Walt Disney World, arguably the most famous Mouse-house and centerpiece to Orlando, Central Florida, and Florida, has inspired generations of families to visit since its debut in October, 1971. This wonderful World of Disney delights children of every age, most every nation, and brings to the face a smile often recalled with deeply fond memories for years after.
Veterans of WDW (Walt Disney World as its known to repeaters) have learned the many ins and outs of this ever-growing literal world of themed family fun. But learning such things takes time, practice, insider tips, and the ever-growing cottage industry of books, blogs and articles on how to deal with it all.
Don’t think it’s needed?
Think again. This really is a “world” and you really are in for an overwhelming treat when you visit.
I’ve had the great joy and pleasure of visiting WDW many times since our family’s first in December 1971. I was 4. At 44 I returned to celebrate the 40th anniversary and plan to be there again in 10 years.
Here then and throughout a series of posts I will share some of the many things I’ve learned over the years to help you enjoy your visit. Please come back and look for more tips, ideas and suggestions.
And if you have any of your own, feel free to share, because that’s where the joy of WDW lies; in sharing it with each other. You’ll see…
Walt Disney World Resorts
- There are a number of budget levels to resorts: Disneyhttp://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/ Dream Villas, Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels, Disney Moderate Resort Hotels, Disney Value Resort Hotels, Disney Campgrounds, Other Select Deluxe Resorts.
- Only Disney owned properties are included in Walt Disney World special offerings, meaning that if its not a Disney property listed above, you will not be considered an on-site guest and WDW privileges will not apply.
- Staying on-site in a WDW property means getting around easier, quicker, and enjoying more time on properties around the resort.
- Often people find cheaper off-site hotels and lodging (and we at RTF fully support many of the area offerings), but remember that staying off site means not enjoying the many perks of WDW guests. Cost savings can often be found in other ways you might not think of.
- Take advantage of the WDW resort perks.
- Magic Hours:hours before or after theme parks open or close are for WDW resort guests only. While the general public has to clear out or doesn’t get in yet, you’re on rides with far fewer crowds. Take advantage as much as you can to combat against those
- Pick your park choice based on Magic Hours. Check with your WDW resort for what days and what Magic Hours are occurring during your stay – every day there are Magic Hours for at least one theme park – and plan to visit that park on that day.
- If you want to choose another park in general (Epcot when its Magic Kingdom’s Magic Hours day), at least try to get into the park with the Magic Hours when they occur, then move to or from the other park. You’re still enjoying those Magi hours, but still in the park you wanted during the day.
- Earlier the better. By staying on WDW property you’re right in the heart of the magic. Start your day early and get into the parks when they open. The later it gets the more locals and off-site guests will be arriving. Ten a.m. seems to be a pretty consistent switch time from moving around well to getting busy.
- Staying on-site means you have resort ID, so take advantage, even with
driving. If you have a car, you can actually park at any of the theme parks for free. WDW has a great transportation system, but it can be busy and still take awhile. This isn’t always the best solution, but something to think about. For example: if you’re staying at one of the resorts Animal Kingdom is not close, other than Animal Kingdom Lodge, and requires a bus ride. By driving you can get there and not have to worry about waiting about a bus, then park for free, and head in while other resort guests are on the bus.
- Go early, go back to the resort, return in the evening. Mom and dad discovered this one that first trip and it has worked every time since. Hit the park early – remember Magic Hours – then midday when everyone hits the restaurants, head back to the hotel for lunch, a swim, naps, or enjoying one of the many opportunities, then around 2 p.m. head back to a theme park for the evening. You’re refreshed and ready to go and while others will eventually leave for dinner or their hotels, you’re still going strong.
- Take advantage of the hotel’s offerings – yours and the other WDW resorts. There are boats, golf, spas, shops, and so many opportunities. Not just in the resort you’re at, but any, and they are all available for your to enjoy. Sometimes visiting the other resorts is a fun way to enjoy an early evening about half way through your trip, for a dinner, or on the day you leave. Also, on those afternoon breaks.
- BE AWARE that if you are staying on-site that does not mean you will not encounter crowds. If you have dinner reservations you must – as in any situation – take into account lines and crowds. Certainly time of year (in-season) will play a role, but any time can be busy on the monorails, buses and more. Allow plenty of time to get around and do not rush – it rarely works in your favor.
- Hotels have great dining offerings and can be a nice way to enjoy a meal with smaller crowds. Take advantage of the restaurants in your hotel or others around the property.
- You don’t have to stick with your hotel for the fun. Boats, pools and shops at other WDW resorts can sometimes be more fun – or add to the fun – than the one you’re staying at.
Shopping is great all over WDW, but Resorts have their own unique items for that resort. Don’t miss these special items – and maybe get something from another resort as well. We’ve even noticed that items that are in limited or special supply at the theme parks can often pop up at the resorts for guests so they don’t miss out (saw this with the 40th Anniversary day commemorative T-shirts.)
- Use the knowledge of the Cast. The people at your resort are there to make your stay special, so talk to them. They’ll have insights and ideas you might not know about.
We’ll add more tips and ideas in other articles, so check back often. And visit our other Walt Disney World information to help you get the most from your visit.
Rori Travels Florida also offers great ideas and tips for travel throughout the state. Visit the rest of the site and be inspired to make the most of your Florida vacation!