Disney World 101: Tips & Tricks

We spent the “most magical time of the year” at the “most magical place on Earth” with a toddler.

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Christmas at Disney.

Was it magical? Mostly…. Combine Disney, 10 people family vacation, the busiest time of year and things are bound to get hectic. We did our research before we went, knew we were going at the time where the park hits capacity and felt prepared to tackle a week at Disney. Among the rides, dancing, shows, naps and meltdowns we still learned a few things.

  1. Get the park hopper pass. You may end up spending an entire day at one park, but the ability to hop parks is worth it. You can spend your morning at Epcot and still be able to catch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. It’s worth the few extra dollars per ticket.
  2. Magic bands are totally worth it. I first wanted these just for the looks not knowing their full potential. They hold everything! Your tickets, your reservations, your fast passes. If you’re staying at a Disney resort you can even load a credit card and reduce the amount of things to carry in! [Note: I had a horrible experience with the Disney store online when ordering my bands. I recommend avoiding any holiday or specialized bands as they oversell and you won’t get it!]
  3. Download the Disney experience app. This is where you link everything. You also can see ride wait times, make reservations, schedule your fast passes for not just you but your entire group. Its all your Disney management and itinerary in your smart phone!
  4. Plan out and use your fast passes. Fast passes are the shit! They cut hours worth of wait times into about 10-20 mins. Some fast passes “sell out” quick, like Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom. When we arrived at our resort we sat down and planned out which days we would spend at which parks. From there we were able to get our fast passes in order [via the Disney app]. They auto load onto your magic band and you’re good to go.
  5. You can park at multiple parks in the same day with 1 receipt. We learned this the hard way. We paid to park at Epcot, spent half the day there and went to Animal Kingdom. After paying again at Animal Kingdom the nice lady said “You can use this receipt to park at any of the Disney parks for today.” Upon reading the back of the receipt this is true, for any park! So skip the 2 hour waits at the buses and monorails between parks, drive and park again for free!
  6. Same is true for stroller rental. We brought our own stroller, but if you rent a stroller at one park, in the same day you can use that receipt to get another stroller free in another park if you’re hopping.
  7. Disney water is filtered. Don’t buy or bring a bunch of water bottles. Bring one bottle and refill it at Disney’s water fountains. They’re filtered water and just as good!
  8. Where do you get those free buttons? We saw everyone walking around with “My First Visit” or “I’m Celebrating” buttons but where do they get them. Just ask at any store and they have so many versions and sayings you can choose from and get as many as you want, for free!
  9. Expect crowds. We went during the busiest time of the year. There will be crowds, no matter where you go. You will fight for tables like hawks, wait in long lines for a turkey leg, to use the bathroom, just about everything. Embrace it for what it is. For what it’s worth – the crowding wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
  10. That said, avoid Universal Studios during the holidays. Universal Studios, both parks, were a mad house! We maybe rode 1-2 rides in each park in the entire day there. The waits were 2-3 hours long, you had to pay about $150 per person [because of the holiday] for the line jumpers and it was just ridiculous trying to get around. Since these parks are smaller and only have a handful of actual “rides” they fill up QUICK! Side note: Harry Potter world and the butter beer are a must try! 

What are you favorite things to see and do at Disney? Any tips & tricks you’ve picked up along the way? 

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