Disney World is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. In 2019, Walt Disney World had a total of 20.96 million visitors. I’ve been one of those visitors many, many times throughout my life. It was always the place my family went growing up, and still goes when time and schedules allow. There’s a lot that is different right now in Disney World and no one knows exactly what Disney will look like in the future, but I would consider most of these planning tips timeless!
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is not correctly scheduling their time. You won’t be able to do it all, so pick your top choices. Keep in mind that dining reservations and Fastpasses (if and when they come back) do lock you in to being somewhere at a certain time. I attempt to do things within the same area of a park so I’m not spending as much time running back and forth. Under scheduling can be just as irritating as overscheduling. Know when you want to get to the park and at least how you want to travel around the park. You don’t need every minute planned, but you have to have an idea of what your perfect day would look like so you don’t miss out on everything!
Take Advantage of Freebies!
Disney World is an expensive vacation. Sticker shock is real if you haven’t been there before, but there are some “extras” that don’t cost and can enhance your experience!
- Free Water: You can get cups of ice water at quick service locations. They don’t want people passing out, so take advantage of something you definitely need without paying $5.00 a bottle.
- Free Kids’ Activities: There are several activities your kids can participate in at no extra cost to you. Epcot’s World Showcase has Kidcot, activities for children located in each country. Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland has the Pirate’s Adventure scavenger hunt. There’s even a petting zoo in Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom!
- Free animation class: Rafiki’s Planet Watch also houses the Animation Experience, where you can learn to draw an animal-inspired character in a follow along class!
Souvenirs and Gifts
We all want to save money, right? There are several things I do to try and save money on merchandise in Disney World. If I see something I like that isn’t ride or park specific, (those items are usually only available in that location), I wait and see if I still really want it by the end of the trip. You can ask a Cast Member (employee) at a store if the item is available elsewhere. Also, check for sales online. A lot of what is sold in the parks is sold on shopdisney.com, and are sometimes on sale. I always check the website before purchasing something, which helps control impulse purchases. It’s also a backup in case you forgot to buy your grandma that Minnie Mouse apron you meant to get!
Travel Agent/No Travel Agent
I can now say I’ve planned trips myself and with certified Disney travel agents. Official Disney travel agents are completely free since they are paid on commission by Disney. Agents can take care of everything for you. The biggest advantage for me is that they automatically add discounts that come out after booking without you having to keep up with every change. You do have to give up some control if you use an agent, though it can vary based on how much you want to be involved. If you like to do everything yourself and are familiar with Walt Disney World, planning yourself may be the way to go. If you’ve never been to Disney World or don’t want the hassle of planning, a Disney travel agent may be for you.
I could talk about Disney planning all day. Hopefully this has been at least a little helpful if you’re thinking about traveling to the most magical place on Earth!
Most likely due to the pandemic, guide books only seem to be available for 2020 and earlier. Many can be found in our collection. Due to the bounce-back from Covid creating daily changes, online resources are also a great option to plan a future trip. Here are a few credible sources: