My family and I planned a trip to Magic Kingdom at Disney World over the summer that was extremely exciting, yet very overwhelming. There is so much to do in such a short time that I didn’t want to miss a beat.
We took the whole family: me and my husband, our two young toddlers, and my husband’s parents and sister. I was in charge of planning everything and did quite a bit of research to make our trip easier.
For anyone planning a trip to Disney World, there are 15 things you really need to know and prepare for.
15 Helpful Things To Know Before Your Trip To Disney World
Based on my family trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, I’ve put together this great list of tips for anyone planning their own Disney World Trip. I truly hope this helps simplify your planning and that you have a fantastic trip!
If you’re interested in reading about how our day went, you can read it here.
1. Buy Your Tickets in Advance
If you plan on buying at the park, that’s an extra line you don’t want to be in that day. When you purchase online in advance you get the added benifit of reserving FastPasses within of 30 days in advance.
2. Download and use the my disney experience app
Do this as soon as you get your tickets so you can study the park map, attractions and entertainment shows, and maybe even pick out your restaurants.
The app shows you live wait times on attractions, character meet and greet locations and wait times, show times, restroom locations, dining locations, online food orders or dining reservations, shops, FastPass, PhotoPass, and tons more.
Parks also have a resourceful Baby Care Center & First Aid, which are listed on the maps on the App. I did not personally get to utilize them but I have only seen and heard positive feedback.
3. know the attractions
Look into each of the attractions and answer the important questions:
- What is this attraction about?
- Does this attraction interest me or my family?
- Are there any height restrictions that may affect our family?
- What are the wait times like, are they short or long?
- Which attractions are indoor vs. outdoor? (Air Conditioned attractions are the best for cooling off)
4. use fastPass to suit your family
Most people book their 3 FastPasses on popular attractions, and they go out quickly.
When traveling with small children it’s hard to predict when they’ll be awake or willing to go on certain attractions, so have that in mind.
One of my FastPasses didn’t go as planned and we ended up missing that attraction. Instead, I was able to schedule a few others to avoid waiting in 30 minutes lines (the popular attractions were all booked though).
5. photographers and photoPass
PhotoPass is linked to the Disney App and is where your professional photos will be stored.
You can ask Photographers throughout any Disney World park to take your pictures on their cameras as well as your devices for free. They will either link their photos to your Entrance Ticket or hand you a card with a code to link to your Online Account, where you can preview your photos to decide whether to purchase.
You can either purchase all photos from a 24 hour period for $69.99 or a 30 day period for $199.99, they call these packages Memory Makers.
6. check showtimes
Disney World, in general, has many kinds of great shows. Magic Kingdom, in particular, has large Parades, Street Parties, Character Shows at the Castle, and mini Character Shows throughout the park.
7. consider booking a character meal
Booking a Disney World character meal came highly recommended in my research. With a character meal you get a full meal along with indoor character experiences. You eliminate waiting line outside, in the heat, to take pictures with the characters.
Personally, we opted out, mostly because of the cost and limited time. However, the meals seem to be a lot larger than the tiny overpriced meals that we did have, therefore I might consider doing it at a restaurant outside the park on a separate day.
8. parking cost, bag check, additional transportation & overall arrival timing
Standard parking costs $22 per car per day for the entire Disney World lot. Preffered parking is $45, which is closer.
Parking lots have trams that take you closer to the park entrance. Some parks also require additional travel to get to the Entrance. For example, to get to Magic Kingdom, you need to take a Monorail or Boat ride over and that adds to your travel time.
You will also have to go through Bag Check before getting in. At Magic Kingdom, the bag check is before the Monorail or Boat ride.
Having a bag that is lightly packed or easy to acess will be ideal. The Cast Members do make sure to go through everything so they’ll make you remove all items from your bag. Backpacks are much easier than side bags for emptying out as well as carrying, I love my Skip Hop Diaper Bag because it’s lightweight, fits a ton, and can be strapped on to anything!
9. if possible, arrive at rope drop to catch shorter attraction lines
Sadly we didn’t make it that early but I hear its highly recommended by Youtubers.
