Do you have a friend who just seems to do everything right when they visit Disney World and you don’t understand how their vacation is so relaxed and meticulously planned compared to yours?
Well, around here we call those folks the pros, and most pros would tell you it just comes with practice! Luckily, we’ve been to the parks a whole lot and made all the big mistakes so that you don’t have to! So, do Disney like a pro and AVOID doing these 14 things.
Forget to pack the essentials
Disney World isn’t a fashion show – the pros pack for COMFORT, not style. The last thing you want to be burdened by is blisters and chafing because you failed to pack comfortable pants, shirts, and shoes. Oh, and don’t forget about those backpacks too — they can be sneaky!
And, it’s not just packing to log a ton of steps across the parks — the pros also know to check the weather forecast so that they’re prepared for anything, even the one week of Florida winter!
Carry their souvenirs around the parks
Have you ever found yourself lugging around a souvenir that your kiddos just had to have but now refuse to carry themselves? Or worse, have you ever tried to squish that giant bag of items you bought at the Emporium into your seat on Space Mountain? Well, the pros skip these woes entirely!
When you shop at any Disney Park, you can ask the Cast Member to have your items mailed directly to your home via UPS or FedEx – just note that you WILL have to pay for shipping.
And, if you’d prefer not to have to pay the cost of shipping because you’ve saved precious space in your luggage for all the goodies you collect, you could also opt to purchase a locker for the day. That way you can store all your items there until you’re ready to head back to the hotel! And, BONUS, if you purchase a locker in one park, you’ll be able to use the lockers in other parks too when you’re park hopping — just be sure that you keep your receipt!
Disney used to also offer package delivery to your Disney World resort hotel room or the front of the park, but we haven’t seen this return since the parks reopened in 2020 – though, it could come back! Another easy tip is to simply shop at the end of the night so you can just carry your exciting finds back to where you are staying instead of lugging them around all day long.
Follow the crowd
If there’s one thing that you’re sure to find in Disney World it’s LINES. But, there’s a way to hack those lines so that you don’t wait as long! For example, at park entrances, you’ll usually find the crowds gathered at the entrance kiosks that are closest to wherever the buses or monorail let guests off. Instead of heading to one of those lines, put in a few extra steps and you’ll find MUCH shorter waits to scan in!
And, you can even skip the long lines at Quick Service restaurants too! There are TWO lines to order food at each register, but you’ll usually find people lined up on only one side. Cast Members alternate between the two sides, so if you time it right, you’ll be saving some precious park time! But, most Disney pros are even skipping this step entirely nowadays thanks to Mobile Order.
Pay full price for their hotel room
Disney World almost ALWAYS has room discounts going on, and the pros know how to ensure that they’re getting the BEST deals on their stay! And, this doesn’t only involve checking Disney’s website for deals and booking right away — the real pros know that they can often contact Disney to apply any new discounts that pop up to a stay that they already have booked. Or they’ll just cancel and rebook with the savings (just double check that the same hotel is still available before modifying your reservation!).
Plus, even if no discounts apply during your trip, there are other secret ways to save on your hotel room! For example, David’s Vacation Club Rentals offers up a way to stay at select Disney Vacation Club hotels for LESS!
And, if you’re a Disney-goer who doesn’t like the game of having to check Disney’s website over and over again for any deals that might apply to your trip, check out our friends at Small World Vacations! When you book your trip with Small World Vacations, their experienced agents monitor your reservation for possible future savings and compare discounts to figure out which one works best for your travel party, dates, resort, and touring plans.
Stay at resorts that aren’t convenient
Whether it’s staying on the Disney Skyliner, the monorail route, or a hotel with boat transportation to select locations — Disney pros know that not all hotels are created equally when it comes to transportation options. It can save you A LOT of time if you’re not relying on Disney buses to get you to the parks that you’re going to frequent the most!
And, if taking a bus simply can’t be avoided, there are still some hotels that offer simpler bus transportation. For example, many Disney World Moderate and Value Resorts share bus services with other hotels or have multiple stops in the resort area before heading out to the parks. Knowing which hotels feature bus routes with fewer stops can save you big time when it comes to the ride to and from the parks!
All in all, staying at a resort that is “convenient” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But, the pros tend to consider which parks they plan to visit the most and choose a resort that is closest to those parks. Because, after all, the hotels on the Magic Kingdom monorail may be convenient, but if you’re planning to frequent Disney’s Hollywood Studios and only hit up Magic Kingdom once, staying at these resorts won’t do you any favors when it comes to saving time.
Wait longer than 30 minutes for a ride
The pros know how to tackle the popular rides without having to wait in line (for the most part)! They’re the ones that aren’t afraid to set an alarm on vacation so that they can ensure that they’re one of the first to arrive at the parks when they open. And, they’re also staying in the parks late into the evenings to hop on the popular rides they weren’t able to ride with a short line in the morning!
