One of the reasons why we started this blog was to help people feel knowledgeable and confident about planning their vacation to Walt Disney World. There are a ton of things to keep in mind when planning your trip and it’s easy to feel like you’re forgetting something. It can sometimes fell like you couldn’t possibility know all there is to know about Walt Disney World. That’s where this list comes in handy! We’ve curated our best 102 tips about the parks, resorts, dining, attractions and more so you can get the most out of your Disney trip and have the best vacation ever!
1) Book your Kilimanjaro Safari FastPass for the morning before it gets too hot. The animals tend to be more active in the morning, which can be great for photos.
2) Schedule your visit to Animal Kingdom later in your trip as opposed to the first couple days of your vacation. This will help you secure a Flight of Passage FastPass. We go into detail about strategies for the park in our Animal Kingdom FastPass Strategy Guide.
3) Don’t miss Winged Encounters at Animal Kingdom. It’s a short show featuring beautiful parrots flying over the Tree of Life. It’s one of our favourite things at Animal Kingdom. Check out a times guide in the park for showtimes.
4) The Tree of Life Awakenings nighttime projection show can be viewed at the front of the Tree of Life, but it can also be seen from the pathway between Asia and Africa.
5) Visit Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Monday through Thursday to avoid the crowds on the weekend. If you’re attending the festival, check out our Food & Wine Festival Guide.
6) Rope drop Frozen Ever After if you don’t have a FastPass. The line gets long for this one during the day.
7) The World Showcase in Epcot opens at 11am. However, France and Norway are open when the park opens first thing in the morning. Norway is open so guests can ride Frozen Ever After and France is open for breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie.
8) The Candlelight Processional is a popular holiday concert at Epcot. Guarantee you have a seat and avoid a huge line for the show by making a Candlelight Processional dining package reservation at a participating Epcot-area restaurant.
9) Disney Dining Plan snack credits can be used at Epcot festival marketplace booths. This is often very good value for your snack credits.
10) When visiting during an Epcot festival look at the marketplace booth menus online before you go. This will help you feel less overwhelmed by the options.
11) Although Oga’s Cantina is family-friendly, it’s 90% standing room, which can be difficult for children. It’s a small, bustling and loud atmosphere, so it may not be the best place to stop with young kids for a break.
12) There are no character meet and greets in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Characters in the land can be seen wandering around, interacting with guests and other characters. For the formal meet and greets with Star Wars characters, head over to Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard.
13) If the standby wait-time for Tower of Terror is 13- minutes, that’s ‘code’ for little-to-no wait. (It’s also true for the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom)
14) You can order the famous Cobb Salad from the Brown Derby Lounge (which doesn’t require a reservation) not just the Brown Derby Restaurant.
15) When making a reservation for Savi’s Workshop or the Droid Depot, only make a reservation for the person building a lightsaber or droid. If you are bringing a guest to watch, they do not need to be on the reservation. Everyone with a reservation is expected to pay and make the item.
16) If you visit Oga’s Cantina, you can take the coasters as a free souvenir.
17) The Skyliner may not be your best transportation option when trying to arrive at Hollywood Studios for early morning Extra Magic Hours. It typically does not start running that early in the morning.
18) You can find Mickey Waffles for breakfast at Sleepy Hollow, a quick service location in Liberty Square. It’s also where you’ll find a delicious Nutella Waffle with fresh fruit. Both are great ways to kick off a day at Magic Kingdom.
19) If you want to avoid the crowds (and you don’t mind missing the HD projections), you can watch Happily Ever After fireworks from behind Cinderella Castle in Fantasyland.
20) Avoid Magic Kingdom on a Monday if you can. It’s often the first park day of people’s week long trips and generally guests like to start with Magic Kingdom.
21) Before the end of the night, head to Big Top Souvenirs in Fantasyland to do some last-minute shopping or to pick up some bakery items. It will be much less crowded than The Confectionary on Main Street USA.
22) If you don’t mind missing the fireworks in Magic Kingdom, plan to visit the park on a party day (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). The park will close to non-party guests at 6pm, but the crowds tend to stay away because of this. That usually means lower wait times for the attractions during the day!
23) DVC Members with party tickets can access Magic Kingdom at 2pm on Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party days. Other party ticket holders can enter Magic Kingdom at 4pm. Don’t waste a regular park ticket on this day. Instead, use the party ticket to enjoy the park before the party officially starts at 7pm.
