Visiting WDW sounds easy enough! But especially if it’s your first time, I have some tips for you. I’ve been going roughly every few years since I was about 6, and I’m about to turn 42. So I’ve got some experience.
There’s Way More to WDW Than A Castle And A Giant Golf Ball
Some adults wonder why go to Disney. They won’t like it. They don’t care about Mickey or princesses. They’re not sure what they’ll do all day in these parks. Don’t worry. Unlike the California park, Disney in Florida offers a mountain of stuff to do.
Most Disney resorts (and don’t stay anywhere else) have pools. Many also have bike rentals and surrey bike rentals (those family bikes). Some have watercraft rentals. Some have gyms. You could sit around at the pool all day if you like trips like that.
Disney has a number of spas. Many have services for kids. Book a spa half day!
There are the four main parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom). Two water parks. Mini golf courses. Downtown Disney has dining, shopping, and a Cirque du Soleil. It also has Disney Quest, a multi floor gaming arcade. ESPN Sports Zone has some minor league games and other sporting events. All on Disney’s grounds.
And There Are Tours
Want to learn more about Disney’s hydroponic and sustainable farming? Want to do an off road Segway tour of Disney’s campground? What about a few hours behind the scenes of the Magic Kingdom? Disney offers lots of tours for an extra fee. I’ve done a few and the fun and memories are worth it. Budget it for it!
The new Disney Experience website and app want you to schedule everything you can do. Every meal you can eat. Every FastPass ride you might go on. Honestly, you don’t have to. You can play things by ear. Other than tours and…
But Do Make Dining Reservations Months In Advance
OK, you don’t want to overschedule, but you do need to know that most of the better eateries are booked MONTHS in advance for dinner. Some for lunch. Not everything in WDW takes reservations. And not everything needs reservations. If you are looking for chicken fingers, you will find them. But if you want to sit down and eat in one of the parks or hotels for dinner, make reservations in advance. You can do this online or by calling the dining line.
Budget For Souvenirs
It’s easy to plan a trip and say OK, we have to buy flights. Disney will pick us up and drop us off at the airport for free (Magic Express). And Disney will sell us a package that has the room, park tickets, and tax. Disney will sell us a dining plan too if we want to prepay for meals.
But remember souvenirs, especially if you have kids. I go alone and I buy t-shirts. They are not overpriced. A t-shirt is $20 and up for adults. A track jacket for adults might be $70.
But there is one souvenir people forget to work into their budget. $150 for what’s now called Memory Maker. This is you buying a copy of every photo Disney staff take of you. And trust me, you will want these. Their photogs are great, and capture lots of fun moments. They are all around every park, and I’ve even found them as I clumsily splashed off the end of a fast water ride at one of Disney’s 2 water parks.
You can easily end up with 100 cool pics, so the price isn’t that bad for high quality downloads. But work it into the budget because you should get it! It’s $149 if you buy it in advance of your trip through the Disney Experience website.
Dress For Waiting In Line
Flip flops are cute, but are they still cute when you are waiting 1-2 hours for a 5 minute ride? EPCOT alone is 300 acres. That’s nearly twice the size of the whole California Disneyland. EPCOT is mostly in a circle, and I think walking around it is around 2 miles. The parking lot at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Florida is larger than California Disneyland.
WDW is around 48 square miles. That’s about the size of San Francisco. Bigger than Manhattan. Sure, they have transportation to get you between parks and hotels. But get your legs, back, and feet ready.
If you’re not waiting, you’re walking. Forget the cute shoes. Wear the most comfy things you have, which might be your workout trainers or something like that. You are basically running a marathon in slow motion. Dress for it!
Bring snacks if you need them. Disney is OK with you bringing some snacks and beverages in last I checked. So if you have kids, maybe have some granola bars and juice boxes. Disney has endless food everywhere, but if you’re on a 2-hour line, it might be good to have something quick someone can have as a snack if they are losing their mind.
Bring Your Charging Cable and External Battery Pack
If you plan to take lots of pics from your phone, use your phone a lot, or social media a lot, you will probably burn your battery down pretty fast. And then what.
One year, I went to WDW with someone who burned his iPhone down before lunch. He had his charging cable and plug with him (great!) but it’s not like Disney is full of outlets. He found outlets outside a men’s room. He stood there for an hour waiting for his phone to charge up. He looked like he was trying to turn tricks standing outside the men’s room like that.
I have a small battery pack that’s 6x my phone battery. This is where understanding your phone’s battery helps. If you have a 2100mAh battery, and you go buy a 1500mAh external charging pack, you will barely double your phone’s time. That’s why I own two 20,000mAh battery packs. Yeah, you read that right. I’m a “be prepared” kind of gal. I don’t want to get stuck looking for outlets. I keep myself charged with my battery packs.
Bonus Tip: Go When American Kids Are In School
If you have kids, you might not be able to try this tip. Though I know some people will take their kids out of school for a week to go to Disney in a quieter season. Quieter seasons are not only more fun, but they are cheaper. Supply and demand. Disney hotel prices drop during their “value” seasons. Park tickets are the same. Flights might be cheaper since who’s going to Orlando for a week when every kid is in school.
Yes, we associate Disney with long lines. I remember going Xmas week when I was a teen, and waiting 90 minutes to get on Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball). Ninety freaking minutes. Feels like most of your day gone.
As an adult (with no kids), I go to Disney when every American child has school. Sometimes that was late September. Sometimes early February. Either way, school is in session. Most of the kids there were from other countries. And by going during these times, I can walk right on Spaceship Earth with literally zero line.
So if you can go early January to mid-Feb or September into early October, those are hands down the best times. Usually good weather, not blazing hot. And the lines are way way way shorter. Especially lines for the bus back to your hotel. After 12 hours of walking, it can suck to have to wait for many transport buses to cycle through before you can get on one.
I love Disney World, even as an adult, and am heading there on my bi-annual pilgrimage in a few weeks. Have a question about hitting WDW? Happy to help!