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Monday, January 8, 2018

75 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018


by: guide4wdw - Collin

Disney World vacation tips are truly a dime a dozen in many cases. Your friend tells you one thing, your second cousin tells you another thing, and countless websites tell you something different. Of course, not all of those are going to be good tips for a Walt Disney World vacation, while many of them may very well be excellent recommendations. However, in what I see as a continually innovative move in the right direction, the Disney parks and resorts are always changing. As we embark on a new year, a few things have changed (as always), but quite a bit has remained the same so we're taking a look at a vast assortment of tips we've shared with guests traveling to the parks and even a few new recommendations that apply to planning your vacation for this year in particular. (Updated March 2018 - Additions start at number 45!) 

In the past, we've narrowed our tips down to strictly categorical lists, but today we thought we'd venture beyond the list (for lack of a better word) and just share an unveiling of tips based on our experience traveling to Disney throughout our entire lives. As the year unfolds, we hope to keep this list updated and continually improve the tips shared while removing some that may no longer be accurate. At the time of posting (January 2018) each and every tip on the list should be easily accessible and useful during your vacation! 

So, with the overall premise of today narrowed down, we'll jump right into it with #1. As a bit of a heads up, these are in no particular order and were not intended to be ranked in the list format:
  1. If you're going to venture into Pandora at Animal Kingdom, you'll want a fastpass+ for Flight of Passage, similar to how you still need a fastpass+ selection for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train long after it's debut. The attraction regularly reaches wait times well beyond 2 hours, so be prepared to wait, and reserve a fastpass well in advance (at the 60 day out reservation window if at all possible). Also, be sure to check out the new counter service location, Satu'li Canteen for an adventurous meal but one that guests tend to really enjoy. Many have called it the best counter service location on property. Concerned about riding Flight of Passage? Be sure to check out our An Honest Analysis: Flight of Passage From A Motion Sickness Perspective post. 
  2. Buy your tickets in advance. No matter if you are buying a package from Disney of buying everything independently (see tip 24 for more on that), buy your tickets early. If you wait until you arrive at the park or very late in your booking process you'll loose out on the opportunity to book fastpass+ selections far in advance. Want some more fastpass tips? Check out our 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience 
  3. Don't worry about planning every little detail. So many guests over plan their Disney trip by creating a down to the minute list of what attractions they want to ride and at what time. To be quite honest, this strategy can lead to a ton of stress and you'll likely miss out on the joys of "the little things" of Walt Disney World. Of course, plan the big things, and even what days you'll visit what park, etc. but avoid the play by play itinerary and take some time to just take it all in. Here's a closer look at what we recommend planning and some extra tips on that topic in depth. Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018
  4. Avoid the mid week meltdown. Without a doubt, at some point in your vacation you'll get overwhelmed and reach that point where everything seems to be going wrong (especially if you travel with children). Avoid that meltdown moment by taking a mid afternoon break from the parks. Head back to the resort and cool off in the room, head to the pool for a few hours, grab a table service meal at your resort, and simply relax for a few brief moments. You'll be genuinely shocked at the difference it can make! 
  5. Prepare for the heat no matter what season you're visiting the parks. Orlando weather is truly unpredictable at times but you always face the chance that it will be extremely warm during your vacation at some point. We traveled to the parks around Christmas last year and faced a day of heat in the mid 90's. Sometimes it seems impossible to beat the heat at Walt Disney World but it's quite possible if you plan accordingly. Make sure to read 5 Ways To Beat The Heat At WDW for our tips on that. 
  6. If you're thirsty in a park, simply head to a counter service location and request a cup of ice water. It's completely free and saves you quite a bit of money in the long run by avoiding bottled water costs and soft drink prices. 
  7. Book dining reservations at resorts. Resort dining is excellent at Walt Disney World and even if you're not staying at that resort, parking is free or you can easily hop on that resort's bus at any of the four parks to catch a ride to your desired resort dining location. One of our favorites over the years has been Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. We've had excellent interactions with cast members in the past which we wrote about in our Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks - "Sunshine" From Whispering Canyon  post.
