Disney World is the most magical place on Earth – however it may arguably be the most expensive and busiest theme park on earth too. I love everything Disney and I especially love when I have the opportunity to visit the Disney World park in Orlando. For many people Disney World is far distanced dream behind barriers of cost, distance, and time. I truly wish I had the power to enable everyone to experience the magic of Disney World; even at 21 years old, after visiting Disney half a dozen times, the magic never wears off.
My hope in writing today’s post is that I may be able to help make Disney World a more realistically possibility for many people by eliminating some cost and time barriers. I’ve put together some of my best tips and tricks to help you “hack” Disney World and save yourself some time and money!
Get Fast Passes Ahead of Time
As early as 60 days before your trip you can book Fast Passes online for rides and character meetings. Get connected to the Disney Experience website and book your Fast Passes as soon as the 60-day mark rolls around. Pick your experiences carefully because you’ll only be able to book three Fast Passes at a time.
Book Dining Reservations Early
If you’re planning to dine at one of the restaurants in the theme parks, be sure to make reservations early on. Popular restaurants such as the Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom, will sell out months in advance. If there’s a certain place you know you’ll want to eat at, book it as soon as you plan your trip. It’s also a good idea to look into the specific menus at the restaurants just to be sure you’ll actually enjoy the food and can work around any allergies or dietary restrictions.
Especially as a first time visitor to Disney World, it can be tempting to stay off of the resort to save money. I can honestly say that it is not worth it and the extra money you’ll pay to stay on site will make a huge difference in your trip. Staying on-site means you can access “extra magic hours” meaning you can enter the park before it opens to the general public and stay after it closes. By staying on-site you’ll also have access to Disney’s Magic Express that transports you and your luggage to and from your Disney resort. This makes the travelling process that much smoother and means you can start enjoying your vacation sooner.
Get there early
As a general rule of thumb, you want to get to the park as early as you possibly can. The perfect time to arrive at the theme parks is in the morning before cast members “drop the rope” officially opening the park. The lines will be shorter for rides and character meetings, the streets will be more empty for photos and exploring, and the weather will be cooler and less humid.
Shorter lines during meal times and fireworks
Another way you can avoid long lines without waking up at the crack of dawn is to try to get on rides around meal times or during the fireworks show. Around 5pm-7pm a lot of people will be eating dinner which will make the lines for rides and character meetings a lot shorter. And when 10pm rolls around almost everyone is watching the famous fireworks show. I wouldn’t recommend missing the fireworks show because it truly is incredible, but if it’s the only time you can snag a spot on your favourite ride, it might be worth the trade.
You can bring your own food and water into the park
This is something that I was unaware of the first few times I went to Disney World, but when Logan and I visited this summer I made a point to actually investigate the rules surrounding food and drinks as we were on a budget and didn’t want to spend enormous amounts of money on food while in the parks. You are allowed to bring as much outside food and drink into the park as you want. Logan and I brought both of our 40 oz. Hydroflask’s and a handful of snacks to munch on throughout the day.
If you’re planning on hitting all four parks, get the Park Hopper Pass. It’s the easiest and most affordable way to travel between parks while visiting Disney World. The Park Hopper pass allows you to visit more than one theme park in one day. This is especially helpful if you’ve only got a few vacation days and want to make the most of your time there. Personally, I think that Epcot and Animal Kingdom are parks that don’t need an entire day and can be combined into one day. This will also enable you to revisit any favourite theme parks that you really enjoyed.
The memory maker is a great investment if you’re going to be visiting all the theme parks over a couple days. The memory maker gives you access to every single photo taken of you and your family in the Disney World theme parks. If you’re only visiting one park you may not get enough photos to make the investment worthwhile, but if you’re visiting several parks over a few days you can easily accumulate hundreds of photos and really get your bang for your buck.