Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Take a look at this list of the best Disney parks tips from moms of all different backgrounds–our TravelingMom family travel experts. We’ve been there and we know how to make YOUR trip even better! Check out the following tips on planning, the parks, the restaurants, and the resorts.
Each spring, our TravelingMom Writers get together for a working retreat at Walt Disney World. We all come from different backgrounds and we all see the same place differently. Through our experiences at Walt Disney World, we bring you the best tips, reviews and ideas to help make your trip to Walt Disney World the best ever.
Planning Your Disney Parks Trip
Multigenerational Travel: A trip to Walt Disney World is a perfect opportunity to travel with grandparents. You’ll want to capture the memories, but not overwhelm everyone by snapping photos every time they turn around. If you don’t want to take all of the photos and actually be IN a few of them, consider the Disney Photopass. Just scan your Magic Band and everyone can be in the photos together. Check out six more tips for traveling with grandparents to the Disney parks.
Saving for a Disney Parks Trip: Disney now offers a savings plan. You can sign up as much as five years before you plan to go, answer a few questions about the type of Disney vacation you want and Disney will tell you how much you need to save and budget for your next Disney Vacation.
Walt Disney World Park Tips
FastPass/Rider Switch: The key to getting the most out a FastPass is to make these arrangements as early as possible via My Disney Experience. Rider Switch requires no advance planning. Just ask whether Rider Switch is available on the ride and grab a pass. Get all the details and information about FastPasses and Rider Switch Services before you go on your Disney vacation.
Animal Kingdom Tips: Did you know there is a second, less frequented entrance to the theme park at the rear of the Rainforest Cafe gift shop? Use it to avoid early morning lines at the main entrance. We’ve got nine more great secrets from Animal Kingdom you won’t want to miss! Then check out these tips to visit Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Wilderness Explorers: Looking for something educational and FREE for your kids at Animal Kingdom? Check out this fun program that sends you around the Animal Kingdom park, learning about animals & cultures from around the world.
Dining at Animal Kingdom: Check out all the great dining options there are at this park, including the Allergy Food Kiosk for visitors in need of gluten-free options.
World Showcase: With nine different countries represented at Epcot’s World Showcase, it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about culture through food. Start in the gift shops. Each country has its own souvenir shop that sells candy, chips, and cookies that are traditional to that country. Most have a flavor children find unusual. It’s an easy way to expose children to another culture through food without spending a lot of money.
Pirates League: Don’t miss this swashbuckling good time to be had by everyone in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom. Search with clues though out the area and find all the treasure.
Where to Stay at Walt Disney World
Coronado Springs Resort: This is a Disney parks convention hotel, so it’s no surprise that it’s a great resort for visitors who are traveling solo; it offers many great relaxing amenities. But our TravelingMom team found it to be something more: a great spot for toddlers, preschoolers, tweens and teens.
Art of Animation: Another great moderately-priced resort is Disney’s Art of Animation. Check out 4 great reasons to stay at this resort–the pools, the animation theme, the food court and, best of all, the family-sized suites.
Port Orleans Resort: For a moderate resort in the Downtown Disney area, the Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter proves that bigger isn’t always better.
Fort Wilderness Resort: Do you like to RV and/or tent camp? Fort Wilderness offers lush, private sites for camping and more than 400 Wilderness Cabins. There are lots of outdoor activities to keep you busy here as well. Find out more ways to unplug during your next trip here.
Inn and Villas: For a gorgeous resort stay walking distance to Epcot, check out our review of Disney parks’ BoardWalk Inn and Villas, one of the loveliest properties at Walt Disney World.
Disney Parks Dining Tips
Pre-order Groceries for Your Resort Room: Before your Disney vacation, you can order groceries in advance to be delivered to your room. For a nominal fee, you will save yourself a great deal of money NOT buying lunch in the parks each day.
Mickey Check: It’s not all Mickey Bars & Dole Whip at Walt Disney World, Disney parks now serve well-balanced kids’ meals at its parks and resorts, which automatically include nutritious sides and beverages such as carrots and low-fat milk, unless parents opt out. Menus have the Mickey Check displayed by foods that meet Disney nutrition guidelines developed by health experts and aligned to federal dietary guideline recommendations. Read more at 4 ways for kids to eat healthier while visiting Disney parks.
Make Dining Reservations: As soon as your window of opportunity opens, make dining reservations for the restaurants you want to dine at. On our April 2015 trip, every restaurant we wanted to eat at had a three hour wait. We ended up eating counter service for every meal. What I wouldn’t have given for a nice, sit down meal in a cool restaurant to re-charge. Learn how this family planned it better on their visit.
No Time to Make Dining Reservations (or they are all full)? One of our TravelingMoms reviews four of her favorite off the beaten path restaurants at Disney parks. And don’t miss the scoop on the secret dining discount at Walt Disney World.
Other Disney Parks Tips
Be Active: Walking around the Disney parks isn’t the only way to be active. Several Disney resort hotels have their own marinas where guests can explore the park’s waterways via kayak, paddleboat, sea raycer, and pontoon boat. Recreational and fishing charters area also available as are traditional bicycles and four-person surreys. Learn other ways to unplug while visiting.
Souvenir Shopping: We have 5 helpful ways to save money while souvenir shopping at Walt Disney World, including this tricky one: Buy your Disney souvenirs before heading into the parks! Look online, visit discount stores and even Disney Character Warehouse stores for the best deals.
Use the PhotoPass: Do you ever make the mistake of always being the photographer and NEVER getting in the pictures? There are fantastic photographers strategically placed all over Disney parks ready to take that perfect family shot. Take the time to get your picture made. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the photos turned out this year.
Stroller Tips: We found some tips to renting a stroller there versus bringing yours from home. Consider renting one off-property and having it delivered to your hotel.
Don’t Try to Do it All: The biggest piece of advice I have for first time travelers to Walt Disney World: Slow down and enjoy it. No, you will not be able to see every show and parade and ride in one day. If you try, your body will hate you the next day. The best memories are made when you take your time and enjoy Disney parks for what they can offer you.
Pick up your tickets at a discount. If you’re military you qualify for special saving on Disney World tickets. Traveling Mom recommends Parksavers for discount Disney World tickets. Even better, use code TM2 for an extra $2 off each ticket, just for Traveling Mom readers!
What’s your best tip for a Disney parks vacation?