Walt Disney World Tips & Advice

As I’ve mentioned once or twice we’ve recently returned from an amazing holiday to Orlando!

I’ve had quite a few people say they’re planning on going soon so thought a few posts with some tips might be helpful. I know I certainly did a lot of research before we booked our holiday.

I’ll start with Walt Disney World as let’s face it is the bit that everyone goes to Florida for! So here’s some Walt Disney World tips & advice from me…

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Disney World Tickets

We bought our tickets from Floridatix. I hunted around for the best deals and these were the cheapest at the time. We got 14 days for the price of 7 which I think is an offer that’s on a lot – it’s definitely worth waiting for if you can. Our tickets included Park Hopper which means you can go to more than one Disney park in a day – a good idea to have if you want to head to a different park in the evening for the fireworks. If you can we’d definitely recommend getting tickets that also include Fast Pass (I think they all do now) and Memory Maker.

With Fast Pass you book a time slot for a ride so when you turn up you don’t have to queue. We used this a lot! All Disney parks have free WiFi so you can book fast passes there and then. We saw a few long queues and fast passed them for later that day. You only get 3 fast passes per person per day so use them wisely!

Our tickets also included Memory Maker which I think is $149 otherwise – worth every single penny. Each time you meet a character, and at certain points around all Disney parks there are professional photographers who will take your photo. They scan your park ticket and if you have linked your ticket to an account the photos magically appear. You can then download these photos for free when you get home. Memory Maker also includes those photos at the end of rides that they used to charge you ridiculous prices for.

Walt Disney World App

My most important tip is to register on the Walt Disney World website and download the My Disney Experience app before you go. You can make dining reservations and book fast passes for rides either before you go or while you’re away. It also has a great map of the parks and you can view your Memory Maker photos instantly.

Character Dining

Before we left England we pre-booked a few character dining experiences. The first one was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s which is located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This was a fab way to start our holiday with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto coming to the table while you eat.

Walt Disney World Tips & Advice | Chef Mickeys | copyright www.digitalmotherhood.com

We also had breakfast with Lilo & Stitch at Disney’s Polynesian Resort which was great fun and ended with the kids joining in Stitch’s parade around the restaurant with musical instruments.

The third breakfast was on our last morning where we dined with the Disney Jnr characters at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios. This one’s fab for small children, Little H is mad about Doc McStuffin’, Princess Sofia and Jake & The Neverland Pirates so really enjoyed this.

The most special meal we had was at Cinderella’s Royal Table which is inside Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. This is pretty pricey but was really good fun. As you wait you’re greeted by Cinderella herself and have a photo with her. You’re then taken up windy spiral staircase to the dining room with it’s big windows overlooking Fantasy Land. Dinner is a 3 course meal with the added bonus of being visited by Disney Princesses as you eat – every little (& big) girl’s dream! All of the girls are given a wand and a wishing star, and I think the boys were given a shield. It was great fun and is ideal if you have a princess mad child.

Walt Disney World Tips & Advice | copyright www.digitalmotherhood.com

Disney Hotel vs Villa

We spent a long time deciding where to stay and ended up choosing a villa as felt it would be more flexible – having one hotel room for a family can get stressful. We’re actually still undecided about which would have been the best option as both have their pros and cons.

In hindsight a Disney hotel may have been better for us as you don’t have to drive, park or pay for parking. You can just jump on the monorail and you’re there. It also means that you can pop back to the hotel for a nap if the heat or walking gets too much.

A villa however means you have your own pool and more room to yourselves. You don’t have to eat in the hotels every night and you can escape the whole Disney thing for a bit.

As I say I’m still undecided but would definitely recommend considering both options. I think we’d try a Disney hotel if we went again – the Polynesian Resort looked really nice.

I personally wouldn’t choose a hotel outside of Disney as you need a car, are confined to one room and have none of the Disney perks.

Parking

Parking at all Disney parks is $20 per day for standard parking and you pay this on entry into Disney World. This really racks up if you’re going to the various parks most days. You don’t have to pay again if you leave and come back later though which is handy if you want to go home for a rest before the nighttime fireworks.

It’s not publicised but if you eat at a restaurant in one of the hotels you can claim your parking back, just ask at the hotel reception and you’ll get back your $20. It’s a good idea to go for breakfast so you can leave your car at the hotel all day and use the hotel’s transport into the park.

Go to Epcot to meet Princesses

Little H’s top priority was meeting all of her favourite characters – mainly princesses! A few years ago we queued for over 2 hours to meet a princess (they didn’t tell you which one) at Disneyland Paris and when we got to the front Little H cried because it was Snow White not Rapunzel. We weren’t going to make that mistake again so fast passed Cinderella and Aurora for the first day at Magic Kingdom!

