A trip to Disney World in Orlando can be one of two things – a dream come true or a complete nightmare. Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do before, during, and after your trip to ensure things sun smoothly from start to finish. Check out the following 12 do’s and don’ts when it comes to enjoying a Disney vacation.
12. Get a Guide
Hiring an official Disney guide may cost you a few extra dollars but it is well worth the investment – especially if you are traveling with a large group of people. Your guide will be responsible for making your dinner reservations, planning your itinerary, and even making sure you get those coveted fast passes. Guides cost around $175 per hour and have a six hour minimum. Sure, the price is steep – but one guide will serve a group of up to 10 people. Split the cost amongst the adults and you’re well on your way to a more relaxing vacation experience.
11. You Don’t Need a Room with a View
First of all, there really aren’t many places in Disney that don’t have a decent view. That said, if you pay extra for a “view” you’ll really only end up paying for something you never get to see. You will, after all, be spending most of your time in the surrounding parks.
10. Make a Plan
We don’t recommend taking a child under the age of 5 to Disney – what’s he really going to remember? What we do recommend, though, is making a plan of attack in advance no matter how old your kids are. There’s nothing worse than standing in a crowded theme park with a screaming child as you try to figure out what to do next. Get a map or, if you’re willing to invest about $25, let Tour Guide Mike help you plan your itinerary before you even leave for your trip.
9. Rent a House
Maybe Disney isn’t the only stop on your itinerary. Maybe staying in a hotel seems like a chore with the family in tow. You might, especially if traveling with a group, want to consider renting a house or condo within a few miles of Disney property instead. There are a number of real estate agents, like Tropical Palms and All Star Vacation Homes, you can choose from and you can pay rates as low as $85 per night for a full house with a private pool.
8. Grab a Fastpass
The Fastpass is Disney’s ingenious ride reservation system. Instead of standing in line for some of the most popular rides you can get a time-stamped ticket that will tell you in which hour long window of time you should return. When you come back you can get into the separate Fastpass line – it’ll be the one that’s actually moving.
7. Stay Away from Disney’s Budget Resorts
Disney has a couple of resort properties that offer “budget” prices when compared to their other resorts. The problem is that these resorts are always incredibly crowded – incredibly during school breaks when gaggles of teenagers are traveling the country together. Either opt for a different resort or check out some of the other cheap hotels in Orlando. They’ll be just as close to (or far from) the parks as the other Disney budget hotels.
6. Don’t Pay for Extras You Can’t Use
The cost of a ticket to get into any of the Disney Theme Parks is pretty high – averaging around $65 for kids and $75 for teens and adults. Look at your itinerary carefully and consider whether or not you really need to buy extra water park or show tickets. You already have access to 4 parks – will you have time for what you’ve already paid for if you spring for extras? Consider the length of your stay when making this decision.
5. Reserve Your Space in a Character Breakfast
Simply put, there’s nothing as incredible as the look on your child’s face when his pancake breakfast is interrupted by a visit from Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or any of the other incredible Disney characters. Your kids are guaranteed to get one-on-one time with their favorite characters – something you can’t guarantee in the parks.
4. Forget About Discounted Park Tickets
Disney rarely discounts the cost of their park passes, even if you pay for them in advance. Ticket brokers and travel agents who claim they are getting you a deal are only going to save you a few dollars on the passes themselves. If you’re not booking your entire vacation as a package, don’t waste your time looking for discounted park passes.
3. Avoid Eating in Disney during Lunch Hours
Disney restaurants and snack stands are usually mobbed between the hours of 12 noon and 2pm – the times when everyone in the park decides they want to eat. Try to grab a simple snack during those hours and instead opt for a late lunch or early dinner. You’ll be able to spend your time enjoying the attractions instead of wasting it standing in line.
2. Stay in a Disney Resort
If you really want to enjoy all that Disney has to offer than you simply must book your stay in one of Disney’s eight incredible resort hotels. They’re all comfortable and sport incredible themes. You can park for free if you have your own car or take the free shuttle services to the parks. By the way – visitors staying in Disney resorts earn early entry into a different theme park each day.
1. Rent a Car
If you plan on visiting other area attractions, like Universal or SeaWorld, you should definitely rent a car. The cost of a car is approximately $35 per day – the same you would spend if you hailed a taxi both ways. Renting a car gives you greater flexibility – especially important if you’re traveling with young children.
Your family trip to Disney won’t be the least expensive trip you’ll ever take but it will be one of the most memorable. Keep these tips in mind as you plan and your vacation will take place without a hitch!