Disney World Tips and Tricks 2013 from Mama Luvs Books!

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Most of you already know that I recently went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my family! I had not been there in about 25 years, so you can imagine that things have changed and there are new ways to do things! I had to learn, and now I am giving you ideas, tips, and tricks to make things easier for your upcoming trip!

1. Definitely Use the Fast Pass! – I heard about the Fast Pass before I left for Disney World, but I didn’t really understand the concept of it until I used it myself. When we got to Disney we waited about an hour for Space Mountain, and we definitely should have used the Fast Pass instead. It works by putting your pass card in the machine and getting a time for a window to return. You usually get an hour long window. Here are the rules though:

  • You can only get one Fast Pass at a time per person in the group. Each needs a Fast Pass ticket to get on the ride.
  • You will have a time printed on the pass when you can get another one.
  • Passes are limited for the day. We got to Hollywood Studios at 1pm and Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania were SOLD OUT for the day (we never did get on that ride).
  • Rides that are great to get a Fast Pass for: Magic Kingdom – Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Epcot – Test Track, Soarin’; Animal Kingdom – Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris; Hollywood Studios – Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • At Epcot, I had hubby run for the Test Track Fast Pass while we walked over to Soarin’ to get on right away! It worked out great! He made it there in time to meet us at Soarin’ so we could all do everything! Thanks honey!!! And don’t be embarrassed when people say, “There goes a runner!” They are just jealous they can’t run as fast and will have to wait in line longer than you!
  • And get to the parks EARLY!!! The earlier the better!! We got there the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th days right when they opened and we were able to get on many rides quickly before the parks filled up! Even without the Fast Pass! Grab a Fast Pass early in the day though for rides like Toy Story Mania! We will be back to do that ride! Make sure to check out our Top 10 Rides at Disney World!

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2. Take Snacks with You! – Pack a small backpack for the parks. You can take them on the rides with you! You need items like: tissues, sanitizer, water bottles, small snacks, sunscreen, Band-Aids, etc. We packed an entire suitcase of snacks and drinks and checked them through at the airport. It was worth it. Apparently, you can also order from the Garden Grocer and have food and drinks delivered to your hotel room! You just place your order online. You need to do this at least a week or two prior. I tried to do it two days before our trip and it was too late.

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3. Get the Disney Dining Plan and Use it Wisely! – When you get a dining plan you can use it as you like. I got the regular Dining Plan which included a snack, quick meal service, and sit down meal. You get allotted meals based on the amount of nights you spend, not the amount of days there. I did not know this when I first got there. We were staying until late on Monday and were not going to have any food allotments that day. The trick, you can save meals for later and use them! The quick service meals are actually quite large; a drink, meal, and dessert. The kids could not even finish an entire meal, so we started splitting one quick service meal between them and then we had enough for the last day! Also, since you do not get breakfast served at most resorts and you don’t get it with the Dining Plan, it’s a good idea to choose muffins, scones, or danishes with your quick service meal (lunch) dessert and keep it in your room for the next morning!

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4. Make Reservations! – Okay, I did not know that I had to make reservations for restaurants for our sit down meals. I thought since I had the dining plan I could just walk up anywhere and use the vouchers. That’s not the way it works, and luckily I found this out a couple days before we left! You can easily make the reservations online. I was lucky enough to get Chef Mickey’s (character dinner), Kona Cafe (at the Polynesian), and Prime Time 50′s Cafe (at Hollywood Studios). We were too late for the Luau at the Polynesian, but we at least ended up with some great places. Make reservations a few weeks, months, or even up to 180 days in advance! Some fill up and are booked solid! I recommend the Prime Time 50′s Cafe; very fun and great food!

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5. Plan Your Day! – You can only get in what you plan for. We were only there for 4 days and 3 nights, but we got in almost everything! We planned time for each park and knew what we definitely wanted to do ahead of time. We got some great books from Barnes and Noble, and even one that was my 8-year old daughter’s reading level and had an area for the characters to write their autographs on in the back! It was called the Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World for Kids 2013. The characters all signed it at the character dinner. It was cool! We carried that book around in our backpack and it was very helpful, and fun for my kids to read. It also let us know what they wanted to go on beforehand! I highly recommend it! Goofy is signing it on her head in the pic below!

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6. Get the App! – As we were waiting in the hour line at Space Mountain (first ride we went on), we decided to download the wait time app on our iPhones. It was great!! We knew now how long the wait times were in the parks. It has all the parks listed, and you can get the Fast Pass for the longer waits, and go on the rides with the shorter wait times while you wait out the Fast Pass time! You need to download it! Check out our Top 10 Rides at Disney World!