24) New Year’s Eve is the busiest day of the year at Magic Kingdom. If you are visiting during this time, we recommend visiting another park that day, like Animal Kingdom.
25) One of the most difficult hidden Pascals to find in the Tangled rest area is among a group of trees behind Memento Mori. He blends into the tree bark.
26) We think the best After Hours event is at Magic Kingdom and it gives you the best value. We were able to do most of the rides in just three hours. Check out our review of the Magic Kingdom After Hours here.
27) Only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open during the early Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom. Head to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you don’t have a FastPass for it later in the day. If you do, tackle Tomorrowland.
28) Ponchos come in handy not just for rain but for Splash Mountain when you don’t want to get wet. The same is true for Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom.
29) Skip the dessert parties at the holiday parties in Magic Kingdom. These are an additional cost and take time away from MNSSHP and MVMCP, which are only 5-hours and have a lot to offer!
30) If you can’t get a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservation at Cinderella Castle try one of the other locations at Disney Springs or the Grand Floridian.
31) From 9am -10:30am you can ride in a turn-of-the-century vehicle down Main Street USA. Look for the Vehicle of Main Street signs around the train station and flagpole as soon as you enter Magic Kingdom.
32) Tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are less expensive earlier in the season and on weekdays, excluding Friday.
33) Uber and Lyft cannot drop guests off at the Magic Kingdom park entrance, but Minnie Vans can. If using Uber or Lyft to get to Magic Kingdom, get dropped off at the Contemporary and walk the 5 minutes to the park.
34) The Festival of Fantasy parade is either at 2pm or 3pm, depending on the time of year. Double check the time so you don’t miss it.
35) Watch the fireworks at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party from behind the Partners statue (Mickey and Walt). The castle will block the view of many of the fireworks if you’re too close to it.
36) Research dining menus. All of the menus for Disney’s quick service and table service restaurants are available on the My Disney Experience app and Disney’s website. Take a look at the menus before your trip to scope out the options. You will be glad you researched your options when you’re in the parks.
37) If you are paying out of pocket, adults can order from the kid’s menu, which is a good way to spend less on food, especially if you have a smaller appetite. Just don’t order from the kid’s menu if you are on the Disney Dining Plan.
38) The Fantasmic! Dining Package and the Rivers of Light Dining Package are great value when on the Disney Dining Plan. For one credit you get your meal (including an appetizer for no extra charge) and a VIP seating voucher to Rivers of Light or Fantasmic!
39) The original Dole Whip can be found at Aloha Isla in Adventureland. You can also find it at the Polynesian Resort at Pineapple Lanai, the Pop Century Resort food court and Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom.
40) Character dining experiences are great value on the Disney Dining Plan, especially dinners.
41) Florida water tastes a little different (to put it diplomatically). Bring a flavour enhancer like Mio to add to your water bottle to make it more agreeable. We like to bring the Mio Sport with electrolytes.
42) You can request a free cup of ice water at quick-service locations. Ask for a large cup otherwise they will give you a small cup of water.
43) The Disney Dining Plans don’t always save you money. If you’re vegan, vegetarian or don’t eat many snacks or desserts, you may be better off paying out of pocket for meals.
44) Mobile Ordering quick service meals through the My Disney Experience app will save you time waiting in line, especially during peak dining times. You can pay with a credit card or Dining Plan credits.
45) If you can’t find a dining reservation for restaurants in Disney Springs on the Disney website or the MDE app, check Open Table. Some restaurants make extra reservations available through that site.
46) You can use Disney Dining Plan credits at most Disney Springs restaurants. Some of our favourite table-service restaurants are located in Disney Springs.
47) If you need to cancel a dining reservation, make sure you do so at least 24 hours in advance. Otherwise, you will have to pay a $10 USD per person no show fee.
48) If you purchase a popcorn bucket, you can refill it at the parks for a lower price during your trip.
49) On the Disney Dining Plan, drinks that come with your meals don’t necessarily need to be pop (or soda). The Dining Plan often includes milkshakes or specialty drinks (but not specialty cups).
50) All dining locations have at least one plant-based menu item to offer guests. If you’re vegetarian or vegan you will have plenty of options throughout the parks and resorts. Magic Kingdom even has a pamphlet detailing all of the plant-based menu items at the park and where to find them.
51) The majority of the lounges at Disney parks and resorts are family friendly. Our favourite is the Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom.
