Listen here: A well-planned trip to Walt Disney World Resort can and will change your life. A poorly-planned trip to Walt Disney World Resort... will never happen if you keep reading this guide. But there are some things you need to know to ensure you have the greatest time possible.
The My Disney Experience app is a game changer. As much as we’d like to be your tour guide through Walt Disney World Resort, we have full-time jobs -- and the My Disney Experience app is extremely efficient and doesn’t need to hop on a conference call every 15 minutes. Simply download the app before your trip and you’ll have a wealth of knowledge in your pocket. Here, you can browse attraction wait times, make FastPass+ selections and dinner reservations, place food orders, and navigate the park super easily with the new Get Directions function. We weren’t kidding when we called it a “game changer.”
You don’t have to wait in those crazy lines with FastPass+. As one would expect, the really popular attractions often have very long wait times. Luckily, Walt Disney World Resort offers an awesome (and free!) perk with the purchase of park tickets. Starting 30 days before your visit (or 60 if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel), simply log onto your computer or the My Disney Experience app to make your FastPass+ selections. Here, you simply plug in the dates you’ll be at the park and check if FastPasses are available for your desired rides and attractions. Make your selection and just show up to the attraction at that time. (The reservation automatically loads onto your MagicBand.) There might still be a wait, but it’ll be significantly shorter with FastPass+.
A MagicBand will make your trip seamless. MagicBands are multi-functional colorful wristbands that can unlock your resort room door, hold your theme park admission, check you in at FastPass+ entrances, and even charge food and merchandise to your Disney Resort room. They come free if you’re staying in a Disney Resort hotel -- or if you’re a Walt Disney World Resort Annual Passholder. If not, they can be purchased online or at the parks and linked to your Disney account. Trust us: Knowing all of your FastPass+ reservations and tickets are secure and on your wrist is totally priceless.
Pay for it all in advance with a Disney Dining Plan. The easiest way to ensure you’ll be fed and energized throughout your Walt Disney World Resort trip is by selecting a Disney Dining Plan ahead of your visit. Options include the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan (fast casual and kiosks), the Disney Dining Plan (inclusive of table-service restaurants), and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan (inclusive of appetizers and desserts). A Disney Dining Plan can be booked anytime before your vacation, and meals can be redeemed via those handy dandy MagicBands. Plus, each Disney Dining Plan consists of two snacks per day. Checking what you have left is simple, too; guests can keep track via their most recent dining receipt, the My Disney Experience app, or with a resort concierge.
Give your feet a break with Walt Disney World Resort’s transportation benefits. As you know by now, everything’s been thought of at the parks -- including how to get around most efficiently. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you’ll receive complimentary access to the Walt Disney World Resort monorails, buses, boats (yes, boats!), and starting this fall, Disney Skyliner gondolas -- which can get you to the parks. (Just check the My Disney Experience app for directions.) Other perks include being able to book a “Minnie Van,” (a car resembling Minnie Mouse) through the Lyft app, as well as access to the complimentary Magical Express to and from the Orlando International Airport.
Determine which Walt Disney World Resort hotel is right for you. As previously mentioned, there are tons of perks to booking a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, but it’s important to not lose sight of the most important benefit: They’re all uniquely themed and very cool. The Walt Disney World Resort hotels are divided into three categories -- Deluxe Resorts, Moderate Resorts, and Value Resorts -- but which you choose depends on a number of factors.
Here, choices include Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (where African wildlife roam free around the property), Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and five others. Deluxe resorts have themed pools with slides and games, signature restaurants, and other custom on-site recreational activities like outdoor movies, bike rentals, arcades, and more. Some are even within walking distance to the parks; for example, when you stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, or Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, you’re just steps away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios and you can find yourself at Epcot in just 10 minutes.
There are four Moderate Resort hotels for those looking for something lower priced -- which is the main difference between the categories. Moderate Resorts are still fairly secluded, and are a quiet escape from the parks. Resorts in this category include Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter among others.
Those looking to spend their money in the parks rather than the hotel will want to choose a Value Resort. They’re a great fit for any budget -- and are great options when you’re looking to reboot after a long day at the park. Options include Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, plus more.