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7. Let the Kids Stay Up Late! – I am not telling you to drag your kids around until midnight, especially if they are younger. It is okay to see how you think they are doing and if they are okay and up for the later rides or fireworks; let them enjoy the experience if possible. Just see how the kids are doing each day. Also, I have a 6 and 8 year old. It’s great to stay close to the park if possible! We were at the Polynesian, so one night the older one (my daughter) and I went back to the Magic Kingdom for more rides, the Electrical Parade, and Fireworks while the younger one went to bed. It’s easy when you are staying at a resort on the Monorail.

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8. Let Your Kids Be Brave! – As parents you might decide a ride might be too scary or too much for your kids, but just explain to them exactly what the ride is and let them decide. As long as they meet the height requirement they should be able to try it! My 6-year old son was upset because he could not ride the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (too short), but that was the only one he was restricted from. Let’s just say my brave kids’ favorite rides were the Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roll Roller Coaster, Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Splash Mountain,  and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I would have never have guessed that from them, but they wanted to try them so I let them. You never know sometimes until you try! You know your kids best though, so don’t force them either.

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My Son Psyched because He Loved the Tower of Terror!

9. Take a Rest When Needed! – We had planned for Epcot one afternoon, but the kids were hot and tired. Instead of pushing it because it was “the plan” we just went back to the resort and let the kids swim! It was perfect. Sometimes you need to give them rest and go with the flow! Be flexible if possible!

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That Volcano is a Waterslide Into the Pool!

10. Let Them Get a Special Souvenir! – I know you spend a lot on the trip and that is a gift within itself, but sometimes letting them get a special souvenir to remember the trip is nice too! My kids got stuffed animals that they love and sleep with every night now! It’s worth the extra money!

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Things that we LOVED about the Disney Parks and getting the package deal:

  • Made things easy; everything was on one card for each of us (dining, park admission, room key, for Fast Passes, etc.)! It was very cool!
  • We loved staying at the Polynesian! Very nice people, great rooms, perfect view of the fireworks from our beach, nice pool, very convenient to Magic Kingdom and Epcot on the Monorail. We would stay there again!
  • We got rides on the bus right from the airport! Even luggage tags with Mickey Mouse on them!
  • We got a printed itinerary with everything on it! We got the flight from them since it was the same listed on Kayak. Sometimes you can find cheaper flights though, so that is something you may wish to get separate!
  • By the way, the more days you add to the park tickets, the cheaper it gets per day! And we chose the Park Hopper option which was great too (especially for a short trip), because we needed to do Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios all in one day!

Make sure to also check out out our posts on:

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the tips and tricks I have to offer! Just leave a comment below if you have a question about something and I will answer it or find you an answer (I am still learning too)! I’m sure there is more I can tell you to help you out!!! And most importantly, HAVE FUN and STAY SAFE! You can now follow me as well at Mama Luvs Disney Facebook Page and @MamaLuvsDisney on Twitter for all things Disney! If you want tips for Universal Orlando I have those too!

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Kristin

Comments

  1. Wow, I never knew there could be so much planning involved! Great tips! I don’t live far from Disney, and will be visiting soon :)

  2. You can make dining reservations 180 days in advance, and some restaurants absolutely book that far out!! I was online at 6am at my 180 day mark making reservations for October!!

  3. What awesome tips. We are going twice later this year so this will come in very useful. I had no idea that they had an app for the park. That is really neat. And yes, fast pass is a must! Glad you had a great time.

  4. What wonderful tips! I am going to need to remember them.

  5. Wow! I never knew so much went into planning a Disney Vacation! I just keep hearing about all my friends going and taking their kids, I never knew you had to plan so much. It’s good for me to know that now, so I don’t just up and go and be stuck unable to do anything because we didn’t plan ahead and make reservations. Thanks! These are fantastic tips!!

  6. My how times have changed in 20 years. I grew up in Cali so frequented Disneyland and noooone of this fabulousness existed. :)

  7. What great tips! I haven’t been there in years but hope to go back within the next couple of years. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind, especially the ones about meals.

  8. I have never been, but if I do ever go I will remember your tips! Thanks for sharing, and looks like you and your family had a great time!! Love all the pictures!

