Let me tell you, I love all things Disney. The parks, the movies, the merchandise – it’s all magical and holds a special place in my heart. As my love for Disney has grown, so has my knowledge of hacks that have helped me have more Disney fun. If you’re planning a trip to Disney World soon and are looking for ways to get more bang for your buck, have an easier time navigating your vacation, or simply want to add more Disney magic into your life, you wont want to miss these tips! I have a lot of tips and tricks in my arsenal so stay tuned as I will add a new hack each week! Sign up for emails or follow me on my Instagram to be updated with each post!
Note:These tips are, of course, based on experiences prior to Covid-19, with the coming changes, I always recommend staying up-to-date on any changes at the Disney Parks website
Alright, let’s get down to business!
Part 1 – When to go to Disney World!
The first thing I do when I start planning my Disney vacation is determine when the best time to visit is. I am not a fan of large crowds, so my goal is to try and go during the slowest times of the year. There are a few sites out there that can predict crowds and even narrow it down to each park. One of my favorites is this one by Undercover Tourist. You can view it yearly or monthly (the monthly breakdown has more information and covers each park individually). With this information, I will plan which park I will visit on which day of my trip. Again, I usually plan to go the the parks with fewer crowds.
Another thing to consider when planning which park to visit on which day is extra magic hours, or events that might give you more or less time in the parks. For example, if you plan to visit Magic Kingdom on October 9th, and don’t have tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, your time to visit MK will be cut short as the close the park for those without MNSSHP tickets during the event. Note: This tip really applies mostly to those with one park per day tickets. I don’t know about you, but with the cost of tickets, I want to get the most out of the park and would be super bummed to learn that I couldn’t see the fireworks or stay in the park due to another event. So, morale of the story, be aware of all events scheduled for the day you’re planning to visit the park. You may find you want to adjust your plans.
Planning is another big part of setting yourself up for success! Even if you find that you didn’t exactly follow the plan, it’s better to have one and impulsively change it in the moment, than to not have one at all. It will keep you organized and make sure that you can really maximize your time in the park. Below is a screenshot of the plan I made for our last trip in Sept. 2019.
Note: This is an unfinished plan, and it certainly changed a bit during our visit, but it was a good basis to keep me organized during the planning phase. Included in this Numbers document is a high level packing list, and to-do list
#ProTip: If you have kids that can’t ride every ride, color code the times you plan to ride each ride so you can visually see how you may want to alternate rides so that it doesn’t seem like your kiddo is left out of everything for a long period of time
Another thing to keep in mind when deciding when to visit Disney World is your budget! During peak seasons you can expect to pay more for a resort room and park tickets than if you decide to go during slower times of the year.
Peak season at Disney World would fall during the most crowded times of the year. For example, summer months, school breaks and holidays can be when it’s most expensive to go. Visiting in the month of January, February, early fall can be less expensive! Always check the Disney World website to play around with the cost of resorts and tickets.
Leave me a comment and let me know which time of year is your favorite year to go. Do you have any other tips that you consider when choosing the best time to visit Disney World?
