8 Disney Know-Before-You-Go Tips for Planning Your Vacation

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Here are some Disney know-before-you-go tips for your next trip!

magic kingdom 50th anniversary

Planning a Disney trip?

There are so many aspects to planning a successful Disney trip! For other theme parks, securing tickets and lodging would pretty much get the job done. But there’s so much more to consider when you’re planning a trip to Walt DisneyWorld!

Whether it’s your first time making the trip to Central Florida or you’re a seasoned Annual Passholder, here are some Walt DisneyWorld tips to help you get the most out of your next visit…

1. Utilize the My Disney Experience app as much as possible.

my disney experience app

The My Disney Experience app (MDE) serves as your entire itinerary in one place. You’ll be able to manage all of your plans, including hotel, dining, and park reservations, theme park tickets, and more.

You can check into your hotel without visiting the front desk and even see each park’s wait times in real-time via the MDE app. Plus, you can purchase any upgrades needed right from the app!

2. Don’t forget that you still need a park reservation and a theme park ticket.

disney ticket on phone

This may be common knowledge since it has been the standard since early in the pandemic, but it’s worth a reminder that you still need to make a park reservation to use your ticket. You can book your reservation as soon as you purchase your theme park tickets, and you definitely should do so as early as possible.

Even if you wait too long, it’s still possible that you may be able to find a reservation for your desired date(s). People often cancel or change their plans, so try checking back frequently to snag a last-minute reservation.

Beginning on January 9, 2024, theme park reservations will no longer be required for date-based tickets! For other admission types, theme park reservations may be required. You can learn more about theme park reservations here.

3. If you want to do as much as possible, get Genie Plus.

disney balloons

Available on the MDE app, Genie+ is the service that replaced Fast Pass. The cost of Genie+ increases with crowd levels, but it generally ranges from $15 to $35 per ticket per day.

Genie+ gives you access to Lightning Lane on select attractions, cutting your wait time down to about 15 minutes. It can often take hours to get through a standby line, so having Genie+ can definitely save you a lot of time!

On average, guests can use Lightning Lane for 2-3 attractions per day (sometimes more if the timing works out). Note that not every attraction qualifies, and sometimes you have to pay an additional fee for select attractions.

Be careful not to confuse Genie+ with Disney Genie, which is a free service that is included with every ticket. This feature makes recommendations for what you should add to your itinerary, including food recommendations and tips regarding the best times to ride specific attractions.

4. Bring a portable charger!

hands holding grey power bank

MOMAX Wireless Portable Charger $34.99 shipped (regularly $39.99)

Between the Florida heat, taking photos all day, and using the MDE app, your phone battery will be drained unless you bring a portable charger! Yes, you’ll find a few outlets in various areas of the parks, but who wants to sit still when there’s so much fun to be had?!

If you’d rather not bring a portable charger with you, there are FuelRods available in every park. This convenient service won’t save you any money, though. Each FuelRod is $30, and they only charge one device at a time. On top of the initial $30 charge, every refill costs an additional fee! 😱

At those prices, you’re better off grabbing a portable charger from Amazon, since many models charge more than one device. Wait for a deal, and you may be able to buy two portable chargers for less than $30, giving you the ability to charge four devices! The last thing you want to do is fight with your family over the charger, so the more charging ports, the better. 😆

5. Ponchos, ponchos, and ponchos!

ponchos in disney

Everyone telling you to bring ponchos to Walt DisneyWorld is right! There is a very good chance that it will rain during your visit. You can prevent the wet weather from spoiling your fun, as long as you come prepared!

Many Disney locations sell ponchos, but it is usually cheaper to buy them elsewhere. You’ll get great use out of them at the parks and beyond! Many people even opt to wear them on water rides to avoid getting their clothing wet, too.

Scoop up ponchos for the whole family at Dollar Tree for just $1.25! These are even big enough to wear over a bag or backpack. 🙌

6. Don’t let the rain scare you away!

Epcot flower and garden festival

One of the biggest mistakes guests make when visiting Disney parks is leaving when it rains. If there’s no thunder and it’s just raining, try to stay in the park even when the skies open up. The lines have significantly shorter wait times as the crowds head for shelter. It will rarely rain the entire day, so hit those popular rides right after the rain begins.

Annual Passholders will tell you that the very best spot to be on a rainy day at Disney is Animal Kingdom! Avatar Flight of Passage is arguably one of the best rides at Disney, but the queue is usually around two hours. When it’s raining, the line will likely be less than an hour!

Obviously, these weather-related tips apply only to rain and not to thunderstorms, due to the risk of lightning. The weather in Florida can change quickly, so you definitely want to seek shelter at the first sign of an approaching thunderstorm. Use stormy weather as an opportunity to rest your feet, grab a bite to eat, or visit one of the park’s many indoor attractions.