  8. Sticking with Disney dining, save some money and try a few of the more budget friendly entrees on property. No matter what your budget, we recommend that you schedule at least one table service meal during your vacation, even if you're just going to be in the parks for a single day. A select few of our main recommendations pop up in our 5 Excellent Entrees Under $15 at Walt Disney World.
  9. Get to the parks early. For seasoned guests, this likely seems obvious, but if you arrive in the parks early you'll be surprised how many attraction you can enjoy without waiting in line more than around 10 minutes. This simple concept is a huge part of our How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+!  article.
  10. Read up on your Walt Disney World history. This is a tip you wont find anywhere else but I see it as fundamental in touring the parks and developing a greater appreciation of their past and how it has affected what you see in the parks to day. Our The "Western River Expedition" - The Walt Disney World Attraction That Almost Became A Reality is an excellent place to start! 
  11. Book a breakfast reservation mid-morning. If you've yet to schedule your dining reservations for your upcoming trip, be sure to pick up a reservation for around 10:30am. When you do, it allows you to hit key attractions at low wait times at rope drop opening, then as the crowds start to build you get to head inside for a hot meal. Our main breakfast suggestion at Magic Kingdom is Crystal Palace which we recently named One of the Best Table Service Breakfasts on Property.
  12. Order your Magic Bands early on in your planning process. After you book your resort reservations, you'll be asked to select colors for each member of your family before your magic bands are shipped and customized to your preferences. If you dont do it right away, it's easy to forget them entirely. 
  13. If you're driving or renting a car, be sure to head over to the outlet shopping centers near Disney property. There are two locations, one is less than 10 minutes from Disney Springs, that feature discounted Disney parks merchandise. If you arrive on the right day, you'll be surprised at some of the clearance merchandise you'll find!  
  14. Book your dining reservations carefully. When you start booking table service meals, especially on the dining plan, it's easy to overlook a fastpass+ selection or book a meal at an inconvenient time. Be sure to check and double check your plans to make sure everything aligns properly. For more on Dining Plans be sure to read Disney World Dining Tips For 2018
  15. Be advised that the dining plan may or may not be your best case dining scenario. A vast majority of the time, you are going to pay more for the dining plan than you will purchasing meals out of pocket. If you're curious of the details, here's a breakdown of the meal plan for last year in our Is The Dining Plan Truly a "Good Deal" From a Cost Perspective? - A Closer Look. The plan is certainly convenient but if you're on a budget, you'll want to consider what it will cost you in the long run.  
  16. When booking Epcot fastpass selections, you may want to book Test Tack as one of your 3 selections. The attraction has been known to break down from time to time, but if you have a fastpass and it starts back up you're typically given a free ride at any point after your original designated window. 
  17. Sticking with Epcot, if you pick Test Track as your top tier pass (unfortunately Epcot's selections are tiered) be sure to book it about an hour after park opening. In doing so, you'll provide yourself time to jump on Soarin or Frozen Ever After before their lines grow and still make it to your first fastpass selection. If you're curious on how this works out, check out our Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan 
  18. Book your fastpasses for early on in the day. If it works out just right, you'll be able to activate your fourth "revolving fastpass" as early as possible to use for a longer duration of time if you don't plan on park hopping. For more on that, be sure to read 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience
  19. Check out hidden Mickeys across property. Unfortunately, the hunt for hidden Mickeys at Disney World has faded away for many guests, but Imagineering continues to push out some of the most elaborate hidden details of the park in the form of the iconic character that started it all! Personally, I've used Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets in the past and in my experience it's been the most helpful guide to finding these iconic hidden gems of the parks. 
  20. Explore the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk resort area is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks to enjoy a meal, grab an ice-cream or even catch an unconventional view of Epcot's Illuminations nighttime spectacular
  21. If you're staying on property, have your packages (in the form of any souvenir purchases in the parks) delivered to your room. Not only will it save you the trouble of carrying it around, but it will likely arrive the very next day at your resort hotel completely free of charge. 
