If you search “Disney World tips,” you’ll find a lot of the same advice.
A lot of the standard Disney World tips are super helpful, but it’s important to take into account YOUR needs, rather than feeling obligated to follow the most popular tips. We have eight common Disney World tips that can be great, but they should be suggestions rather than requirements for a great Disney World visit.
1. Rope Drop a Park
Rope dropping means being inside a Disney Park before the official opening time. Basically, you get there before it opens. It also means getting up early, dealing with morning crowd lines, and rushing with the crowd to get to your destination. Sometimes it doesn’t even mean shorter waits depending on what you want to do. (Ever rope dropped Hollywood Studios only to rush to Slinky Dog Dash to see it ALREADY has a 90-minute wait?! Yeah. Not good.)
You can still have a great day in a Disney Park if you aren’t physically inside the park before they even open. Consider your own needs and your travel party. Some teenagers don’t become human until after 10am (or…err..a lot later), so it may not be worth that fight with yourself or your group if greeting sunrise isn’t your jam. Maybe skip the rope drop and enjoy your sleep. If you’re planning a full day at a Disney Park, including a fireworks show, getting some extra sleep isn’t a bad idea. PLUS, this leaves the nighttime wide open for all you nightowls. Some folks prefer to be up late, making an early morning challenging.
2. Always Take the Left Path
“Always go left” is a common park directional tip because a lot of people think folks tend to instinctually go right. But this should be a suggestion and not a rule. If fact, what we find tends to be the case more often than not is more of a herd mentality. If a lot of folks are going one way, many others tend to follow suit. You see this a lot at the entrances where the closest lines are MEGA long but others steps away are totally empty! Sometimes you should just aim for the farthest away line or ride because people tend to get in the first line they see.
It also depends on the park. If you go left in EPCOT or Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll wind up in some of the busiest areas of the parks. It does generally work well in Magic Kingdom though!
3. Get This [Popular Restaurant] Reservation
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in Disney World planning and you might feel obligated to make a reservation at a popular restaurant. But choosing a popular restaurant without checking the menu or prices is a huge mistake. Sure, it’s popular, but is it even your taste? Is the food worth the cost?
Check the menu or reviews before making a reservation, even if everyone tells you you just HAVE to eat there. Our YouTube channel has TONS of reviews and advice about Disney World restaurants.
4. Break Up Your Day with a Lunch Reservation
Some people might advise you to grab a lunch reservation to break up the day, but getting a mid-day reservation for a restaurant that serves heavy food can be the worst. Check the menu before making a reservation! If the restaurant you chose serves super heavy food, you might regret your meal when you want to nap afterward, or you can’t ride any rides because you’re so stuffed and uncomfortable.
A great way to break up the day with food is with snacks. There are filling snacks, budget snacks, snack upgrades, and more! You don’t HAVE to have a big lunch reservation to fill your stomach, and with snacks, you can try an array of foods without getting super full. Or consider a counter service option. This can still provide an opportunity to sit down and plan out the rest of your afternoon while you recharge with some lighter nosh.
There ARE pros to booking a mid-day sit-down meal — you can cool off, rest, recharge tired kids, and more. But if that doesn’t fit your particular journey…just don’t do it! 🙂
5. Get a Breakfast Reservation for Early Park Access
A lot of people recommend getting a breakfast reservation for earlier access to a Disney Park. And while Disney World has some amazing breakfast places, starting the day with a FULL stomach is not always great, nor is getting the earliest breakfast reservation while also planning to close out the park that day. (Remember that earlier tip about how waking your family up at the crack of dawn might *not* be the best idea always?)
If you have a breakfast reservation, sometimes it’s better to schedule it for a break day or a half-day park visit, and especially on a day with no lunch reservation. If you’re worried about feeling stuffed, you could also plan for your morning after breakfast to focus on seeing shows rather than rides, and try to avoid making a breakfast reservation the morning after a late night in the parks.
Starting October 1st, select Disney World Resort hotels will also grant guests the option to enter Disney Parks 30 minutes before the park opens with Early Theme Park Entry, so that’s another option you could consider if you really like to start your day as early as possible.
6. Take a Mid-Day Break From the Parks
Many people plan to take breaks from the parks with a mid-day nap, swim, or just a few hours to sit down and relax. While this is usually a great recommendation for families or people with young kids, it’s not always a must-do for everyone. If you know your family or group can keep going like the Energizer Bunny, taking a mid-day break would force you to miss out on the parks for a break you don’t need.
Also, if your visit takes place during the winter months, the cooler weather can keep you from feeling the heat exhaustion so many feel during the summer in Florida. Think about YOUR party’s needs rather than automatically planning mid-day breaks. Also, consider the park hours and the time it may take you to get to and from your resort. If you’re planning to use the Disney Bus transportation, your hour nap break may turn into a 3-hour+ ordeal as you wait for buses and the actual ride to and from the park. For some parks and some seasons that could be a third of your day potentially wasted!
7. Stay in a Disney World Hotel for Easy Transportation
It’s true, staying in a Disney World resort hotel usually means access to their transportation system, but have you double-checked your hotel’s transportation options? Some of the hotels have multiple transportation options, and others have only bus routes with some buses stopping at multiple stops, leading to a longer commute to the parks. At the end of the night, the wait for transportation can take a long time, especially when everyone is tired and hot.
Paying less for a Disney World Resort hotel does not mean less access to transportation. Value hotels like Pop Century and Art of Animation have access to the Disney Skyliner gondola system along with buses, and moderate hotel Caribbean Beach also has the Skyliner and buses.
If you have a bigger budget, deluxe hotels like Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Village Resort, and the Contemporary Resort have access to the Monorail. Plus some resort hotels are even within walking distance to select Disney Parks. And don’t forget the boat options. Many Epcot-area and Magic Kingdom-area resorts provide boat transportation to select parks. There’s even boats at select resorts that will take you to and from Disney Springs (when in operation). Just keep in mind they aren’t speed boats, so using the waterways to get to your destination can take some time, too.
Plus one of the biggest free resort transportation perks of all, Disney’s Magical Express, is ending at the end of the year, making getting to Disney World from the airport a bit tougher for most guests. Staying in a Disney World Resort hotel doesn’t guarantee “easy” transportation, so make sure to double-check which transportation options your hotel offers.
8. Plan Your Entire Day in the Park
Many people recommend carefully planning out everything you want to do in a Disney Park, but over-planning can majorly restrict you. We see you guests with the 3 inch thick binders laminated and cataloged for each day! Sometimes the magic of Disney World is stumbling onto a surprisingly short ride wait, or a character cavalcade, or a snack stand you didn’t know existed. If you’re okay with it, give yourself some wiggle room for some spontaneous magic to occur.
It’s not possible to do absolutely everything you want to do in a single Disney Parks visit, so over-planning can also lead to disappointment when unplanned things like closed rides or canceled shows happen. Giving your plans some wiggle room allows for space to adjust your day accordingly.
Next time someone tells you you HAVE to do this or that in Disney World, remember that there are no rules for how YOU can plan your Disney World trip. Keep reading DFB for all your Disney World advice or non-advice!
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Have you ever been disappointed by Disney World advice? Let us know in the comments!