100+ tips for your Disney World trip


Since the beginning, the WDW Prep To Go podcast has featured Disney World tips at the end of every episode. Now you can find the best Disney World tips below, all divided into categories so that they they are easy to find.

From park touring to dining to resorts (plus more), you'll find 100+ different ideas to help you with your next Disney World trip.

Enjoy!

Park touring at Disney World tips

  • You can completely skip the scary portion of Haunted Mansion and bypass the stretching room and creepy parts to walk straight onto the ride. Just let a Cast Member know as you walk from the outside of the queue into the Mansion and they will escort you through some hallways and straight to the ride. You get ahead of all those people in the stretching room and your kid avoids the scariest part.
  • You should arrive to all 4 parks before they open. All of the parks open earlier than the posted open time. It’s best to arrive to all parks by 8:20-8:30 or so when they have a 9:00 opening time.
  • The Castle Couture shop behind Cinderella Castle has princess merchandise, but it also has a room at the back that's staged for princess pics. Though it's primarily used by people who have just finished at Bibibidi Bobbidi Boutique, anybody can go in there for pics. As a bonus, there's a PhotoPass photographer there to snap pics for you.
  • Take a towel from your hotel room and pack it in your backpack. Use it to wipe off wet seats, save a spot for a parade, provide shade to a little one in a stroller or whatever other reason you find.
  • An easy way to find a spot to watch fireworks and other nighttime shows is to look for the people with cameras on tripods. The usually know what they're doing and where to get a good view. If you want to plan ahead, you can use our fireworks/nighttime show viewing tips.
  • If you are at the turnstiles at Animal Kingdom and the turnstiles seem really busy before the park opens, you can try a secret-ish entrance by entering Rainforest Cafe and navigating to the gift shop. Just outside of the gift shop, there is a set of turnstiles available to use. This method doesn’t always save time but is worth a look if the main turnstiles seem particularly busy.
  • Magic Kingdom parades don't usually require lining up way ahead of time, though Main Street will have lots of people waiting way beforehand most of the time. I suggest watching parades from the front of the park or in Frontierland and not showing up quite as early. All parades start in Frontierland and end at the front of the park.
  • As soon as you check in for your third FastPass+ reservation, open the My Disney Experience app and get a 4th.
  • If you’re walking down Main Street at Magic Kingdom and the streets seem really crowded, look at the sidewalks to see if they are less busy. People often stick to the street so the sidewalks can be a great way to get down Main Street with fewer people around you.
  • When you enter the theater for the Fantasmic! show at Hollywood Studios, you come in from the top left part of the theater. If you want to leave the park after the show, go out the top right of the theater which will usually take you right to the front of the park.
  • If you arrive to an attraction to use your FastPass+ reservation and the standby line is short, get into the standby line and open your phone to try to change your FastPass+ reservation to something else.
  • People are often scared to ride Mission: Space at Epcot due to the potential for motion sickness. One way to make it easier is to make sure you face forward during the ride. Parents often want to look at their children next to them, but the best idea is to just face forward and watch the screen in front of you.
  • People staying at Boardwalk/Epcot-area resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin and Boardwalk) should think about buying Park Hopper tickets to take advantage of being so close to Epcot. Consider spending the first part of the day at another park, and then head over to Epcot in the evenings to eat at a restaurant and explore a few of the countries.
  • If little ones can’t ride a ride, don’t make them sit and wait for everybody else. Keep little kids busy doing other things. I have a chart of ideas in my Rider Switch article to keep little ones nearby but busy while bigger kids and adults ride.
  • To secure your MagicBand (I lost mine on a trip!), I suggest that you order a Bitbelt for everybody in your group. Use code “wdwprepschool” at checkout to save 15%.
  • People who want to try to get in the line to sign up for Jedi Training Academy can get a jump start on the line by making an 8:00 a.m. breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios.
  • The parks stay open later than the published closing time. The published closing time is when restaurants and line queues close, but the shops and photographers will still be out much later.
  • Many Disney World shows have better views from the back of the room so you don’t necessarily want to be the first in to sit down. There are some exceptions, such as the Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom where sitting up front is the best.
  • People attending one of the parties, such as Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 (even though the party events don't begin until 7) and can book FastPass+ reservations for the 4-7:00 timeframe. There will not be any FastPass+ reservations available during the party, but you can use them from 4-7:00.
  • You can use somebody else's MagicBand/park ticket to use their FastPass+ reservations if you'd like. Everybody needs to use their own band/ticket to enter the park, but you can use somebody else's band/ticket to use their FastPass+.
  • Not all Extra Magic Hours are as valuable as others. If you plan to attend an Extra Magic Hour at a park check out the chart below to find out what will be open.
  • If you're interested in watching the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom, I suggest watching from the train station at the front of the park to give yourself the best view and the option to either leave the park or take a train to another part of the park afterward. You used to be able to watch from the top, center portion of the train station, but that area is now used for VIP tour guests only.
  • Although early morning breakfast reservations in the parks have long been a good idea, I'm hesitant to suggest them since Disney has been changing park hours so the parks (especially Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) often open up at 8 a.m. Instead, I'd suggest booking a later time or booking 2 sets of reservations - 1 at 8 a.m. and another around 10:30 a.m. As your trip dates get closer, you can cancel the one you won't be using once you know what the schedule will be.
  • The first row of Soarin' allows you to view the screen without any feet dangling; however, the third row of Soarin' does not have extra motion like the first two rows, making it a good option for people prone to motion sickness.
  • Nervous when meeting characters? Check out these tips to make it easier.
  • Never underestimate the power of a midday break. Whenever possible try to get out of the parks (and the heat) for at least a few hours to allow everybody a chance to rest and recharge.
  • If it's raining while you're in the parks, don't be afraid to still get pictures taken. Get more tips for handling the weather
  • If you like to shop, consider visiting the shops during the first hour the parks are open for lighter crowds or during the middle of the day when you need a break from the heat.

