I am so excited to share some of my Disney World planning tips, because my mom and I have decided to head to Disney World in October! For Mother’s Day, I told my mom that I would take her on a trip.
Originally, we were going to go to Washington, D.C., but on a whim two weeks ago, we decided to change things up. We booked a trip to Disney World in record time!
This will be my fifth trip to Disney World. You might think it’s crazy for two grown adults to go to Disney World, but… Both my mom and I agree that it is the best and happiest place on Earth.
But there’s one thing you have to know about Disney – you must be prepared! This is not a relaxing vacation, y’all. Is it fun? Yes! But you have a lot of ground to cover.
My Disney World planning tips
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1. Start with the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
My No. 1 rule is simple. Do not do anything (beyond buying tickets and booking your hotel room) without the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. It is our Disney World bible. They come out with a new one every year, and every year we’ve ever gone, we’ve gotten one of these.
Even in 2018 with the internet, nothing tops this book.
Mom and I decided to get proactive and book dinner reservations in advance, as soon as we had booked our tickets. We didn’t have the book.
After we got the book, we read up on every restaurant we had chosen and ended up cancelling our reservations for every. single. one. We also decided to book all of our FastPasses, and ended up rescheduling all of those, too.
2. Use crowd calendars to determine what park you’ll visit on what day.
The Orlando Crowd Calendar is incredibly useful, and it helped me decide what park we’ll be visiting each day! We’re lucky and get five days in Disney World in the off-season, but even in the off-season, thousands of people visit Disney World every day.
The crowd calendar I linked to will tell you how busy each day will be in general, plus which park is recommended to visit every day.
It is a fine science, y’all.
3. Book your FastPasses in the afternoon.
Another reason why the Unofficial Guide is the real Disney World bible.
If you’re visiting Disney World in the off-season, take advantage of the three FastPasses you get to book in advance by booking them after 11 a.m. Save the opening hours of the park you’re visiting to hit one of the rides you can’t get a FastPass for, or a ride you think you’ll want to ride more than once.
Less people will be getting to the park at rope drop or near opening than will trickle in throughout the morning, so you’ll encounter shorter lines on that alone.
Note: Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which are more adult-oriented, see even less crowds in the morning, according to various crowd calendars and the Unofficial Guide. No reason to use valuable FastPasses then when queues for big rides likely won’t be as long.
4. Plan your lunches.
If you’ve been to Disney World before, you know that the food can be amazing. (That’s why Mom and I always get the Disney Dining Plan!) But you can also end up eating pizza, burgers, chicken tenders and fries – standard theme park fare – if you don’t plan ahead.
Of all the Disney World planning tips I have, this is the big one. Plan ahead on food and avoid eating substandard food when you’re hungry by knowing where to head and when.
I recommend doing a few searches of each park’s Quick Service offerings (Quick Service = fast food or counter service at Disney World) before visiting.
Our favorites are…
- Sunshine Seasons in Epcot
- Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Magic Kingdom
Note: We haven’t been to Disney since Hollywood Studios opened Toy Story Land, and I’ve heard Woody’s Lunch Box is excellent. I
5. Determine your top priorities for each day.
I still remember when I went to Disney World when I was little. I was so upset by Day 2 or 3 because I felt like we weren’t hitting all of my priorities (everything was a priority for me, I was 9 years old).
Now, my parents and I always make sure to lay out our priorities. Mom and I have already outlined our top 3-5 things we want to do and see every day we’re there. Plus, we’ve got an extra day planned to hit anything we missed.
6. Wake up early.
There is no way to go to Disney World without waking up early, at least part of the time. I don’t think you need to be at rope drop at every single park, but definitely aim to be there at opening when you visit the park that features your favorite attraction.
For example, Mom and I are passionate about Soarin’ and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. We’ll probably be at both parks early so we make the most of our time there and get to ride our favorite rides more than once.
7. Buy a few things in advance and bring them with you.
Don’t wing it when it comes to your packing list, either.
A few things to grab in advance to save time and money when you need them:
- Breakfast. Save time and money by grabbing and going with granola bars, cereal in your room or PopTarts.
- Water bottle or tumbler. Water is free in the parks!
- A light rain coat or poncho. It’s Florida, after all.
- Blister balm and/or moleskine.
- Portable chargers. There are charging stations in Disney World, now, but why waste time?