  22. If you plan on riding Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom, ride it early in the day to see the animals at their peak level of activity. 
  23. If you end up eating at Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom, be sure to head upstairs when you're looking for a seat. In the very back of the second floor there is a bridge style overlook that allows guests to eat their meal with a perfect and quaint little view of Liberty Square and a portion of Fantasyland! 
  24. If you're looking to buy tickets, avoid the scams and consider buying from the Official Ticket Center to catch an occasional free park hopper upgrade or extra free ticketed day with the purchase of certain tickets! 
  25. Head to Epcot on really crowded days. Epcot holds crowds better than any other park.
  26. Looking for a perfect Illuminations viewing location? We recommend the bridge between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the France Pavilion. Watch the wind, if it's blowing towards you, pick a different location on the other side of the lake to avoid the debris and smoke that will fall from the sky during the show.
  27. If you like to chew gum, pack it in your park bag or suitcase. You will not found it sold on property (with the possible exception of the gas stations). 
  28. Camp out at the counter service location outside of the Mexico pavilion or at the Rose and Crown table service location at the United Kingdom Pavilion for an excellent view of Illuminations from select seating locations. 
  29. If you're looking to eat a counter service lunch in the air conditioning, stop by La Cantina de San Angel outside of the Mexico pavilion. While a majority of seating is outdoors, if you round the corner by the large circular seating area on the water, you'll see two big doors, At lunch time, you can open those doors and sit inside of the adjacent table service location until they open for their first meal of the day.
  30. When booking a vacation with a travel agent, make sure they are a part of Disney's Authorized Vacation Planners. The somewhat rare ranking means that Disney works hand in hand with the agency and holds them to certain standards and qualifications that many other agencies may or may not. The link will take you to our recommended agency's quote request form (we do not own it).
  31. To get the best view of Happily Ever After, choose a spot near the castle but far enough back near the hub that you can still catch an unobstructed view of the fireworks from the rear launch site. I personally recommend standing on the left hand side of the partners statue. 
  32. If you want to visit the Contemporary Resort, take the walking path. Along the right hand side of the Magic Kingdom entrance (if you're facing the main entrance) you'll find a small path that leads directly to the lobby of the Contemporary and is much faster than waiting on a monorail. Don't forget to check out the five legged goat!   
  33. Want a neat little break from the parks? Catch a boat over to Wilderness Lodge and check out some true Disney history in the Carolwood Room. To be quite honest with you, it's one of my favorite hidden gems in all of Walt Disney World. 
  34. If you're at Epcot (or Hollywood Studios), make the short walk or boat ride over to the Dolphin resort for the best soft serve ice cream on property at the Fountain. I know that sounds like a bold claim, but try it yourself and you'll love it! It's incredibly creamy soft serve in a waffle cone that kids and adults alike will love! Just look for the line at the ice cream counter and you'll know you're at the right place. 
  35. If you want a Dole Whip but don't want to head to Magic Kingdom or don't have a ticket for the day, head over to the Polynesian (or Pop Century - Now), grab a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai, and take to the beach for an excellent view of Happily ever After across the water. 
  36. On Main Street there is one single lightbulb that is made with the similar tools and processes used to create the original light bulb created by Edison. The bulb resides in the car barn, but is visible to guests for the sole sake of authenticity. It's a simple touch but one that only Disney would go above and beyond to include. 
  37. If you're looking for a particular resort room location, call your resort the day of your check in and request a location on the property. It is far from foolproof but can work in your favor if they can make it happen. Unfortunately there are select room categories that are reserved for specific reservations but you can always request a location within your room category. 
  38. If you know you're going be back at Walt Disney World for a second trip the same year of your vacation, you'll want to look into a annual pass. The upfront cost is expensive, but it will save you a massive amount of money on the second trip. For similar ticket tips, check out our 2018 Discount Disney World Tickets article to compare a few options.
