Walt Disney World Tips, Part I


As you may have read in our previous post, our family visited Walt Disney World as part of our Florida vacation this past year. Planning the trip was somewhat overwhelming to say the least.  There is SO much to know about WDW.  Fortunately I had some very good friends who, in my opinion, are "Disney experts." So we were able to receive a lot of help planning the trip  After all, this was our first time going with the kids so we wanted to make sure we covered all the "must-see" attractions. 

When we returned from the trip I particularly had many moms ask me, "How was it!?"  "I am planning a trip soon...Do you have any tips for me?"  After several lengthy emails and conversations I decided what better way to share my tips than write a blog post.

So here you go....here are MY tips (for the non-frequent, Disney-goer):

1. Stay in a Disney resort.  It's so much easier with the bus and monorail transportation (but do know there is not resort-to-resort busing, only parks to resorts and vice versa...We learned the hard way).  There are so many different resorts to choose from that you can really accommodate almost any budget.  I mean if you're going to do Disney, "do-it-up right" the first time and treat yourself to the total Disney experience BUT also make sure you coordinate when they offer their free dining plan (another must-do) in my opinion.

2. Assuming you go when they offer free dining, use your 'table meals' for character dining breakfasts.  Whether or not you are a morning person...it is really worth it to get a big breakfast early in the morning so everyone starts with a full belly.  This will carry you through half the day and you only need your "snack points" for lunch.  Then save your counter-service for dinner.  PLUS it's a great way to get in the parks BEFORE they open.  Avoid waiting in line with the crowds for the gates to open.  After breakfast you can get on those favorite rides with hardly any waiting in line and then grab your fastpass, and even take pictures in the parks without all the crowds.  Another good point to consider...you might not feel like leaving a park to make your dinner reservation at another park or resort.

  • My two favorite breakfasts:  Chef Mickey's at The Contemporary (meet the classic Disney characters), Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot (meet a bunch of the princesses AND it includes a FREE 5 x7 photo with one of the princesses AND it only counts for 1 table-service where the dinner in Cinderella's castle counts as 2 table-service meals).

3. If you have a little princess...I totally recommend the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique!  The Crown package was really worth the money ($58)!  We booked A's appointment early in the morning in Cinderella's Castle (right across from the princess breakfast) in Magic Kingdom.  Again this was great because we got into Magic Kingdom early and took pictures without the crowds (Photo Pass photographers were there waiting to snap your photos too).

  • MY TIP:  Thanks to Disneyed's post, I bought an Aurora dress in our local Disney store, not telling A.  I brought it down in our luggage without her knowing and took it to the boutique.  When I got there, I explained what I had done and asked if they could place the dress in the dressing room for A to discover.  This was awesome!  One of the ladies came out and told A that Tinkerbell had made her a gift, proceeded to take her by the hand and lead her back to the dressing room.  They pulled the curtain and her new dress was hanging on the wall!  Little A didn't know what to make of it all.  The maiden even fixed the dress straps to fit so the dress was not hanging.  

  • Later A was taken to a chair to have her hair (they give them 3 style choices), nails, and make-up done.  At the end she received a sash & gift bag with her make-up palette, 2 nail polish bottles, and other goodies.  All day long staff greeted her as "Princess."  Again, in my opinion, money well spent!  Oh and they had photo pass photographers in the boutique taking pics....


....which leads me to my next tip:

4.  Buy the Disney PhotoPass CD before you leave for your trip.  "Disney PhotoPass, gives guests the ability to view and purchase photos taken by Disney Photographers online and while visiting the theme parks. When visitors have their photos taken, they’re issued a “PhotoPass” which has the web address and a 16 digit ID number imprinted on it.  If you've taken your own photos, you can also upload them on the PhotoPass website." (taken from their website).  At the time of our trip, the price was still $99 pre-paid however now it is $119.95 but still worth it at least for one visit (in my opinion). They do make it a little to hard to find this offer but I have put the direct link here  to make it easier.  For once I have many pictures of the whole family and some with just my husband and me.  I love that you own the rights to all the pictures taken.  They even have some cute boarders to add when editing your photos.  Photographers are everywhere so utilize them and ask them to take lots of pics.  Let them know you've pre-purchased the photo CD so they take a few extra for you.  I was especially glad to have pre-purchased the CD since they had photopass photographers taking pictures of Anna in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique AND a photographer taking pictures of Nick during Jedi Training.  The shots are priceless!

Tip: Be sure to take a picture of your photopass card JUST in case you lose it....this way you have your 16 digit # so you can have a new card re-issued and you do not lose any photos!


Now check out our Walt Disney World tips part 2, found here.  What tips would you add?


e dot said...

we are going for memorial day but just staying at art of animation for two days and not doing parks yet. So if we have a reservation for character breakfast at another resort you have to drive there? Also how about transportation to Downtown Disney or Boardwalk? If no transportation, is parking free at resorts, downtown if you are staying in hotel?

M.Gunn said...

I believe the parking is free at the resorts (not parks though) but you might want to double check on that. Driving is probably your best way to do character meals at resorts and Downtown Disney. The only bus transportation is from home resort to parks and downtown Disney, not resort to resort (although you can take bus from your resort to Downtown D, then transfer there to bus for resort you are looking to visit - make sense). It's a hassle though w/little ones, that's why I recommend car : )

EAguard said...

I looked at your link for the PhotoPass CD and I am confused between that and the PhotoPass+. Which is better? I want to make sure that I have the rights to all of the photos so I can print them when I want to.


M.Gunn said...

So sorry for the delay...the photopass card is what you need in order to have the pictures taken around the park. That is how they identify you and add photos. The CD I mention is something you normally purchase after your park experience. You can order all the photos they take and have uploaded to your photopass card. If you pre-purchase the CD than you get a discounted price vs. ordering after your trip and viewing the photos, make sense? You do own the rights to your photos w/the photopass CD. Hope that helps!

Donna Debarbieris said...

The Photo Pass + lets you get all the pictures you take on a CD for one price. Pictures include all the pictures taken at the parks by the photographers, all the rides that take photos ( there are 8), photos from any character meals that take photos, and photos from your Bibbidi or Pirate's League experience. The amount of photos you can take is unlimited. If you go with another family, you can share one photo pass. It is $200, but if you buy 14 days before your trip, it's only $150. It sounds like a lot, but think about how much you would spend on just a couple of ride and dining photos. Well worth it.

Unknown said...

Regarding e dot's comment,they do not charge for parking at any resort. They do have security booths at all entrances so non-resort people don't park at a hotel and use the free shuttle to get to the parks. If you tell the person at the security check that you would like to check out a hotel or you have a dining reservation they let you in without a problem (usually giving you a 2 hour time limit, but I've never had a problem if it takes a little longer). Parking is also free at Downtown Disney, but usually hard to find. You can take the free shuttle from any resort and most/if not all parks to go to Downtown Disney.
Hope that helps clearing things up!