Disney Tips to make your vacay more magical and less sucky

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I am a Disney person. No matter how messed up your life is, for at least the first few minutes when you’re walking down Main Street in Magic Kingdom you can’t help but be optimistic. I mean I’m not gonna lie about how it’s going to be 100% unicorny rainbows the whole time you’re there. Because kids are like ridiculous experts when it comes to throwing tantrums and being whiny, especially when you’ve spent gazillions of dollars to have a good time. But I am gonna give you a few pointers on how to make your trip a little more magical


and a little less sucky.


Yup, I’ve been to Disney three times in the past six years which makes me an expert. Not really, but more than someone who’s only been there two times in the past six years. So here goes. Ten (maybe more, maybe less depending on how many I come up with) things I figured out when I schlepped escorted my two little rugrats to Disney World:

1. If your kids are little and you’re debating whether to pull them out of school or go during a holiday break, here’s a question. Do you like standing in line? If your answer is yes, then absolutely you should go during a holiday break and pay to stand on line allllll day long? What’s that? But you’re scared if you pull your kid out of school for two days that he might miss Mrs. Crabapple’s lesson and he’ll never learn that 2+2=4. He can always come back and learn math, but you only have a few years to teach your kid how awesome you are before they become teenagers and realize the truth.

2. Speaking of gazillions of dollars, wanna know an awesome way to pay for your vacation? Start a swear jar. The Sh word= a nickel, the F word= a dime, and before you know it, the jar has enough money to send the family to Disney. And you can feel extra awesome because you totally earned it.


3. Once upon a time there was a really stoopid mom who accidentally took her daughter on a scary ride at Disney World and her daughter shat a brick and wouldn’t go on any other rides for the rest of the day so basically they paid $300 to sit on a bench and eat churros. Yup, that was me. So the next time we went to Disney I got a brain transplant first so I’d be smarter, and before our trip I took my kids somewhere else first. YouTube. Yup, there’s this brilliant company on YouTube called Theme Park Review who takes all these awesome POV videos of rides so you can let your kids check them out ahead of time and tell you which ones they want to go on and which ones will scare them to death. At first I was like, awwww, but that takes some of the magic out of it. And then I remembered our experience on the Teacups ride and I realized noooooo, THAT took the magic out of Disney.


4. So in the real world, a stack of three pancakes costs what? Like $7? Okay, now instead of stacking them, pour them on a griddle in Orlando and forget to space them out enough so they run together and look like Mickey Mouse, and suddenly they become like $30. So here’s what I do. I pack a couple of boxes of granola bars in my luggage and we eat breakfast for free every morning. Plus, we don’t have to waste time on breakfast so I can set the alarm for the crack of dawn and not the ass crack of dawn.

5. And speaking of food, I have to go get some. Wait, no, that wasn’t what I was going to say. Shoot, are there chocolate stains on this post now? But I digress. But at least it’s a chocolate digression, right? Anyways, speaking of food, we also brought along our own lunches every day. Yeah, you totally feel like you’re doing something illegal when they check your bag on the way into the park, but seriously, they’re looking for bombs and guns. “Stand back everyone, she has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it’s going to blow,” said no bag-checker ever.

6. And if you think I’m just too cheap to spend money at Disney, you’re wrong. Because believe it or not, I am going to recommend that as long as you don’t have to take money out of your kid’s 529 plan, stay in a Disney resort. ‘Cuz here’s the thing. If everything goes right on your trip, it doesn’t matter where the heck you stay. But if there are any glitches, a Disney resort can fix stuff like no one else. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice Ramada Inn at the end of the day, but when our luggage gets lost and our Disney Magic Bands were in it, free Folgers doesn’t do jack.

7. While you are in Orlando go to the T-Rex Restaurant in Downtown Disney and order the yummy cotton candy martini drink. After you drink it, your teeth will feel like they are wearing a luxurious fur coat and it will be awwwwwwesome. And you won’t even notice that your kids are scared and screaming their heads off when the dinosaurs come to life every fifteen minutes.


8. Okay, if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda gal, put on some different pants because when you go to Disney, you can start booking stuff 180 days in advance. I kid you not. I am not exaggerating like I often do. I don’t know where the heck I’m having breakfast THIS Saturday, but I can tell you that in five months on January 16 I will be eating a very overpriced breakfast with Cinderella and all of her princess friends at 9:32 AM. AND you can book rides like 60 days out (IF you are staying in a Disney Resort Hotel, 30 if you are not). So I will also know that on January 16 at 10:32 AM I’ll be barfing my pancakes up on Thunder Mountain Railroad. Who wants to sit in front of Mommy? Barrrrffffff. That’s karma for waking me up too early this morning.