7. Make those dining reservations as early as possible!

disney dining entree

There are hundreds of incredible restaurants and dining experiences across Walt Disney World. You can actually book dining reservations up to 60 days in advance of your visit, and this is strongly recommended for any must-visit restaurants that you’ve been dying to try.

If you can’t find a reservation at the restaurant you’re looking for, keep checking back! Many people cancel at the last minute as their plans change. As nerve-wracking as it is to wait that long, there’s a good chance you’ll find the reservation you want if you keep checking!

family at Yak and Yeti

If you don’t make reservations early enough, you still have options!

The MDE app has a section to virtually review walk-up list availability. However, third-party restaurants (and some Disney-owned establishments) almost always have walk-up availability! Not every park will have non-Disney-owned restaurants, but EPCOT and Animal Kingdom do.

Did you know that Landry’s Select Club members will be seated almost immediately at select restaurants including Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and T-Rex, which are all located on Disney properties like Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs.

A Landry’s Select Club membership costs $25, but you’ll receive a $25 welcome reward and you’ll get another one on your birthday, so it’s totally worth it! By the way, Lina’s family loves Yak & Yeti and recommends it as one of the best places to eat at Disney World! 🙌

8. Mobile order at quick-service locations.

mobile order on my disney experience

The majority of quick-service food locations will allow you to order and make customizations directly on the My Disney Experience app. This feature alone makes downloading the app totally worth it!

Just choose a timeframe, order your food, then notify your arrival via the app. Don’t click the arrival button before you’re actually there, because they are so efficient that sometimes your food is ready almost instantly! 🤯

You can still place your order in person, but this feature is easy, efficient and it won’t cost you anything extra to skip the line!

What are your best know-before-you-go tips for planning a WDW vacation? Please share them in the comments below!

Wondering how to stay cool at Disney World? We’ve got you covered!

About the writer:

Jenna has a Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College and her Master's from Penn State, holding 4 years of writing experience between a variety of publications and Hip2Save.

Join The Discussion

Comments 10

  1. cindyhughes18

    We just got back from a trip last week. We took afternoon breaks at the peak of heat, which was very helpful. We carried water bottles and refilled them at quick dining places. My best advice would be to find a Smart Moms Travel Agent who works for you. Many will make your dining reservations at 6am 60 days before you travel. The one we used didn’t, and I will be much more selective next time.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the tips! We sure appreciate hearing what works best! ❤️🙌

  2. JO ANN

    Best travel tip for Disney World (and all of Florida): DON’T GO

    • C

      No, that’s not the best travel tip for Disney World. If it’s not for you, so be it, but please respect that plenty of people want to vacation at Disney and they may appreciate actual helpful tips.

      I 100% agree to keep checking for reservation availability in the app, if there is a specific restaurant you are interested in. I’ve lucked out must more often than I’ve struck out doing this.
      You can get free cups of ice water at any quick service location that has a soda fountain.
      If you have a rental car, there are a plethora of restaurants around WDW. Sometimes it’s really nice to take a break in the middle of the day (even better if you plan it when a rainstorm is coming in) and you can often save a bit of money versus Disney prices.
      If you don’t have a rental car or you just don’t want to go far, there are restaurants at Disney resorts that can be a nice change of pace, too. WDW transportation is included in your ticket so don’t be afraid to use it and explore the world outside the parks.
      If you are considering entering the parks later in the day, you can check the app for current wait times to help you decide how to spend the rest of your day.
      If you are bringing or renting a stroller, consider bringing a rain cover of some sort. It’s not fun to return to a stroller that became sopping wet while you were in an attraction or show. If you throw on a cover when you leave your stroller unattended, you should not have to worry about that.

  3. siena95

    Disneyland has now made it so complicated and expensive we’re not going. Reservations for rides, park reservations , tier 4 ticket? A one day ticket has extensive date exclusions…not worth it. They need to get their act together and simplify this. I didn’t even see fast pass mentioned on Disneyland site.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts with us, siena95. ❤️ Hoping that some of the tips mentioned above are helpful to streamline your experience, if you decide to give them another try! 🤞🤗

    • chenga57

      There isn’t fast pass anymore. It got replaced by genie plus

      • grandmat57

        Yes. FastPass was FREE! Genie Plus costs per person. I honestly don’t know how anyone can afford Disney now days. 😰

  4. Lesli Ramey

    As a local and passholder who basically lives at Disney, I have to agree with everything on this list!! Don’t give up on trying for dining reservations. Many times we’ve gotten hard to get reservations on the day before, the day of, and even right then using the “now” option instead of a time. And don’t forget to relax, be kind, and have fun making priceless memories!

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for taking a moment to share your recommendation about dining reservations, Lesli! 💞 Great to know that the persistence paid off and you have scored! 🤗

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