This is when it’s important to know what perks you have as a Disney World Resort hotel guest too! All guests staying at a Disney hotel (and a few off-site hotels too!) can partake in Early Theme Park Entry — entering any of the four parks 30 minutes before park opening every day — and guests staying at Disney World Deluxe Resorts have access to Extended Evening Theme Park Hours — giving them two extra hours at select parks on select evenings.
The pros are also learning all the ins and outs of the new (paid) way to skip the lines in Disney World — Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection — so that they can pick and choose when it’s really worth it to pay for the services.
Book meals at popular times
You likely won’t catch the pros dining at a Table Service restaurant during the busiest mealtimes! The general rule that we like to go by is booking breakfast before 7AM or after 10AM, booking lunch around 11AM or after 1:30PM, and booking dinner after 7PM.
This will give you a better chance at grabbing those hard-to-get reservations and it won’t be crazy crowded when you’re dining! Plus, the more people eating in a restaurant with you means longer waits to be seated (and maybe even for your food), so eating during busier periods sucks up more of your park time.
Fall victim to My Disney Experience glitches
It may be “The Most Magical Place On Earth,” but even Disney World isn’t immune to technical difficulties — especially when it comes to the My Disney Experience app. So, to ensure that a glitch doesn’t derail a park day, the pros screenshot EVERYTHING so they have a record of their reservations.
This means screenshotting all your dining reservations, park ticket numbers, park pass reservations, and even Lighting Lane reservations (if you’re using Genie+). You may not have to use them at all during your stay, but you’ll be thankful you took the extra second to get a screenshot if something does go wrong!
Eat all their meals in the parks
A lot of people don’t realize that you can go to any Disney World Resort – even if you’re not staying there – as long as you have a dining reservation or have placed a mobile order. And, well, the pros have this one figured out and are taking FULL advantage!
The resort restaurants are usually MUCH less crowded during the day and they’re home to some of the best restaurants on property!
Miss out on park pass and dining reservations
A lot of planning goes into a Disney World vacation and the last thing you want to do is plan out everything and then miss out on a dining reservation you really wanted or not be able to get into the parks because you forgot to secure your park passes. This is a mistake that the pros simply won’t make and they’ve probably got 20 alarms set with reminders on their phones to prove it!
As of this writing, dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance and you NEED to be on your a-game to get those popular restaurants. Be ready to act quickly when that dining window opens up because they’re booking up FAST — you can always change your mind later and cancel up to 24 hours before with no penalty so just get that reservation!
Park Pass Reservations on the other hand can be made REALLY far out in advance — as soon as you purchase your park tickets. We’ve seen reservations available already for early 2024, so if you’re thinking about visiting Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day in 2023, you can already get your reservations and not have to worry about the day “selling out.”
Over schedule themselves
It’s no secret that there’s A LOT to do in Disney World, but it’s so important not to pack your trip with activities at every waking moment — the pros know that there’s a delicate balance!
For example, some people will book a table-service restaurant for almost every meal in Disney World – don’t do that! There are also a lot of great quick-service restaurants in the parks and it’ll save you a lot of time to eat at them, giving you more time to enjoy the parks (which is what you’re paying for, after all).
Sit down and make up a list of the stuff that you really really want to do — then ONLY book those and let everything else fall into place!
Stand in the middle of the room during ride pre-shows
Believe it or not, the pros even have some hacks when it comes to taking on the many pre-shows at Disney World attractions! For example, they’ll typically stand closer to the walls during the shows so that they have a better chance of being at the door into the next room when it opens. This cuts down on wait times (a few extra minutes really)!
Of course, you won’t get the best view of the pre-show and you may not get to experience the full effect, so consider using this trick after you’ve been on a ride at least once.
Buy bottled water
If you’ve been following along with DFB for any time at all then you probably know what we’re going to say next — don’t pay for water in Disney World! Many quick-service restaurants around Disney World offer free water cups — all you have to do is ask!
You’ll probably also catch the real pros carrying around a reusable water bottle so that they can pour those cold water cups into their bottle and get on their way to the next attraction (a hack that comes in handy, particularly during EPCOT festivals because you can end up spending A LOT of money on water bottles with how much snacking you’re doing in the poorly shaded park!). And, if stopping for a free cup of water simply isn’t possible, there are plenty of water bottle refill stations around the parks too!
Miss the BEST snacks – which aren’t what you think!
Lastly, we can’t forget to talk about the snacks! We’re not talking about Mickey pretzels and churros – nope. We’re talking about the snacks that are really really good but may not be plastered with glitter and Mickey-shaped! You REALLY don’t want to miss these!
This includes things like hidden menu items, exclusive Dole Whip and popcorn flavors, seasonal items, and – of course – DFB favorites! Study up on all these non-traditional (yet DELICIOUS) snacks before your trip, so you know how much real estate you’ll need to save in your stomach when you take on the parks!
Well, that wraps up everything that the pros do when they take on Disney World! Of course, there are some other things that they’ve come to hate when they’re visiting the parks too — you can learn about them in our video below!
And, be sure to stay tuned to DFB for more of the latest Disney World vacation tips, tricks, and updates!
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What other pro tips do you have for Disney World vacationers? Let us know in the comments!