9. To push a stroller or not to push a stroller, that is the question. Don’t worry, if you decide not to bring a stroller to the park and you realize you made a BIG stupid mistake, you can always rent one at Disney. For a LOT of money. $27-$31 a day for a double stroller. Which is hysterical because double umbrella strollers cost like $60 to BUY and KEEP forevvvver. And yeah, you could just rent a single. But that’s basically like telling your kids that one of them doesn’t get to ride the awesome umbrella stroller ride. And here’s the thing, Disney is a HUGE place. I mean no, you can’t use your stroller when you’re standing in It’s A Long Line for It’s A Small World, but you can use it when you’re at Epcot and you desperately need a beer in Germany on the other side of the park, or when the monorail drops you off two-hundred yards from the gate and thousands of families are stampeding each other to get into the park before anyone else. So yes, bring your stroller. Just don’t plan to leave anything valuable in it because it will sit in a parking lot for strollers half the day. I kid you not, there are special stroller parking lots.

10. Remember how earlier I talked about how I got a brain transplant. Here’s something really dumb I used to say before I had it. “I refuse to change diapers at Disney. I am not taking my kids there until they are both potty-trained.” And then one day a light bulb went off in my head and I was like, duhhh, diapers are AWESOME. Because when you’ve been standing in line for 42 minutes and you’re almost at the front and your kid says I have to tinkle, the correct answer is not, “Okay, can you hold it for 17 more minutes?” The correct answer is, “Great, go in your diaper and marinate because a little urine won’t kill you and we can change it when the ride is over.” Seriously, my whole family of four wore diapers so we never had to stop to pee all day long. Not really, but I wish.

11. Okie dokie, I’m already past #10 and my bladder is the size of a lima bean so I have to go, but here are a few last minute thoughts. Pack a princess dress so you don’t have to pay 9 million dollars for a new one because your daughter is broken-hearted when she sees all the other kiddos wearing them. Bring wipes because even if you don’t eat sticky stuff, you will most likely sit in sticky stuff. Carry hand sanitizer because I have a theory that every single inch of Disney has at one time been touched by throw-up. Bring your patience because when kids hit their highest highs on the rides, they also hit their lowest lows on the pavement. If your kids are getting hungry, go to lunch EARLY and not at noon when the whole entire park goes and the line to get hamburgers is as long as the line to meet Anna and Elsa. Don’t blow your whole load on a nice hotel room that you will never be in except for when you’re sleeping or sitting in the bathroom trying to watch movies on mute because your kiddos are sleeping. Call Disney or a Disney travel agent to make reservations and don’t just book stuff on Disney.com without help because that’s what I did and I didn’t realize real live people can actually help you get better deals and talking to real live people is actual kinda nice. And don’t forget about the cotton candy martini. Seriously, that was the most important tip on this whole list.


If you have any awesome Disney tips, feel free to put them in the comments section. And if you think this page is kinda sorta funnyish, don’t forget to subscribe!

There are 56 comments for this article
  1. Honest Mom at 10:28 am

    OMG. Best Disney post EVER. Love the picture of your son crying and your hubs and Mickey beaming. Classic.

    YES to all these tips! Especially the food ones.

    We didn’t have a double strolled to bring so we rented our double stroller from KingdomStrollers.com and it was awesome. They dropped it off at our hotel and picked it up. AND we got a case of water delivered by them, too. I mean, it was like $8 for a freaking case of water, but that’s better than paying $3 per bottle of water in the park, you know? We always needed water in and out of the hotel room.

    Thank you for the Theme Park Review tip!!! I need to show that to my kiddo before we go because the freaking WINNIE THE POOH ride freaked her out since it was dark. Yeesh.

      • BabySideburns at 10:30 am

        You know, because “my” is a bad word. Ha ha. That tip about water is AWESOME! And yes, we skipped the Winnie the Pooh ride this last time because the thunder scared the crap out of my daughter.

