Walt Disney World is called the Vacation Kingdom for a reason, and it’s due to the ability to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a magical place! That being said, there are a number of things to keep in mind when you’re planning a trip to Florida.
This topic has been requested a number of times by reader emails, so I’m going to do my best to answer the question that is top of mind for anyone who’s thinking about a trip to Disney.
How to Have the Best Disney World Vacation
Let’s start this with the logical beginning point. To think that your vacation is going to be better than “xyz friend” actually puts you into a competition where there is no winner. Knowing ahead of time what it’ll take to be happy will allow you to build a plan that will put smiles on faces, which is incredibly important.
This is the most personal thing that you should consider before thinking about how to create the best possible trip, because it’s all about fitting things into a spreadsheet without overreaching and adding disappointment.
I can show you how to save money, but in the end of the day…starting with a plan will allow you to re-allocate funds to create more magic instead of spending money on things that you don’t have to (ie ponchos for a family cost upwards of $50 in the parks, where you can get the same things at the dollar store for less than $10)
The average day at a Disney World theme park will take you into 8-11 experiences, but this depends on:
- The time of year
- Daily Fastpass planning
- Starting time (9am vs 11am) and ending time (7pm vs 9pm vs midnight)
- Shows vs Rides, as some shows are upwards of 20-30 minutes (like Festival of the Lion King & Beauty and the Best Live on Stage) where most rides range in the four to eight minutes in length.
Anything above eight experiences (including parades and fireworks) should be seen as an exceptional day!
Because food is incredibly subjective, knowing ahead of time what you’re able to afford and what your used to eating at home…just know that dining at Walt Disney World can make or break a vacation.
Every trip can provide you with exceptional dining, especially if you plan around dietary restrictions and budget. The best thing you can do is pre-plan your dining reservations, because it gives you something to look forward to!
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Temptations are a plenty when you’re wandering around the theme parks, so making a vacation as memorable can be difficult because of the abundance of choices! I’ve been a fan of knowing ahead of time that I’ll be buying:
- A shirt
- A set of Mickey Ears
- A piece of Disney Art for my office
- Something kitchen-related, like a mug or a teapot
When you plan to Pin Trade, buying on eBay vs buy down there, you’ll be able to save a lot of money AND start out with a pre-determined amount (25, 50, 100, etc). We usually add another pack for each vacation, as trading pins are getting more and more prevalent through resorts and merchandise locations.
I know that there’s a lot of information to take in, but remember that each article that you read is providing an opinion on a subjective topic. You know your family better than any writer would, so taking the valuable tips and leaving the rest will only make your vacation better.
The example that I share is that the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is usually 800-900 pages…and even if you go through it cover to cover with a fine tooth comb, you’ll still be unprepared when Disney adds a new flavor of Dole Whip or closes an attraction for a last-minute refurbishment.
I’ve gotten an email about a FastPass+ reservation saying that the attraction was down and that there was a list of attractions that I could go to instead….as I was standing in line!
- Attractions can go down for inclement weather OR because someone dropped their sunglasses outside of the ride vehicle and it tripped a sensor.
- Restaurants can have delivery issues which could impact whether a dish is available or not
- Merchandise is stocked like your local mall….so your shirt size may not be available the moment that you’re there.
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The best way to have a memorable vacation is to create a highlight for each day and then build around it. An example is:
- Monday: Victoria & Alberts
- Tuesday: Magic Kingdom
- Wednesday: Wild Africa Trek
- Thursday: Pin Trading
- Friday: Be Our Guest
This way you’re able to let your family know what’s “going on tomorrow” without stressing AND without calling it “Day 3” or “Our Last Day”, because those phrases can add to disappointment…especially knowing that the vacation is almost over.
Don’t Cry because it’s over – Be Happy that it Happened!
Know that there’s a day during your vacation that you’ll start to realize that everyone will check out of the trip and will start to think about home. This is absolutely normal:)
My goal for this article was to share a few tips that will make your vacation to Walt Disney World the best possible trip!
There are so many variables to the specifics that it comes down to understanding that a memorable experience begins with putting expectations in line with many factors that may be out of your control. Just roll with it and remember that you’re at Disney World!