I’ve been a Disney World regular since I was 2 years old in 1990, visiting pretty much every other year since. I know the Disney and universal parks like the back of my hand and as I’ve grown older, I’ve been learning to navigate the roads of Kissimmee, International Drive and beyond. Disney is in my blood. Literally, get a microscope and you’ll see my Mickey shaped blood cells. Ok, maybe not literally.
Flights, Accommodation & Transport - shop around!
- Make sure to check flights on private browser or incognito mode. Travel websites have cookies (not the yummy kind) that see how many times you’re checking flight prices and pushes the price up. The best thing to do to monitor prices is to sign up for email alerts from places like Skyscanner for when prices suddenly drop.
- If you're adults with no kids and are on a budget then go in direct. Most of the time it's much cheaper.
- When it comes to accommodation, it really depends on your circumstances. Big group? Go for a villa as you can spread the cost between you and get a big house with a pool. There's also the big offsite/onsite Disney property debate. My family have always stayed offsite as we're the kind of people who just see a hotel as a place to sleep. Plus it's much cheaper. If you have money to spend and want a whole themed resort experience then you would probably prefer onsite. They get lots of perks too. It's all up to you.
- Driving in the USA for the first time can be a daunting experience. But if I can do it, then believe me, so can you. The majority of the rental cars will be automatic and its unbelievable how much easier they are to drive than manual. The majority of us Brits are taught how to drive a manual so after that, automatic is a piece of cake. My only thing was how much wider the car was since I’m used to a Renault Clio. You get used to it quickly though.
Saving time in the parks
- Set your alarms people. In order to maximize your time in the parks and to wait in as few queues as possible, rope drop (park opening time) is a must. Rope drop is Disney speak for the time the park opens. I'll be honest and say it's been awhile since we've made it to one but we always arrive half an hour after at the latest. This still gets you on a few rides quickly before the masses start pouring in.
- Fast pass is free (and always has been). This is where you get to go in a considerably shorter ride queue than the main one. So you get on a lot quicker. The latest system which has now incorporated technology annoyingly means that you need to schedule your fast passes 60 days (if you're staying on Disney Property) or 30 days (offsite) in advance. If you're going at a busy time like Christmas or high summer then please use this for your own sake! We went at Christmas and got our tickets at the gate so had to pick fasts that morning. Slim pickings is all I can say.
- Build up your walking stamina before you go. In the parks there will be a lot of walking involved so make sure you can walk further than a mile. Trust me.
- If you’re not interested in parades, watch where you are when they are on. Check the parade route in the map. We once wasted a load of time at Animal Kingdom getting trapped in an area of the park with no rides because we didn’t realise that the parade was on. You can’t cross the parade route until it has passed. This can also happen when you’re in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom.
- After the fireworks in Magic Kingdom where you’re trying to leave the park, you will undoubtedly get stuck in what I like to call the “zombie shuffle” It will take you a ridiculous amount of time to get down main street so take this shortcut: On the right hand side (facing the exit), go into the second shop along and skip to your hearts content past all the crowds. The shops are ALL CONNECTED!
- To avoid the bulk of crowds either have an early or late lunch. Avoid the 12-2pm rush.
Saving money in the parks
- We always bring our own bottled water that we fill up at water fountains throughout the day. It keeps us hydrated in the Florida heat and saves on all the Cokes we'd probably end up buying. If you don't want to carry around a bottle then I'm told you can get free ice water at all the restaurants.
- If you insist on having a table service meal - go at lunch time. It's pretty much the same menu but cheaper.
- The My Disney Experience app has all the menus with prices so you can both decide based on price and also taking everyones preference into account on where to eat. This means that you're not trekking around the park with hungry people in tow until you find somewhere everyone likes.
- If you're a first timer then don't bother with the "hopper" tickets. These are for if you want to go to more than one park a day and are more expensive. We've never bought them as there's plenty to do for a day in each park and it's a waste of time getting from park to park. They aren't exactly next to each other!
So these are just a few of the tips I have for Disney World. Really holding back as I don't want to write an essay. If you have any questions though, feel free to ask away as I'll toot my horn and say I know my stuff. My family and friends say I'm a Disney Expert *blushes*
Have you ever been to Disney World?