Traveling with small children

  • You may want to watch Disney movies to prepare for your Disney World trip. Consider using Roku or apps like FlixFindr to search all of the services you subscribe to for movies.
  • If little ones can’t ride a ride, don’t make them sit and wait for everybody else. Keep little kids busy doing other things. I have a chart of ideas in my Rider Switch article to keep little ones nearby but busy while bigger kids and adults ride.
  • The auto-flush toilets often scare little ones at Disney World, so use the manual flush ones in the Baby Care Centers, or plan to cover the sensors on the toilets with your hand, a Post-it Note, or a sticker.
  • Make sure to identify your stroller in a unique way since so many strollers look the same. Items like ribbons or bright scarves tied around the handle will help to make it easier to spot. You might also consider adding a customized license tag.
  • Since there are two stroller-rental locations at Epcot (the other parks just have 1), you could visit one of them mid-day after your child gets tired of walking. One of the stroller rental locations is near the front of the park, and the other is located in the World Showcase at the International Gateway near the U.K. pavilion.
  • Little ones who are younger than 3-years-old can't have appointments at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but you can ask the Fairy Godmother for magic dust to sprinkle on their hair.
  • Consider renting a stroller from an offsite vendor vs. renting from Disney. Renting offsite can save you money and will give you access to the stroller for all parts of your trip (not just for the time you are in the parks). See a complete comparison of options to help you decide. 
  • You can completely skip the scary portion of Haunted Mansion and bypass the stretching room and creepy parts to walk straight onto the ride. Just let a Cast Member know as you walk from the outside of the queue into the Mansion and they will escort you through some hallways and straight to the ride. You get ahead of all those people in the stretching room and your kid avoids the scariest part.
  • To help your kids prep for a trip, watch videos of Disney World attractions on YouTube. I’ve included them in all of my park guides and you can also search YouTube for whatever ride you’re interested in. Another option is to get the Birnbaum’s for Kids book which has pics and ratings for things like how scary the rides are.

Dining tips

  • Just about anywhere at Disney World (including small kiosks) will give you cups of ice for free. I like doing this as an alternative to carrying water bottles which can be heavy, especially if you need several bottles of water for your family.
  • Adding a Disney Dining Plan to a reservation is usually something you can only do if you purchase a package, but you can add it to a room-only reservation if you call Disney or book through a travel agent. People who rent points can also add a dining plan to their reservations.
  • To increase your chances of getting the dining reservation times you want, select a time and not a meal when making your reservation.
  • You can order whatever you want at restaurants that aren't buffets or fixed price meals, such as just having dessert or an appetizer. Don't feel like you have to order an entire meal.
  • Refillable mugs can be purchased at Disney resorts. They come in 4 colors, but if you have more than 4 people, it might be handy to mix and match lid colors to create new color combos that will help you tell them apart.