52) Joffrey’s Coffee stands in the parks offer a Passholder discount and their lines are usually shorter than Starbucks.
53) When purchasing alcoholic beverages, Disney won’t accept an international driver’s license on its own. They will, however, accept a photocopy or a photo (on your phone) of your passport along with your driver’s license.
54) The infamous Tonga Toast at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is available from the table service location Kona Café at breakfast. However, it’s also available at the quick service location Capt. Cook’s as well (and it’s cheaper).
55) If you’re a guest at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort you can order room service for dinner from O’hana, the family-style table service restaurant. The portions are large and one serving can feed two people.
56) If you are a guest at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter, you can use the pools at either resort. They are sister resorts and within walking distance to one another.
57) You don’t have to be a resort guest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to check-out the animals on the resort savannahs. There are many viewing spots to observe the wildlife. We have more information about Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village in our resort review here.
58) Request a resort room on the top floor to avoid noisy neighbours above you. Requests are never guaranteed, but it’s always worth asking.
59) The holidays are a wonderful time to visit the resorts, especially the deluxe resorts. After American Thanksgiving, through December, the resorts each feature a Christmas tree, garlands and themed decorations.
60) You can decline housekeeping for the length of your stay at your resort in exchange for $10 USD per night (excluding the first night). You will receive this as an e-gift card.
61) If you book a Room Only reservation, you cannot add a dining plan or tickets to your reservation at a later date. If you think you may want to make changes, ask your travel agent, or call Disney, to book a ticketless package. A ticketless package allows you to add those items later if you’d like to.
62) Split resort stays allow you to experience more Disney resorts in one trip. Bell Services can even transport your luggage from one resort to the next. We go over how a split stay works and why we love them in this post.
63) Book your Disney vacation early so you can maximize your planning time. Dining reservations open up 180 days in advance of your trip, so booking early will give you the best chance to get the restaurants on your must-do list.
64) Stay on-site and book FastPasses 60 days before your arrival. This will give you the best chance at scoring those popular FastPasses (Slinky Dog Dash, Flight of Passage). Check out our FastPass+ 101 and strategy guides.
65) August through November is considered storm season in Florida. Be prepared for rain and the possibility of a hurricane.
66) Free Dining is a popular offer, but do the math and make sure it’s the best deal for you. Some guests save money, but it means paying the full price for Park Hopper tickets and your resort room. You may save more with one-park-per-day tickets and a room offer.
67) Book your Disney vacation with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They can help you secure the best price available. They monitor Disney offers for you and are someone you can get in touch with directly to ask questions.
68) Using Disney gift cards is a great way to budget your spending while on your Disney vacation. Disney gift cards bought in Canada will help you avoid foreign currency exchange fees when used in Walt Disney World. Check out more of our money saving tips here.
69) Bounce Back Offers are a smart way to secure a discount. These offers can only be booked during your Disney World vacation. Check your in-room information for details. In the past, the Bounce Back Offers have included Free Dining and room discounts.
70) Park hours change depending on the season. During peak times, such as the summer or holidays, the parks are open longer than in the off-peak seasons. Seasons with longer park hours are a good way to make use of Park Hopper tickets as you will have more time to visit each park or hop between them.
71) August and September are hot months in Florida…even in the evening. Keep this mind when planning your Halloween costumes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
72) The winter months can get relatively chilly in Florida. You will want to be prepared for cool evenings, which may even include mittens and a warm sweater or jacket from late November to early February.
73) If you are looking to avoid big crowds (and high ticket/resort prices), avoid all holidays and RunDisney events.
74) If you are planning a week-long stay at Disney, schedule some down time, or a mid-week rest day. You’ll be glad you did.
75) Guests of the Swan and Dolphin (which are not owned by Disney) are not eligible for Disney’s Magical Express, the Disney Dining Plan and guests don’t receive Magic Bands. If these are important to you, book at another on-site resort.
76) Park hours are released approximately 6 months in advance. Check the park hours when planning which park to attend. Magic Kingdom sometimes closes early for special events or holiday parties. This will allow you to make informed decisions.
77) Many businesses will deliver groceries and other items to your resort. Instacart, Garden Grocer and Amazon are some of the popular and reliable ones.
78) In order to use Disney’s Minnie Van service, you need to have the Lyft app. Download the app before your trip so you’re not rushing to create an account when you need a ride.
