We at Memory Makin’ Moms are unapologetically obsessed with Disney, hence this little blog of ours. We plan and research all the aspects of our trips, and when we get back, we start dreaming about our next trip. We have had lots of questions from first time WDW park visitors lately on our FB page from parents and grandparents that are planning their trip, and they honestly don’t know where to begin. I got to thinking about it, and came up with this list of the top 5 “Know Before You Go” tips to share with newbies, or people that haven’t visited in a long time. Here goes!
1. Plan your trip! Sounds basic, right? Wrong. Gone are the days of showing up at a Walt Disney World park with no game plan in mind, and expecting to see and do everything in the parks. You need to have a plan. For our family, that involves a touringplans.com membership which helps us map out the parks, and plan our route to avoid the crowds. It is worth every penny for the membership for the amount that we utilize our touring plans in the parks.
When planning, do research on the rides. Don’t just assume that because it is a Disney attraction, that it is suitable for all children. If your child is deathly afraid of the dark, then Stitch’s Great Escape is NOT the attraction for you. If your child has never done a roller coaster, chances are you don’t want to put them on Expedition Everest for their first experience. Pull up youtube and watch some videos of the rides together and see what their interests are. My son loved The Haunted Mansion, but I know other kids have been scared by it. When planning out your rides, make sure you utilize rider swap if you have a young child that won’t meet the height requirement, and an older child that can’t live without that ride. Rider swap ensures that everyone leaves happy, especially the child that gets to ride twice!
2. Book Dining Reservations! Decide which restaurants your family would like to eat, and book reservations 180 days out. If reservations aren’t available, keep checking periodically and see if time slots open up. Please, please, please don’t be “that” person that walks up to Cinderella’s Royal Table and expect to walk right in and be seated. It’s not going to happen, and you don’t want to have a devastated little girl on your hands expecting to meet the Princesses. If you want to eat a sit down restaurant on Walt Disney World property, you need to have reservations. If you don’t want to bother with reservations, there are loads of counter service restaurants that you can choose without any of the reservation hassle.
3. Book FastPass+! Disney no longer utilizes the paper fast passes. You need to log in to your Disney account 60 days prior to your trip and book your FastPass+ reservations for the rides/attractions that your family considers your top priorities. If time selections aren’t available for your top choices, keep checking. Chances are something will open up before your trip. Don’t give up!
4. Choose your hotel and tickets! Do you want to stay in the park, or do you want to stay off property? WDW resort guests can utilize extra Magic Hours to get into the parks early or stay late, as well as free transportation within the resort. This works great for our family, but you might have a timeshare that you want to utilize when you are in the Orlando area. Do you want to stay in a value resort with basic amenties or in a deluxe resort? Only you know! We love staying at Pop Century, but the Grand Floridian might be more your speed.
As far as tickets, we choose park hopper passes meaning that we can bounce from park to park during the same day, but you could also choose to buy the base ticket which only allows entry to one park per day. If you are able to visit for a week or so, the base ticket might be a good choice since you can take your time in the parks more than we can when we only visit for 3 days. With our limited time, the park hopper ensures that we can maximize our experiences, but someone not in a rush might not benefit from the additional cost.
5. Know Your Needs! You need to know what your family really wants to do to make this a memorable vacation. We want to squeeze out every bit of pixie dust from our WDW vacations, so for us that means that we arrive to the parks an hour before they open, and we are always first in line to get to the parks. That doesn’t work for every family, but our kids rise with the chickens, so they are ready to go! Have little ones? You might need to factor in time to return to your hotel room during the middle of the day for rest time. Night owls? You need to know which nights the parks are open late. If your kiddo is a huge princess fan, then you need to do your research to see what princess experience she would love the most. If budget is a concern, you can search our blog with the search button at the top of the page for loads of money saving ideas. No, you can’t do every single thing at the park, but that’s the beauty of Disney World…it will still be there when you come back!
Planning a trip to Disney takes research, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Don’t be afraid to ask, ask, ask! Talk to moms, dads and anyone that you know has been to the parks in the last few years about their experiences. We have a dedicated FB group that would be happy to help you in any way possible, or you can email us with your questions at memorymakinmoms (at) gmail (dot) com. We love Disney so much, and want to spread the pixie dust in any way possible. You can have an absolutely amazing trip to Walt Disney World with a little bit of effort, and I promise it will be the trip of a lifetime! Toodles! ~A ºoº