The Ultimate Disney Travel Guide
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Travel During A Special Event
Disney is wonderful year-round, but seasoned visitors can get more out of their next trip by going during one of the park festivals, like the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in the spring or the International Food & Wine Festival in the fall.
See a full list of special events here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/
Take Advantage Of Extra Magic Hours
Each park’s hours vary day to day. Plan your day around which park will be open the longest, and go there last. During one trip, I went from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and then at 8:30, I headed over to Magic Kingdom, which was open until 11:00 that night. Not only was the park clearing out, but I was able to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 8 times in a row, catching the fireworks show from the rollercoaster. That was my most memorable and magical Disney experience!
If Visiting For Two Days, Stay On Site
If you’re only going to spend two days at the parks, stay at a hotel on site. You’ll save lots of time traveling to the parks and you’ll be able to go back to your hotel during the day as needed. We stayed at the Disney Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts on different occasions and both properties are beautiful and have easy access to the parks, particularly to Epcot. You can also take Disney’s Magical Express to and from the Orlando airport. Reserve your spots on the shuttle ahead of time. The only downside about the shuttle is that it will stop at 4 or 5 other neighboring hotels, adding an additional 20 – 45 minutes of extra time on the shuttle. While they will give you a suggested shuttle time based on your flight, if you have a flight to catch, take an Uber to the airport.
Disney World: Take The Monorail Or Water Taxi Boats To The Parks
Disney World transportation includes a monorail and water taxis that go between the parks and certain hotels. Note that depending on where you’re leaving from, the monorail may be much quicker.
Prioritize The Most Unique Attractions
FastPass+ will let you reserve up to 3 rides and you must use them before you can reserve more. Because of this, it’s key to use them early on in the day, so plan accordingly and in advance. You can plan up to 30 days in advance after purchasing your park tickets; 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a select Walt Disney Resort Hotel. However if the popular rides are not something you’re most interested in, then plan your day around the most unique experiences in each park. While Disneyland and Disney World both have the same set of classic rides (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, the Teacups, to name just a few), Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and the other surrounding parks and activities that make up the Walt Disney World experience are all only found in Orlando.
At Epcot, Don’t Miss The World Showcase
Have you heard of the World Showcase? It’s my FAVORITE! If you’re a foodie and/or have major wanderlust, then the Epcot World Showcase is for you. Come hungry and experience authentic cuisines from 11 countries: United States, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, and Canada. To create a more authentic experience, Disney actually hires the employees who work in the country stores and restaurants from the respective countries. While the employees speak English, you’ll often hear the native languages being spoken at the shops, which is awesome because it makes it feel so much more realistic.
If you want pizza, I highly recommend Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria in Italy, my favorite restaurant in the World Showcase. The pizza is divine.
For dessert, walk to France and try the Croque Glacé from L’Artisan des Glaces. It’s an ice cream brioche. Need I say more? 🙂
Wear A Fitness Tracker
You’ll be amazed by how much walking you’ll do. Wear an activity tracker (my favorite) and comfy sneakers. These leather Nike Roshe sneakers are the best because they’re comfy and chic!
Bring A Backup Charger
This may go without saying, but if you’re going to be spending a day at the parks, make sure to bring a phone charger or backup battery.
Wear A Zippable Backpack Or Clothes With Pockets
Or better yet, don’t bring a bag at all. Since you can use the Magic Bands to charge any purchases, going bag-free is easier than you think. I always worry that my stuff will fall out on a rollercoaster, so I make sure to wear a light jacket with zippers that will securely hold my cell phone and sunglasses.
Disney World: Bring A Raincoat Shell
Wet rides and Florida rain showers can leave you damp. Bring a packable raincoat to brave the day.
Use The App And Your Magic Band
Plan your itinerary and reserve FastPass+ via the app. Your Magic Band is an RFID bracelet that will also let you do everything from access your hotel room, FastPass+ rides, and make payments. Definitely add a card to it so that you can pay for everything without carrying around a wallet. And note that when you set it up, you’ll add a pincode that will allow you to use it for payments, so if you were to lose it, your card will still be safe.
Don’t Waste Money On Bottled Water
There’s no need to waste money purchasing bottled water: Each restaurant will provide you with water which you can get in a to-go cup.
Watch The Fireworks Shows From A Roller Coaster Or Hotel
While the crowds gather in the parks, you can take advantage of this time and continue to ride on the busiest rides. As mentioned above, catching a the fireworks show from a roller coaster was one of the most memorable and magical experiences I’ve ever had! At Disney World, you can also view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from resorts like the Polynesian.
Look For Hidden Mickeys
My favorite thing about Disney is that as a brand, they’re very detail-oriented. Everything is designed with brilliant intent. At the parks, part of this detailed approach to design includes hiding Mickey shapes all over the parks. Pay attention and you will find hundreds of hidden Mickeys hidden throughout Disney properties.
Plan Your Photos And Purchase Any Disney Accessories Ahead Of Time
If part of your day includes getting photos — whether with characters or landmarks, do your research. I’ve made a Pinterest board on photo opportunities and ideas for inspiration. Also note that you can ask staff when and where to find the characters you want to see.
What To Wear