  • There are many Landry's restaurants nationwide and 4 located at Disney World - 2 Rainforest Cafe locations, T-Rex Cafe and Yak and Yeti. If you sign up for Landry's Select Club, you get extra perks such as a $25 credit during your birthday month, priority seating and 10% off merchandise. It does cost a one-time fee of $25 to join, but you get that amount back in restaurant credit within 24 hours of signing up.
  • Although early morning breakfast reservations in the parks have long been a good idea, I'm hesitant to suggest them since Disney has been changing park hours so the parks (especially Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) often open up at 8 a.m. Instead, I'd suggest booking a later time or booking 2 sets of reservations - 1 at 8 a.m. and another around 10:30 a.m. As your trip dates get closer, you can cancel the one you won't be using once you know what the schedule will be.
  • If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, consider taking your refillable mug to a Quick Service restaurant at your resort to use for your drink and get a bottle of water (to use later) as the beverage that is included with your meal.
  • Many/most Quick Service restaurants at Hollywood Studios offer specialty cupcakes that are usually delicious and count as a snack credit if you're on the Disney Dining Plan, or they cost you around $5 if you're not.
  • When booking dining reservations, you can save time by bookmarking the restaurants you wish to book in your browser (or even by having multiple tabs open). Just a reminder that you should always make dining reservations in order of difficulty, not chronologically. WDW Prep Level 2 Members have the order of difficulty listed on their summary page to help with this.
  • If you're staying on-site and hoping to book a Cinderella Royal's Table/Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique combo, consider booking it toward the end of your trip since both are available 180 days before your trip begins. Doing it this way will make it easier to get the times you want.
  • You can cancel almost all dining reservations by midnight the night before without any penalty (though Disney officially says it's 24 hours ahead of time). For more info about when all reservations can be made or canceled, see my info on how/when to make reservations.
  • To avoid carrying your refillable mugs into the parks, take your mugs to the food court to fill them up. After that, return to your room and pour them into the disposable cups in your room so you can take the disposable cups to the parks with you. This will keep you from having to carry around your refillable mugs all day.
  • If you are planning to book a meal that requires pre-payment (Cinderella's Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, Mickey's Backyard BBQ, and Spirit of Aloha), use the website to book online. If you use the app, you'll likely be prompted to call instead.
  • Consider splitting Quick Service meals so you won't be lethargic after meals, to allow yourself a break in the air conditioning, and to give yourself a chance to try more restaurants.
  • Use snack credits for Starbucks drinks. Adding extra syrups and espresso shots is included and can make a snack credit worth $8-9.
  • If you're using the Disney World site to search for restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan for the following year and seeing that many aren't included, you should know that it takes awhile for the full list to appear as restaurants renew their contracts at the end of each year. Instead, select the current year as you search since the list usually stays the same from year to year.
  • Bring rubber bands or Ziplocs to store/close unfinished bags of snacks.
  • When traveling in a large group, make separate dining reservations if you can't find one for your entire group and then check-in together. While it isn't guaranteed that you will be seated together, there is a good chance you will at least end up side-by-side. Get lots more large group dining tips
  • Many of the restaurants in Disney Springs have limited reservation availability through Disney. If you can't find what you want check out OpenTable for additional dining times.
  • Book your dining reservations online 180 days before your trip begins because the website is available 1 hour earlier than the phone lines (the website is available at 6 a.m. vs. 7 a.m. for the phones). I recommend having your My Disney Experience account setup before this day and have your credit card handy for those reservations that require it. I would also suggest having the phone number on hand (407-WDW-DINE) in case the website is having technical issues.
  • People who want to try to get in the line to sign up for Jedi Training Academy can get a jump start on the line by making an 8:00 a.m. breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios.
  • For people staying on-site who want to make dining reservations 180 days ahead of time for their whole trip, I recommend logging completely out of the Disney website and then logging back in to make sure the dates for your whole trip are available to you.
  • The Disney Dining Plan doesn't usually make financial sense. To decide if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for you, you should review info on maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits.

Extra Magic

  • To help your kids prep for a trip, watch videos of Disney World attractions on YouTube. I’ve included them in all of my park guides and you can also search YouTube for whatever ride you’re interested in. Another option is to get the Birnbaum’s for Kids book which has pics and ratings for things like how scary the rides are.
  • The Castle Couture shop behind Cinderella Castle has princess merchandise, but it also has a room at the back that's staged for princess pics. Though it's primarily used by people who have just finished at Bibibidi Bobbidi Boutique, anybody can go in there for pics. As a bonus, there's a PhotoPass photographer there to snap pics for you.
  • Disney Florist isn’t just available when staying on-site at Disney World; you can also use Disney Florist to ship things to you at home. Get ideas from their Celebrate at Home section.
  • If the princess costumes are too itchy, consider buying an everyday dress inspired by the princesses.
  • Transportation cards are free souvenirs that you can get from Cast Members on the monorails, boats and buses. Not all will have them, but it doesn't hurt to ask since sometimes they will have them to give out.
  • Although Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios has closed, you can learn to draw characters at home using YouTube videos that are hosted by Animation Academy artists. 
  • Many souvenirs can be displayed after your trip is over. Check out my Pinterest boards for ideas.
  • Use your local library for books and CDs to help your family get acquainted with the movies and music from the parks.
  • Planning is important, but the things you will likely remember most are the things you didn't plan, so allow time for the unexpected. This is why my touring plans are grouped by hour (instead of minute-by-minute) and only go through lunchtime - to allow you time for flexibility and spontaneity.
  • Get a scented wall plugin with a smell that you’ve never used before. Take it on vacation and use it in your hotel room. After your trip, that scent will remind you of your vacation.
  • When you’re staying on-site, you can get a wake-up call from a character. Put the phone on speakerphone to allow everybody to hear it. Currently, the character that calls is Olaf.
  • Little ones who are younger than 3-years-old can't have appointments at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but you can ask the Fairy Godmother for magic dust to sprinkle on their hair.