  9. Thanks for the tips! My husband and I went and loved the Fast Passes, and we got reservations for our dinners before arriving, but that is the first I heard about the dining pass. Will have to check that out. My little ones are almost old enough to start planning for our vacation. We promised them once they reached grade school age we would go!

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience and recommendations!

  11. I can’t wait to bring my kids.

  12. I never knew there was this much planning involved! Thanks for sharing. I will remember this if I ever plan to go!

  13. Great tips! An app that tells wait times for the rides? Now that’s cool! I hate waiting in lines. We’ve been talking about going to Disney before the kids get too old to enjoy the fun…

  14. Can’t wait to bring G for the first time next Spring. Last time we went was 2007! Love the app!

  15. Looks like you guys had a blast! Love the pics! We want to try Disney world- we have only done the Disneyland in CA.

  16. Wow! It looks like you had an awesome time. How fun for the kids. Those are great tips! I went to Disneyland as a child, but there sure weren’t any apps! I’m pinning this!

  17. FYI it’s called the Disney Dining PLAN not pass (just so when you talk to the reservations CM on the phone he/she will know what you’re talking about)

  18. You seem like such a nice Mom! I loved your comments about being flexible and just going back to the pool for the afternoon, letting your kids get a souvenir and heading back to Magic Kingdom with your daughter in the evening :)

  19. Also, use the photo pass where ever you can! I didn’t really know what it was about until the last couple of days on our trip and missed out on a lot of great photo opportunities. There are photographers all over the parks that will take great pics for you and set up some really cool shots. It was just my daughter and me, so it was hard to get photos of us together. There is a cost to buy prints or a disc with all the photos, but it really is worth the price. Especially if you want to have photos with all your family members and not missing Mom or Dad because they are taking the picture.

    • Kristin says:

      Great advice! We didn’t use this service since I brought my camera, but I saw others using it! Thanks for the comment!

  20. Bernice Vargas says:

    Thanks for all the great tips. Planning on going with the grandkids this summer.

  21. Susan Cox says:

    We are planning a trip for 2014 to Disney, thanks for the great tips!! <3

  22. Cheryl Christian says:

    I never have gone to DisneyLand so love the tips. We really want to take the whole family/grandkids.

  23. Tracy Peterman says:

    Thanks for the tips! Planning on going may 2014.

  24. Tricia Martin says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing all your tips on Disney World. I have learned quite a bit just from reading your post.

  25. Emilie C says:

    Thanks for the tips! These will help someday <3!

  26. carissa c says:

    Great post!

  27. This is great. I will pass these great tips along to friends and family.

  28. These are some great tips! I am going to share this with my brother-in-law… he is taking his kids to Disney next year!

  29. Thanks for the tips. My husband and I have reservations in September. Now I can’t wait. We book thru AAA Travel it was so easy. 5 days in DW 2 days in Universal. Hope I can get it all in!

  30. I have a question – how did you get the picture in front of the castle with no other people around????? That’s like a postcard!!! Wow!

  31. What is your suggestion for eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table – Breakfast,Lunch or Dinner?

    • I think it just depends on what works best for your schedule. It’s nice to knock it out sometimes as a breakfast, because it will get you an early start on the day and there should not be any delays in seating times. Plus, you’ll have the rest of the day to do as you please without worrying about the time to be somewhere. A lunch is nice for a break in the day of all the activity and gets you sitting down off your feet. We did a dinner time. It was a nice way to finish up the day; however some negatives were that we had to leave the rides at a certain time and after waiting in line it’s tough to get the kids get out of line to leave. Also, they were pretty exhausted by then as well. The meal times are pretty much on schedule which is nice though, although you may be waiting a little longer than a breakfast. Hope that helps a little.

  32. Great tips, Using the Fast Pass makes life easier.. and make reservations too!! If you don’t make reservations you might be out of luck! Can’t wait to go back! PS: Is that a Maine shirt I see? woohoo!

  33. Loved this post! Thank you! Heading to Disney soon…curious what your thoughts are on Hollywood Studios. We only have a 3 day pass with no park hopper and know that MK and AK are must sees….on the fence about doing MK twice. Thoughts? Kids are 6,4 & 1!

    • I have to say we really did love Hollywood Studios. My kids were a little older than yours at the time and liked the big rides, so I’m not sure you would be able to do any of that. The places to eat there are fun, there are some shows you might enjoy, and the kids would definitely like the Toy Story area. I would say if you don’t make it this trip, then next time when the kids are a little older it is a MUST!

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