  2. mara H. at 10:43 am

    I stock up on Disney stuff (jewelry, journals for autograph books and coloring things, etc.) and glow bracelets from the Target $1 and $2.50 bin and dollar store and bubble necklaces. I hand out stuff when kids are waiting in line or waiting for parade then they don’t harass me for toys and $15 light up minnie mouses and bubble guns. Also, spring for a couple of the spray water fans from Walgreens/walmart – they are only $5 and they are $15-$25 at Disney. Bring extra batteries. When kids start to overheat they can spray themselves silly. Do a character meal and skip waiting in line to meet them and bring your kid’s own costume to wear. The food is actually good and all of the characters come to your table to sign autographs and take pictures and it is relaxing and fun and then your kiddos don’t bug you to stop and see every character along the way and you can spend your time on the rides. Don’t tell your kids about every single ride/parade if they haven’t been before- that way they won’t be disappointed if you don’t get to do/see something. There is a huge Walmart in Orlando. They have aisles and aisles of reasonably priced Disney things from T-shirts to journals and key chains. I stock up on snack food and baggies and bananas and oatmeal for breakfast at the hotel in the AM and snacks at the park during the day and water. You are allowed to bring food to the park. Bring your own stroller or rent in Orlando! When your kid falls asleep and you have to carry him/her while waiting in line for monorail and then the tram to your car you will wish you had it. You must turn in rented park strollers before leaving the park.

  3. Jade at 10:46 am

    The number one Disney tip that we learned by pure coincidence…go to DisneyLAND with small children and save DisneyWorld for when they get big enough to deal (with everything) better. Disneyland is so pedestrian and easy for little guys. We went in March with a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old while in CA visiting friends. Stayed in a Disney hotel that was ATTACHED to the park with a private entrance. AMAZING (i like CAPS, sue me) and when my son peed his pants by accident while napping in the stroller it took 7.5 minutes to get back to the room to change him. Seriously, it was awesome.

  4. mara H. at 10:47 am

    OH! And if you are a AAA member- I think you can get a diamond parking pass if you buy 5 days worth of tickets to WDW. This is not free parking but it is closer parking. At Epcot, we were right up front with the handicapped parking. At WDW we were able to skip the tram and go straight to the monorail (which was nice when you have your own stroller bigger than a single umbrella).

  5. Stacy Peios at 10:48 am

    Orlando Stroller Rental was great. Their strollers were so easy to push around especially with two kids in them, they fit all through the shops and they came with a cooler and rain cover. They fold in two seconds without having to take everything out of it and if you are worried about it getting stolen while you are on a ride or at a show, you can take a wheel off and take it with you. They deliver and pick it up from your hotel too. Very affordable and I can’t say anything bad about them!

  6. Kelly Johnskn at 10:50 am

    Such great timing for your advice, BS! We leav Wednesday for my 6-year-old’ first Disney trip!

  7. mara H. at 10:50 am

    Last thing…. for WDW, buy the photo CD BEFORE you go – it is cheaper! Then make sure you photo pass the heck out of the parks and you will have some great pics!

  8. melissa at 10:51 am

    I made the mistake of bringing my stupid $500 BOB stroller to Disneyland, and besides being parinoid about getting stroller jacked, then you park them next to 1,000 other strollers and you can’t find it. I say tag it like luggage with a giant flouresnt pink (princess) bow so it can be found. We also brought our own $25 Jc Penney princess dress, it was truly magical on our wallets 🙂

  9. Alexis at 10:54 am

    We haven’t taken the peanuts to Disney yet because I’m the world’s meanest Mom.

    That and because it seems that to do Disney right you need to go to Disney Graduate School and learn how to master the Art of Disney. My neighbor was talking about making meal reservations 6 months ahead of time. Just thinking about that gave me an unsightly rash. I can hardly muster enough enthusiasm to get organized for next weekend, how am I supposed to research/plan for a vacation we’ll take next winter?

    So my guys are 5/7 and I KNOW these are probably the best years to go. Should I just suck it up and make it happen? Or do I risk my kids will be in therapy talking about how I didn’t love them enough to take them to Disney?

