(Feature photo courtesy of Disney Photopass and fuel rod photo courtesy of Hayley Catt)
How-To: 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Disney Trip
By Hayley Catt
5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Disney Trip
By Hayley Catt
Planning a trip to Disney can seem overwhelming for both first-time guests and avid Disney goers. Remembering when to book dining reservations and FastPasses, thinking about bus schedules, finding character locations, and more can quickly become more stressful than it should be at the Happiest Place on Earth.
But that’s why I’m here to give you five tips and tricks on how to make the most of your time at the Walt Disney World Resort. Let’s get started!
- Book with a Disney Travel Agent
I cannot stress enough how beneficial the services of a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney vacations will be during the booking and planning of your trip. Using an agency like Mouse Counselors can offer several benefits—including knowledge of discounts, the best resort for your family, planning services, and more—at no cost to you!
- “When is the best time to visit Disney World?”
I get this question a lot. Some Disney experts have differing opinions, but based on my years of experience, here are my suggestions.
(Keep in mind, this is not going to be the same for 2019 because the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on August 29, 2019 has thrown off the traditional crowd calendar.)
- September – early November (post-Labor Day and pre-Thanksgiving)
- The first two weeks of December (pre-Christmas Break)
- The end of January – February (pre-Spring Break)
Traveling during these times can often be more economical, the crowds are lower, and the temperatures are cooler!
- Let’s get digital!
Once you have booked your Disney vacation, you need to download the My Disney Experience app to your phone. There you’ll be able to book dining and FastPass reservations, see bus schedules from your resort, customize your MagicBands, check-in online for your resort, see your Photopass photos, and even open the door to your Disney hotel room!
Note: This app is your one-stop-shop, but it will drain the battery on your phone, so be sure to bring external chargers with you!
Pro Tip: FuelRod stations are located throughout Disney Resorts and Parks. FuelRods are a reusable, portable charging system that allows you to charge your mobile device on the go, and then swap it out for a fresh charger, for a one-time fee of $30!
- Disney Dining: Put Our Service to the Test
Every family is different but, when it comes to whether or not you should purchase a Disney Dining Plan, my standard rule is: If you’re going to the parks for at least four days and you’ve booked far enough in advance that you are able to spread out the payments for your meals, it’s worth it. The last time I went to Disney we had the Disney Dining Plan, and I walked away having only spent $43 during my vacation because I had already paid for my resort, tickets, and dining over the past several months!
Pro Tip: If you are a Target Red Card holder, you can purchase Disney Gift Cards with your Red Card and get 5% off!
As far as when to eat, give yourself a break in the middle of long days for a Table Service lunch. And, if you’re trying to get a more difficult reservation, try eating at an odd time and ride rides while everyone else is taking a break for lunch or dinner.
I also recommend doing a Character Breakfast at a Disney Resort the morning you are leaving. This is a great way to say goodbye and have one last magical moment with some of your favorite characters! My favorites: Chef Mickey’s (at the Contemporary Resort), Cape May Cafe (at the Beach Club Resort), and O’Hana (at Polynesian Village).
- Tickets and Crowds
If you’re considering whether or not to get Park Hopper Tickets, I suggest doing so when you are visiting the parks for 1-3 days to ensure that you can visit all four Disney Theme Parks during your trip. However, if you are going to the parks for 4 or more days, Park Hopper Tickets may not be necessary. If you purchase 4 Day Tickets with Admission to One Park Per Day, you will also save time during the day by not having to travel between parks (which can potentially be as much as 60-90 minutes).
Lastly, the best way to work a park and avoid the crowd is to go to the back/left area of the park and work your way to the front/right. Most guests will start in the front of the park, gravitating to the right and working their way backwards. And, if a park is offering Extra Magic Hours for Disney Resort guests, it will typically be busier than the others, so you may want to choose a different park instead. Unless, of course, you want to take advantage of those extra hours in the park!
So, there are some of my best tips and tricks when it comes to planning your Disney vacation. Now, go enjoy the magic and follow my Facebook Page, “Hayley with Mouse Counselors,” for regular Disney tips and tricks!
Your Resident Mouse Counselor,