15 Things to Know Before Going To Disney – Top Tips to Plan Your Trip


My family and I planned a trip to Magic Kingdom over the summer that was extremely exciting, yet very overwhelming.

If you’re interested in our story, you can read it here.

15 Things You Need to Know for Disney

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. If you purchase online in advance you can reserve FastPasses a minimum 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, although I did not personally get to utilize them.

3. know the attractions

Find out what each attraction is about, if they interest you or your family, if they have height restrictions, if they have short/long wait times, and even if they are indoors (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 its 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 but 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 the 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 and decide on purchasing.

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 has many kinds of great shows: they have large Parades, Street Parties, Character Shows at the Castle, and mini Character Shows throughout the park.

7. consider booking a character meal

This came highly recommended in my research because you get a full meal along with character experiences while indoors and without a waiting line within the park.

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 so 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, $45 for preferred 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 it is before the Monorail or Boat ride.

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. bring [your own] stroller if you have children under 5

At first I considered just bringing a single stroller for my youngest but because the park is so large a stroller is highly recommended for any child under the age of 5 because it is a lot of walking. 

We ended up bringing our double stroller and I’m glad we did because my son even asked to get on at some points and this became their bed at nap times.

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. There are also third party companies that rent out better strollers of popular brands.

However when you rent a stroller you may have a harder time finding it when you have to leave it parked (Cast Members may even shift them to make room for more stroller parking) and you will have to wait in line to pick up and then drop it off inside 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.”

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 heat stroke.

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 diaper bags to the brim.

If possible pack lightly so that you won’t need to lug things around, I managed to keep everything on the stroller, but also because your time at the bag check will be much quicker.

12. pick your outfits wisely

I recommend dressing lightly, preferably in workout clothing or spf clothing, because you will be in the sun all day, sweating, and certain fabrics can cause you to overheat or chafe. 

I had my kids in 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 Minnie Mouse shirt I got at Target. I also really love this Hakuna Matata shirt

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 just after lunch time in Orlando.

14. celebration buttons

You can ask around anywhere for celebration buttons. They have general ones, first visits, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. They 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 (busses, boats, and monorail lines) that are exclusive to these hotels and resorts they 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 dogs so we didn’t get to stay at one.

15 Things You Need to Know for Disney

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Sarah

I love Disney! These are great suggestions! I have told others the exact same things! Perfect guide for someone that has never gone! Under the rain section, I might add that you don’t have to leave the park when it rains. While a lot of the rides do shut down,… Read more »

Alex

These are all such great tips! I’ve been to Disney many times, but never with my kids and I know the first time will be SO different!

stefanie

We haven’t gone yet, but I will keep this all in mind when we do go!

Renee
Renee

This is the greatest Disney post I ever read! I wish I read this before a recent Disney trip. This will help a lot of people. I agree with all of these and learn a lot from reading this. I definitely agree with buying the tickets in advance because when… Read more »

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