    • Amy at 12:44 pm

      Disney travel agents are a huge help with this! They can do everything for you, are a wealth of knowledge and don’t cost anything to you. (Disney pays them) there are tons out there, but a friend of mine runs one and she is fantastic! Her name is Robin Kellogg and she works for Off to Neverland travel. She is on face book. It can be intimidating the first time you go, but using a knowledgeable travel agent can definitely take the edge off and allow you to focus on making amazing memories with your family 🙂

      • Alexis at 11:08 am

        Ok Ok – if I can get a kindly travel agent to do the hard mental lifting for me maybe we’ll do it. Yes, going while the magic is real would be cool. And I would be happy to pull them out of school to avoid the mega-lines and whatnot. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

    • Darla at 1:14 pm

      I was 18 the first time I went to Disney (with our high school marching band). It was still awesome and I have no hard feelings towards my parents. They just didn’t like to travel places like that. We did lots of other stuff as kids and I don’t feel like I missed out by not going when I was small.

    • Paula at 5:43 pm

      Go with them now, while the magic is still real. Once they get older, it isn’t as much fun. Just post on Facebook that you need advice on planning a trip and at least 5 of your mom friends will jump in to help.

    • little1ders at 7:26 pm

      Suck it up. You will be happy you did. Pull them out of school in Sept and go. Free dining if you stay in a Disney Resort during the fall.

    • Kevin at 4:07 pm

      Definitely go now. And a Disney travel agent is someone who has gone to Disney Graduate school. You don’t pay a dime more to book through them and they will help you book all those meals, rides, etc. The first time we went, we winged it and only booked one meal, and we still had an amazing time. Took us a few years to get back, used Valerie at http://www.mousefantravel.com/ to help book and have used her again since. Highly recommend.

  10. Jody at 11:00 am

    If you stay off property and rent a minivan, you will soon realize that if you drive into the Disney parking lot there are a gazillion other silver minivans that look exactly like your rented minivan! We tied a hot pink ribbon into a pretty little bow to the top of the antenna…BEST IDEA EVER! Also used the hot pink ribbon to tie a huge bow on our stroller as well, easier to spot your stroller in a sea of 100 strollers!

  11. laura m. at 11:03 am

    For those of you with girls: The bippity boppity boutique is pricey but a must! Each little princess gets her own Fairy godmother in training for a make-over. you need reservations in advance and I mentioned it’s pricey — about $80 6 years ago but it was her birthday present….it was in Cinderella’s castle, they did her hair, her make up and her nails. they have the girls not facing the mirror and then they turn them around for the big reveal. OMG! The look on your kid’s face is well worth the $$$$$. There is of course a story along with everything they do (the 7 dwarves mine the jewels in the barrette just for the boutique, Tinkerbell comes in through the window at night to catch all the wishes the girls make when they are dusted with pixies dust)….it truly is a magical experience.
    BTW, her hair lasted for two or three days (obviously we didn’t hit a pool b/c she didn’t want to ruin her hair). then when I took out her hair, even though there were no pins or barrettes or tiaras, it stayed. They use a gallon of hair get per kid! As an aside, they will also do a lost boys’ hair do for boys but it was pretty lame. And they photographed the whole event…..see my comments on the photographers in a separate paragraph….

  12. laura m. at 11:06 am

    PHOTO PASS….well worth the cost of the CD if you have them take a ton of pictures. You can also review all photos on line after your trip and do enhancements….don’t buy the CD at the park. Way cheaper to do it from home plus you get the enhancement options before you order it. It comes with a release so you can use the pix (legally) for holiday cards, party invites, etc.

    • Pattie Ann at 10:40 pm

      How and where do you buy this?

      • Michelle D at 7:21 am

        on the My Disney Experience website. You can link it to your Magic Band. And you don’t have to buy a CD anymore. You can download straight to your computer

  13. Amber at 11:11 am

    When we first went to Disneyland, we planned to go for 5 hours. I took 32 diapers. No kidding. The thought of running out and wrapping my 10 mo old in toilet paper and a plastic Disney shopping bag was horrifying. Since we already needed a sherpa to carry all our “just in case” stuff, what’s an extra jumbo pack of diapers? We don’t want to run out!

    Then we learned about the baby care center. The next trip, we took only a few diapers and planned to spend $1 per emergency diaper if needed. At Disneyland, this is on Main Street. Not sure where it is in WDW. They have a very small store with things like pureed food jars, formula, and diapers, and little kitchen area with a sink and microwave. (And $1 per diaper isn’t really even that ridiculous.) I could also nurse my nurslings when they were small, change diapers in a quiet room with nice padded changing tables, and let my toddler use a kid-sized potty. A few moments of quiet in the busy park really does add to the magic!

    • Jennifer at 1:51 pm

      In WDW, it’s tucked in a little alcove behind the Crystal Palace restaurant.