 

Resort tips

  • Use the "privacy please" sign on your door throughout your stay if you're worried about having things taken and the safe in the room isn't large enough to accommodate your items.
  • If you want to stay in a Deluxe Resort that is completely enclosed (lobby, restaurants, rooms, etc.), there are 3 great resorts for that - Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, and The Beach Club.
  • People staying at Art of Animation can request a room that’s located on an upper level with a lake view to get a room with less noise. Those rooms are facing away from the swimming pools and away from the lower floors where it tends to be louder. Get more room view recommendations.
  • People considering staying at The Polynesian should look at Polynesian Villa Studio rooms which often work out better than standard rooms for many people. Check out my comparison graphic for more information.
  • To get the best experience for the least amount of money, stay at a Moderate Resort during Free Dining. That allows you to pay the least expensive nightly rates, get free food (including the Basic Dining Plan which is better than what’s offered at Value Resorts) and visit during a less busy time.
  • Get a scented wall plugin with a smell that you’ve never used before. Take it on vacation and use it in your hotel room. After your trip, that scent will remind you of your vacation.
  • Families who want to book a room that will allow their kids to sleep in separate beds at Disney World have these options: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge rooms with bunk beds (you'll need to book those categories), Art of Animation and All-Star Music suites (each have 3 sleeping areas, including a master bedroom, pull-out couch and Murphy-style bed), Ft. Wilderness Cabins (accommodate up to 6 people and have a double bed, bunk beds and a Murphy bed), Port Orleans Riverside rooms in the Alligator Bayou section (have a trundle that can fit a child up to 10 years old or so), Caribbean Beach rooms in all sections except those in Trinidad South (have a trundle that can fit a child up to 10 years old or so), and most Deluxe resorts have rooms have a daybed in addition to the 2 queen beds.
  • Lots of people ask if they should use online check-in when staying at Disney Resorts which is an option 60 days before your trip begins. I recommend doing it to save time at check-in unless you want to ask for a room upgrade. Get some room request tips so you know what to request when you check in.
  • Most Disney World resort rooms don’t have microwaves, but you can usually use the microwave in the food court or Quick Service location.
  • If staying in an on-site resort near Magic Kingdom or Epcot, consider spending the first part of your day at a park and then the evenings at the park that you’re staying near to save transportation time.
  • When you’re staying on-site, you can get a wake-up call from a character. Put the phone on speakerphone to allow everybody to hear it. Currently, the character that calls is Olaf.
  • Although you can only store 1 credit card in your My Disney Experience account online, you can go to the front desk or concierge at your Disney resort and have them assign different cards to different people.
  • People staying at Disney World resorts that want to do laundry can use the Laundry View site to check the current availability of washers and dryers by going to LaundryView.com/DisneyWorld.
  • If you think you'll have to do laundry on your vacation, pack a few Shout Color Catchers so that you combine laundry into fewer loads.
  • People staying at Boardwalk/Epcot-area resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin and Boardwalk) should think about buying Park Hopper tickets to take advantage of being so close to Epcot. Consider spending the first part of the day at another park, and then head over to Epcot in the evenings to eat at a restaurant and explore a few of the countries
  • You can rent a car when staying at an on-site Disney World resort which can be helpful when spending some time at places outside of Disney World (like Universal, the beach, etc.). Alamo and National have offices at the on-site Disney World Car Care Center. They will send a shuttle to your Disney World resort to take you to get your car. The number for the Car Care Center is 407-824-3470. Be sure to check out the rental car info on Mousesavers.com for more info on renting a car, including ways to find the best deals, and check out info on using a car at Disney World for more tips.
    Rental car Disney World tips
  • Disney gift cards can be used to pay for most anything at Disney World, including room charges. You'll want to stop by the front desk to pay it off before your account reaches the limit ($1500 in charges at Value and Moderate Resorts, $2000 at Deluxe Resorts) and/or by the day before you depart so your credit card doesn't get charged.
  • Bounceback offers are promotions that are usually found in folders in Disney World resort rooms (if you don't find one, dial 8844 from your room phone to ask what's available). They are often good deals that you can take advantage of if you book your next trip while still at Disney World.
  • Take a spare bag in your luggage to use for several different things such as going to the pool/water park, to leave things with bell services on your departure day, carrying souvenirs home, or to do laundry.

