How to Do Disney World Better: 9 Tips for a Magical (and Stress-free) Trip to Disney
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
For many, Disney World is a must-do-at-least-once family vacation…but it can also be daunting based on the stories of 100+ degree weather, complicated reservations, crazy crowds and exhausted parents. However, do not fear, I am here to tell you there is a better way!
Growing up near Orlando, having been to Disney World dozens of times, and also as a Certified Disney Travel Agent – I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. Whether you are going as a couple, family or solo, there are ways to get the most out of your Disney vacation, and leave behind all the stress.
I recently got back from a trip to Disney World with my hubby (his first time ever!), and after some reflection, here are my top tips for your best Disney vacation ever.
MY TOP 9 DISNEY WORLD TIPS FOR A MAGICAL (AND STRESS-FREE) TRIP TO DISNEY:
1. Check the Events and Crowd Calendar when planning your dates
Planning when you are going to go is the first step to a great Disney vacation. Do you have your heart set on a certain holiday’s festivities? Are you most concerned with the Florida heat or the infamous Disney crowds? I find that both the Disney World Events Calendar and Undercover Tourist’s Crowd Calendar are valuable resources in making a decision. Or of course, you can ask me and we can work together to find the best time.
2. Stay at the Four Seasons, it is SO worth it
The Four Seasons Walt Disney World may actually be the happiest place on earth. This highly awarded 5-star resort is such a dream, you can’t help but go “ahhh” when you arrive in the glorious lobby. Here you get all of the perks of a Disney resort along with the amazing service Four Seasons is known for, and so much more. From the expansive spa to the lazy river, the delicious gelato to the Disney concierge team, the comfy robes to the rooftop happy hour, it is perfect. Just perfect.
3. Get to the parks when they open – aka “Rope Drop”
The first hour when the Disney parks are open is the best hour. Trust me, it is worth the early wake-up call. The grand opening of the park each day is called the “Rope Drop” and right at this time, all the rides have the shortest lines they will have all day. When we went, we did all of our must-do rides within the hour (each of these rides later in the day typically has over an hour wait). This then allows you to take the rest of the day at a leisurely pace, or even head back to the resort for a break in the afternoon (another one of my Disney tips!).
4. Indulge in all the special Disney treats
A few signature Disney snacks are truly legendary. You might even see people with shirts showcasing their love of the famous Dole Whip or the Mickey ice cream bar. This is vacation, so I say treat yourself. I genuinely think my husband Matthew would be convinced to go back to Magic Kingdom just to get the candied bacon on a stick! : )
5. Don’t be shy about what you are celebrating
Disney loves celebrations! Is it your birthday, anniversary or first time to Disney? You can ask a cast member for a special pin or even get a special Disney-themed shirt on Etsy (you will see tons of these in the parks). Disney cast members are trained to keep a look out for those celebrating and make your stay extra special, so you just never know what kind of perk you might receive!
6. Spend a night exploring Disney Springs
One of the latest additions to Walt Disney World, Disney Springs, is a wonderful place to spend some time if you love food, shopping and entertainment. As a foodie, this was one of the highlights of our latest trip to Disney because we ate our way across Disney Springs and enjoyed some of the best food during our trip. You can also go see a Cirque du Soleil show, ride in a small boat disguised as a vintage car (weird but cool), enjoy lots of live music, and so much more.
7. For a behind-the-scenes, no-waiting-in-lines experience: go VIP
Looking for a truly unforgettable Disney experience? Disney’s VIP private tours are beyond incredible. Basically you have a private Disney expert guide who crafts a special itinerary to show you around, take you behind-the-scenes and to the front of any line. Your day is fully customizable and catered to your specific interests. Yes, it is expensive, but worth every penny if you are looking to have that once-in-a-lifetime, hassle-free Disney vacation.
8. Don’t overdo it – this is vacation after all!
At the end of the day, you are on vacation! Disney can sometimes seem like a trip where every moment is scheduled with dining and Fast Pass reservations, but remember to take your time and enjoy the small details that make this magical place so extraordinary. Also take a break when you need it! Head back to the hotel in the middle of the day when it is the hottest to have an afternoon nap or some pool time or take a day off from the parks to sleep in and enjoy the resort. You do not always need to be go-go-go!
9. Especially for all my first timers: Don’t go at it alone.
Walt Disney World can be extremely overwhelming for first timers when you first start researching a possible Disney vacation. There are unlimited options and opinions regarding when the best time is to go, how many days, which parks, where to stay, and the list goes on and on and on. There are also many Disney buzz words to learn like “Magic Bands,” “Fast Passes” and more.
Planning ahead and with an expert is critical because you have to make a lot of decisions before you go – such as dining reservations (that open 180 days in advance) and Fast Passes (which open between 30 to 60 days in advance with many reservations filling up the hour they are released). It is a LOT to take in if you are not well-versed in the world of Disney. Get some help and keep your sanity.
Whether it is your first time or 20th, as a Certified Disney Travel Agent and Disney veteran, I am more than happy to help you navigate the wonderful world of Disney to make the most of your magical vacation!