  14. Shannon at 11:34 am

    Check out gardengrocer.com the best. Seriously the will even deliver beer so you can have a cold one waiting for you when you check in at your hotel after your flight.

  15. Carol Klatt at 11:57 am

    I had a friend say that she had to take her toddler to the bathroom while in a long line, and a cast member saw what she was doing and offered her a pass to go to a magic entrance when she returned. I don’t know if it would work for every ride, or every cast member would do it, but it’s worth asking if you’re in a pinch!

    P.S. I think you should write a whole book on Disney tips, because the rest of them out there suck, are boring, or are too long to pay attention to! First chapter: “Disney-Ride-o-Crap-o-Meter” that scientifically (ha!) charts at what age the rides won’t scare the crap out of your darling rugrat! (My input: Winnie the Pooh – almost code brown for a 5 year old.) And you need an entire chapter on that martini, because, well, that sounds fabulous!)

    • Desirae Renee at 12:51 pm

      Most cast members will let you bypass the line when you have to escape for bathroom emergencies.

  16. Barb at 12:15 pm

    Omg so helpful…we leave for Disney in 4 weeks (and the kids don’t even know we are going!!!) I’ve only ever been to Disney as an adult with no kids in tow…this will be a first for all of us, God help us all

    • Cheryl at 12:47 pm

      There is a website called ridemax.com. You can plan your entire day with it. Putting in time you will arrive, lunch break, snack break, and exactly what rides you will go on. It will give you an itinerary for your entire day with the shortest wait time at each ride. It is awesome. Highly recommend.

  17. Barbara Ashe Beyer at 12:32 pm

    We went to Disney last October with 3 boys (10, 8 and 16months). Their father and I drank. We drank a lot. We were on Disney resort so we never had to drive. It helped. I also recommend a down day if you can. I found out on day 3 I was really pushing the family too hard, so we spent a 1/2 day at one of the parks and then enjoyed the pool, pizza in our room and drinks for mom and dad.

  18. Katie at 12:36 pm

    Combine 4, 5, and 9 and buy all that s**t, a case of water, shampoo, sunscreen, everything you can online and get it delivered to your hotel. No need to drag it around the airport or make a stop when you get there.

  19. Aholtery at 12:59 pm

    We take our kids (3 & 1) late at night. Most of the Pinterest families are gone by then and you can do most rides the last couple hours of the night. Plus they somewhat sleep in the next day

  20. Jenn at 1:00 pm

    Little known disney secrets… If your child pees their pants and you forgot a change of clothes, ask a disney member if there is something they can do. They have the authorization to comp a free replacement outfit (usually whatever the kid decides). Go on your kids bday and let them know at the front gate, they will get a special pin (hello free souvenir) and cast members all over the park will say happy birthday, along with other special privileges (as in sometimes cast members will let u cut in line when waiting to meet a character). If you are staying at a Disney hotel and u did a lot of shopping in the park, you can have ur bags sent directly to ur room, free of charge and u don’t have to carry them all day.
    Ok, last tip, if you don’t care about seeing the parade… Choose parade time to hit a couple of the popular rides, the line will be super short.

    • Michelle D at 7:26 am

      And they can wear their Birthday pin the whole time you are there! Our agent made our reservations so at every sit down meal, my guys got (free!!) cupcakes. And at 3 out of 4 Character meals, a birthday card (each!! they are twins) signed by the characters 😀

  21. Keri at 1:11 pm

    We stayed in the wilderness log cabins which were amazing because the kids could go to sleep inside and mommy and daddy could go sit and drink outside. I hate being trapped inside a hotel room!

  22. Lauren at 1:26 pm

    Absolutely true, all of it! I’m a Disney Travel Agent and this the kind of stuff I tell every client I work with!

  23. Kevin at 1:28 pm

    THE BABY SWAP: If you have one older child and one toddler, sometimes the toddler can’t ride so one of you must stand outside the ride and wait. NO NO NO. All of you go through the line. At the point of getting on the ride ASK FOR A BABY SWAP. Mom gets on the ride with the older child, Dad (with the toddler) is escorted to the end of the ride. When Mom and child is done with their ride, you “swap” your toddler and Dad is allowed to get on the ride right then and there with your older child (again) and they get to ride it AGAIN!! No waiting, the older child gets TWO rides and both of you get to enjoy the ride. We did this COUNTLESS times.

