Hello lovelies! Living in Florida, one of the first things people think of when I mention where I am from is Disney. Now, growing up my mom never really wanted to take us kids to Disney World because it was always crowded and expensive, so I only went a few times as a kid. Once I was in high school and later in college, I was lucky enough to have friends who had parents that worked there and, as a result, I had the luxury of going much more often. Nowadays, I am an avid Disney-goer and Annual Passholder, so I have a plethora of tips for all your Disney lovers out there looking to plan your first(or hundredth) trip to visit Mr. Mickey Mouse! I even spent this past weekend at Disney trying out some of my tips. Hopefully, these can help others on their next trip to the Happiest Place on Earth!
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Which Park to Visit
Now if you are looking for the classic Disney experience, castle and all, Magic Kingdom is the place for you. This park has something for all ages, from the thrills of Space Mountain to the ability to meet almost any character you want. With so much to do, it can be hard to pack everything in so you have to be a bit strategic with your time to make the most of your days, but Magic Kingdom can be, as the name suggests, a magical place!
Traveling with adults only? Head over to Epcot and drink your way around the world, while also enjoying great food and a fun ride on Soarin’ around the World! this park has HANDS DOWN the best food of any Disney park, especially if you visit during the Annual Food and Wine Festival held every fall.
An entire rollercoaster ride listening to Aerosmith music? Sign me up. This park is definitely better if you don’t have really young kids with you as it can get a bit boring for the little ones. For older kids and adults, there is plenty of fun to be had between the Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror and Disney has announced new additions to this park that will open later this year.
This one is highly underrated if you ask me. Even before Pandora opened, I loved Animal Kingdom because I believe that Expedition Everest is hands down the best ride at any of the Disney Parks. Like Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom is great for all ages with thrill rides for older kids and adults and fun shows and slower rides for the little ones! Piece of advice: Don’t take little kids to the “It’s a Bug Life” show because it’s actually a bit scary and they will likely cry.
Want a more relaxing day of fun in the sun? Head over to either Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon for some great water slides and family fun. If you are doing the full Disney vacation, do yourself a favor and schedule a day at one of the water parks. They are more relaxing than the main theme parks and can be a great way to cool down in the Florida heat. Bonus: A ticket to one of the water parks is significantly less than to one of the main parks.
Ways to Save Money
1. Bring your own snacks!
The last thing that goes into my backpack when I am prepping for a day at Disney is some sort of snacks. Whether its trail mix or a bag of pretzels, having your own snacks will save you from stopping for overpriced food every few hours. This can also be great if you are traveling with younger kids who get hungry more frequently.
2. Visit during the off-season!
If you can avoid Disney during the months of June and July, do yourself a favor and do it. You will save money on tickets(almost $20 in some cases) and have fewer people to deal with. PLUS Florida summers are extremely hot and humid and Disney can be HELL in the summer months.
3. Carry a water bottle!
Ice water is free throughout the park and this will let you stay hydrated and save you from spending $4 on a bottle of Dasani every time you get thirsty. Be sure you pick one that is easy to keep track of, or inexpensive to replace should something happen to it. I love carrying my Tervis Water Bottle with me to Disney because it fits my needs, saves me money and keeps me from dying of dehydration halfway through the day.
4. Split an entrée at meal times!
The serving sizes at most of the restaurants are huge and, if you are like me, eating half is a struggle. I have found I can save a good amount of money by splitting an entrée with friends, especially at lunch time when I want a smaller meal. The portions are large and you can always add an extra side to split and still end up saving money overall.
5. Buy multi-day tickets or an Annual pass to save money!
Right now Disney has an AMAZING Deal for Florida residents called the Discover Disney Pass. With this, you get 3 Days of admission for only $160 when you would normally pay $100+ PER DAY. If you find yourself at Disney often, the Annual Pass is also a great way to save money on Admission. I have the Silver Pass, which is blocked out during June and July as well as over the holidays and then part of March and April. But, it includes free parking(normally $20 a visit), and as long as I visit at least 4 times in the year it pays for itself. I visited 3 times the first month I had it, so needless to say it was a great investment!
6. Stay off-site at a nearby hotel or book through a third-party site
While staying in a Disney Resort has a lot of benefits and offers certain experiences, staying off-site can save you a nice chunk of change. Off-site hotels still have great amenities and many offer transportation to the parks as well! You can also get rooms at the Disney resorts for cheaper on third-party booking sites such as CheapOAir.com for cheaper than through Disney’s website.
- Stay Hydrated! Bring your own water bottle and refill it for free throughout the day to avoid dehydration, especially during the hotter months.
- Go on a weekday(especially during the school year) to avoid the massive crowds of the summer and weekends!
- Bring your Portable Power Bank to keep your phone alive throughout the day. This is especially important if you plan on using fastpasses because you manage them in the Disney app!
- Take advantage of the fastpass program! Fastpasses let you skip to the front of the line and they are completely free! You just have to reserve them for set times in the Disney app and they can save you a ton of time if you plan correctly!
- Wear your walking shoes! I have a great pair of Vibram’s five Fingers that are lightweight and comfortable enough to help me survive a day at Disney
- Go with a friend that has been before! They will know the secrets to surviving the day with minimal problems and the most fun possible!
- If you are trying to get cute photos, it’s worth investing in a good pair of Minnie/Mickey ears! I love the rose gold ones I have. And if you are trying to get the best pictures for Instagram, be sure to read my post on looking cute while traveling!
I just spent this last Saturday at Disney figuring out exactly what I could share to help make Disney as fun for you as it is for me! From one misguided millennial to the world, enjoy your time at the Happiest Place on Earth!