Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is daunting, stressful and exhausting…but it’s also a ton of fun! Over the years, I’ve come across a number of insights that I just love using during our vacations, so this is going to be a very helpful series for those of you who are looking to solidify your memories!
My Favorite Disney World Tips – Part One
USE YOUR STARBUCKS REWARDS AT DISNEY SPRINGS
The two Starbucks locations at Disney Springs are corporate locations, which allows you to get more stars…AND use your rewards. Locations in the theme parks are similar to those in airports – they’re licensed.
Use a reward for a sandwich pack, as it’ll be a better value for a lunch (ranging from $6-9) versus a drink (ranges from $3-7). Ask for a bag, as you’re able to keep it colder for longer!
Related Article: What to know about Starbucks at Disney World
MAGIC KINGDOM EARLY MORNING EXTRA MAGIC HOURS
Every attraction in the Magic Kingdom isn’t open for Early Morning Extra Magic Hours. Closed lands include Adventureland, Frontierland and Liberty Square…so know that you’ll be able to get Peter Pan’s Flight & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but not able to ride Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean.
Spend your EMH at the Magic Kingdom, then another hour starting at Haunted Mansion and Pirates…then head over to another park where you’ll have your FastPass+ reservations starting at 11am. Why? Because the lines for attractions will be full and day-guests won’t know that…so why fight the crowds when you can use the strategy to your advantage.
Related Article: Extra Magic Hours
UBER TO THE CONTEMPORARY RESORT
If you’re going to the Magic Kingdom from a non-Disney resort…don’t be afraid to set up a ride-sharing budget and UBER to the Contemporary for a quick walk to the Magic Kingdom while using their secret entrance versus having to be transported to the Transportation & Ticket Center and then either boarding a monorail or ferry boat to get to the Kingdom.
IF you are getting dropped off at the Contemporary, be sure to let the driver know that you’re going for a “meal at the Contempo Cafe”. It’ll allow for you to get through security without real issues…and let’s be 100% honest…Contempo Cafe is an awesome idea to stop and get a snack at before hitting the Magic Kingdom.
Related Article: Secret Entrances at Walt Disney World
FREE REFILLS AT SELECT QUICK SERVICE LOCATIONS
There are a number of quick service locations that have self-service soda machines…so they’ll give you a cup when you order and then you fill up after you’ve paid. Be Our Guest, Electric Umbrella, Satuli Canteen, Contempo Cafe and Earl of Sandwich are on the list where you can get refills without really worrying about having to pay for another drink.
All of these locations also have something else in common – Free Water! Remember that one of my top tips across the board is to save money while getting free ice water whenever you can, and these spots give you the perfect access to fill up your Swell Water Bottles without having to get a disposable cup just to pour it into your water bottle.
USING FASTPASS TO MEET MICKEY MOUSE
EPCOT’s Character Spot is by far the best “value” for your FastPass reservation, as it gives you access to Minnie Mouse and Goofy, in addition to Mickey. This is followed by Mickey @ Town Square Theatre (a solo experience) and Animal Kingdom’s Character location, where you can meet Mickey & Minnie at the same time.
Schedule to meet Mickey on your first or last day. This will allow you to start your vacation off on the right foot OR end your trip with a little extra magic to remember.
Related Article: Where to Meet Mickey Mouse
BUY YOUR DISNEY SHIRTS IN ADVANCE
Know beforehand that you’re going to want a shirt to commemorate your vacation…because we all want a little extra Disney magic when you’re at home. You’re either going to spend $25-$35 on a tee in the Disney Parks, or you can be prepared and get your shirts in advance.
Why should you buy your shirts in advance? You get the opportunity to wash them! It’s a little thing…but it does make a difference.
Related Article: Disney Shirts in my Closet
USE FUELROD AS A PORTABLE BATTERY
When you buy in advance via the FuelRod official website, you can save a little money. On Disney property, a FuelRod (and connector cable) will cost you $30 USD, where if you buy online…it’s $20+$5 shipping (taxes included).
FuelRods are listed on Disney Park Maps as “Portable Phone Charging System Kiosks”. I like to exchange each time that we pass a kiosk, because you can always use a fully-charged battery.
Related Article: How to use FuelRods
PACK YOUR THEME PARK BAG WITH USEFUL STUFF
Bring a towel from your resort for your ‘Day Bag’, as there are plenty of ways that you may end up needing it. From going on a water ride (like Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids or Frozen Ever After) to being caught in a mid-day rain storm…you can always use a towel.
I have a full article about things that “have in my Disney Park Bag“, but there are two things that I always pack no matter what. A couple of empty sandwich baggies (for pins and water protection for phones) and an extra shirt (because it’s Florida and things get hot and sweaty). Always be prepared, and don’t worry about over-packing!
Related Article: What’s in my Disney Bag
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DINING REVIEWS ARE SUBJECTIVE AND MENUS CHANGE OFTEN
When you’re booking your Advanced Dining Reservation, look more at the ambience and intrigue of a location and less about what’s on the menu. We’ve gone to a number of restaurants and found that the entree that we wanted…wasn’t there anymore. Food is seasonal, so be prepared to trust the chefs!
Dining Reviews are 100% subjective. The food may change, the cast members may be training, and technology does have an impact on the experience. I love looking at reviews, but just like Trip Advisor or Yelp…take any review with a grain of salt because you weren’t there to verify it.
Related Article: Queen Victoria Room Review
HAVE FUN YOUR WAY!
Know your budget in advance and plan around those numbers. Dining, Resorts, Transportation and Entertainment are all price sensitive and it’s not my job or anyone else’s role to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your money:)
Ask for help if you need it. I’m always available as a resource at Dustin@Stepstomagic.com
These are just a few of My Favorite Disney World Tips…so be sure to visit more articles that I’ve written if you like my style:)