What I Wish I Knew Before I Visited Walt Disney World Resort

in Disney, Travel, Walt Disney World

Fireworks in the sky

Credit: Disney

I remember my first visit to Walt Disney World Resort. It was in the late 1980s, and Magic Kingdom was the most wonderful (dare I say Magical?) place I’d ever seen. Characters leapt off the screen, including The Little Mermaid who had a new adventure right inside the gates of the brand new Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It was an adventure I’d remember for a lifetime. But when I picked back up the Parks-going gauntlet as an adult, so much had changed. A decade-long absence had taken its toll on my trip hacks, and there was so much I wish I had known before visiting Walt Disney World Resort again.

The Disney Parks Moms Panel Offers Free Advice

Whether you’re a seasoned visitor wanting to experience something new or a first time planner, the Disney Parks Moms Panel is a wealth of free advice. Any guest planning for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line or Disney Vacation Club can visit to ask a question. They will get a personalized answer with plenty of pixie-dusted information sent straight to their email! Ask as many questions as you like to the panel of 30+ real park going folks.


Hidden Magic is Everywhere

Sure, you know about Disney World Resort’s amazing attractions like Avatar: Flight of Passage and the new Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster, but what about the unexpected magic? Hidden surprises, detailed touches and games are built right into the Parks. Treat your family to a free game of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom or find the 10 hidden Pascals near Rapunzel’s tower! Yank of Indiana Jones’ excavation rope and then dance on the sparkling sidewalk in Epcot’s Future World. Magic is everywhere, so take a moment and look around!

Hidden Pascal Sign

Budget Friendly Freebies

Guests on a budget often visit the Disney Parks Moms Panel to ask for money saving advice. Through my many Parks trips, I’ve learned wonderful tips to find freebies or inexpensive items. I like to purchase the refillable popcorn bucket for cheap snacks all vacation long while my kids press pennies for small yet meaningful souvenirs. Even my husband gets into the game with complimentary cups of water at all walk-up restaurants and spending a relaxing day exploring our Disney Resort Hotel.

Use Mobile Order

Mobile Order is a now widely distributed service across Walt Disney World Resort that offers hungry guests an opportunity to skip the line at many quick-service restaurants. Use the free My Disney Experience mobile app to choose, customize, and order your meals, and then be buzzed when your tray is ready at the pickup window. This free service is a lifesaver when I have melting kids, hungry after a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris!

Mobile Order

Make Dining Reservations Early

Nothing was more frustrating on my first “return” trip than having no place to sit down and relax at dinner. My husband and I had no idea that dining reservations booked up 180 days in advance, and at that time, there were no walk-up reservations available! I took this lesson to heart and have set an alert on my calendar ever since! The advent of My Disney Experience Mobile App has been wonderful for checking open reservations before we traipse around the Park, saving shoe leather and frustration. Make sure you have a plan for food!

Skippers Canteen

You Can Get More Than 3 FastPass+ Reservations

Most guests know that you can schedule your FastPass+ reservations 60 days ahead of your Walt Disney World Resort arrival day. These 3-per-day skip-the-line entitlements are the best way to speed up your fun. Via the My Disney Experience App, after you use up your three FastPass+ reservations, you can make another! Use that one, and dive in again for a fourth. Max out your fun by planning smartly!

Get Streamlined with MagicBands

Disney offers complimentary solid colored MagicBands with any Walt Disney World Resort Hotel stay. These waterproof little beauties safely hold tons of information like your Park tickets, FastPass+ reservations, Hotel Keys, PhotoPass scans, charging privileges, and more. I’ve collected several colors with saucy nicknames and even purchased a few graphic bands to celebrate milestone trips! Make sure you personalize your MagicBands online within My Disney Experience so they can ship straight to your home. They get your vacation started on the right note!


Stay on Property for Perks

Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is more than just a place to rest your head. Keep the magic alive every step of the way with incredible theming like that of Disney’s Art of Animation. Aside from those complimentary MagicBands, you can experience extended Parks hours exclusively for Resort Guests. My family uses the complimentary transportation via Disney’s Magical Express, Monorail, bus, watercraft and upcoming Skyliner gondolas! You can also charge food, tickets, merchandise and more to your MagicBand, which will be coupled with your preferred charge card, allowing you to leave worry at home and jump onto the Typhoon Lagoon waterslides! Resort guests can also book FastPass+ reservations 60 days ahead of check-in, instead of the standard 30 days. Staying on property has so many perks!

Finding Nemo pool

Baby Care Centers

The four main theme parks boast roomy, air conditioned Baby Care Centers which are for more than just babies! Potty training toddlers and weary families can stop in for a rest, a quiet TV show, a feeding station or even to stock up on supplies. The essentials store offers diapers, formula, onesies, and even snacks. My family stopped in last trip for sunscreen, bug spray and even some bandaids for pesky footwear. The Baby Care Centers are a great place to stop in a recoup from an active afternoon.

Photo credit: Lindsey Paris

An Annual Pass is an AMAZING Value

After having a blue-ribbon Parks year in 2016, I realized that I should have purchased an Annual Pass to Walt Disney World Resort. More than 14 days in the Parks means I could have purchased an “AP” and gleaned all sorts of benefits. Not only would I have saved on purchasing to Memory Maker entitlements, I would have also saved on dining, merchandise, and been able to Park Hop to my heart’s content. Instead, I was worried about calculating tickets, denying myself that 2-hour stop into Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival and missing out on that dedicated entry line. The best thing you can do for yourself is to look ahead and see if an Annual Pass is right for you. You could be saving your family tons and living the Disney life!

The Disney Parks Mom Panel is a group of Guests with passion and knowledge in a wide range of Disney Parks vacation topics such as Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruises and Disney Vacation Club. Panelists are ARE NOT Disney employees as such their views are their own. Inside the Magic is honored to share some insights from a member of Disney Parks Mom Panel Lindsey Paris on this topic. You can meet her and the other Disney Parks Moms Panelists here.

in Disney, Travel, Walt Disney World

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