Money saving tips

  • Check your receipt during your Disney World trip to see if a coupon has been included. For instance, there's often a discount of 10% off of Disney Springs merchandise that's included on receipts at Magic Kingdom Quick Service restaurants.
  • To decide if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for you, you should review my post on maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits.
  • DisneyGiftCard.com can be used to not only purchase Disney gift cards, but it can be used to combine your gift cards into 1 card worth up to $1000.
  • You can sometimes stack discounts when booking through Orbitz or CheapTickets.com by using both a WDW promotion and a site promo. Important to read all of the details. Check out Mousesavers.com for more info.
  • To save for your trip, try saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, etc. After 52 weeks, you’ll have over $1300 saved. After 2 years, you’ll have over $5000 saved. Use WolframAlpha.com to figure out how much money you’d have after a certain number of weeks by typing in the phrase “the XXth triangular number” where XX = the number of weeks.
  • Disney gift cards can be used to pay for most anything at Disney World, including room charges. You'll want to stop by the front desk to pay it off before your account reaches the limit ($1500 in charges at Value and Moderate Resorts, $2000 at Deluxe Resorts) and/or by the day before you depart so your credit card doesn't get charged.
  • You can get discounted Disney gift cards at Sam's Club ($150 worth of gift cards for $142.98) or by using your Target Red Card for 5% discount.
  • Bounceback offers are promotions that are usually found in folders in Disney World resort rooms (if you don't find one, dial 8844 from your room phone to ask what's available). They are often good deals that you can take advantage of if you book your next trip while still at Disney World.
  • Disney park tickets often go up in price once or twice per year. To save, you can buy park tickets now to use later and pay the lower rate. Check out the best sources to get each type of ticket.
  • To save money, purchase snacks ahead of time and group them in Ziploc bags for each day of your trip. Each night, put a new bag into your park bag. If you need to save space in your suitcase, you can order snacks ahead of time and have them delivered to your resort.
  • Flight prices can vary greatly from airport to airport, so be sure to check all your options since sometimes you can save a lot of money by driving a bit to a different airport.
  • To get the best experience for the least amount of money, stay at a Moderate Resort during Free Dining. That allows you to pay the least expensive nightly rates, get free food (including the Basic Dining Plan which is better than what’s offered at Value Resorts) and visit during a less busy time.
  • Just about anywhere at Disney World (including small kiosks) will give you cups of ice for free. I like doing this as an alternative to carrying water bottles which can be heavy, especially if you need several bottles of water for your family.
  • When searching for airfare, use Kayak.com/flights to see if now is a good time to buy.kayak
  • There are many Landry's restaurants nationwide and 4 located at Disney World - 2 Rainforest Cafe locations, T-Rex Cafe and Yak and Yeti. If you sign up for Landry's Select Club, you get extra perks such as a $25 credit during your birthday month, priority seating and 10% off merchandise. It does cost a one-time fee of $25 to join, but you get that amount back in restaurant credit within 24 hours of signing up.
  • Consider using Uber as an alternative to a taxi on your trip. I'd recommend downloading the app and setting up your credit card beforehand. Keep in mind that Uber isn't allowed to pick up at the Orlando airport (except for the higher levels of Uber service). Learn more about how Uber works at Disney World
  • If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, consider taking your refillable mug to a Quick Service restaurant at your resort to use for your drink and get a bottle of water (to use later) as the beverage that is included with your meal.
  • Consider splitting Quick Service meals so you won't be lethargic after meals, to allow yourself a break in the air conditioning, and to give yourself a chance to try more restaurants. You can do this when using Disney Dining Plan Quick Service credits as well.
  • Consider renting a stroller from an offsite vendor vs. renting from Disney. Renting offsite can save you money and will give you access to the stroller for all parts of your trip (not just for the time you are in the parks). See a complete comparison of stroller rental options

Reservation tips (dining, FastPass+ and resort)

