Should I Visit Disney Springs
Time permitting, yes. Absolutely.
Disney Springs is one of the reasons I recommend a five- to seven-day stay. This will give you plenty of time to explore all the parks and explore Disney Springs.
You do not need a park ticket or a reservation to go to Disney Springs. There will be a dedicated bus from your hotel. A few resorts have boat service to Disney Springs.
If you have a shorter stay , I recommend leaving Disney Springs for a longer visit, unless you snag a dining reservation you really cant pass up.
Disney Springs is a fun collection of shops, dining and other experiences. Its got a great selection of restaurants that are more high-end/gourmet versus Disney-themed. Whatever you like to eat, theres a ton of choices. Dont worry, everything is kid-friendly. Your kids might not enjoy Wolfgang Pucks quite as much as you do, but theres no place in Disney Springs where kids are not welcome.
I recommend making a dinner reservation here and arriving a couple of hours early so you can shop/walk around. If you need to walk off your dinner or want to grab an ice cream cone or a cupcake for dessert , youll certainly find more to see.
What Is The Best Time To Go To Disney World
Topping the list of Disney World FAQs is When should I go?
The answer isit depends. We dont always have complete flexibility on when we can take vacations, so my bottom line is that you should go when you can and everything else will fall in line.
But. Its not always that simple.
Things like weather and crowds are also going to factor into the equation when determining the best time to go to Disney World. In general, Spring Break and during summer are going to be more crowded. This makes senses: Families plan vacations around kids school breaks. If you go during Spring Break or during summer, expect crowds. If youre planning your trip based on when your kids do not have school, so is everyone else.
I recommend taking a look at a Disney World crowd calendar when making your plans. They are easy to find online. I find the one at touringplans.com to be pretty accurate. Even if youve got zero flexibility on your dates, I recommend checking out a crowd calendar to help manage expectations. Bigger crowds=more time spent waiting in lines.
Central Florida is hot most of the year. Based on weather alone, I think February and November are great times to go. Youll probably still sweat in the parks but it should be warm enough to swim in the pool at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
TravelingMom Tip: If you go during the holidays, heres what you need to know about Disneys Very Merriest Christmas party.
Tip #1: Have A Stroller Plan
To stroller or not to stroller? That is the question that MANY people ask before their first Disney trip!
You will easily walk up to 10 miles per day in the Disney World theme parks, which can be a lot for almost anyone. Little ones tire quickly so you may want a stroller for kids who have outgrown one in all other instances.
Also, check out how Krystal from Destination Family Fun used a cool stroller wagon for her older boys to use during their Disney trip.
We opt to bring a light-weight stroller from home for our six-year-old daughter for those long park days. We think it helps everyone have a more magical time.
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There Are Perks To Staying At A Disney Resort
Disney offers well-known perks that you may be familiar with upon booking your room. These perks include extra Magic Hours, which are extended park hours exclusively for hotel guests. Early Fastpass reservations is another such perk.
Although the two perks mentioned above are changing due to new practices at the parks, other lesser known perks are not. These include discounted prices on solid colored or specially designed Magic Bands, room charging privileges, and complimentary merchandise delivery to your hotel.
As of this articles publishing, Early Theme Park entry is replacing Extra Magic Hours beginning October 1, 2021. It will be available 30 minutes before each theme park opens for every Disney resort guest and other select hotel guests.
Additionally, guests of Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resort hotels will be able to enjoy extended evening hours on select nights in select theme parks. This offering will begin in early October with specific dates and parks to be shared at a later time.
The complimentary transportation in Disney World also extends to airport transportation in the form of Disneys Magical Express. Unfortunately, this perk will be ending December 31, 2021. No announcement has been made as to what, if anything, will replace Disneys Magical Express.
Tip #: Know How To Get Around Disney World
The fourth of my Disney World tips for first timers is to be prepared for getting around at Disney World. Knowing the realities of transportation at Disney World can help you make a decision about where to stay.
If you stay at a hotel on Disney World property, you can take the complimentary Disney transportation to get to and from the theme parks and Disney Springs.
If you stay off of Disney property, be prepared for a 10-30 minute drive to the parks each morning. Youll also have to pay $25 each day to park at the theme parks. At Magic Kingdom, youll have to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center lot and either take the ferry or monorail to get to the entrance to the park .
