Disney feels like a rite of passage for many families, but what if you are a newbie, or the last time you went to any Disney theme park, you were thirteen years old? Have no fear, Trekaroo families, we enlisted the help of fifteen family travel writers and bloggers who have all shared their best expert tips for your Disney vacation.
So whether you are headed to Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland California Resort, or even on a Disney cruise, read up on these top 15 tips for a Disney family vacation and you’ll soon be enjoying the parks like a pro.
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Expert Tips for your Disney Vacation – All Parks
No matter what, even if you are not a morning person, you must get to the parks at “rope drop” (right when they open). That’s the ideal way to get the most popular rides out-of-the-way without having to wait in huge lines. Read more on WonderandCompany.com
Don’t overlook Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for boys too. At $19.95 it is an excellent value to take your son to Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom Theme Park and it made our son feel special at the same time my daughter was being transformed into a Princess. Read more on EvanAndLaurensCoolBlog.com
If you want a flawless and crowd-less photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle, book an in-park breakfast reservation as early as you can (between 8 and 8:30 am). You’ll gain access to the park before it opens to normal guests, giving you a chance to not only get onto rides without waiting but also gives you a VERY RARE view of the park with NO CROWDS and the perfect opportunity to snap that crowd-less castle photo! Read more on JetsettingMom.com
As a photographer, I thought I could get away with not purchasing the Disney photo pass. I can take all my own pictures, thank you very much. Looking back, I wish I would have purchased that photo package, because it would have allowed ME to be in more photos with my family, and worth the price tag. Read more on KristenDukePhotography.com
If you have a young child, you may already be familiar with Disney’s Rider Switch service that lets parents trade-off riding the thrill rides and watching the kids while only waiting in line a single time. What many do not know, however, is that a return Rider Switch pass can be used any time later that same day. Save the passes up and use them when lines are at their worst (usually in the mid-afternoon) to minimize your overall wait times. Read more on TripswithTykes.com
Keep your smart phone charged while visiting a Disney park, especially if using your phone as your camera. Be sure to start your day with a fully charged battery, portable charger, and extra rechargeable battery (if you have one). Pack your charging cable so you can plug-in at a charging station locker or ask your server in a sit-down restaurant to plug-in your phone for you while you dine. If worse comes to worse and you forget your portable charger, you can purchase a pre-charged mobile charger from Gadgets on the Go in Downtown Disney at Disneyland. Read more on TravelMamas.com
Bonus tip from our sponsor at Get Away Today: Disney Parks offer some of the most memorable and interactive dining experiences. The most popular restaurants and Character Dining experiences sell out quickly. Make reservations as soon as possible, which is 60 days in advance for Disneyland and 180 days in advance for Walt Disney World.
Expert Tips for your Disney Vacation – Disney Hotels
When choosing where to stay, factor in transportation costs and availability when comparing a Disney Resort (AKA “On Property”) to a location offsite. You may think you’re saving a few bucks staying “off property,” but the cost of the shuttle to/from the airport, transportation to/from the parks or a parking lot pass will add up quickly. Those are complimentary when staying on property. Read more on SAHMReviews.com
Send your purchases back to your Disney host resort for free! Don’t shove them in a backpack, tuck them under a stroller or make someone carry your treasures all day long. It is a complimentary service when you stay on property. Note: Packages show up the following day after 1 pm. DO NOT send packages back to your resort the day you check out. Read more on SavoringtheGood.com
Enjoy the special amenities offered at the Disney hotels, even if you are not staying at one. For example, take a park break at The Grand California Lodge at Disneyland during their story hour in the evenings. If you are visiting Walt Disney World, be sure to stop by the Fort Wilderness Chip N Dale Sing A Long held in the evenings or head to the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World for a Dole Whips while listening to Island music on the white sand resort beaches. Read more on ThriftyNorthwestMom.com
Expert Tips for your Disney Vacation – Disneyland California Resort
Our favorite souvenir from Disneyland’s California is actually free! Head to the Animator’s Academy where you’ll be taught how to draw one of your favorite characters and then bring it home with you! The pictures say Disney’s California Adventure on them and are a sweet and personalized reminder of your trip. Read more on HousewifeEcclecic.com
Plan a visit to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure just before sunset. At dusk, Sh-Boom plays as the neon lights go on down Route 66, just like in the movie. The time is NOT posted anywhere so you just have to plan to be in the area around sunset! Read more on MomEndeavors.com
Expert Tips for your Disney Vacation – Walt Disney World Florida
There are so many behind the scenes tours you can take at Walt Disney World, including the Disney Youth Education series and the new Kingdom Keepers Quest where you can defeat the Villains from taking over the Kingdom! Read more on MyLifeIntheSun.com
At first thought, encountering rain at Disney might seem to be a magic killer, but it’s actually a great time to slow down and enjoy the whimsical ambiance. If there are showers in the forecast, bring ponchos for the family and plan to ride the rides in the rain (yes, rides run in the rain, assuming there is no lightning) and meet as many characters as you can. Space Mountain is ideal since it’s an indoor rollercoaster as well as It’s a Small World. On the other hand, Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids are water rides, so they are great for visitors who don’t mind getting wet. The Princess Fairytale Hall and Mickey’s Toontown Fair both offer indoor meet and greets with celebrity characters. In case you forget—the gift shops all around the park sell ponchos. Read more on TheVacationGals.com
Expert Tips for your Disney Vacation – Disney Cruises
Those pricey Premium Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars that you pay several dollars for in the Parks? They are not listed on the Disney Cruise Line Room Service Menu, but you can order them (FREE) by request! Read more at MamaCheaps.com
Cruisers that are at the second seating for dinner should take advantage of the Dine and Play program – Kids 3 to 12 years old will be served first and Youth Club staff members will pick up the kids from the dining room and take them to their play/hangout area while parents can enjoy a more leisurely dinner. Read more on KidsOnAPlane.com
Hungry for more tips and information on planning your next Disney getaway? We’ve got an entire library full of tips, planning tools, details on what’s coming to the parks this year, and much, much more. Head to our Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Disney Vacation website for more details and information.
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