  24. Missie at 1:50 pm

    One nifty thing that the Disney parks in Orlando have are free games for the kids to play while in the park. The Magic Kingdom has a magic card game that you play in the different lands. Every day your there you get a different set of cards. Animal kingdom has a badge game, and in each land you have activities that you get badges for. Epcot has a scavenger hunt type game that you use a cell phone that the park gives you. The games are fun and a great way to spend time while your waiting for your EZ pass reservations. Adults can do them too, for those big kids at heart. Also if you have a Disney Visa each park has an area where they do FREE, yes free character photos. All you have to do is ask a Disney cast member and they will direct you to where you need to be for the pics and the games. Free is always good, and it’s nice that Disney still has a few free things to do!

  25. Ashli at 2:15 pm

    We have found that if we
    Leave the parks around lunch time and have a couple hours of down time either in the room or by the pool we don’t have meltdowns at the end of the night…

  26. Carol-Lynn at 2:43 pm

    Pay the $75 or so bucks for the Photopass plus! Saves you trying to get all the pictures you want with the characters plus trying to take pictures of the ride photos with your iphone. You get ALL the ride photos and ALL the character photos sent to you FREE on a CD or digital download and you can print out which ever ones you want after you get home. So worth it!

  27. Chrissy C. Aka crazy mom of three crazier boys at 4:19 pm

    Omfg dude hilarious! I feel like I wrote this lmao! I have three boys 6,4,2 and I’ve been (stupidly) taking them to disney every year so I FEEL YO PAIN. Meltdowns on line for rides. Been there. Epic food fails. Yup. One thing that saved me was gardengrocer.com I believe it is. You can order like a few days ahead of your trip and have groceries delivered to your room anywhere in disney! No packing diapers or formula (or in my case coconut / rice milk for my allergic to milk baby. -___- all the snacks fresh fruit and drinks their little heart desires! Also order bottled water for MUCH cheaper than at the park and WAIT FOR IT…. ALCOHOL!!!$ *pelvic thrust* so when you’re sitting on the tub staring at your husband while the kids sleep in the next room you can at leAst get sloppy. We’re going in October I feel like I’m getting better at this, but when we get there and they all FLIP OUT from overstimulation I’ll know otherwise lol 😉

  28. Brandy at 5:45 pm

    We are Disney Vacation Club members so we go anywhere from 2-4 times in a year. Some advice my husband and I have given follows:

    1. Sign up for the Disney Meal Plan. I think it costs between $41 and $60 per person/day which seems like a lot, but keep in mind that eating in the parks and around the resort is expensive and it’s easy to drop 120-150 per meal depending on where you dine. Know the restaurants in the resorts and parks and what type of dining experience they are. There are 5 different plans to choose from.

    We like to split some of our meals like breakfast or lunch. If you know the right places to eat that have good portion sizes, you can get save some money this way.

    2. If you’re flying into Orlando International sign up for Disneys Magical Express. If you’re staying in one of the park resorts this is a free service. You’ll receive transfer tickets and yellow tags to attach to your luggage. After you check in at the airport you won’t see your bags again until they are delivered in your room. Same deal with checkout. Drop your bags off in the morning and you won’t see them again until your plane lands.

    3. Take advantage of the Park Hopper tickets. You may be able to save some money by only going to one park per day, but it’s not always feasible to coordinate your meals with what park you’ll be in for that day or catch the shows/fireworks/attractions in different parks. The more days you purchase the less it will cost you per day. A one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom will run you $99, but a 5 day ticket will cost you $304 dollars, that is only $60 dollars per day.

    4. Character dinings. You might think this is silly, but I love the character dining. We try to schedule at least one or two meals per trip. Good ones are Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace, Mickey & Minnie Breakfast at Cape May. Keep in mind since you have the meal plan tht some of the character dining is one sit down meal and some like Cinderella’s Castle are two.

    5. Extended park hours. Some parks open early and close later depending on the day of the week. This is especially helpful if you don’t have park hoppers, want to spend more time on rides or avoid the mid day crowds.

    6. Know what events are scheduled during your visit. It’s important to know these as some require separate tickets. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/events/

    7. Make sure they know you are celebrating your honeymoon, birthday, anniversary or whatever event corresponds with your visit. You’ll get a bunch of specialized Disney swag to commemorate the event.

