Disney World. You either love it or you don’t. One thing we can all agree on though is that a little preparation and know-how can go a long way towards making your visit as perfect as it can be.
There are dozens, nay, scores, even hundreds of lists of things to take or do or avoid and my guess is that you’ve read at least a few of them. Some of my tips may be repeats (but they’ll be worth repeating) and some may be new. Either way, as a frequent visitor here are my must haves/must dos.
1. Get to the park early and be there when it opens. Doubtless there’s at least one ride you desperately want to ride but for which you couldn’t get a FastPass. Speed walk to that as soon as you enter the park and you’ll be set. There may still be a small wait depending on your racewalking prowess, but I promise it won’t be anything like the 2+ hour wait later in the day (I’m looking at you Seven Dwarves Mine Train).
2. Download the My Disney Experience app. You will be lost without it. (literally- it has a map). Yes, they still have paper maps at the entry to the parks in more languages than a UN meeting, but the app has so much more than just directions- think reservations, Fast Passes, and wait times. Download it and use it. You will be glad you did.
3.Bring a small charging device for your phone. You will spends loads of time on your phone at the park. Between taking photos, using the My Disney Experience app, uploading your photos to social media, and playing games while waiting in line your battery is going to need a boost.
4.Download the app Heads Up. It’s a fun way to pass time in line with your friends. As an added bonus when you download the Disney pack of cards from inside the park they’re free. Woohoo!
5.Bring your own bottle(s) of water. Yes, you can get free cups of ice water in the restaurants with fountain drinks and you may have to do so at some point, but life is a lot easier if you have your bottle with you from the start.
6. Bring a small backpack. You won’t be hiking the Inca Trail so no need to bring anything massive. A small pack to hold your water, a camera (if you’re old school like that), your phone charger, baseball cap and sunglasses (for the wild rides), and a souvenir or two and you should be set. (If you run out of souvenir space the shop can send it to your resort room so you don’t have to shlep it).
7. Bring your own wine/beer/booze to the resort (Not the parks!) After a day at the parks it’s time to decompress. Yes, you could go find an adult beverage for an exorbitant price orrrrr you could open that bottle of wine you were smart enough to bring with you. I use Bottle Armor when I check my wine (it protects the bottle AND has a corkscrew pocket).
8. Stay on property. Yes, you can stay at a local chain hotel. They may even offer a shuttle and free breakfast and while that sounds good, there’s a downside. That free shuttle? Most likely doesn’t get to the park until mid-morning. So you’ve missed out there. (Refer to Tip #1 on why this is a bad thing). Not worried about the shuttle because you plan to rent a car? Awesome. So add that car rental fee to your hotel charges and don’t forget to throw in $20 to park at the parks. Each day. (And besides all that, have you SEEN the size of the parking lots? Massive.) That’s still not that bad you may say to yourself. And you’d be right (maybe). But then I’d ask- What is your time worth? What is it worth to you to have someone else do the work? Do yourself a favor, stay on property, and use the free shuttle service to the parks provided by Disney. As an added bonus, you get to take advantage of extra magic hours that off-property guests don’t get.
9. Wear comfortable clothing. Most of you will pack comfy clothing and shoes but some of you will go for fashion rather than comfort. Don’t do it! There’s no need to impress your family because they already think you’re awesome. (After all, you brought them to Disney World). And if you’re single, do you really plan to meet Mr./Mrs. Right at Disney World? Take a shower, use deodorant, and hide your hair under a hat if you must. Do what you must regarding makeup and be done.
10. Pack your patience. It seems obvious but it’s easy to forget when you’re trying to dodge double strollers, scooters, and people obliviously wandering down the sidewalks & streets. At a snail’s pace. Right in front of you. Four abreast. (I’m still working on trying to find my zen.) Just take a deep breath and remember that you really are at the happiest place on Earth! (And that there’s a bottle of wine waiting for you in your room).