Disney World: love it or hate it, you have to marvel at all it offers. As a child, I loved Disney and as an adult I still love it in my 30s. What’s not to love? It’s a break from reality and a chance to be carefree. Drinking “around the world” in Epcot, anyone? If you’ve been to Disney World, you know how daunting it can be with so many things to do. If you’ve never been to Disney World, I’m here to make it easy for you. There are so many articles out there that will get into the nitty gritty of crazy things like what order to ride certain rides in order to minimize your wait time and how to score a dinner with Mickey. I ain't that cray - just a low key person looking to give some good rule of thumb tips!
Where to Stay
Hotels at the parks can be very pricey and while there are many options outside the parks, I don’t recommend staying at them for a few reasons. Sure, these hotels may be super appealing because of their lower rates and shuttle services to the parks, however there are a few things to note.
First of all, if these hotels are all that fit in your budget, then they are a fine option! If, however, you are able to avoid it, then do. Now back to that advertised shuttle service. More often then not, the shuttles run early in the morning or midday. If you’ve been out having fun the night before, the last thing you want to do is get up super early to hop on a bus. The inconvenient times hold true for the evening hours as well. Planning on dinner and some drinks in Epcot? You’re going to miss the last bus. Maybe it’s me, but I prefer to be on my own schedule. The money you’ll spend in Uber, taxis, or a car rental will make this feel like an unwise choice from the get go. Part of the fun of Disney is riding their buses, hoping on and off seamlessly pretty much wherever you need to go. Stay off property and you miss this experience and run the risk of sitting in the (very bad) rush hour Orlando traffic.
Get Tech & Avoid the Long Lines
There’s no fun in waiting in long lines for rides. With the introduction of the MagicBands (bracelets that basically hold all of your information and can be scanned as your room key, payment, park passes, etc.) you can schedule up to three FastPasses per day per park. This means you’re given a one-hour window in which you can skip the line at the rides of your choosing. It’s a convenient tool which you can begin booking up to 30 days in advance and up to 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel (another bonus to stay on park property!).
As a general rule of thumb, you should keep your phone in your pocket during your stay. The emails can wait! The only reasons, however, to take your phone out are to snap photos and to reference the My Disney Experience mobile app. You’ll quickly be on your way to seeing what wait times at certain attractions are running, making dining reservations, and mapping out your day.
Cover a lot of Ground
Generally, I’m of the mindset that vacations should be planned out minimally, leaving room for some ad-libbing, but with Disney being such a large place to tackle, I recommend planning out the majority of your stay. Pick a park a day (Magic Kingdom on your first day, Animal Kingdom on your second, and so on and so forth) and keep your final day open to revisit any of the places that you had the most fun in. Park tickets are super expensive and with news recently coming out that ticket prices went up again, it can be daunting to know what kind of passes make sense. Spend a little more for the Park Hopper Pass. This will allow you to visit multiple parks in one day (if you must) and allow you to feel a little more flexible. Spending the day at Hollywood Studios but want to have dinner in France at Epcot? Go for it!
With so much to do, there are really so many ways to experience Disney World. See it through the eyes of a kid or of an adult – it really doesn’t matter. The beauty of it being such a large place is that you can come back time again and always see new things. Let your inner child come out at any age!
This article originally appeared in The Showcase Magazine.