    8. Fast Pass. Make sure to take advantage of these especially for the popular rides. Keep in mind that April is a very busy time of year at Disney (Spring Breaks- DUH) and the “Stand By” lines for the popular rides (Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain RR, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Rock N’ Roller Coaster, Test Track, Expedition Everest, etc…) are going to be about 45 minutes to an hour long if not more.

    10. Downtown Disney is a good distraction if you have a down day and you’re not going to the parks. Tons of restaurants (Planet Hollywood, Rain Forest Cafe’, Ghiradellis, etc…) shops, art studios, The World of Disney Store, and Cirque du Soleil. We especially like catching lunch at Earl of Sandwich or splitting something at Wolfgang Puck Express.

    11. Disney’s Boardwalk is a low key place to hang out. It’s located between Epcot and Hollywood Studios on lake Buena Vista and is accessible via boat from either park or at the bus stops at the Beach and Yacht Clubs and the Boardwalk Villas. It’s themed after the Atlantic City Boardwalk and has several performers (jugglers, magicians, street comics, etc…), the Atlantic Dance Hall (nightclub), JellyRolls (a sing along piano bar) and of course the ESPN Zone.

    12. There’s more to do at Disney than hit the parks. On our down days we like to play miniature golf at Fantasia gardens. Each of the resorts has a different themed playground for the kids and most have pools. (Check into the Pool Hopper option with the concierge desk. They don’t advertise it, but you can use any of the pools at the Disney resorts with the exception of the Animal Kingdom, Yacht and Beach Club, and Art of Animation – unless that’s where you’re staying). Disney also has 5 championship golf courses, a complete sports complex, and there’s always the Richard Petty Experience at Disney Speedway. You can do a dinner and movie at AMC Movie Theater, play games at Disney Quest or Bowling and dinner at Splitsville in Downtown Disney.

    13. For more tips check the Travel Channel. They usually have shows strictly for navigating and getting the most bang for your buck at Disney Resorts.

    14. Disney Vacation Club- During some of your down time talk with one of the representatives about ownership at one of the resorts. If you plan on having kids and making frequent trips to the Mouse House the basic package (150 points/year) is a good investment at $15K for a 50 year lease. With yearly maintenace fees and property taxes (about $650) it only costs us about $300/week to stay at any of the resorts in Disney and we have the option of using them for Disney Cruises and other vacation options. Even if you don’t buy they’ll give you a voucher for a free meal and if you ask some fastpasses.

  29. Mande at 7:58 pm

    I could write a book with Disney trip advice. My little family has been to Disney 30+ times (I had been 30+ times before I had my own family). Anyhow you mentioned the most important tip. It’s one that too many people do not do and end up having a miserable time. PLAN AHEAD. When you have people who can and do make dining reservations 6 months ahead, if you don’t it’s Disney fast foods the entire trip. People also know the park schedules, extra magic hour schedules and show and parade schedules so they know when to go to certain parks and when not to. Which means if you haven’t planned ahead, you DON’T know this info and you end up at the most crowded park every day, waiting in monster lines and missing every show and parade. It’s not really a huge hardship to plan ahead and it will save a ton of heartache and frustration.

  30. Michelle D at 7:32 am

    my #1 tip…..for the kids’ birthday and Christmas (if you celebrate those), when asked what they want/can use, ask for Disney GC. My boys were able to get Ears (one of them got 2 pairs), Pirate gear (manacles, ball and chain, hooks, and a flag), Haircuts at the Harmony Barbershop, t-shirts, custom Light Sabers, build-your-own-Droids, and Star Wars Toys. Not too shabby 😉

  31. Connie B at 9:07 am

    Michelle D. what is Disney GC?

  32. Meredith at 9:21 am

    Fabulous. Thank you. We have never been and I didn’t know where to start. Now I do–this post!

  33. One Funny Motha at 10:24 am

    LOVE the photo of your crying son & Mickey. That about sums up my experience of Disney. I scared the s**t out of my son on the 1st effing ride, too, and I even ASKED the worker there if it was a scary ride. He said, No,” so we went. It was The Pirates of the Caribbean & my 6 y.o. son was really into pirates. I guess I should have explained to the guy I didn’t mean scary for ME but for a 6 y.o. You’ve described Disney to a tee.

