My family loves to go to Disney. I wouldn’t say we’re obsessed or fanatics. But, we definitely think of it as a magical place. We’ve been to WDW five times and DisneyLand two times in the last fifteen years. Hmm. Maybe we are obsessed??
With that many trips, we’ve refined our Walt Disney World experience and we know what works for us and what doesn’t. Our latest strategy has been the “Power Trip”, which is an all out marathon that maximizes our vacation time. But, we check off all of our must-do’s and still have a ton of fun.
Our latest trip was definitely a Power Trip – we spent five days in Orlando and went to every park at least twice, and had one down day at the resort. We take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and go to the parks early and stay late. For the first time, we scheduled our flights so we could go to parks on travel days.
10 Walt Disney World Power Trip Tips
Walt Disney World Resorts
- Stay in a Disney Resort – I know there are people that think staying in a Disney resort is not worth it. For us, staying in a Disney resort is a no-brainer. A big reason is the time saving transportation: both Disney’s Magical Express and the park bus system.
- On this last trip, we were on a Magical Express bus headed to our resort within twenty minutes of landing (we only had carry-ons so we were able to head right to the Magical Express check-in counter). We didn’t have to wait to rent a car, and then find our way to a hotel. While we were on the bus, we were able to check in with the Disney World App. They texted us our room number, and since we already had our Magic Bands, we went directly to the room and skipped the front desk. The kids went swimming, we ate dinner, and we spent the evening in Epcot. Not bad for a travel day.
- Disney’s internal bus system also makes staying at one of their resorts a no-brainer. We had a 5 minute walk to the closest bus stop, and could be at the gate of any park within 20 minutes. Tops. Staying off property might be cheaper, but you end up exchanging your time for the savings. If you were to stay in a non-Disney hotel, your travel time will eat up your park time: drive to the park, get a parking spot, take the tram to the Transportation Center, and take the boat or monorail to the park gate. That’s going to take a lot more time than 20 minutes. For us, the time savings are more valuable than staying off property would be.
- Disney has several resorts that offer condominium style rooms. We like to stay in a two bedroom villa at Old Key West. We order some grocery staples (cereal, sandwich bread, peanut butter, etc.) from Amazon Prime Now (they can deliver to the resort) for quick meals and snacks, so we don’t have to eat all our meals in the parks.
- Extra Magic Hours – Probably the best reason to stay in a Disney property. The parks will open early or stay open late just for Disney resort guests. We’ve spent as much as 17 hours in the parks in one day using EMH. Once everyone clears out of the park except for resort guests, you can ride so many more rides! Usually, you can walk right on to a ride. Or, at most you have to wait 5 minutes. Be sure to do the Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom during morning Magic Hours. The animals are actually up and moving.
- Downtime – Schedule in some downtime at your resort. We usually have one whole day that we spend at the resort. We sleep in, go out to breakfast, swim, rent bikes, and just relax. It’s usually the day after we hit the parks hard (early Magic Hours + late Magic Hours = tears of exhaustion (from me, not the kids!)).
Walt Disney World Strategy
- Have a plan – There are all kinds of blog posts on planning your Disney vacation, from foods you must eat to planning your first trip. I’m not going into all of that here, but just know you need a plan. A strategy. Don’t wing it. But be flexible and don’t stick to it too rigidly. Take time to stop and hug Tigger if he happens to be strolling by. Be sure to use Magic Hours & Fast Passes to limit your time standing in line. Decide your “must see/must do” attractions and make those a priority. Everything after that is just frosting on the cake.
- Fast Pass – Do some online research about the best strategies for Fast Passes based on what you want to do. We’re not really big on the thrill rides like Tower of Terror or Space Mountain, but a lot of the calmer rides can have really long waits. We used Fast Passes on: Seven Dwarves, Pirates, Peter Pan, Test Track, Soarin’, Animal Safari, and Everest. Combined with Magic Hours, we still did everything we wanted and even did some things multiple times. Don’t forget that you can Fast Pass character meet ups. We used one to meet Mickey, and we were in and out in less than 15 minutes.
Walt Disney World App
- Disney App – Download the Walt Disney World App to your phone, and you can see the wait times on every ride in every park. No more hurrying all the way across the park to see that your favorite ride has a 90 minute wait. We rarely waited in line if it was going to be more than 30 minutes. We just kept an eye on the times when we were in the area, and would jump in line if it was a short wait. You can access park restaurant menus, resort bus schedules, and your PhotoPass pictures. It really has a ton of information and you’ll use it all the time.
- Mobile order food – This is one of my favorite things about the app. At certain counter service locations, you can order food from your phone. We left Pirates right about noon and were starving. We knew there would be a long line just to order, so we ordered our lunch as we walked to Tomorrowland Terrace (one of the few places to get a veggie burger). By the time we got there, our lunch was ready. No waiting in line!! That is a definite time saver.
Walt Disney World – Inside the Parks
- Leaving the park – Never, ever, ever leave the park as soon as the fireworks are over. Ever. Unless you want to feel like cattle. Rookie mistake. It seems like most people leave the park after the fireworks, so you will spend the next 40 minutes shuffling down Main Street (while having a stroller rammed into your ankle). And then, you’ll spend the next 40 minutes waiting for a bus back to your resort or transportation to get back to the parking lot. (Don’t get me wrong. Disney’s transportation system is awesome, but you can only get so many people on a bus, boat or monorail, so you’ll have to wait for the next one. Or the next one.) Instead, head the other direction and hit some of the rides you didn’t get to do during the day. Or, have a seat and just do some people watching.
Walt Disney World – Clothes
- Comfort over style – No matter what your Disney plan is, you’re going to be walking a lot. Our step counter registered about eight miles a day. Keep that in mind, when you decide what to wear. Start with good walking shoes. Don’t wear slide sandals, or new shoes, or worst of all, heels. I can’t tell you how many women I see hobbling around Disney. As far as clothes, again, wear something that is comfortable, you can walk in all day, and especially in the summer, is cool.
- No bags! – Seriously. You have to be like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi on this one. No bags for you! The first step in getting into the parks is the security check: bags are checked and everyone has to go through a metal detector. But, here’s where Disney excels: they are brilliant at wrangling crowds and moving people.
There are two lines – guests with bags and guests without bags. Since each and every bag, stroller, and cooler has to be visually inspected by a security guard, the bag line takes FOREVER. The non-bag line takes about five minutes to get through and then you are one step closer to being in the park. Win! If you have your Magic Band, you really don’t need anything else. So, pare down your belongings, set yourself free, and go bag-less.
- BONUS TIP – Protect yourself from that intense Florida sun. Wear a hat and clothes that cover your shoulders. Apply sunscreen. Finally, if you use essential oils, be mindful of phototoxicity. Nothing can ruin your vacation like a sunburn on the first day!
I hope these tips will help the next time you go to Walt Disney World!
Have fun and Enjoy your Vacation (!!)
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