#11: Take a break in the early afternoon.
Especially in the summer, the heat in Orlando can be a killer. We recommend going to one of Disney World's parks early, then taking a break in the early afternoon to escape the heat. Go relax in your hotel room or find a restaurant, or a relaxing attraction like The American Adventure in Epcot. This will let you escape the heat as well as rest up to have fun for the rest of the day.
#10: Avoid parks with early morning or late extra-hours.
Disney Parks with Extra Magic Hours tend to be very crowded. If you are staying off property, go into one of the three other parks that do not have EMH. If you are staying at a Disney World resort, definitely take advantage of the early extra hour, but you should then move on to another park after that as your first park will become jam packed with people as the day goes on.
#9: Make all your Disney World dining reservations as early as possible. (But be sure to cancel more than 24 hours in advance if you need to.)
With Disney World restaurants, guests can book reservations up to 180 days in advance. Guests of Disney resorts get an extra week, making that 187 days. Be sure to take advantage of that ample time to make your dining arrangements in order to get a table at Disney World's best spots to eat. Many people get the dining package, but then wait until the last minute and get stuck with the less desirable restaurants. Don't be like them and prepare! Note: Disney World now enforces a cancellation fee around $10 per person for reservations broken less than 24 hours in advance. Advanced Dining Reservations are not as flexible as they used to be, but they are still a valuable asset for planning your Disney World vacation. Just be aware of the cancellation fees and keep track of your ADRs!
#8: Use Restaurants.com
Sign up for Restaurants.com, a great resource for saving money on dining at restaurants around Disney World. This is not a paid advertisement. We just use them a ton whenever we want to eat outside the parks. They send codes up to 80% off for restaurants in the Orlando Area, including Swan and Dolphin's Shula's, Ill Molinos, Todd English's Blue Zoo, and Downtown Disney's House of Blues.
#7: Use Disney's iPhone app... or the wait time board.
Planning is an essential part of any good Disney World trip. There are several smartphone apps, including the official (and free) Disney Parks' Mobile Magic for the iPhone, that can give you up to the minute info on wait times and Fastpass availability for each attraction. It's a really great way to be able to figure out which ride to hit up next. For the less-tech savvy, each park has a wait time board that will give you the length of the lines. Use each of these resources to make your way around the parks and save yourself hours of waiting in long lines.
#6: Buy an Annual Pass
An annual pass is great for more than just the ability to visit Disney World many times in a year. In fact, it might make financial sense to buy an annual pass even if this was your only visit to Disney during the year. If your party was only to buy one annual pass, the savings you qualify for with it might be well worth it. Periodically, discounts for up to 40% off of Disney hotels are offered to Annual Passholders. Also, there is a 10% discount of merchandise and qualified food in the parks.
#5: Get to the park 30-40 minutes before it opens.
The early bird really does get the worm at Disney World. Except in this metaphor, the early bird gets to ride Space Mountain a couple of extra times. The parks are always the least crowded right when they open, or at the "rope drop" as Disney experts call it. This allows your group to hit major popular attractions in a fraction of the time that it would take just hours later in the day. If you want to get the most out of your day at Disney World, show up 30-40 minutes before the park opens. For those who want to see it all, this tip is not to be missed.
#4: Use The Single Rider Line
The Single Rider lines at Disney World are sometimes even quicker than the Fastpass line, and they are even easier to overlook. Single riders fill in the spots left over from odd numbered groups. If you go in a single rider line with your friends or family, there is a small chance that you will be seated by one or two of the members of your group. However, be mindful that you will most likely be separated, but just for the duration of that ride. This also provides a great opportunity to be "that guy" in some other family's picture of them on Test Track. For the Disney fan looking to get the most out of their Disney World day, Single Rider lines are a must.
#3: Always use a code when booking a hotel.
When you book a room at a Disney World resort, be sure to find a discount code to score major savings on your room. While it used to be hard to find any sort of discount for Disney-owned resorts, Disney hotel codes are widely available online. Disney recently allowed Priceline to run deals on their hotels on Priceline.com. Be sure to check around for the best deal while planning your Walt Disney World vacation.
#2: Use A Fastpass.
The Fastpass is one of the best innovations ever to come to Walt Disney World. It lets you grab a ticket for a popular ride and then come back later and experience a shorter line. Effective use of Fastpasses will let your party get more done with your day at Disney. With effective planning, your group can use Fastpasses to ride all the most popular Disney World attractions. For more information, click here.
#1: Remember: You're on vacation!
Don't stress yourself out trying to have fun! This is the most magical place on Earth. Take time to enjoy it. Also, don't try to do too much. Figure out which rides and sights are the most important for you to visit ahead of time, and then make a plan to try to experience all of them. If you don't get to everything, don't worry! You're still in Disney World!