  34. perfectlyperfectplanning at 2:03 pm

    I have been to Disney 35+ times….so the musts:
    1. To reiterate some previous posts…BUY the CD before you leave. There are hundreds of smiling photographers ready to take your picture at every must-have location. Let them take the pictures and actually be in the photos with your family. (Plus they have fun lil add-on’s like making Tinkerbell appear in your hand).
    2. Meal Plan. It seems pricey but its not and you will thank me when you are shelling out for the 3rd Mickey shaped icecream! (free as a “snack” on your meal plan)
    3. Stop at town hall when you go in to get your free pin. Not only do you get a free pin that says, Happy Birthday, or First Timer, or NewlyWeds…it puts your kiddos name out there so every single character/line person/food person/etc says hi to them by name. Way to super impress!
    4. Along with #3, if its your kids birthday let Disney know! They do amazing, over the top things for you all day for no extra cost!
    5. Eat at off hours
    6. Sacrifice a parade to get little to no line on the must-have ride.
    7. Never, ever, ever, go to Orlando in June, July or August. Its hot. Its humid. There is a wall of people. The average line is an hour..easy and unless you made reservations the moment they opened up; you will wait on line to eat too.
    8. Bring your own freaking poncho from home. Its Florida. Its going to rain in the afternoon. Bring a $2 poncho from home instead of paying $20 for a garbage bag with Mickey’s face on it.

  35. Not ur average mom at 2:35 pm

    Go through a AAA agent!!! They set up everything for us and I mean EVERYTHING, we stayed in a Disney resort which I would never not do now, they planned out where we were eating at each night and made reservations for us as well as setting up the meal plan which gives you a sit down mean, counter meal, and one snack a day. Also they planned which parks we were going to each day depending on different events and which parks were open later for “Disney resort guests”. It was like you didn’t have to think about any of it. AWESOME!!!!

  36. mumrevised at 6:19 am

    I was a Disney person until this last vacation. I think it was the age of our kids (12/10) and we did Universal first which we all loved – tip fish taco stand in Springfield is a must! I agree with your tips and we did most of them and it made the day easier. Wish I had packed the pb&j!

  37. Lesley derusha at 10:30 pm

    Ok, so the last time I went to disneyworld we stayed at a timeshare resort 5minutes from Disney-awesome, gave us a nice break from all the Disney crazy and also had their own activities we could participate in if we wanted(movie night at the pool, ect.) We got our tickets from AAA for a great deal with the park hopper pass and since we drove from Chicago we had all the gear we could need without having to look for rental stuff-but great information for another time 🙂 one thing I didn’t see mentioned is pin trading… This was recommended to me by another mom and it saved us! When you are in line for days and the kids are bored, trading pins with others and checking out everyone’s lanyards with their pins really helps pass the time. The park attendants all have a lanyard or pin book that will trade you for any pin you want and there are special park employees that will only trade with kids- so you may have to beg your kid to trade for you like I did. I went on ebay and bought 100 pins(sounds like a lot, but totally wasn’t for 4adults and 2kids-my husband was the one who thought it was dumb to begin with but at the end of the week said that next time I should probably get like 200…) so they were like $75 for a bag of random pins, at Disney and the surrounding stores they can be $2-15+ per pin so a bag of random pins that you will trade away anyway is a great deal! Walmart near disneyworld carries lanyards for $5 and they are like $12+ at Disney(they have a bigger selection though). We (my husband, my parents and I) had just As much fun as my two kids with trading for whatever pins we decided we were looking for, and the thrill of finally finding that ONE pin that has been elusive the entire trip but you found leaving the park on the very last day… Freaking AMAZING! So if you want a little fun, I highly reccomend this. Kids have fun and make new friends in line while checking out other kids neck bling 🙂 makes those long lines totally bearable….

  38. Lesley derusha at 10:36 pm

    Oh, another thing… If your kid(s) like pb&j, buy a crapload of those uncrustables and freeze them! They will stay nice and un squished until time for a quick snack or lunch and you can pack so many of them into a diaper bag….

  39. Jody at 2:07 pm

    headed to wdw next month with 2 kids- 28 months and 4 months. big question- do i take 2 single strollers or 1 double stroller? grandparents are going too, so plenty of helping hands, just wasnt sure what was easier.. thanks!

  40. PATRICIA MYLES at 3:11 pm

    The end of a verrrry loooong day at Disney was my kids favorite part of the entire experience—we bought French fries (to hold them over until dinner time), and they fed them to the pigeons. Kids are in their 30’s now, and they still reminisce about the flipping pigeon feeding.