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 Disney trip! On the surface, the basic checkpoints of planning are pretty straightforward, including hotel and theme park tickets. If there’s one thing I can say about myself, it’s that I love visiting Disney. As an Annual Passholder, I go as often as I can. My Hip teammate Lina just visited Walt Disney World for the first time!

As much as we both loved our experiences, there are, however, a few things to remember when it comes to planning and preparing for a trip. Whether it’s your first time making the trip to Central Florida or it’s been a while since your last trip, here are a few Disney know before you go tips, courtesy of Lina and me!


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 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 MDE. Plus, you can purchase any upgrades needed!


2. You need a park reservation and a theme park ticket.

disney ticket on phone

This probably comes off as redundant since this has been the standard for the past two years, but we cannot stress it enough! You can book your reservation as soon as you purchase your theme park tickets. You definitely should as early as possible because each park is subject to availability.

Even if you wait too long, it’s still possible you may find a reservation. In this situation, I recommend checking back frequently because people cancel or switch plans, and you may be able to snag a last-minute one! However, if you can avoid this by booking early, so I would definitely take advantage of that.


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. For $15 a person, you’ll get access to Lightning Lane and essentially wait for approximately 15 minutes in the line compared to waiting in the standby line! On average, guests can enjoy 2-3 attractions per day (sometimes more if the times match up). Note that not every attraction is included with Genie+. Sometimes, you have to pay an additional fee for a specific attraction.

If you don’t like to wait in line, this service is definitely for you. However, if long lines don’t really bother you or you prefer to relax around the parks, you probably wouldn’t be missing out. It all depends on the expectations of your vacation. Either way, you’re going to make wonderful memories!

Disney Genie is actually included for everyone, and this feature makes recommendations for what you should add to your itinerary. It’ll give you food recommendations and when a good time to ride a specific attraction is.


4. Bring a portable charger!

hands holding grey power bank

MOMAX Wireless Portable Charger $34 (regularly $39.99)

In combination with the heat, photos, and the app, your 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 stationary when there’s so much fun to take advantage of?!

There are FuelRods available for purchase in two locations of every park. Every time it dies, you can return your dead FuelRod and grab a new one if you don’t have time to charge. However, we don’t recommend using this service. Each FuelRod is $30, only charges one device at a time, and every refill costs an additional fee.

It was great when it used to be free, but, at those prices, you’re better off grabbing a portable charger from Amazon since they’ll likely be able to charge more than one device. Sometimes, you can even buy two for less than $30, charging four devices! The last thing you want to do is fight with your family over the charger, so the more charging ports, the merrier. 😆


5. Ponchos, ponchos, and ponchos!

ponchos in disney

Nobody is pulling your chain when they tell you to bring ponchos to your Disney trip. There is a good chance it will rain – I’ve gone when it has rained every day of my trip! The rain does not ruin the fun, but it will slow you down if you’re not prepared. Many Disney locations sell ponchos, but it is usually cheaper to buy them elsewhere.

Trust me, you’ll get great use out of them! One of my favorite Disney know before tips is to wear them on water rides if you don’t feel like getting your clothes wet, which I always take advantage of. 🤷‍♀️

You can even scoop up ponchos at Dollar Tree for just $1.25!


6. Don’t let the rain scare you away!

Epcot flower and garden festival

The biggest mistake guests make when visiting the Disney parks is leaving when it rains! One of the biggest Disney know before you go tips is to stay in the park even when the skies open up. The lines have significantly fewer wait times and the crowds are at an all-time low. Plus, parks like Epcot have a ton you can do all indoors if you don’t want to go outside.

The best spot to be on a rainy day at Disney is at Animal Kingdom! It will rarely rain the entire day, so hit those popular rides after the rain begins. Avatar Flight of Passage is arguably the best ride at Disney, but the queue is usually around two hours. When it’s raining, the line will likely be less than an hour!

*Note this doesn’t apply to lightning and thunderstorms, which imposes a safety concern!


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! A major Disney know before you go is that you can actually book dining reservations up to 60 days in advance prior to your visit. This is imperative to those must-visit restaurants 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 same day. As nerve-wracking as it is to wait that long, there is 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) almost always have walk-up availability! Not every park will have non-Disney-owned restaurants, but EPCOT and Animal Kingdom do.

A super important Disney know before you go tip is if you are a Landry’s Club member, you’ll be seated almost immediately at restaurants including Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and T-Rex, which are all located on Disney property (specifically Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs). The membership costs $25, but you actually receive a $25 welcome reward and you’ll get another on your birthday. Lina and I both agree that Yak & Yeti is one of the best places to eat at Disney World!


8. Mobile order at quick-service locations.

mobile order on my disney experience

This is one of my favorite features of using the MDE app. The majority of quick-service food locations will allow you to order and make customizations directly on the app. You choose a timeframe, order your food, then notify your arrival via the app. Don’t click the arrival button before you actually are because they are so quick sometimes the food is done almost instantly! 🤯

You can still order physically, but this feature is quick and efficient. It saves you the time of waiting in line. I prefer it also because it lists customization options easily.


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


About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.


Join The Discussion

Comments 4

  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. CW

    For tourists here’s clarification on the rain. If it is thunderstorms do *not* walk around the park! FL is the lightening capital of the nation. We have the most deaths per year from lightening. The buildings have lightening rods but do not walk around outside. Rain? Fine. Thunderstorms within 10-15 miles? No. A few years back we had a case of a new resident who was walking along the beach in Vero Beach and he was struck by lightening with the closest storm 25 miles away. The lines are shorter because residents know not to walk around for safety reasons. Telling people to walk around for shorter lines isn’t really responsible considering most tourists don’t know how dangerous lightening is in this state. From an annual passholder of 19 years and a resident.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for mentioning that, CW. We’ve added a note to that tip above. 🤗

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