If your family travel plans include a vacation to “the most magical place on earth” you’ll want to access the tips and tricks of park veterans to make the most of your trip and to keep stress levels low.
Author Susan Veness lives near Mouseland and shares insider tips in her book “Walt Disney World Hacks, 350 + Park Secrets for Making the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation” (Simon & Schuster, 2019).
Here are five strategies to consider:
The earlier you get started the better. You’ll need to sort out a flight or driving plan, a hotel strategy, dining reservations and priorities for which attractions and character meet-and-greets will top your list. In one of her “Newbie Alerts,” tips to assist first-timers, Veness reminds Disney enthusiasts that “Walt Disney World is enormous. You can’t do it all in a week or even two so it’s important to prioritize,” she advises. “As you narrow down your priorities, that overwhelmed, chaotic feeling will turn into a workable daily schedule.”
—Find out about the Fast Pass
This important tool will allow you to reserve a return time for three rides, character meet-and-greets or shows in one park per day and avoid waiting in long lines. According to Veness, guests staying at a Disney resort or select resorts within Walt Disney World have the ability to book their times 60 days in advance of their vacation. There are many ways to tour the parks, and plenty of hacks to consider, so you’ll want to consult with fellow travelers to create the best strategy for using your Fast Pass.
—Where to stay
There are many factors to consider when determining where to rest your heads during your Disney vacation. Budget, convenience, special benefits and access all come into play. Review your credit card points or hotel loyalty programs to see if options might apply. If you are a Costco member, look into their discounts on resort rooms. Using a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations is also a good strategy. Their knowledge of each option and your specific needs will pay dividends.
You’ll be accessing apps, taking photos and connecting with other park goers during your stay so consider bringing along extra chargers. Advises Veness, “If your family has more than one phone, use one at a time until the battery runs out.” She also advises practicing with the My Disney Experience app before leaving home to avoid frustration and unnecessary use of the phone battery. Another pro tip: Veness recommends taking a photo of your contact information and using it as your locked screen image. Should you leave your phone (and the valuable photos within) behind during your adventure, the finder will know how to track you down.
—The famed “Disney Walls”
There is so much to see and do so it’s best to sort out the secret spots in advance. According to Veness, “Disney fans have made certain food, drinks and attractions into cult classics and they’ve done the same with specific walls within the theme parks.” Certain locations offer bold colors and geometric shapes as backgrounds and are popular with social media users and for memory making, she advises. Among the popular spots are Magic Kingdom’s Purple Wall, Epcot’s Toothpaste Wall, the Popsicle Stick Wall at Hollywood Studios and the Moss Wall at Animal Kingdom. They each have the own hashtag so you can scope them out in advance.
(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com)