From managing Fastpasses to securing accommodations (and everything in between), organizing a family trip to Walt Disney World can seem like quite a daunting task. Where does one start? Where is a great place to stay? How does one work within a budget? What time of the year is the busiest? Not to worry! Our TravelingMoms have been there, and they are here to offer some insightful tips for planning a family vacation to Disney World!
Tips When Planning a Family Vacation to Disney World
Planning a family vacation to Disney World can be a hot mess. So many pieces to put together. So much to do and see. Creating the perfect itinerary can be overwhelming. Make the most of your time and money with our TravelingMom insider tips, allowing you to arrive at Disney World stress-free and ready to make memories.
Disney in March
Ask a TravelingMom question from Becky D: “We are going at the end of March…are the Parks really that busy that time of the year? It gets so overwhelming. Can you please give me any advice that you have to find the best deals?”
It seems to be the consensus that the beginning of March sees low crowds in the Disney Parks. However, by mid-March, crowds begin to swell due to spring break. So it is best to be prepared to navigate a higher volume of people in the Parks during a late March visit to Walt Disney World.
As always, there are lots of things to see and experience as a family at Disney around this time! One of the headlining events is the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. This is when park visitors can experience colorful and innovative topiaries and landscaping on the grounds. Special food and music offerings are available as well.
Save money on food and drink
What is one thing that families can spend huge amounts of money on? You guessed it….feeding the family! From snacks to water to sit down meals, families can put out a lot of dollars to eat. So how can a family stay within budget and still make sure hungry tummies are satisfied?
Research TravelingMom Allison Bean Taylor shares these tips: Pack your own food to bring in the parks! Save your money for the snacks. My kiddos don’t want to slow down long enough eat a full meal. This is a HUGE money saver.
Staying hydrated is essential, no matter what time of year you visit Disney World. Here are some fearlessly frugal ways to keep water on hand, from a few of our TMOMS:
Bring a refillable water bottle and use the water fountains to fill it instead of buying more each time. (Lisa O’Driscoll, Do It All TMOM)
Bring a refillable water bottle and refill with the free ice water available at Quick Service locations. We adore our Hydro Flasks as they keep the water ice cold for hours. You can also bring Mio to flavor your water. (Renee Virata, Quick Weekender TMOM)
You can get a free cup of ice water at any quick-service dining location. Just ask, and they’re happy to give you one! (Tania Lamb, Latina TMOM)
Thinking about deviating from an expensive meal for the whole family? Travel Hack TMOM Dia Adams thinks that might be a good idea. She offers this advice: Free character experiences instead of a pricey meal! Check out Chip and Dale’s Campfire singalong at Fort Wilderness.
Savvy souvenir tips
This is another place where money can get out of control if you aren’t careful. The trip to WDW can be so enchanting and everyone wants to capture a piece of the moment with a souvenir. It’s easy to blow the budget in spending here, so one of the best ways to avoid overspending is to plan ahead.
Melodious TravelingMom Sherry Boswell makes this recommendation: Get some Disney souvenirs before you go, like light up toys, stuffed animals and autograph books. Saves you from blowing all your Disney dollars on souvenirs!
Another way to approach souvenir spending is the “empowered spending” approach for the kids. Tania Lamb, Latina TMOM, shares her fun tip: for souvenirs, we give each of our kids a Disney gift card with whatever amount we’re comfortable with. This way they can make decisions on what they want and when the money is gone, no more asking for more souvenirs!
In addition, most everyone likes to mark the moment with a picture of the family in the parks. Is it necessary to pay for pictures? Do It All TMOM Lisa O’Driscoll offers this helpful reminder: The Disney photographers will take photos with your camera. Have them snap that family photo with your own camera, and save some money!
What to do while waiting in line
With busy parks come a lot of waiting in lines. The ride queues at Disney are often engaging and photo- worthy, so make sure to look around and take some fun photos. Renee Virata, Quick Weekender TMOM, also suggests this to help pass the time: The parks will be busy, but plan ahead and bring something to entertain while waiting in lines. We enjoy play “Heads Up” on our phones. Keep your phones charged and play a family game while you wait!
Extra Magic Hours or No?
Extra Magic Hours are offered to those who take stay at the on-property resorts. On certain days, you can either go into a specific Disney Park an hour early, or stay extra late in a Park in the evening. Texas TMOM Rebecca Darling suggests this strategy when planning out your family’s visits to the Parks: Avoid the parks that have “Early Magic Hours” as they tend to be the busiest on that day. Make a visit to the other parks that may have lower attendance.
Quick Weekender TravelingMom Renee Virata offers the flip side of the coin on Extra Magic Hours: I say take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours, if you have park hopper passes. You can get quite a bit done in that 1 hour in the morning and then hop to a park that doesn’t offer EMH that day. Depending on ages of kids, we like to hop to the park that is offering evening EMH once the parade/fireworks are over. Many leave after that which leaves the park nice and quiet.
Fastpasses: an inside tip for Disneyland
Fastpasses are lifesavers when it comes to getting a family on rides in the Parks. While Fastapsses are available at Disney World, there is something fabulously new happening with them over at Disneyland in California. Check out this inside info that TMOM Renee Virata shares:
Later this year Disneyland will be introducing Disney’s MaxPass which is similar to FastPass+ in WDW. Guests will be able to pay $10 a day to schedule FastPasses using the Disneyland app and get their photopass downloads. Regular paper fastpasses will be available at no cost.
Thank you, Becky D, for your wonderful questions! We hope that we have helped to get you going in the right direction with your planning. And we hope that all of you who are interested in planning a family trip to Disney have found the inside tips from our TravelingMoms to be helpful. And don’t forget our Deals page for some dazzling deals on family travel to Disney!
DO YOU HAVE A FAMILY TRAVEL QUESTION? WE CAN HELP! ASK A TRAVELINGMOM!