10. Use A stroller if you have children under 5
At first, I considered just bringing a lightweight stroller for my youngest. But the park is so large that it requires a lot of walking, so a stroller is highly recommended for any child under the age of 5. We ended up bringing our double stroller for both our kids. I’m so glad we did because my son even asked to get on the stroller instead of having to walk at some points. The stroller also became their bed for power naps.
The park has rental strollers for $15 (or $30 for a double) but they are hard, with no padding or cushion, and have almost no storage or place to put your things. Third-party companies also rent out better strollers of popular brands.
There are downsides to renting strollers, however. You may have a harder time finding yours when you have to leave it parked because they all look alike. Cast Members may even shift them to make room for more stroller parking. To rent and return the stroller, you will have to wait in line at the entrance of the park each time you enter or leave a park, even if you’re park hopping.
*Rules in 2019 have been updated, as part of their prohibited items are large strollers and no wagons: “Strollers that are greater than 31″ (79cm) in width and 52″ (132 cm) in length. Stroller wagons are also prohibited.”
Our amazing double stroller still fits within the new rules.
11. pack lightly, but pack the essentials
I had a hard time with this because I was worried about rain so I brought thin ponchos for everyone, including the stroller, and I brought several fans (clip-on, handheld mister, and necklace) which saved us all from heatstroke.
In my bags, I also carried sunscreen, water, spare outfits for the kids, diapers, wipes, and a few snacks. It doesn’t sound like a lot but I filled up two different diaper bags to the brim.
If possible, pack lightly so that you won’t need to carry extra weight around and to speed up your time at bag check. We managed to keep everything on the stroller, so if you do need a few extra things abuse your stroller.
12. pick your outfits wisely
Dressing lightly is the smartest way to enjoy any theme park. Some of my park outfit preferences include workout clothing or SPF clothing. You will be sweating in the sun all day and certain fabrics can cause you to overheat or chafe.
I had my kids wearing bathing suits and rash guards to protect them from the sun and moisture. I wore a sports bra and workout leggings but opted for a regular shirt with a Disney theme. You can never go wrong with a Mickey or Minnie top. This adorable Hakuna Matata shirt is a great alternative as well.
Shoes are also very important because you will be on your feet for the majority of the day. You want something with a comfortable sole and lightweight fabric, my favorite is the Nike Free Flyknit series.
13. it rains in Florida
We were lucky and didn’t catch rain, but I came prepared with ponchos for the whole family (and the stroller). Usually, it rains daily, just after lunchtime in Orlando. The park sells cute but expensive Disney ponchos, but you can easily get them cheaper online. Consider planning for covered or indoor activities during this time.
14. celebration buttons
Disney World has great perks, including cute and fun celebration buttons. You can ask around anywhere for celebration buttons. These buttons are for all occasions too, they have general ones, first visits, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The Cast Member lent me a sharpie to put my kids names on the front and the date on the back.
When Cast Members see someone wearing a Celebration Button they are more likely to give them a freebie, like stickers for kids, free desserts or drinks, or get chosen for interactions. Our son got picked to participate in a show because he was wearing his pins- it was awesome!
15. consider staying at a disney hotel or resort
There are modes of transportation (buses, boats, and monorail lines) that are exclusive to these hotels and resorts. These “private” modes of transportation are much faster for getting in and out of the park because the lines are much shorter. People who have previous experience staying in these highly recommend them.
In the rush of planning, we didn’t find anything affordable and we knew it would be difficult with our anxious dogs so we didn’t get to stay at one.
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My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.
I haven’t been brave enough to attempt Disney with my 5 and 7-year-old yet. I will definitely keep your tips in mind when I do. My memory of Disney from my tween years was that it rained EVERY day. I will absolutely be packing ponchos when I go. Thanks so… Read more »
I LOVE Disney! These are great suggestions! The last time we went, I seriously planned for a whole year! There is so much to consider! I haven’t gone with children yet, but when I do, I will be sure to remember your tips! Especially the one about the fast passes.… Read more »
Yaaaasss! Man Disneyland has changed so much since we were kids!
I went once as a child! My husband and I cannot wait to take our toddlers!! Great post, thanks for sharing!
I’m a travel agent and specialize in customizing Disney vacations! These are great tips!