For better or for worse, Disney World isn’t the kind of vacation where you can just show up. In order to really make the most of your trip, you need to do some advanced planning.
BUT what are the planning tips no one thinks about? The ones that give you that uneasy “what did I forget feeling” on your way to the airport? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 Disney Planning Tips that everyone forgets:
1. Check the Weather — and Then Plan for Everything It DOESN’T Predict, Too
Florida’s weather is both completely predictable and unpredictable at the same time. In the summer time it may be a gorgeous day, and then a huge thunderstorm rolls in out of nowhere. It’ll storm for 30 minutes — winds howling, rain pouring, thunder booming — and then it’ll be gone like it never happened. (And all you’re left with is the humidity.)
There are times the weather apps will say it’s an 80% chance of rain and not a drop will fall, and others where it’s a 20% chance and it monsoons. No matter what the weather report says, if you’re visiting in the Summer or Early Fall, pack rain gear. Better to have it and not need it, right? Plus, buying ponchos and umbrellas in Disney World is EXPENSIVE. Get ’em cheap at big box stores before you go.
Additionally, people assume Florida is always hot. And for the most part, they’re right. But there are a few times where it gets cold. Very cold. Especially at night. If you’re visiting in the winter, make sure to pack a light jacket or sweater. And I always bring a winter scarf (you’d be surprised how much that makes a difference). That way if it gets chilly at night you’re prepared — and not stuck buying an expensive Disney sweatshirt you didn’t intend to purchase.
2. Schedule Travel Time
Disney World is big place. We’re talking twice the size of the island of Manhattan big, or roughly equivalent to the city of San Francisco big. And a lot of people forget to schedule adequate travel time to get from here to there!
For example, if you’re frolicking about in the Magic Kingdom and have dinner reservations in Epcot’s World Showcase, you’ll have to: 1) get all the way out of the Magic Kingdom, 2) take a monorail to the Transportation & Ticket Center, 3) switch monorails to the Epcot monorail, 4) get through the turnstiles, and then 5) walk all the way back to World Showcase. That takes, like, at least 30 minutes on a good day. Get marooned by a parade, catch a slow monorail, or get caught in a long security line, and you’re looking at an hour at best.
Even if you’re paying for a Minnie Van, you’ll want to budget at least an hour to get in between the two spots — you never know how long it will take to get through the Toll Plaza, Security, and the Main Entrance.
Make sure to plan ample travel time in your busy schedule — what’s the point of getting all those great Dining Reservations if you’re going to be late and miss them?
3. Magical Express Pick-ups are EARLY
Disney’s Magical Express
is a great perk of staying on property! The bus service takes you between your Disney Resort and Orlando’s MCO airport, free of charge.
But it’s important to note, Disney’s Magical Express schedules pick ups to head back to the airport early. VERY EARLY. Disney doesn’t want to be the reason you miss a flight, so they cautiously schedule Magical Express Pick-ups several hours before your flight time. And it’s much earlier than a typical flyer would head to the airport.
So be sure to keep this in mind when planning your check-out day activities. If you’re booking a dining reservation or planning a park day, you’ll have to be done and ready to go well in advance of your flight.
However, if you don’t want to leave super early, you can always take an Uber or a Minnie Van to MCO — and then your departure time is up to you!
4. Keep Checking My Disney Experience For Popular Fastpass+ and Dining Reservations
Even if you’re right on time booking Dining Reservations and Fastpass+, you may not get everything you want. It can be a bummer, but you simply move to Plan B and select other restaurants and attractions. You resign yourself to waiting in the Stand-by Line at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and you must acknowledge won’t be dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table this year.
Or maybe NOT! Don’t give up hope just yet!
Keep checking in on My Disney Experience for your desired reservations! People’s plans change all the time, and when they modify or cancel their bookings, their loss is your gain. An especially good time to check on dining is a day or two before you’d like to eat. There is a cancellation fee for cancelling dining less than 24 hours before the reservation, and people often wait until the last minute.
And you should spend your days before your trip (and during your trip tbh) refreshing the My Disney Experience app in the hope that your coveted first tier fastpass opens up. It happens ALL the time. Happy refreshing, my friends!
5. Plan Around “Disney” Holidays
When planning your Disney vacation, a lot of people know to avoid major holidays if they want to avoid major crowds. Typically speaking, if the kids are out of school, it’s a busy time at Walt Disney World.
But a lot of people forget to schedule around “Disney” holidays! These unofficial celebrations can also draw big crowds. We’re talking runDisney Weekends, Dapper Days, Gay Days, Florida Spring Break, and big Park Anniversaries or Opens.
Before you book your vacation, check Disney’s website and Social Media Sites (like Facebook events!) to make sure you’re not planning a trip at the same time as a big event — unless you want to be, of course!
6. It’s OK to Schedule Down Time. And You SHOULD.
There is SO much to do at Disney World that you may be tempted to try and do it all! And while it is a very GO GO GO vacation for most people, you’re going to need a break to relax and recharge.
Make sure you allot for some pool time or a leisurely meal amidst all of the park madness. One of our favorite things to do is let the littles enjoy our resort playground — sometimes a slide is still the best! For the grownups, we love hitting a resort lounge for a cocktail and a nosh. Some of our favorites include Territory Lounge, Scat Cats Club, Ale and Compass Lounge, and the new Barcelona Lounge!
Don’t forget to schedule in some down time in all of your Disney planning — your family will thank you.
Want more Disney Planning Tips? Check out this DFB Video!
And if you love this video, there’s plenty more for you to enjoy over on our DFB YouTube Channel!
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What’s your favorite Disney planning tip? Let us know in the comments!