Planning for Walt Disney World

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Cinderella's castle is one of the iconic locations of Disney World.
Cinderella’s castle is one of the iconic locations of Disney World. (Photo courtesy of Josh Hallett on Flickr)

Walt Disney World seems to be on the vacation bucket list for most families. If you’ve never been there or haven’t gone in the past few years, there’s quite a few changes you need to know when you’re planning for Walt Disney World.

Mini Mouses – Perhaps you’ve seen your friends show pictures of their trip to Walt Disney World on social media, and they brought their infant with them. It’s easy to think that’s a lot of money spent on something the baby’s not likely to remember, but kids under 2 years of age are free to enter the parks. Our youngest one is just over 21 months, so when we take her, she may not remember much but she knows enough that she’s having fun. Plus, we’re saving a bundle.

Plan Ahead – In addition to booking your trip with hotel, travel, and park passes, it’s a really good idea to make advance reservations with restaurants, various rides (called Fast Passes which allow you to skip the general admission line), and activities you’re interested in. Restaurants will take reservations six months in advance, and you can put in for Fast Passes two months in advance. But don’t dawdle; many places book up shockingly fast.

Enhance with the Disney Experience – The Disney Parks have their own free app called My Disney Experience, which allows you to navigate the parks more efficiently. You can record your park reservation into the app, so all of your hotel, restaurant, and Fast Pass reservations are synced. In addition, the app also features a section on Disney character appearance times and locations for the entire day. There are also tabs that list nearby locations for restaurants, restrooms, special attractions, guest services, and more. If you sign up for the parks’ Photo Pass, all of the pics captured by Disney photographers will also show up on the app.

Wrist Lock – Recently added to Disney travel are Magic Bands, which are wristbands that are coded individually to you. Available to any Disney visitor, the Magic Bands act as your ticket into the parks and Fast Passes for rides and attractions. If you’re staying on Disney property, the Magic Bands can also be used to enter your hotel room and to make purchases. It can also link up with your My Disney Experience app, so you can make on the spot reservations for Fast Passes. Wanna hit the water park? No problem, the Magic Bands are waterproof.

Google is Your Friend – With four theme parks, shopping districts, several resorts on and off property, and countless dining options, navigating the House of the Mouse can be daunting. Fortunately, there’s a whole cottage industry of independent sites like Disney Information, Disney Tourist Blog, and Mouse Savers that can give you even more advice, tips, and deals to get the most out of your trip.

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