Are you a Disney newbie? Are you in dire need of help planning your vacation to the happiest place on earth? Then, go no further. Here is a short list of Disney Do’s that you might find handy. The following are just a few tips you should absolutely take into consideration when booking your trip and also while you’re at the parks. They will truly make your overall experience at Disney easier and more enjoyable.
1. Do Make Dining Reservations
If you want to eat at table service restaurants, always, always, always book reservations. These particular spots offering special dining experiences fill up fast. Once you’ve booked your vacation, both Walt Disney World (up to 180 days before your trip) and Disneyland (up to 60 days before your trip) offer advanced dining reservations for many locations, which you should definitely use to your advantage.
2. Do Use FastPass Selection
If you don’t get a FastPass, then you’re not doing Disney right. The most popular rides typically have the longest lines and one of the best ways to beat waiting hours is by getting a FastPass. Both Disney World (Disney World FastPass+) and Disneyland (Disneyland FASTPASS) offer FastPass options, so be sure to look into these if you haven’t already.
3. Do Make A Schedule
This might sound like work, but it’s necessary for a Disney trip. I’m not saying you need a spreadsheet detailing your times, FastPass selections, dining reservations, and what outfits you’re wearing on what day (believe it or not, I’ve seen people do exactly this), but having a general schedule of your day makes things a lot easier. Whenever I go to Disney World for a week, I always plan out each day. Yes, things change from time to time, but having an idea of what you want to do, when you want to do, and where you want to go makes things less stressful.
4. Do Research & Study A Map
If you’ve never been to any Disney park before, you really should do research to know what’s available at each park, like attractions, restaurants, and even restrooms. Disney isn’t the type of vacation you should go into without any kind of planning, so definitely research. As for studying a map, seriously, do it beforehand. The first time walking into any park can be totally overwhelming, but if you become familiar with the layout before stepping foot inside say the Magic Kingdom, you’ll be better off. FYI: there are maps of each park available online for both Disney World and Disneyland.
5. Do Start At The Back Of The Park
I like to be at the parks early when they first open, which means you sometimes have your pick of rides. I typically try to hit up the back of the park first. For example, I’ve had great success with this at Magic Kingdom. Every time I’ve started at the back of the park, I’ve hit so many rides within the first hour. Plus, sometimes it’s empty, which is amazing, especially since so many people stroll down Main Street U.S.A. and stop at the stores (you can do this later or on your way out of the park).
The one mistake many people make is trying to run to the biggest rides first, but that’s why you book FastPasses. This way you can experience the other attractions and not have to worry about long wait times. Another tip: If you have an early FastPass, try to hit up as many rides before your pass expires. I did this the last time I was at Magic Kingdom and it worked out so great. I squeezed in Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, “it’s a small world”, and a cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern all before I had to use my first FastPass. Oh, and Fantasyland was empty, too. At one point, it was just me and my sister — seriously.
6. Do Take Advantage Of PhotoPass
Throughout each park, there are Disney PhotoPass photographers willing, ready, and able to take photos of you and your group. They’re professionals who take some of the most magical pictures at different park locations. They will take your photo in front of Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, or on Hollywood Boulevard. There are other fun photo spots, too, like at Magic Kingdom’s Rapunzel-themed bathrooms at night, where you get to hold a lit lantern. This PhotoPass service is stunning. You don’t have to buy the photos, but definitely at least allow the photographers to take your picture, so you can look at them later. You might end up liking them so much, you’ll take a photo home as a souvenir. It’s a great way to take home memories.
7. Do Take Photos With Characters As An Adult
Disney is the opportunity for adults to become a kid again. It’s where your inner child comes out, which is totally OK. That’s the point, which is why adults shouldn’t be embarrassed about taking photos with characters. Not only do they make for fun pictures, but it’s a great time interacting with characters. They are so lovable and radiate joy, so, yeah, adults, meet characters!
8. Do Book A Character Dining Experience
And the best way to take photos with characters (so you don’t have to wait in line) is to make a Character Dining reservation. You’re never too old to eat a meal, while characters go around signing autographs and snapping photos with you. It makes your meal taste so much better. My all-time favorite? Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House. The buffet is out of this world and you also get to meet Safari Donald Duck and friends. It doesn’t get better than that.
9. Do Get Seats For A Parade And/Or Show
If you want to get good seats for a show or a parade, grab seats EARLY. This is a must. No joke, for Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After show people start saving seats almost two hours before show time. Now, you don’t need to sit that early, but you probably want to look for a good spot at least an hour early. Spaces fill up fast and you don’t want to be that person who finds a spot last minute and ends up with an obstructed view.
10. Do Show Up For Rope Drop
I never try to miss a rope drop. There is something special about arriving early (about an hour or so before the scheduled opening time) for park opening. Some of the parks have special ways to celebrate the opening of each day. For example, Magic Kingdom has a welcome show at Cinderella Castle called Let the Magic Begin. Though, to be honest, it’s not as good as the old welcoming show involving Mickey Mouse and friends on the Walt Disney World Railroad. Man, I miss that show — a lot. Animal Kingdom also does something special before it officially opens. The few times over the years I’ve been there for rope drop, macaws have taken flight and it’s truly a magical way to begin the day. It might be too early for you, but arrive for rope drop at least one time. Plus, if you get there early enough, you just might be able to hit up the most popular attractions before the lines get too long. You won’t regret it.
Hopefully these Disney Do’s help all those new to the magical world of Disney. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!