On the second day of our holiday we went to Epcot and realised this is the place to meet the princesses who aren’t available to meet at Magic Kingdom.

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The World Showcase is set around the lake and is made up of 11 countries. At most of these countries you can meet a different Disney Princess – Elsa & Anna in Norway, Snow White in Germany, Belle in France and so on. The princesses are there all day and we didn’t have to queue for any of them for more than 10 minutes – much shorter than in Magic Kingdom.

Seeing Little H’s face every time she met a princess made the whole holiday worthwhile. She was totally star struck, it was so cute! Obviously all of the characters are well trained to make kids feel special and they really do, commenting on their hair, clothes etc to single them out.

Star Wars fans go to Hollywood Studios

I am not at all interested in Star Wars, but my husband is and after all the princessy things we thought it only fair to indulge him in his geekiness.

Walt Disney World | Star Wars | copyright www.digitalmotherhood.com

Hollywood Studios has a lot of great rides and shows for the whole family, but most of it seems to be focused on Star Wars now. There’s a couple of rides, a show, a Jedi training program for kids which sadly was booked up, and a meet & greet with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. There’s also an outdoor Star Wars show during the day and a Star Wars light show at night.

Be warned – you may lose your children (or husband) for a few hours in the Star Wars store!

Other Disney tips include:

  • If you do lots of shopping in any of the parks you can ask to collect your purchases on the way out to save carrying them around all day.
  • Ask any of the shop attendants for “pixie dust” and you’ll be sprinkled with it.
  • You need to get a spot for the parade and fireworks at least an hour before they start. The best place is right in front of the castle.
  • Use the app to locate characters nearby to you.

I could go on for hours! Keep an eye out for more posts coming up including things to do in Orlando and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…

Sarah

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17 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Tips & Advice

  1. chocolateandwineandillbefine says:

    These are very useful tips! I went to Orlando when I was 16 and then again when I was 18 so feel I know the place quite well. We planned every day at theme parks around Fast Pass tickets – they were the best things ever! My mum has been wanting to return to Florida every since! I have now turned her down a few times over the last couple of years as I just can’t face it with such young children. Maybe one day 🙂 #SharingtheBlogLove

  2. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons says:

    I last visited Disney World coming up to 20 years ago and you didn’t have to pay for parking anywhere! That’s a great tip though about eating in the hotel restaurant – I’m mentally bookmarking that one. No such thing as fast pass when I went either – that sounds amazing. We did love park hopping though for the evening fireworks, it’s a nice change of scene. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  3. thehippychristianmum says:

    Great tips. The Polynesian is stunning-I would stay there too! We went last year and stayed at a Disney hotel and if we went back would stay on a Disney resort again but hire a car as well to get to all the food places because eating only at Disney places all holiday really was expensive. You have organised it all really well and got to meet loads of princesses. I bet your little girl was so happy well done. 🙂 I like the tip about thinking of other parks to meet characters, definitely less wait. We met Mickey & Minnie at Animal Kingdom. Your dinner with Cinderella sounds amazing and a very special experience for your daughter that she will always remember. #sharingthebloglove

  4. amumseekingsun says:

    We went o Disneyland Paris this year and would love to go to Orlando when the girls are a little bit older so will bear these tips in mind. We’re off on a Disney cruise this weekend so I’m hoping it will be amazing.
    #sharingthebloglove

  5. alifeinpracticeblog.com says:

    This is fantastic, thank you for the tips, we are hoping to take our boys in a few years when they’re old enough to make real memories, I hope this is still relevant then as it’s excellent advice! #SharingtheBlogLove

  6. winnettes says:

    This is so helpful! We want to take our two girls at some point but are very mindful of them being too young at the moment and possibly not having the stamina just yet. I will certainly be using these tips when we do eventually go. I got a little quiver of excitment at the prospect of pixie dust!

  7. The Mum Reviews says:

    Some really useful advice here. I like the tip about how to see the Princesses without queueing and knowing about all the different stuff you can book in advance. Excited to hear about Hollywood Studios being all Star Wars-y! I’m waiting until my boys are a bit older but I can’t wait to go. #sharingthebloglove

  8. Annette says:

    Fab tips! We haven’t been but when we do plan to go, I will know where to come looking for top tips. That Cinderella dinner sounds wonderful… I mean, who would miss that 🙂 #SharingtheBlogLove

  9. Kat says:

    Some fantastic tips here, especially on meeting princesses in Epcot. We all really want to go to Disneyworld and I’ll be keeping these tips in mind when the time comes! I think a hotel would be our best option as non-drivers and I like the ease of being so close! But I can def see the perks of a villa, especially if you want to visit some other places in Orlando. The memory maker and fast pass sounds awesome, much better organised than Paris! #sharingthebloglove

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