We have taken 2 trips (soon to be 3 trips) to Disney World in Florida. We have stayed offsite and onsite. So many things I wish people would have told me before we went. If you have never been, or maybe you have, here are my top ‘why didn’t anyone tell me that’ Disney travel tips.
Disney travel tips
- Where to start -Go to www.disney.com and create a profile. You’ll need to give this to your travel agent, so you can print things out and search the Disney site. Disney may also send you suggestions on things to see based on what you view on their site.
- Who to call – Contact a Disney Travel agent. They are free and know all the ins and outs. They can totally make your experience one you will remember forever. Consider using Beth at Me and the Mouse located in Michigan. (she did our last Disney trip and is AMAZING!)
- Plan Early – We book our trips about a year out when we go. This allowed Beth to get us ALL the character dining we wanted, the rooms we wanted, instead of being disappointed.
- Celebrations – if you are celebrating a birthday, wedding, anniversary, etc. Make sure your travel agent and hotel know so you can get some perks from that as well. You sometimes get a free dessert at sit down restaurants. The cast members recognize you and you may get priority service, moved up in lines.
- Where to stay – staying on property is a great Disney experience. Working with a Disney Travel agent again is a great way to help you determine where to stay.
- if you are staying offsite, we used homeaway.com to find a great condo 5 minutes away from Disney, at an awesome price that allowed us to relax.
- I don’t believe you can get the dining package if you don’t stay on property, this may have changed, so check with your Disney Travel Agent
- Where to get great pictures – You can get a free photo pass from any of the cast members who takes pictures of you in front of the different attractions at the parks. You then can print any pictures you want (use the same card throughout all your trip.
- You can purchase an upgraded pass and have it mailed to you after your trip.
- Ask your travel agent to get this for you, it could be cheaper than what is posted on Disney’s website.
- It is great. We got all our pictures taken at the park by the cast members. It was great when we waited in line to get our pictures taken, we handed them the card, instead of our camera and they knew the poses the characters were going to do and took many personal shots of the kids getting autographs. Awesome and my one thing to have next time we go too.
Places to eat
- Where to eat – we did the Disney dining plan this last time and the food was awesome. We did several character dining experiences. The food with the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was awesome. Liberty Tree Tavern had awesome American food that everyone in our family (including my picky daughter) loved. O’Hana breakfast at the Polynesian Resort was awesome.
- If you make reservations for breakfast for character dining, you get to get into the park ahead of everyone else (look for the special very short line). You have to go where you are supposed to for dining, but it is awesome to see the park empty like that and really get to take it all in and get some great pictures. You will not be allowed to wander wherever and only go to your restaurant (trust me)
Things to see
- What to see – Work again (can’t say this enough) with you travel agent on their suggestions on what you might want to check out.
- Make sure you hit up your must haves first, that way if you get tired, you won’t be disappointed.
- If you stay for the fireworks at Walt Disney World, be on the look out for Tinkerbell flying from the top of Cinderella’s castle. It’s a real person flying!
- Characters – Be on the look out for characters to get autographs and photos for…and be prepared to wait in a line. Know that not everyone will have manners and be polite and it’s hot and they are tired.
- Bringing a Stroller – You can bring your own stroller, but you can also rent one. One less thing to lug on the plane, in the car, and into the bus. You can buy a pass for the entire time you are there at the parks and use it from park to park. Costs $$, but might be worth the hassle.
- When to leave the park – before you kids get tired and crabby. There is nothing worse that riding on the last bus at night with screaming kids (that aren’t yours) because parents had to be there till it closed. The last buses are full and like sardines.
- Riding the bus – if you are riding the bus from the Disney resorts, go earlier than you need to get in the park. (especially for dining reservations). You might have to wait for several buses before you can get on. (a reason why I would prefer to rent a car and not wait for a bus or hear screaming kids on the bus at night).
- Ask the bell hop of your Disney hotel, which stop you need to get off of, to get to your hotel room. They have North, South, East and West drop off stations. Getting off on the wrong depot drop off in the middle of the night, having to carry your kid for 1/2 mile (or more) is not something you want to experience (trust me, did that).
Before you pack, also consider these basic tips too.