Knowing what to expect in terms of transportation time can help you enjoy your trip and plan accordingly. It can also be the deciding factor related to my next tip, which is about deciding where to stay.
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What Is Pin Trading
Pin trading is a fun Disney pastime that you can do inside the parks, at the resorts and on a Disney cruise.
To start, you need to purchase a pin lanyard or some kind of other wearable pin storage. I have a small pin book with a long strap that I can wear like a crossbody bag. It holds a lot of pins but isnt too heavy. You buy a couple of pins and youre off!
You can trade pins with Disney Cast Members or other guests you see wearing pin lanyards. Most retail shops and resort have a pin board you can trade with. Sometimes youll see it in full view. Other times, its behind the counter and youll have to ask for it.
The Walt Disney World Theme Parks
There are 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World, each with its unique ambiance. All 4 parks are large and have traditionally taken a minimum of 2 days to complete. The majority of attractions have now reopened, but some shows and evening entertainment remain suspended.
Admission to all parks is with a park reservation and a valid ticket. You will not be allowed access without both of these in place. Currently, a limited park hopping option is available after 2 pm.
It is essential to download and access the My Disney Experience App, where you will find park maps and up-to-date information.
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Get Help Planning Your Disney Vacation
If this process or any part of planning a Disney vacation is as clear as mud for you, ask your travel agent or call Disney directly.
Our TravelingMom team recommends Get Away Today for discount Disney tickets and vacation packages. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today wont just match the price, the company will beat it! Great customer service is another reason why we recommend Get Away Today. From buying your tickets to planning your Disney vacation, the travel agents at Get Away Today help you every step of the way.
Learn About Height Requirements And Rider Switch
Sometimes I get to a park at 7AM, two hours before its scheduled to open, and Im at the front of the crowd with the other early risers. And I overhear parents saying to each other well Im not sure if Janie is tall enough for that one
Know this stuff ahead of timewe have a Guide to Height Requirements and Rider Switch at Disney World. If you start your morning by heading to Space Mountain and find out Janie isnt tall enough, youve basically locked yourself into a 20 minute wait for your first ride with that diversion .
Rider switch allows your group to split up whos going to watch Janie while everyone else rides Space Mountain . Group A waits in line while Group B stays with Janie, then Group B gets to use the Lightning line while Group A stays with Janie. The above-linked post covers this in more detail.
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Whats The Best Way To Get From The Airport To Walt Disney World
If you stay at a Disney resort hotel, Disneys Magical Express is your friend until January 1, 2022. Thats when the free Magical Express bus service ends. Until then, its the best option if youre staying on property and dont plan to rent a car, I recommend using this option while you still can. Advance reservations are required and baggage service currently is not available so youll have to drag your own bags around.
Uber and Lyft are also great options to get to and from Walt Disney World. There are lots of options for booking transportation in and out of Orlando International Airport: traditional taxi cabs, Mears shuttle, private car service. Shuttles and private car services should be booked in advance.
TravelingMom Tip: Flying into Orlando Sanford will change things up. You might get a cheaper flight to Orlando, but youll probably pay more maybe MUCH more getting to Walt Disney World.
Be Prepared For The Weather
This is Florida. Plan on sun and rain, all on the same day. Bring your sunscreen in your bag, and also bring a poncho, raincoat, or umbrella. It can go from hot to a sudden downpour, too hot again in less than an hour.
An umbrella can do double duty using it for rain storms and to keep the sun off while waiting in lines that arent shaded.
Use our Free Printable Disney Backpack Checklist to make sure you have everything you need in the park. Its a comprehensive list to make packing for a day at the parks stress-free. Just follow the checklist.
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Get Familiar With My Disney Experience
The My Disney Experience app is the best free tool Disney has to offer! You will definitely want to download and take a look at this app before your first time at Disney. Its helpful to get familiar with it before you even leave for vacation.
This app allows you to hold your Disney vacation plans at your fingertips. You are able to do so many things on this app such as make park and dining reservations, check wait times, look up park hours, see digital maps, look at PhotoPass photos, and so much more!
The first thing you will want to do when you download the My Disney Experience app is to link your tickets, your resort room, and all of the friends and family you will be traveling with. Linking up with the people you are traveling with will make it easier to book dining reservations. You will also need to be linked if you want to all ride Rise of the Resistance together!
This app is a MUST for your first time at Disney. Check out our for even more helpful apps!
