So you’re planning a trip to Disney world, eh? Before we went for the first time I was clueless and extremely overwhelmed. Thankfully, a few good friends gave me some Disney tips that I am so thankful for, and it made a huge difference in our trip! Add that to things I learned from our own experience and I’ve got a bunch of Disney tips to share.

The Disney Tips You Need to Know

1. Get the Photopass

As a mom, this is probably my favorite tip that a friend gave me: the Photopass is 100% worth it. Normally we go places and I end up with tons of pictures of Chris and the kids and I am in NONE of them, because he didn’t take any pictures. Of course, I wanted to be in photos with my family at Disney especially, so the Photopass was one of my favorite parts! It’s linked in the Disney app in your account.

You’ll automatically get all your ride photos in your Photopass plus (and this is my favorite part), there are photographers at different spots all throughout the parks that you can stop at to take really great family photos. They just scan your band (more on the magic band below) and you’re on your way with your photos in your Photopass. You’ll also get all the photos from character meet & greets too! So worth it.

2. Refillable water stations

I mentioned this in my post about what to bring to Disney, but Disney has refillable water stations throughout the parks, so bring water bottles for your whole family.

3. Do the shows!

At other parks, we’ve experienced that sometimes the shows are not that great, but one of my Disney tips would be to check out as many shows as you can! For one, this breaks up your time in the heat and gets you little AC breaks here and there. But also, they are SO GOOD. So good. Some of my favorite memories are in the shows.

4. Book dining way in advance (and multiple options)

This is one of those Disney tips that is imperative! Disney dining options fill up fast. You can start booking reservations 60 days in advance, and if you are staying at certain Disney properties you can actually book dining reservations 60 days plus the length of your stay in advance, so say you’re staying 3 days you can book dining 63 days in advance.

You need to do this! But you not only need to book any breakfast, lunch, or dinner you want to reserve as soon as possible, but I recommend booking multiple options. I booked 2 dinner options for every day we were going to be at Disney, one earlier evening within the park and one later evening back at our resort.

You have to cancel the dining reservation you don’t want at least 2 hours before to avoid a fee, but by then you know what your plans are going to be and you just simply cancel the one you don’t want.

Disney Dining Reservation Tip: If you couldn’t get the reservations you wanted.

Also, on this topic: if you wanted to make certain reservations and they were booked, just reserve something else as a backup and then keep checking closer to the day and even on the day of because people are constantly doing this reserving and canceling game.

5. The Disney app is life

You have to have the Disney app. This will be your lifeline while you’re there and also while you’re planning. Go ahead and download it and get familiar with it! This is where you’ll buy your Genie Plus, reserve rides, join virtual queues, see wait times, order food ahead of time, and more. You can also view a Tip Board which is really helpful for navigating and choosing rides. This is why you need the battery backup for your phone I mentioned in this post with more Disney tips.

6. Get the Genie Plus

Yes, Genie Plus is another expense, but it is so worth it too! It lets you use the lightning lane entrance on select rides and for us, it made a big difference in our overall experience at the park.

Things to know: Genie Plus pricing changes daily, so I would check the app as soon as I woke up and check the day’s price and buy it for my family first thing in the morning. Then, as soon as we got to the park we could start selecting a ride. Use the Tip Board in the app to help you choose rides!

7. Magic Bands are a must

Yes, Magic Bands are yet another expense, but once you buy them you can use them over and over. I really loved having a Magic Band because I didn’t have to keep up with yet another card. Just scan your band to enter rides and more. Plus, you’re able to link your credit card to your Disney account and just scan your band to pay for things, which is really nice (and also got me in a little trouble at our resort pool bar).

8. Don’t forget your ID

If you bought a Florida resident ticket, do not forget to bring your ID with you to the park! I made this mistake, thinking that I had the Magic Band so I didn’t need my wallet. Well, I still had to verify our tickets with our IDs the first time we entered a park, so yeah. Thankfully, Disney has amazing customer service and they worked it all out for me, but it did take extra time and effort that could have been avoided if I had just stuck my ID in Chris’s wallet.

mom and kids at disney

9. Stay at a Disney property

This is one of those Disney tips that I swear by – staying on property is a game-changer for so many reasons:

  • All Disney properties are just magical and enhance the whole experience
  • You get early access to the parks every morning
  • You are then able to purchase individual Lightning Lanes for rides starting at 7 a.m. (rather than when the park opens, which is when everyone not staying at Disney gets access)
  • Most hotels outside of Disney charge you parking fees PLUS then you have to pay to park at the Disney parks. Avoid all those fees and just stay on property.
  • You get extra hours in the parks on certain nights (for Deluxe resort guests)
  • You can take the bus/tram right from your hotel to whatever park you’re visiting that day and never have to get in your car. We loved this!

10. Be strategic for the newest rides

For the newest rides (whatever they are when you are going – check the app) there is normally a virtual queue that you have to join. This is because the newest rides are always the most popular and have really long lines. So they make you join this virtual queue which is only open at certain times. Again, this is where the app comes in handy. So just be aware of this and check the app to see which rides have this going on and when you need to reserve your spot.

11. Work in a “break day” to enjoy your resort

If you’re going for more than 2 days, I strongly recommend working in a “break day”. We went for a whole week and this is how we did it:

  • Day 1: Check in to our resort, explore it and have a character dinner (this was a great experience in itself, so I loved doing this on a non-park day so we weren’t sweaty and tired).
  • Day 2: Magic Kingdom
  • Day 3: Animal Kingdom
  • Day 4: Break Day – We had a pool day and lounged around at our hotel which was much-needed after two days walking 20,000+ steps at the parks. The kids loved the pool and kids splash area at our hotel and we loved a little relaxation time. That night, we went off-property for dinner at Medieval Times (this was a fun experience, the food was horrible but the experience was worth it).

12. Watch for character meet & greets

Check the app and watch for character meet-and-greet times. This way, you can sort of plan parts of your day around making sure your kiddos get to meet their favorite characters.

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