  • Adding a Disney Dining Plan to a reservation is usually something you can only do if you purchase a package, but you can add it to a room-only reservation if you call Disney or book through a travel agent. People who rent points can also add a dining plan to their reservations.
  • Book your dining reservations online 180 days before your trip begins because the website is available 1 hour earlier than the phone lines (the website is available at 6 a.m. vs. 7 a.m. for the phones). I recommend having your My Disney Experience account setup before this day and have your credit card handy for those reservations that require it. I would also suggest having the phone number on hand (407-WDW-DINE) in case the website is having technical issues.
  • To increase your chances of getting the dining reservation times you want, select a time and not a meal when making your reservation.
  • When making FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, you can begin at 7 a.m. eastern time. This is different than dining reservations which begin at 6 a.m. eastern time 180 days in advance.
  • You can book your Disney World trip way before discounts are announced. People using a Disney agent or calling Disney can book up to 500 days in advance, and then when discounts are announced, you can have the discount applied to your existing reservation.
  • If you’re getting online or calling 180 days in advance to make Advance Dining Reservations, make dining reservations in order of difficulty, not chronological order.
  • For people staying on-site who want to make dining reservations 180 days ahead of time for their whole trip, I recommend logging completely out of the Disney website and then logging back in to make sure the dates for your whole trip are available to you.
  • For people traveling to Disney World with others, I suggest connecting as friends within My Disney Experience so that things like FastPass+ reservations can be booked all at once.
  • When park hours are extended, new FastPass+ opportunities open up. To be notified when park hours for your trip dates change, sign up for alerts on the monthly dashboard for your month. You can also find links to the park hours PDFs that Disney publishes on my binder download post.
  • Lots of people ask if they should use online check-in when staying at Disney Resorts which is an option 60 days before your trip begins. I recommend doing it to save time at check-in unless you want to ask for a room upgrade. Get some room request tips so you know what to request when you check in.
  • People attending one of the parties, such as Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00 (even though the party events don't begin until 7) and can book FastPass+ reservations for the 4-7:00 timeframe. There will not be any FastPass+ reservations available during the party, but you can use them from 4-7:00.
  • If you're using the Disney World site to search for restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan for the following year and seeing that many aren't included, you should know that it takes awhile for the full list to appear as restaurants renew their contracts at the end of each year. Instead, select the current year as you search since the list usually stays the same from year to year.
  • If you're staying on-site and hoping to book a Cinderella Royal's Table/Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique combo, consider booking it toward the end of your trip since both are available 180 days before your trip begins. Doing it this way will make it easier to get the times you want.
  • You can cancel almost all dining reservations by midnight the night before without any penalty (though Disney officially says it's 24 hours ahead of time). For more info about when all reservations can be made or canceled, see my info on how/when to make reservations.
  • If you are planning to book a meal that requires pre-payment (Cinderella's Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, Mickey's Backyard BBQ, and Spirit of Aloha), use the website to book online. If you use the app, you'll likely be prompted to call instead.
  • When traveling in a large group, make separate dining reservations if you can't find one for your entire group and then check-in together. While it isn't guaranteed that you will be seated together, there is a good chance you will at least end up side-by-side. Get lots more large group dining tips
  • Many of the restaurants in Disney Springs have limited reservation availability through Disney. If you can't find what you want check out OpenTable for additional dining times.

My Disney Experience tips

  • For people traveling to Disney World with others, I suggest connecting as friends within My Disney Experience so that things like FastPass+ reservations can be booked all at once.
  • If you have multiple tickets linked to you (for instance, tickets that are part of a package and an Annual Pass), be sure to give Disney World a call to have them set the ticket priority for each. That way the correct tickets will scan when you enter the parks.
  • As soon as you check in for your third FastPass+ reservation, open the My Disney Experience app and get a 4th.
  • You can use multiple devices (computers, tablets, smartphones) when trying to get dining or FastPass+ reservations. This might make it easier to get difficult reservations, especially if you have multiple people logging on at once. You will not be logged out of My Disney Experience by doing it this way.
  • People who are nervous about using the My Disney Experience site or app to make dining or FastPass+ reservations should consider practicing using MDE ahead of time. Anybody can practice making dining reservations; people who have purchased their park tickets separately (not as part of a Disney World package) can practice making FastPass+ reservations. Just be sure to cancel them afterward.
  • When park hours are extended, new FastPass+ opportunities open up. To be notified when park hours for your trip dates change, sign up for alerts on the monthly dashboard for your month. You can also find links to the park hours PDFs that Disney publishes on my binder download post.
  • If you'd like to add a note to your My Disney Experience daily plans for things that aren't automatically linked, go to "My Itinerary" and navigate to the day you'd like to add something new. In the left corner, go to "Add Plans" and then choose "Add a Note." This will allow you to insert something new into your plans that won't link.
    Disney World tips
  • Take a screenshot of the reservations in your My Disney Experience app so that if you don't have an internet connection or the app is having trouble opening, you can access the info from your camera roll.
  • Although you can only store 1 credit card in your My Disney Experience account online, you can go to the front desk or concierge at your Disney resort and have them assign different cards to different people.
  • For people staying on-site who want to make dining reservations 180 days ahead of time for their whole trip, I recommend logging completely out of the Disney website and then logging back in to make sure the dates for your whole trip are available to you.

