Disney World. The happiest place on Earth – and personally one of my favorite places to escape everyday life. Mom life never stops, not even at Disney. So whether you are going for a few hours or the whole day, here are my Mom Tips & Tricks to make your Disney visit as smooth as possible.
Planning and preparing for your visit
1. Grab those fast passes!
With the purchase of a ticket or Annual Pass, you can make fast pass selections as early as 30 days before you arrive—starting at 7:00 AM Eastern Time. If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in for the entire length of your stay. You can get up to three fast passes ahead of your visit, then once those are used, you can add more, one at a time. You can also mix and match, so if you have a child who likes roller coasters but one who doesn’t, you can get a different fast pass for each of them, just make sure adults have matching fast passes. Example: My oldest doesn’t like roller coasters so I will book him and myself on a specific ride, while my middle and my hubby are booked on a roller coaster ride at the same time. Also, all kids ages 7 and older may ride by themselves. We often will let our oldest two ride in their own ride vehicle on the same ride with us.
2. What to pack!
Here are some go-to items that I have in our family’s Disney bag (which is a backpack that we can easily wear around the parks).
- Sunscreen. This is essential in Florida for both adults and littles. You will save yourself time and money if you take this along with you.
- A change of clothes or a swimsuit for the kids and a towel. Disney parks have some awesome splash areas located within the parks. (Magic Kingdom: Storybook Circus area and near the jungle cruise, Epcot: Walkway to World Showcase and near Test Track, Disney Springs: Near Earl of Sandwich.)
- Wipes (even if you don’t have a child in diapers). This is a MUST for sticky hands and cool sweaty faces!
- Ponchos. You never know when a pop-up downpour will happen in Florida.
- Snacks. Disney parks allow you to bring your own food and drink (non-glass, non-alcoholic) into the parks. I pack easy on the go snacks like squeeze-it applesauce, juice pouches (remove the straws, especially if going to Animal Kingdom), pretzels and dried fruit.
- Water. Here’s one of my favorite Mom Tips: Bottled water is available everywhere in the parks. Restaurants, outdoor food carts (like popcorn and ice cream locations) and in retail shops. This can cost you anywhere from $3-5 for one bottle! There are plenty of locations around the park where you can find FREE water. Go up to any restaurant or concession stand that serves fountain drinks and ask for cups of ice water. Also, Starbucks! If you can resist ordering an iced coffee, Starbucks is a great location to get filtered water. Plus, it’s an opportunity to soak up some air conditioning!
- Glow sticks. If you are going to be there in the evening, purchasing glow sticks from a dollar store will save you A LOT of money instead of the tempting vendor cart full of light-up toys!
- One last item that I recommend bringing is a stroller, especially if you have kids 5 and under. (And honestly, even if you DON’T have little kids!) Disney is massive, you will easily walk 5-7 miles (probably even more) in one day at the parks, and little legs tire and need rest. Bonus, in crowed areas your child in the stroller won’t be bumped or accidentally stepped on.
3. Park Tips:
- Disney parks are popular with tourist and locals alike. You may find that some days, especially weekdays, are less crowded than others. Here are some other traditionally less crowded times: September-Mid-December, Mid-January-Mid-March, and April-May.
- If you take a stroller and use the parking lot tram, be prepared to fold the stroller for the tram ride.
- You will likely go through security at the entrance. Have all zippers open on your bags. This helps the guards and speeds up the line.
- If you are at the Magic Kingdom you will find you have two options to get to and from the actual park. Option 1: the Magic Kingdom ferry. It holds 600 guests. Option 2: the monorail holds around 300 guests. Depending on the time you arrive, it may be quicker to take the boat or monorail. This also applies for when you exit the park. If you’re exiting late at night, do not forget about the resort monorail as an option (it makes a stop at the ticket and transportation center).
- Once in the parks, take your time and enjoy. If you don’t quite make a fast pass on time, don’t panic. You have a 15 min window on the end of your fast pass to still use it.
- You may want to book a character dining experience. This covers a meal and you get to meet different Disney Characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald or even Disney Princesses depending on where you eat. This will save you time on waiting in line for character pictures and signatures.
- Each Disney park has its own unique evening fireworks and light show. If you are at the parks in the evening you will definitely want to catch one of these.
- If you’ve already seen the fireworks, this is a great time to make your way to a popular ride for a shorter wait time.
4. If your child is lost
Disney cast members (Disney calls all employees cast members) are amazing. If you have any questions or need anything don’t hesitate to ask. They really like helping guests and spreading Disney Magic. Also, know that if your child is accidentally lost (7 things your child should know if lost), that Disney has never not found a lost child or lost parents!
I hope your visit to the Disney Parks is magical, and perhaps smoother with the tips above!