  39. If you're looking to book a vacation this year, you'll want to look into dates in the early to mid summer. I say that for one main reason. Toy Story Land is set to open in the summer of 2018. The expansion will end about half of the construction at Hollywood Studios and really open that park up to hold more guests and develop a better theme park experience. Plus, this discount is still available! Disney Discounts Are Here For Spring and Early Summer - Up To 20% 
  40. If you're on the dining plan (or not) you'll want to check out Floatworks at Port Orleans French Quarter. The food is excellent for a counter service location and rivals the quality of many table service locations.
  41. While you're at Port Orleans, be sure to try the Beignets! They're one of the best kept secrets (ok... maybe not so secret) desserts in all of Walt Disney World.
  42. Port Orleans, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach are some of the very best resorts for the money on property. 
  43. Schedule a dining reservation at select table service locations in each park that offer breakfast up to an hour before the park even opens for a very unique view of the park with very few guests inside the gates.
  44. Stay late at night to experience the Kiss Goodnight to see the park near empty and to catch a short heartfelt show as you end your night in the perfect way.  
  45. Book with an official Disney Travel Planner! Here's a closer look at why. Disney Travel Agents - Who Do I Recommend?  You'll be surprised at the difference it can make in your overall vacation experience.
  46. Don't carry water bottles in your backpack if you can avoid it! Water bottles get heavy after a long day in the parks in the Florida heat. If you really want your own personal water bottle, take the bottle into the park empty and ask for a cup of free ice water at a counter service location and fill your bottle with it in order to keep the water cold and replenished anywhere you go. 
  47. Pack Sunscreen for you vacation. Sunscreen is horribly expensive in the parks and available at limited locations on property. Bring it with you or buy it off property.
  48. If you pick up a cup of water from a counter service location (for free), carry flavor packets to flavor your water and cover up that Florida water taste.
  49. If you aren't willing to carry around a jacket with you in the case of a pop up rain storm, head to the dollar store before your trip (or order on Amazon) a few disposable ponchos. Not only will it save you a ton of money in the parks if you end up having to purchase them there, but it may be a good option if you want to stay remotely dry on a water based attraction. For more on this one check out our Disney Packing List - What I Take to Disney World
  50. To avoid delays at bag check, try and pack a park bag that does not have 100 different pockets that will each have to be opened and checked before you get to head into the parks. The people behind you in line will be grateful!  
  51. Use the Magical Express if your flights line up with the timeframes when it is offered. It is not available at all times of day and it may not be the quickest option due to stopping at other resorts along the way, but it will save you quite a bit of money over taking a town car, Uber, or a taxi to your resort. 
  52. If you're looking to save some money when paying for your vacation, watch out for deals on Disney gift cards from certain retailers like Target, Kroger, Costco, an others. It may not be a huge savings but every dollar helps! For more on that plan, be sure to look into our 10 Easy Ways To Save Money At Disney World in 2018.
  53. If you're an Annual Passholder or looking to become one, look into the practice of "ticket bridging." Its not a fool proof solution but can make a big difference for larger families. 
  54. Pack a Sharpie marker if you are looking to get autographs from characters. They write way better than a typical ink pen and leave a much more solid signature in your autograph book. Additionally, they are much easier for many characters to write with.
  55. If you are planning a dining reservation at a park or other location, give yourself at least one hour to get there from any point on property. Transportation can be slow at times, so don't risk losing a reservation just because you arrived a few minutes late by accident. Disney recommends giving yourself even more time than that but I don't find an hour+ necessary.  
  56. If you're looking to eat at or stay at the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin, or Yacht and Beach Club, take full advantage of the back entrance of Epcot. It's largely overlooked and a great way to get in the park quickly and effectively without a majority of the crowds. 
  57. If you have allergies, be sure to tell Disney before you get to your dining location or when you arrive at counter service locations. Typically, Disney will allow you to talk to the Chef who will then create an item you can eat or at counter service locations bring you a book of ingredients for each menu item so you can find something that will work for you. 
  58. If you're looking for a good parade spot at Magic Kingdom, head to the front of the park near the entrance of the Harmony Barber Shop. On a normal day, that area of the park is the last spot to fill up and offers great views of the parade in a somewhat shaded area.