Transportation tips

  • When booking your trip, I recommend waiting to book flights (if possible) until after discounts for your trip dates have been announced. Sometimes when discounts are released, they don’t cover your exact trip dates but would work if you could modify your trip dates slightly. If you already have flights booked, this isn’t always possible since flights are usually nonrefundable and unchangeable. If it makes sense for your trip, try to wait to book flights to allow for maximum flexibility (don’t wait too long though – I recommend booking flights around 2 months or more before your trip).
  • You can rent a car when staying at an on-site Disney World resort which can be helpful when spending some time at places outside of Disney World (like Universal, the beach, etc.). Alamo and National have offices at the on-site Disney World Car Care Center. They will send a shuttle to your Disney World resort to take you to get your car. The number for the Car Care Center is 407-824-3470. Be sure to check out the rental car info on Mousesavers.com for more info on renting a car, including ways to find the best deals, and check out info on using a car at Disney World for more tips. Rental car Disney World tips
  • If you’re flying for your trip, make sure you have reserved seats (or boarding group if you’re flying Southwest Airlines). Without it, there’s a good chance your family will be separated during your flight.
  • If you want to take Magical Express at a different time than when your flight is arriving or departing, use a different flight number when making your reservation. Get more Magical Express info and tips.
  • Consider using Uber as an alternative to a taxi on your trip. I'd recommend downloading the app and setting up your credit card beforehand. Keep in mind that Uber isn't allowed to pick up at the Orlando airport (except for the higher levels of Uber service). Learn more about how Uber works at Disney World
  • If you're checking multiple bags for your flight, check the heaviest bag first. If it happens to be over the weight limit, that'll give you a chance to reallocate the weight to a lighter bag to avoid extra fees.
  • If you're staying off-site, strongly consider renting a car for your trip as shuttle services can be unreliable. When comparing prices of staying on-site vs. off-site, be sure to add the cost of the rental car + daily parking at Disney World. Check TripAdvisor.com for reviews of your off-site hotel to see how others view the shuttles.
  • People who will be using Magical Express buses to get to their Disney World resort and want a pic of the iconic Disney World sign should try to sit at the front. Learning how to use burst mode on your camera will help with taking pics while moving. Get more Magical Express info and tips.
  • Use a Ziploc to prop up your phone on flights by using the tray clasp to hold it up. 

    Taught the guy next to me this trick that I learned on Pinterest. 🙊

    A post shared by Shannon Albert (@wdwprepschool) on

  • When driving to a park mid-day, have the driver drop off passengers at the front and then keep your eyes open for a parking spot near the front that was previously taken by somebody who's already left for the day.
  • If staying in an on-site resort near Magic Kingdom or Epcot, consider spending the first part of your day at a park and then the evenings at the park that you’re staying near to save transportation time.
  • Transportation cards are free souvenirs that you can get from Cast Members on the monorails, boats and buses. Not all will have them, but it doesn't hurt to ask since sometimes they will have them to give out.
  • Flight prices can vary greatly from airport to airport so be sure to check all your options since sometimes you can save a lot of money by driving a bit to a different airport.
  • When searching for airfare, use Kayak.com/flights to see if now is a good time to buy.kayak

Tech tips

  • Take pics of things like your parking spot, luggage, or your child each day of your trip to make them easier to find later.
  • Consider putting all plans into a note on your phone, taking a screenshot, and then making that the lock screen to make it easier to find the info and save some battery life.
  • Use the Low Power Mode on your iPhone to extend the amount of time your battery lasts on Disney World trips.
  • Install the Dropbox app on your phone and use it to store your photos so you don’t run out of room during your trip.
  • Turn the flash on your camera off by default, especially during your trip where it rarely is useful.
  • Create a shortcut to a handy link by opening the URL in your phone browser, clicking the arrow at the bottom and selecting "add to home screen." This will add the link as an icon.
  • You can use multiple devices (computers, tablets, smartphones) when trying to get dining or FastPass+ reservations. This might make it easier to get difficult reservations, especially if you have multiple people logging on at once. You will not be logged out of My Disney Experience by doing it this way.
  • People who are nervous about using the My Disney Experience site or app to make dining or FastPass+ reservations should consider practicing using MDE ahead of time. Anybody can practice making dining reservations; people who have purchased their park tickets separately (not as part of a Disney World package) can practice making FastPass+ reservations. Just be sure to cancel them afterward.
  • Take a screenshot of the reservations in your My Disney Experience app so that if you don't have an internet connection or the app is having trouble opening, you can access the info from your camera roll.
  • Record video with your phone turned horizontally since that's the orientation used on computers and TVs.howtorecordvideo
  • Disney now has a GIF app to allow you to include Disney GIFs in your messages.
  • When booking dining reservations, you can save time by bookmarking the restaurants you wish to book in your browser (or even by having multiple tabs open). Just a reminder that you should always make dining reservations in order of difficulty, not chronologically. WDW Prep Level 2 Members have the order of difficulty listed on their summary page to help with this.
  • Use a Ziploc to prop up your phone on flights by using the tray clasp to hold it up. 

    Taught the guy next to me this trick that I learned on Pinterest. 🙊

    A post shared by Shannon Albert (@wdwprepschool) on

*******************************

Have Disney World tips of your own to add? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

ENJOY THIS ARTICLE? SIGN UP TO GET UPDATES (IT'S FREE).

Leave a Reply

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kirsten

You are seriously a genious!!!! Thank you!!!

