Tips on Going to Disney World

Updated on August 02, 2011
P.G. asks from Frisco, TX
12 answers

We are finally taking a family vacation to Disney World. Our youngest is 7. I know there are plenty of "must see" things there, but what I really want to know are your tips and tricks for a stress free trip. Did you pack a cooler for the park? Did you bring an extra bag and what was in it? Did you eat at a certain time to avoid long lines? What are the inside secrets to a happy vacation that you would do again? I want to enjoy my time too.

Also: We are staying at the Orange Lake Resort close to the park

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answers from Cleveland on

This is what we did and I don't know if it would work for you. We let the kids swim in the morning, went back to the room and had lunch (we stayed at a place called Orange Lake) and went to the parks about 2:00 or 2:30. We missed the extreme heat and the kids weren't so worn out at the end of the day. We saw everything we wanted to see. Good luck, it's a blast!!

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answers from Killeen on

We just went last April. Our four kids were 7-11 at the time. I dont know if you are staying on property but the biggest stress saver for us was having the dining plan. We planned all our sit down meals advance and the kids had plenty of snacks. I highly reccomend it!

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answers from Detroit on

Buy a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - they come out with a new edition every year and it's been invaluable to us time and time again. Their "touring plans" that help minimize waiting in lines really do work. Utilizing Fast Passes really helps too - these are tickets for attractions that you pick up ahead of time and then return at the time frame on the ticket to get into the Fast Pass line (and basically avoid the long long main waiting line...and they do not cost anything extra). You can bring snacks, sandwhiches and water into the park to help save money and avoid waiting in lines more. What worked for us was getting to the park when they first opened, knowing what we should make a priority, and hitting the major attractions first before long lines form (again, Unofficial Guide to Disney is great for this). Then later when it starts getting more crowded, heading back to our room for a break, swim in the pool, take a nap, etc. Then going back in the evening more rested up. It helps sometimes to have more than 1 day scheduled for each park, depending on what you want to see, so you can always hit the things you missed the first time around. We really liked Disney Photopass - it worked great for us, because we were able to get pics of all of us in front of the castle, etc. without handing over our camera and they all got saved onto a card. Later you can purchase a CD with all the pics on it and use that to get whatever prints you want for much less money than paying them for prints.

We've been there late Jan as well as mid to late Feb and it wasn't too bad crowd-wise at all...some schools have winter break the same week as President's Day and it can be more crowded then, but the weather was great - sunny and warm without being crazy hot and humid.

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answers from Dallas on

We just got back from a week there, and I think it all depends on your kids. We stayed on property, and just spent the first day exploring the hotel and pools. The second day we did Magic Kindgdom - my kids are 5 and 7, and we went at their pace. The lines weren't actually bad at all for the kiddie rides, and my kids are too small to go on the larger ones, so that wasn't an issue. Take advantage of the fast passes if you can, they keep you from having to stand in line for an hour - you just use your park tickets to get them, then come back in the assigned time frame. The only ride we had to do it for at MK was the Toy Story ride, but it would work well for the bigger rides as well. Plan for $10/person/meal if you eat in the park. The kids get two sides with their meals, so they will fill up (and it's stuff like apple slices, grapes, carrots). It was much more convient to eat in the park than to bring a cooler, but got expensive quickly. I kinda had a heart attack everytime we ate :p You just need to figure out which works best for you. Wednesday we went to downtown Disney - there's an arcade there that has 3-d adventure rides which are a lot of fun, and it's a cool place to just hang out. Some great restaurants too. We spent Thursday at Animal Kingdom - if your kids like animals, they will love it. There are also some really neat shows you don't want to miss - the bird show, Nemo the musical, and the Lion King Experience. Plus, if you're there in summer, it will get you out of the heat. Again, go at your kid's pace. If you want to do a water park, I suggest Typhoon Lagoon - it's less crowded and more kid friendly. Go early to get a spot in the shade though - the sand is scortching!
Now to the real tips.... we brought two bags into the parks with us. I have an oversized purse that we put a first aid kit in, tylenol, chewable pepto, as well as neosporin, itch cream, bandaids and moleskin. Luckily, we didn't really need it, but it was reassuring to have. I also carried a couple of full water bottles (there are plenty of fountains at the park to refill), Noxema face wipes, and park maps. That's about all I took in that bag. DH took one of those drawstring backpacks with a hand towel and sunscreen. He also had one of those watertight containers that's just big enough for park tickets, id, and the bank card and kept it around his neck. We used this to store fast passes in too to make sure they didn't get lost. We did lose the drawstring bag at one point in MK but someone turned it in.
If you're staying somewhere laundry facilities are available, bring a roll of quarters, some Purell 3-1 sheets, and pack light. It's much, much easier to keep track of everything when you don't have much. Also, those purell sheets are wonderful - throw one in the washer, transfer with it to the dryer, and clothes come out clean and lightly scented.
If you're staying at a resort, get the refillable mugs the first day and learn where the refill stations are - they aren't good in the parks but make it easy to go grab a coffee or lemonaid or coke products. They even had GOOD teabags available at our resort.
For us, NOT planning the days at the parks and just exploring worked well, but it wouldn't work with older children who HAD to ride certain rides. The last time my IL's went with DH and BIL as teens, they planned out the day to the second to take advantage of everything they wanted to do and it worked for them.
Try to be in tune with your kids. If they are cranky, try to figure out why. Tired? Hungry? Dehydrated? Over-excited? A well timed snack break or ride on a train for tired feet made all the difference to us, but they were having trouble articulating their needs so it took extra patience to figure out what the best solution was. I know that sounds so basic, but with all the excitement it seemed easy for them to get out of sorts but not really know why.
Keeping my kids happy made the vacation so much fun. If they were relaxed and happy, so was I. I found I personally didn't really need much to make it an enjoyable, happy time. I did go to the spa the day before we left to get in some me time though - I think that went a long way toward me not feeling cranky that I didn't get any time to myself.
Have fun and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