Getting From Your Resort To The Parks Can Take A Lot Of Time
If you end up having an early Fastpass or a breakfast reservation, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to travel! Sometimes buses are delayed. Sometimes the security check is really backed up. And like I said before, WDW is huge! So even if everything is running smoothly, it can still take some time.
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Disney World Tips For Saving Money
Although Disney can be expensive you can find lots of easy ways to save money too. Here are a few ideas:
T-Shirts Buy Disney T-shirts for the family to wear before you go. This way you arent paying more for them at Disney parks.
Souvenirs You can also buy these ahead and pack themin your suitcase. Then surprise your kids with the items in the hotel before you go.
Breakfast Have breakfast in your room. You can bring food or order grocery store delivery to your hotel room.
Pack a Lunch Bring your own lunch and snacks to eat and just buy dinner at the park.
Popcorn Bucket The popcorn bucket is the best deal for snacks if you plan to be at the parks for more than one day. Once you buy the bucket it is only $1 to refill it.
Ticket Savings Ticket prices at Disney cost more during busier times of year. Try and go at an off season time to save money on ticket prices. Disney Crowd Calendar
Bring What You Need to the Park Dont end up spending money buy things you could bring from home like, ponchos, medication, Disney Ears, water, snacks, extra clothes.
Use our Free Printable Disney Packing list to remember everything youll need in your park bag.
Make Money By Declining Housekeeping
Did you know you can make money by saying no to housekeeping? Crazy, right?! This is a great perk some people dont know about, but we definitely want you to know before your first time at Disney!
Service Your Way is part of Disneys green initiative to cut back on electricity, laundry, and waste. They reward guests who opt out of housekeeping with a gift card! The gift card amount varies depending on how many nights you are staying. You get $10 per night minus one night. So if you are staying 5 nights, you will get a $40 gift card.
Now you can use this extra money for souvenirs and snacks! If you dont plan on being in your room a lot and dont make much of a mess, opting out of housekeeping is a great idea. You can feel good about helping Disney with their green initiative and you get money at the same time! Its a win-win!
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Stay At A Walt Disney World Resort
If at all possible financially, try to stay at one of the Walt Disney Resort Hotels. The two biggest reasons are: Tinker Bell will tuck you in and it gives you an edge in getting to the parks. Ok, we lied. Tinker Bell wont tuck you in but you are surrounded by the magic of Disney. Staying on site makes your trip extra special to your children and you.
It is true that you have an edge of getting into the park! Disney has magic hours that gives those who stay on site extra time in the parks. We have a run down of the pros and cons of staying on or off site here.
Make Advance Dining Reservations
You can make Advance Dining Reservations to Walt Disney World restaurants 180 days before your trip. Take advantage of this, because popular restaurants like Le Cellier, Cinderellas Royal Table, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Chef Mickeys book up months in advance.
While the importance of ADRs isnt as significant as it once was thanks to Disney putting in a new deposit system, if you want to dine at the most sought-after restaurants or you travel during busy times (or during the Free Dining promotion, the importance of ADRs for popular restaurants cannot be understated.
Weve heard horror stories from guests who book Free Dining, then just show up, expecting to eat anywhereand unable to find a table at even the most unpopular restaurants. Make your reservations as early as possible. When we have used the Disney Dining Plan in the past, weve made reservations months in advance. Sometimes, even at 170+ days, we still didnt get what we wanted.
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Tip #: Avoid Disney Sticker Shock
I think the #2 thing that ruins many Disney vacations is when expectations dont match up with the reality at Disney World. This disconnect happens mainly in regards to prices!
Be prepared for costs comparable to what you will pay at any major sporting event or tourist attraction. Here are some examples:
- Bottle of water $3.50
- Kids Macaroni & cheese with side and drink $6.99
- Typical character buffet dinner $40 adult, $20 child under 9
You can also plan to avoid some of these expenses by bringing your own drinks and snacks into the parks and planning your meals carefully.
The portions are quite large at Disney so many people find they are even able to share meals between two people!
Know How To Use Crowd Calendars
Crowd calendars are calendars that attempt to tell you how busy the parks will be on a given day. When planning your trip, youll want to know the best Disney Disney crowd calendars and how to use them.
In short: don’t worship these calendars. As our post explains, you want to use them to identify big picture things that might impact crowd levels. For the most part, there is no low season at Walt Disney World, and you cant reliably predict crowds on a day-to-day basis.
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