Kirsten

Genius. Whoops. Ha

Reynolds_B

Just got off the phone with T-Rex and they do not offer 10% off merchandise any longer. My kid always spends a fortune there so I was really hoping that this wasn’t the case. May want to update the post.

Ashley

Thank you for this! I’ve seen on some websites that dining reservations online open up at 6 am and I’ve also heard they open up at midnight. Do you know what time they open up 180 days before your reservation?

Thank you

Laura

I made my reservations a couple days ago when it was 180 days out. My Disney experience app opens at 6 but phones open at 7. The only call reservation I had to make was for a dinner show. You will have to wait a LONG time if you call. If you can wait til the afternoon it is a lot less busy.

Amber

This is perfect in every single way!!! Thank you so much for this, you are wonderful for putting all of this together. Also, not sure if it’s just my computer, but the “request at check in tips” link didn’t work.

Thanks! Just got the link fixed. Should work for you now.

Anna

Thank you for this! I’ve been taking notes on quick tips from the podcasts, and this makes it much easier to have them organized in one place!

Momof2boys

Castle Couture also had Prince/knight costumes for boys (for those of us without princesses). The photo studio will also take pics of your kids without costumes if they are not busy. Our last trip in 2014, they took some wonderful photos of my son who was not in costume. They looked really professional and made great gifts.

Amanda Sullivan

I love this! The tip regarding adding a different card to each Magic Band is brilliant! Do you know if you can do this with Disney Gift cards? I am planning on giving my kiddo a Disney Gift card to spend so when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Sara

Go to http://www.DisneyGiftCard.com and you can purchase and manage cards there. I’m using my Chase Disney Visa cash back to purchase my gift cards – one for each kid on our trip. You can personalize them to the recipient – there are hundreds of designs. One of mine is classic Alice, another is Pocahontas, another is vintage fab 4 pirates…

You can load a large(or small) gift card and combine or transfer money to other gift cards. It’s been super convenient to use.

Using WDWPrep tips, I’ve booked our room by renting DVacationClub points and I’ll be paying for our meal plans with gift cards since I don’t want to give the points owner my credit card number. You can load up to $1,000 on one gc this way.

We’ve saved over $1800 with this booking – and we’re going deluxe! Staying at a deluxe resort, using the dining plan and having plenty of money left for souvenirs and extras like Cinderella’s Royal Table. I’ve had my Chase visa since June and in 4 months I’ve gotten more than $375 in cash back. I use it for normal everyday purchases, groceries, gas, school clothes, Christmas shopping, Amazon, etc, and pay it off every month.

Marie Watson

Heather, I love your money saving tips; especially the one about taking the time to consider all of your flight options. My husband and I really want to take our kids to Disney World, but we want to make sure we plan an affordable vacation. I might even see if there is a travel agency that can help me consider all my options.

J.C.

We went to Disney last year at the end of Oct- beginning of Nov. We needed it to be as cheap as possible, so we cashed in airline miles, booked an All-Star resort hotel for all the Disney resort perks, but bought our tickets at Undercover Tourist where we got 5 days for the price of 4. I can’t emphasize enough how much money you can save just by doing little things like keeping groceries in your mini-fridge and going to Disney during off-peak times of year. We got to experience Halloween AND Christmas decorations while we were there, and the kids had a blast!

Lainie

Hooray! I am such a WDW Prep nerd that I was actually in the middle of compiling these myself. You just saved me some time! I am still listening to back episodes, though 😉 Thanks for all you do- trip is in two weeks!

Whooo! Have a great trip!

Faylinn

Next month, I will be going to Disney World with my friends so that we can attend the Halloween party. Because of that, I really appreciate you mentioning how we can enter the park at 4:00 and get FastPasses for that time. However, do you know whether or not a FastPass during that time period is any more expensive than any other day?

FastPasses are free, so they’re the same price. 🙂

LaTisha Osborne

Thanks so much for publishing this! I have read thousands of blog pages (and book pages) about disney and I never fail to find a new helpful tip. I didn’t know I could make FP+ reservations for the day we are only attending MNSSHP. Thanks for including that tip!

wpDiscuz
Animal Kingdom Epcot Hollywood Studios Magic Kingdom
The pros and cons of all Animal Kingdom restaurants
Rivers of Light viewing advice
Pros and cons of every Hollywood Studios restaurant
Planning Process Overview Step 1: Pick a Date Step 2: Lodging Step 3: Make a daily plan Step 4: Dining Step 5: Park Touring Step 6: Extra Magic
How to tour Disney World resorts (even if you’re not staying there)
A review of Shades of Green Resort
How to snag hard-to-get dining reservations at Disney World
Babies and toddlers Characters General Reference Group travel Luxury Saving Money Special needs Technology Transportation
WDW Prep Infographic Download Center
Time-saving shortcut paths at Disney World
The best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World