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answers from Dallas on

Read the book the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. We went in June of 2008. I was 28 weeks pregnant and had a 5 year old and 7 year old. We followed that book and we one step ahead of the crowd. We did bring snacks and reusable water bottles (2 holds about 1/2 gallon and smaller ones for the kids). We packed a bag with snacks, ponchos, water, camera. We stayed at a Disney hotel and were on the Disney dinig plan. I really liked it for the sit-down meals. You need to plan those a few months ahead of time. We would leave the parks everyday around 2-3 to go and rest and return for dinner around 5-6 (all were scheduled in advance). We got the parks before they opened. We took one day to sleep in a bit and swim at the hotel and went to the park in the afternoon. Also for breakfast I brought things like muffins and cereal from home (we flew) and bought milk there.

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answers from Miami on

You can go on the dinning plan that allows one snack a day for while your there. Stay in the park if you can. Leave before the afternoon parade and relax in the rooms or pool before going back in the evening. Make you dining plan now. Decide which fast passes you want now. They do not like coolers. What time of the year are you going? in the cheapy rooms bring a cooler as there isnt a fridge and stock it with cereal and milk. Rooms with fridges just stack it with cereal and milk.



answers from Dallas on

Went to Disney World twice, and just a few weeks ago we went to Disneyland. My youngest is 4 1/2. I'm not a big fan of too tight a schedule for vacations (our regular life is nothing but a schedule so we all need a break!), but for Disney you definitely need to plan a few things. First, you have to decide what are the most important things you want to do, see, etc. The Disneyland and DisneyWorld websites are a wealth of information. For us, it was having a princess character meal for my 4 year old; you have to book most character meals at least 60 days in advance. We also wanted to see the World of Color show (this is not at DisneyWorld) and we wanted the best view available which required getting tickets (free, but limited availability); so we reserved a dinner package which included premium viewing tickets; again, you have to make the reservation a couple of months in advance. The park was busy but Disney is very efficient so for most attractions/rides we waited 30 minutes or less. For those with longer lines we made a conscious decision not to spend our entire vacation waiting in lines. As for what I carried into the park . . . honestly, not much! Some hand wipes, sunscreen and water, that was about it. But the weather was perfect the whole time so that made it easy; if the prediction is for rain, etc. then you'll want to bring rain ponchos. We stayed off-property which saved us at least $1,000, and in Anaheim there is a shuttle service to/from the park that runs about every 20 minutes; I can't remember if something similar is offered for DisneyWorld but the info will definitely be on their website. The hotel offered a free hot buffet breakfast every morning so that saved us money. And one day we left the park in late afternoon and went to a local restaurant which saved as a few $$. And we also took a break from the parks and headed to the beach one day.

The first day we were moving at high speed, but after that we just went at a leisurely pace. You shouldn't feel obligated to do and see everything. Just have fun!


answers from Dallas on

Don't over analyze everything, it can get overwhelming. We've been about 8 times.

I deal directly with the airlines and the Disney website. I don't do the discounters because you never know if something may go wrong and then you are stuck.

We always stay at the Polynesian resort, no where else. I could stay there and never go to a Disney park and be completely happy! It is on the monorail line, easy access to MK. You can take the monorail or boat taxi to MK. We LOVE that place. Yes, it is pricey but worth it.

Chef Mickey at the Contemporary is a good character meal, OHana at the Polynesian is a good character breakfast, the original Luau at Polynesian is good.

