Our recent family vacation to Orlando during the Christmas break included 5 days at Walt Disney World parks. Travelling during a peak time means long lines so we used as many of these time saving strategies as we could. I hope they help on your family’s trip to Walt Disney World.
10. Minimize your park bags
There is a security bag check at the entry to every park. While they normally move fairly quickly, if you show up at a peak time at the Magic Kingdom and the monorail and ferry just let out a swarm of guests you may have to wait longer than you’d like. If you can, travel lightly and don’t take a bag. If you only need a few things, try to put them in your pockets (and those of your other family members) along with a folded up drawstring style backpack. Once you’re in the park you can unload their pockets into the bag. These 2 options allow you to bypass the bag check line. If you must carry a bag, have all of the compartments open as you approach the security guard, and try to carry as few bags as possible.
9. Stay Onsite
You will save a ton of commuting time by simply staying onsite at one of Walt Disney World’s resorts. The transportation comes on a regular basis, and you are closer to the parks than off-site options. You can even select some deluxe resorts that allow you to walk right into the parks. There’s a lot of advantages to staying on site, but the convenience of location is high on the list.
8. Study a map before you go
Even though my clients are provided a daily itinerary and I go over any questions and details with them, it’s always a good idea to know the lay of the land before you start your day. The Walt Disney World app My Disney Experience has great digital maps. You can order custom park maps from Disneyworld.com and you can find some map images with a Google search (just make sure they are up to date). Alternatively, Disney resorts have maps for all four parks in the lobbies that you can pick up once you arrive and sometimes you can pick up a park map while you wait for rope drop. It just helps to know if you should go right or left once you enter the park for the attraction you want to hit first, and to map out a path through the parks.
7. Online Check-in
I don’t always recommend this, particularly if you have specific requests that you want honoured by the resort, but it can save you a little time when you arrive. By checking in online everything is ready to go for you once you arrive at the resort. There is a separate queue for online check-ins that moves a little faster and everything should be ready when you get to the counter. Your Welcome Folder and Magic Bands will be waiting for you!
6. Making Dining Reservations
There are many reasons you should make your dining reservations as far in advance as possible – mainly to avoid disappointment when you can’t get into a restaurant at all because it is filled to capacity. But on the off chance that they are able to accommodate a walk up, you will usually have to wait a decent amount of time to be seated, or they may tell you to come back in a couple of hours.
5. Eat Breakfast in your Room
This is a big time saver! While one person is in the shower, some one else can eat their Cheerios (or muffin or yogurt…). It maximizes time and minimizes waiting in line for a Disney breakfast. I highly recommend picking up some breakfast items on your way to your resort or arranging a grocery delivery. You can also pick up cereal and other breakfast items in most resort food courts – they are just a little more expensive than a “regular” grocery store.
4. Ask for your check early
If you are dining at an all-you-care-to-eat buffet or set-price table service, this is particularly convenient. As soon as we’ve ordered our drinks or our meal is at the table I always ask for the check. This way we can have it taken care of and as soon as we’re finished eating we can leave – no need to wait to pay the bill.
3. Use Mobile Order
If your family’s schedule has you eating lunch between 11:30-1:00 or dinner around 5-6 pm you can be guaranteed a wait in line at all restaurants. But, Disney has recently launched Mobile Order on the My Disney Experience app which lets you order you food in advance from most Quick Service restaurants. Once you’re at the restaurant you click on “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” and when your food is ready you get a notification to go to the Mobile Order line to pick up your food. You do need to have a credit card,debit card or Disney dining plan linked to your My Disney Experience account to purchase your food through the app. The wait time was significantly shorter and there were very few people taking advantage of this when we were in the parks over Christmas break.
2. Arrive at (or before) Rope Drop
The amount of time you’ll save waiting in line if you arrive before the park opens, enter at rope drop, and tour from 8:30 am – 11 am rather than arriving at 10 am to start your park day is amazing. That is the very best time to be in the park – before the lines start to form. There are some exceptions with the particularly popular rides where the queues build quickly, but just use tip #1 for that and arrive early for the other stuff.
1. Use FastPass+
Everyone with tickets to Walt Disney World is able to access FastPass+. It’s free and everyone should take advantage of it. Onsite guests may book their first 3 FP+ 60 days prior to their check-in date, off-site guest can begin 30 days before their first park day. Choose the most popular attractions or the ones that are most important to your family and book those first. Use tip #2 to do other attractions, and after you’ve used your first 3 FP+ go to one of the kiosks in the park or use your My Disney Experience app to choose a 4th. Being able to skip some of the crazy standby lines at attractions like Avatar: Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom or the Frozen experience in Epcot will save you a ton of time.
What are your favourite time saving strategies for your Walt Disney World vacation?