Honestly, I learned so much from our Disney World trip that I’ll probably have to write another one of these next week, but here are ten tips I can pass along from my trip to Walt Disney World that might be able to help you on a future trip to Disney World. (I’m sure most apply to Disneyland too.)
1. I mentioned before that making reservations (and the like) can become a full time job. Your job is not done once you get to the Disney World. If there were restaurants that you couldn’t get into, keep checking – even once you’re already in Disney World! I had tried over and over to get us into both Chef Mickey and the Crystal Palace over the course of a few months. I was finally able to get into both by checking the computer while we were on our Disney trip.
2. Speaking of checking things online — Make sure you check your resort’s Internet offerings, if you’re staying at an on-site resort. We had been at the Coronado for six days before we realized that there was a free option for wireless Internet! We had been given a sheet about it, but it was buried in with all of the other papers we got, and just hadn’t paid attention.
3. At least once during your stay, stay late for fireworks or a light show. We often were out of the parks before that happened, but we were thrilled to stay one night for fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. (We also were able to see them light Cinderella’s Castle for Christmas each time we were there, as well as to see the amazing Christmas light show at Disney’s Hollywood Studio.)
4. If you or anyone in your party needs to use a Scooter (or ECV), definitely consider renting it through Walker Mobility. My Mom needed a scooter and was able to save so much money over renting each day at the park. Plus, Walker Mobility then delivered the scooter so it was waiting for us at the resort, she was able to keep it for the entire stay, and then we dropped it off at our front desk on our last day. We were very impressed, and it really made it possible for my Mom to visit all the parks, Downtown Disney, and all around our resort.
5. Bring along extra sunscreen. Or, at the very least – try to buy it somewhere offsite. The spray bottle of sunscreen that I bought at Target before our trip stopped working during the very first application. (Ugh!) This left me needing to buy a $14 bottle of sunscreen at our resort. Ouch! (Although, it still felt better than getting sun burns.)
6. Bring hats too! Of course, you may not be into wear hats, but we all bought baseball caps when we got to Disney World. We needed them not only for the sun, but it helped for all the rain we got too. Plus, I have a tendency of having my scalp get sun burnt, so it was a delight to not have that happen. (Oh, plus my hair hates the weather in the south. So, that helped me not have giant, poofy hair.) We were happy to have the hats as souvenirs, but it would have saved us money to bring our own hats.
7. As long as I’m mentioning what to bring along – pick up some of those $1 cheap ponchos that you sometimes see at the check out at the big box stores. They often fit in small pouches, won’t take up much space, and will save you over buying ponchos for around $8.50 while it’s pouring down rain at Walt Disney World. (Even though it rained four of the days we were there, we still didn’t buy ponchos though, because we were able to duck into rides or just walk around anyway.)
8. If you’re one to seek out pictures with characters (and autographs), we found it easiest to do it at character meals. Be warned though – for a family, character meals can get very expensive. (That’s one of the reasons we were so thrilled to get a free Dining Plus plan!) There are lots of opportunities to get pictures and autographs in the parks though, so don’t feel like you have to do a character meal if it’s not in your plan or your budget.
9. Now, if you have any little girls with you (or just love Princesses yourself), don’t miss the Storybook Princesses attraction as you enter the Magic Kingdom. It was only on our third (and last) day at the Magic Kingdom that I understood that Storybook Princesses was a place to wait in line for a chance to meet Princesses. We were thrilled to go check it out and find only a 15 minute wait when we expected that we were going to find a long wait. (We had planned to get a Fast Pass for it for later in the day, but just go in line instead.)
We also didn’t have to wait long to get autographs at some other parks with some characters when we just happened to be at the right place at the right time. (Or, in the case of Mulan, we happened to speed through half of the World Showcase to be in China and waiting about 20 minutes before her arrival.)
10. If you can go during an off time, make sure to watch for a package that includes free dining! We saved so much money by booking during one of these specials. I told my Mom over and over, “I can’t believe we’re eating all this food for free!” (My Mom went to Disney World at the same time and also had a free dining plan.)
On a side note: If I was going to Disney World again, I would still probably buy a dining plan just so that I could use my “Key to the World” and pretend my meals were free, rather than having to pay for each meal when we were eating it. (Seriously – one of the bills for me and the kids was $148 before tip.)