Gabby Trump | @disneyparisplease
"Congratulations - you're going to Walt Disney World!" That's a phrase everyone wants to see in their email inboxes. So now that your trip is booked - what's next?
Planning ANY vacation can be a daunting experience - which is why most vacations are booked 6 months to a year out. From required park and dining reservations, festival opening dates, holiday parties and constantly changing Genie + updates, gone are the days where you can book a last minute Disney trip and just "wing it."
Here are a few simple tips to help your next trip go a little smoother!
1. Check the Calendar!
It's safe to say that most families want their first park visit to be Magic Kingdom. I get it, walking down Main Street, seeing the castle in front of you, listening to the Dapper Dans and waving to Mickey and friends above the train station, BUT - depending on the day, time of year, event schedule, this may not be the smartest idea. While it's generally best to visit Magic Kingdom any Monday - Friday, here are a few things to keep in mind this holiday season:
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - this holly jolly event returns on select nights from November 8 through December 22, 2022. What does that mean for you? Depending on your ticket type, if a party falls on the same day as your park reservation, unless you have a special event ticket you will be asked to leave the park early (6 pm). You will miss any nighttime events, including the fireworks, which would be a HUGE disappointment!
Option 1: Visit Magic Kingdom the morning of one of the Christmas parties as those days have notoriously lower ride wait times. BUT - be sure you have the Hopper ticket upgrade so that you can still get into another park after you're shuffled out.
Option 2: Consult the calendar and choose Magic Kingdom on a day without an evening party, that way you can stay all day and into the night! This would be the best option if you have a base ticket!
2. Early Entry - Know When the Park Actually Opens
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you have access to an extra 30 minutes of early ride time. You must have a park pass reservation for that park, but this applies to each park, every day.
A big misconception is that the time listed in the app for early entry is the time you can enter the theme park. The truth? If you log into your WDW App, click the menu and look for the tile labeled "Park Hours and Info." You'll see general park hours as well as the early admission time. If the App says early admission is 8:00-8:30 am, that is when the rides start running, but Cast Members will actually start letting guests in for rope drop around 30 minutes before that! Based on the example above, if you think you're arriving "on time" at 8:00 am, you're already running behind! Set those alarms early and be part of the first ones in the park!
Lastly, have a plan. Not every ride in each park is available during early entry, so don't waste time heading to an area that doesn't qualify. Click here for a list of which rides are running during early park admission.
3. Take Advantage of Extended Hours
Similar to the tip above, if you are a guest staying at a Deluxe resort you have exclusive access to enjoy extended evening park hours. As these are available only on certain days and in certain parks, scheduling your park days around these nights will help you maximize your time!
Bonus tip - there are 2 nights where Hollywood Studios will have extended hours! Typically this just extends to MK & Epcot, so this is a big deal!
Magic Kingdom Park
- Dec 7, 14, 21 & 28
- Dec 5, 12, 19 & 26
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Dec 15 & 22
4. Don't Break Your (Snack) Bank $$
My favorite budget-friendly snack hack is to purchase a refillable popcorn bucket on your first park day. You can snack on discounted refills in all four theme parks the entire length of stay. It's the popcorn gift that keeps on giving! Plus, it doubles as a really cute souvenir that you can take home!
Similar to this, when purchasing a refillable mug from your resort you can save money on unlimited free refills on fountain drinks, coffee, and tea from participating beverage locations!
5. Use a Travel Agent!
My last tip - and if you've read any other Disney blogs in the past I'll sound like a broken record player - is to use a travel agent! In the constantly changing Disney universe we of all people know our stuff! Travel agents offer FREE services (no catch!) and among other things we can help with finding the best resorts within your budget and needs, price monitoring, personalized park planning tips, dining reservations, payments, keeping you on track with all major deadlines and action items- and helping you create a STRESS-FREE vacation. Whether you're a seasoned Disney vacationer, a FL resident, Annual Passholder or a first-timer, a travel agent can be as hands on or off as you want us to be! For future inquiries feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
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