Disney World Planning Tips!
Over to you. Are you planning a trip to Disney World? Did you find these travel tips helpful? Have you already been to Disney World? What’s your top planning tips to get the most out of a Disney World vacation? Do share!
Want top tips for booking a Disney Cruise? Check out Tips To Trim The Cost of A Disney Cruise. It’s an oldie, but still a goodie! The information is still relevant today.
Note: This post is written with the guidance and wording of Bethany Chapman, distinguished, authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Give Bethany a call at (800) 936-3183 ext. 705 and she’ll set you up! You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images by JoePenniston via Flickr (Cinderella’s Castle) and BethanyChapman (all others).