79) It always takes longer to travel in Walt Disney World than you think. If you are park hopping or visiting another resort, give yourself plenty of time to get there. More time than you think you might need (especially if you have reservations).
80) We recommend Lyft and Uber for getting around Walt Disney World, especially early in the morning, when visiting the water parks, or heading to dining reservation at a resort.
81) Arrive at least 30-40 minutes prior to park opening if you want to experience rope drop at a park. This means leaving your resort about an hour before the park opens. The low crowds at this time make getting up early worth it!
82) Buses from the parks don’t travel to Disney Springs until after 4pm. If you want to go from a park to Disney Springs before 4pm, we recommend taking a bus to Saratoga Springs. From there, it’s a short walk over a bridge to Disney Springs. Ask the bus driver for directions.
83) If you’re a guest at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it is faster to walk over to the Ticket and Transportation Center to take the monorail to Epcot. Just look for the walkway near the Pago Pago building.
84) Luggage delivery from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is available to all Disney guests who are taking Disney’s Magical Express to their resort, provided their flight is arriving prior to 10pm. However, if you are arriving in the evening, you may not want to use the yellow luggage tags for Disney’s Magical Express. It can take a few hours to get your checked luggage delivered to your room. If you want your luggage before you go to bed you may be better off picking up your own luggage at the airport and bringing it with you on the Magical Express.
85) Disney PhotoPass Photographers will take your photo using your phone if you ask them to. This is a great way to get everyone in your photo.
86) Cooling towels are a big help during the hot and humid months at Disney. It’s one of the ways we recommend beating the heating. Check out our Summer Packing List here.
87) Single rider lines are a perfect way to save some time standing in line. Attractions with the Single Rider Line option are Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Expedition Everest, Test Track and Rock ’N Rollercoaster. But remember, you will have to sit next to a stranger.
88) When purchasing a 1-day Water Park ticket you can access both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. If you plan on visiting both parks in one day, we recommend visiting Typhoon Lagoon first as their slides will have the longest lines later in the day.
89) If you have a child who will be wearing a princess dress during your trip, purchase the dress beforehand at The Disney Store or online. You can save money by not purchasing it in the park.
90) The parks are all non-smoking as of May 2019. There are smoking areas outside the front gates of each park.
91) Collecting pressed pennies throughout the parks and resorts can be a great way to use up those pesky leftover pennies.
92) Magic Shots are only available with the Memory Maker. These are little extra additions to your photos taken by PhotoPass Photographers. For example, you might find Tinker Bell floating above you in your photo. Find out more about the Memory Maker here and if it’s worth purchasing for your next trip.
93) Try not to use a FastPass+ Reservation on shows. Beauty and the Beast, Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo play multiple times a day and each theatre holds about 1500 people. You can easily see the shows without a FastPass.
94) Disney Vacation Club members can bring guests up to the Top of the World lounge at Bay Lake Tower and to the DVC lounge in Epcot.
95) Each park has a Baby Care Centre. If you’re travelling with babies or small children, find out where the Baby Care Centre is ahead of time as it will come in handy.
96) Body Glide can be a life saver. It’s a great way to avoid chafing or blisters in spots where your shoes or clothing rub. You can find it at Amazon or a specialty running store.
97) You can always request to sit in the front (or back) rows of attractions. You may have to wait a couple of minutes longer, but it’s worth it! Soarin’ and Expedition Everest are two of our favourites to sit in the front row.
98) If visiting Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, bring water shoes. The pavement gets extremely hot and water shoes can make a huge difference for your feet!
99) Switch between a couple pairs of worn-in shoes during your Disney trip. This will help avoid overly sore feet.
100) Bring backup power for your phone. Between taking photos and using the My Disney Experience app your phone battery can run low quickly.
101) My Disney Experience and Disney’s website list Disney Springs as closing at midnight. Some dining locations are open later, but many of the stores have shorter hours. Don’t count on shopping until midnight.
102) Celebration Buttons! Get one, wear it! Disney has free buttons to help you celebrate special occasions on your vacation. This includes birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and honeymoons. There are also first visit buttons, as well as a generic ‘I’m Celebrating…” button. Get one when you check-in at the resort or at any Guest Relations centre at the parks.
If you’ve made it all the way through those tips, you are a champ and we thank you!
We hope even just a few of these tips will help make your planning process less stressful and your trip just a little more magical! Let us know your own tips for Walt Disney World in the comments below!