  59. Send purchases back to your resort from any shopping location in order to avoid carrying the purchases around the parks. The service is completely free of charge for on property resort guests and while your packages will arrive the next day, it's much better than hauling around an extra bag.    
  60. Don't pack beach towels for the pool. The Disney World resorts provide towels for guests and it's one less thing you have to pack in your luggage if you're flying and attempting to conserve space.
  61. If you're looking for a cheap and unique souvenir, grab a post card and mail yourself or a friend a postcard directly from Main Street USA! "Hidden Disney" - The Functional Mail Service Within The Disney Parks!
  62. If you're headed to Epcot during your stay, be sure to try something you've never tried before at the World Showcase dining locations. You may be surprised what's offered and what you may end up loving! 
  63. If you're a repeat visitor to the parks and looking for something new to try, look into the abundance of special tours available to guests ranging in topics from Disney history to aquatic life, and just about everything in between.    
  64. If you want to escape the parks for a day and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, consider a round of golf on property! It even made it onto our 4 Unconventional Ways to Enjoy Disney That You May Have Never Considered.
  65. If you want to save some money, look into splitting a villa with another family or a group of friends to find a way into a deluxe resort at a more budget friendly price. 
  66. If your birthday is on the same day as a counter service reservation, have a member of your party make a note on your reservation and you'll likely arrive at your restaurant to a small display of confetti and a special treat at some point during your meal. 
  67. If you're looking to book dining reservations for counter service locations during your stay, don't put that off until the last minute. Walk ups are possible but by no means a guarantee. Book early for the best variety of dining options, especially for large parties. 
  68. When you're making that iconic walk down Main Street towards the castle, be sure to look for the Osh Pophum connection among many others on the window of Main Street! The Main Street Emporium's Osh Popham Story
  69. If you love the history of the parks, or just want a deeper understanding of the parks during your journey, be sure to look at a few of the Disney Legend connections cleverly displayed on the windows of Main Street USA. One of my favorites is the connection to Jack Olsen casually tucked away high above guests. Legendary Cast of the Disney Parks: Jack Olsen and His Influence On The Disney Merchandise Experience
  70. Just a short ways away from the Magic Kingdom, I highly recommend all guests make a trip over to the Grand Floridian to meet another true legendary cast member of Walt Disney World, Richard Gerth. Chances are, you'll make his day for going to find him and I can guarantee meeting him will make your day and create an incredible memory. Legendary Cast of The Disney Parks: Richard Gerth and His Lasting Impression On Guests
  71. In a similar way, head to Port Orleans Riverside for a show that is unique to Disney and incredibly entertaining performed by YeeHaa Bob. If you've not heard of Bob, his show is a little bit out off the ordinary but fun for the whole family. Just be sure you check what days he's performing so that you don't accidentally arrive on a day that he's not there.  
  72. When preparing for departure, use the scale at the resort to check the weight of your luggage in order to avoid over weight bags at the airport.
  73. If you're planning on staying in the parks for 4 or more days, be sure to take advil with you to the parks. It's a simple tip but you'll thank me for that one when your joints and feet hurt from walking around the parks all week. 
  74. If you're flying with children, avoid balloons at all cost. When you arrive at the airport, your child (or adult) will not be able to take the balloon on the plane. As a result, a tough situation tends to unfold with younger children and that's not always the best way to end a Disney vacation. 
  75. Last but certainly not least, don't be so concerned about getting everything done at Walt Disney World that you forget to take the time to enjoy the little things. Step back for a few minutes, find a quiet place, and just take it all in!              
So, that's our list of Disney World Tips. It's a bit random, but hopefully these tips share a little bit of Disney knowledge to shed light on any given Disney parks vacation planning experience. Amazingly, these 75 tips barely scratch the surface of information we could share with you and many of you may have excellent tips of your own you may want to share with us. If so, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comments of your favorite social media site. Don't forget to use those share buttons to invite a friend into this community of Disney fans by Disney fans. Want to share this article on pinterest? We'd truly appreciate it!

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Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?

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Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

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