We love the safari at Animal Kingdom. Last time we had a private safari and it was awesome, it went off the path a bit and we got some great shots.

We prefer NOT to take the free transportation from the airport because it is a shuttle service and you don't know how crowded it will be, what stop you will be etc. We get a private cab (about $80) each way. Straight shot is about an hour.

We rented strollers at the park if needed, I did not take a lot of extra with me.

Don't miss the daily parade and nightly fireworks.

Enjoy yourself and your children will have a blast as well...



answers from Dallas on

We went a few years ago. And it was so fun. We did take a back pack with snacks and a few drinks. You don't want to take too many because they are heavey. One thing we did is the days we had character dinners or lunches we planned our day around the park that was in or near. If you are staying on property it's much easier. You didn't say if you were or not. Cause if you do you don't have to drive anywhere once you are there. If we didn't have spacific reservations we just ate when we were hungry. The one park that I would sugest going to early in the moring is Animal Kingdom if you want to go on the Sifari which my boys love. That's when its cool and more animals are out. The later it gets the less you will see. Also be prepaired for rain most days they have what they call sun showers most times when we where there we just put on ponchoes and kept going. Most lines where short then. There were only a few times we had to actually stop cause it was poring. They do sell ponchoes there. And they are not unresonably priced either.
With the kids when they get tired just rest.

Not sure if any of this helped but good luck and God Bless!!!



answers from New York on

We went in 2008.

The best thing we did was buy a souvenier cup at the restaurant in the hotel. With the cup you could get free refrills in the hotel at anytime. (we never ate at the hotel restaurant). Each morning I would get an iced tea which I would drink while waiting for the shuttle, then put the empty cup in the backpack. I'd use a drinking fountain to fill it with water. (note: it was rare to find a drinking fountain with cold water)

Bring a backpack into the park with you. Make sure you have rain pounchos, it's not uncommon to have a passing rain shower. Also pack snacks in the backpack, that way you don't have to wait in line and listen to the kids whine if they're hungry. I would pack a small (6 pack size cooler). Since there is a security line for bags, which takes longer to get through, Dad would wait in that line, while the girls and I would go ahead and make a stop at the ladies room.

We're not big breakfast eaters. So we had breakfast in our room each morning. For a few extra $$ a day, you can get a mini fridge in your room. In the back of the gift shop was a mini convenience store where you could purchase bread, bagels, juice, milk, etc.

Our hotel keys and admission cards were in the form of a credit card. We poked a hole in it and attached it to a lanyard and wore it arround our necks all day. That way I didn't worry about someone locking themselves out of the room. Our girls are older so we'd let them go to the pool together, which we could see from our room.

Disney is very loud (both noice and visually - too many bright colors). Be sure to schedule in some quiet time and relaxing time.

You will do a lot of walking. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes.

Have a great vacation!


answers from Dallas on

Whatever you do, get the meal plan. I don't know what your family budget is but the meal plan was absolutely worth it out of the whole trip. We got breakfast at the resort we stayed in (wilderness lodge) and lunch was at any place in any of the parks that fell within our lunch mealplan and dinner every night was around 7 or 8 and my husband chose the place but they all fell within our meal plan. We looked at the receipts from every dinner and had we not gotten the meal plan, every dinner would have been 100 nightly for two adults and two children. We also stayed at the resort because of the close proximity to the parks, we took the park shuttle everywhere. That was really convenient. Best advice is to get excellent walking shoes and lots of sunscreen. I wouldnt recommend a cooler only because with all the walking you will do, you will be tired of carrying or pulling it. We would go to the parks at 10am and would not leave until after the fireworks at 9 or 10 at night. You have to see fantasmic, best show ever and make sure you see the parade of lights-electronica I want to say. It's at the magic kingdom. I wouldn't spend all day at animal kingdom because it's not a whole lot to do. We lost valuable time there that we could used at epcot exploring all of the countries. If and when you go to epcot, visit the Aztec looking building, the restaurant in there is fantastic and without reservations, it takes a long time to be seated. It's a whole village inside the building, very pretty. Sorry so long, I have tons more but I'll let the other ladies share some. Have fun, I know we sure did.



answers from Boston on

When I took my daughter, her teacher let me borrow a "Take the Kids to Disney" book. It was the best thing ever! It had all the tips and tricks in it. I highly recommend going to your local bookstore and investing in a current one. Absolutely worth the money.
Oh, and if you haven't decided on a date yet, We went the first week of January. The weather was perfect, and the crowds all left after Christmas. I think the longest line we waited in was 15 or 20 minutes. The downside to that though is the parks do have shorter hours, but with shorter lines, I think it works out even.

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