Part 2 – Parking/Transportation
Depending on where you’re staying during your visit, your transportation options will vary. I always recommend learning all of your transportation options prior to booking your stay incase another resort or hotel has more appealing transportation options for you. For example, Animal Kingdom lodge is a really great resort, but it is far from almost everything and the only transportation option is bus or self drive. During our last stay, we stayed at Old Key West and I felt it was in a great location. Close to Disney Springs, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were a bit of a travel, but don’t worry, we discovered some hacks to help save some time! Let me explain…
Parking at resorts. Overnight parking is not free at resorts unless you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member. So, unfortunately there isn’t a great workaround for that unless you’ve booked your stay with Disney Vacation Club points. However, we all know that resort hoping during the day is a really fun (and free) part of Disney World. You can take Disney Transportation to other resorts – simply ask a Cast Member the best way to do that from your location. Or, you can do one simple hack and drive yourself to the resort – saving so much time (in some cases an hour of travel time). I learned this on our last trip and will continue to use this little hack in the future. If you want to visit a resort or simply want to park at one for some reason or another, book a dining reservation at the resort in the My Disney Experience App for the day you want to visit the resort, once you’re at the resort, simply edit the reservation for at least 24 hours later, then cancel. You must edit the reservation to later than 24hrs as reservations within 24hrs cannot be cancelled. For example: We wanted to watch the fireworks from the Contemporary (which is great by the way…more to come on that later). However, we didn’t want to take Disney transportation and did not want to pay to park at the contemporary. So, we made dining reservations at The Wave of American Flavors for that evening around 7:00pm. Once we got to the resort and parked, I changed the reservation to the following evening at 8:00pm and then cancelled it. Of course, you can also plan to simply enjoy dining at a resort, but if you don’t plan to eat or do something else that warrants free parking, then this is a nice option. When in doubt, always ask a cast member for any tips of tricks. This hack was shared with us by an amazing cast member!
Parking at parks. Parking at the parks is not free unless you have a confirmed overnight reservations at a Disney World Resort. In this case, you get free standard parking. While standard parking is decent. It can be quite a trek to the entrance of the resort, especially if you have littles. Preferred parking is not included with a resort reservation, however the cost of standard parking for non-resort quests, will be deducted from the cost of preferred parking. So, we opted to pay $20 per day that got us preferred (up close) parking at all 4 parks for the week of our stay. So, for 5 days, it was $100 and we were able to park super conveniently and come and go to and from the parks in our own car at our own pace, which was TOTALLY worth it. I highly recommend doing this if you are driving. While spending and extra $100 is not the most fun, it does save a ton of time and allows you to have so much more flexibility than you would having to wait and plan around Disney’s transportation.
You can find more information on Disney parking here!
Buses. Buses are great, the kids love them, there are ample amounts of them and they pretty much go everywhere you need to get to. However, it can be a bit of a nightmare to have to plan around bus times. Additionally, once on the bus, it can take a good bit of time to get from one destination to another. Always plan at least an hour of time for bus transportation before any reservation or appointment. Additionally, always keep in mind that strollers must be folded when boarding the bus, so this could potentially cause an issue if you have to carry a lot with you. Pro Tip: Use the My Disney Experience app to look up bus times, so that you can know when the next bus will arrive at all times.
Boats: Boats are SLOW! Let’s face it, most Disney transportation is. But, it felt to me, that boats were the worst. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely way to travel, and if you’re super relaxed and just want to enjoy the ride and don’t really care when you get anywhere, then take the a boat ride. Otherwise, it’s in my opinion, the most inefficient way of getting anywhere on Disney property. For the most part, strollers do not need to be folded up on the boats, but I have experienced instances where I was made to fold up my stroller. It really depends on your captain and space.
Monorail: Aside from self-driving/parking, the monorail is my favorite mode of transportation in Disney World. It’s simple, you don’t have to fold up stroller, it’s a fun, quick, ride, and is overall super convenient.
Remember earlier when I shared the hack on booking a reservation for free parking at resorts, well we used this on our Magic Kingdom days. Although, this time we actually used our reservation and indulged at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. Once we were done eating, we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom! The beauty of this is that you can go through security before you get on the monorail, and don’t have to go through security once you get to the magic kingdom gates. So, depending on crowds, this can be a HUGE time saver! The only downside to the monorail is that it only goes to limited places.
Skyliner: I have not had personal experience with the skyliner, however it is a new option at Disney World and I have heard great things about it. I would recommend checking more info on this mode of transportation here.
Let me know in the comments, what is your favorite way to travel around Disney World? Do you have any parking or transportation hacks?
Planning a Disney vacation can be super overwhelming and time consuming! If you’re looking for an expert to help get your vacation planned, I always recommend a travel agent! I know a great one who can help you make all of your Disney vacation dreams come true!