Disney World Planning Tips
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Word of warning if you have short children. Walt Disney World is very strict about height restrictions. They have figured out through physics what is the minimum height needed. Don't promise your child he/she can go on a ride unless they are 44" tall or whatever the height restriction for a particular ride is... or wait until they are tall enough. Safety should be the #1 concern. - Ruby
I love to help families plan their first trip to Walt Disney World. I have three tips they must follow, although I have plenty more. #1. Plan one year in advance to maximize savings. #2. Begin to exercise (walking) as a family, at least 3 to 4 months in advance. I tell them they might walk five-plus miles a day on concrete. #3. Set your expectations realistically. You can't do everything Disney has to offer, it's just too big. If you have low expectations and you meet them, it's a Magical day. High expectations will make it a Tragical day. - Alan R. Malesky
I haven't seen this widely publicized yet, but Amazon Prime Now has started delivery to the WDW resort hotels. It's open to Prime members and can be used to order groceries, diapers and tons of other things that you may need while on vacation. Delivery is free within two hours and $7.99 if you want it delivered within one hour. They'll drop your items at Bell Services for you to pick up. You have to order through the primenow.amazon.com website or use the Amazon Prime Now app to place your order though, not the regular Amazon site or app. It's certainly a convenient way to get the stuff you need without having to leave the property. - Brian B.
I thought that Alice McNutt Miller's post about money saving tips was spot on. Our family has enjoyed Disney World every few years and I always consult the AllEars® tips database while planning. One tip that I would add to Alice's list is considering travel during the room-only discount periods. This way you can combine frugal and fairly extravagant if you're willing to move from value/moderate to deluxe for a few days (especially to the BoardWalk area). Our kids felt like it was two vacations in one. - Jack
Here's a tip for UK guests -- If you need to phone Disney to make reservations (restaurants, dessert parties, etc.), try phoning the US telephone number direct using Skype, as this is much cheaper than landline or mobile calls to USA. - Nicky
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is actually a good tip for US vacationers, too. If you use Skype or some other VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service, you can avoid a lot of long-distance charges.
We aren't really big soda drinkers, so the refillable mugs aren't a good investment for us. However, we do like our morning coffee. I found disposable coffee cups with lids at the local dollar store. We make coffee in our room, take it with us on the way to the parks, then throw the cups away when we are finished. It's super-cheap and we aren't carrying around a cup all day! - Laura Briggs
A tip for UK visitors: In shops, kids struggle to work out the cost of something in British pounds, as they have to add the sales tax and then do the currency conversion. When ours were younger I made little conversion charts with the GBP equivalent (with sales tax added) of up to $20. As long as they can add up, they can then work out what things are going to cost from their spending allowance without having to ask Mum or Dad all the time. - Juli Williamson
Don't be too quick to dismiss the Deluxe resorts. For the UK visitor, free dining is usually not available at the Value resorts, while the Quick Service plan is included at the Moderates and the regular dining plan comes with Deluxe or Villas. We have found that it can often work out cheaper for us to book a villa when free dining is included than it would be to book at a Value resort and buy a dining plan or just pay for food as we went along. - Debi
Know the theme park closing schedule and schedule your non-hotel dinners before the buses make you route to Disney Springs to get back to your "home" hotel. We went from Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) to Disney Springs and back to All Star Music. That occurred starting at 10:45 p.m. We didn't make it to bed until just before 12:30 a.m. Fortunately we didn't have to be at Typhoon Lagoon until 10 a.m. the next day. - Rudy Costa
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sometimes it is in your best interest to use the taxi service for late evening transportation from resort to resort. Cost is usually under $20.
All Star Resorts - My husband, 4-year-old son and I just returned from a fantastic 10-day WDW trip and one of the best things we did was ship a small coffee pot with filters and coffee packets to our All-Star resort ahead of time since they do not provide coffee pots in those rooms. What a treat it was to just wake up and make our own personal pot of coffee each morning. The 4-cup pot at Walmart was only $19.99, and the filters/coffee were inexpensive. - Laureen
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Family Suites at Art of Animation and All Star Music have coffee pots.
Something we tried this last time we stayed at the Boardwalk Villas was to bring a water purifier that you connect to the kitchen faucet. This worked amazingly well! We didn't have to haul or buy a whole bunch of water bottles for our trip, you just keep refilling a glass or reusable container. You don't have the waste of the plastic bottles or have to drink the nasty-tasting Orlando water! Just write down a reminder to take your purifier off the faucet before you leave. When you get home, connect the purifier back to your own kitchen faucet! - Tammy
When making dining reservations using the Disney website make sure you log in before you select your reservation time. I lost two reservations to 'Ohana (on two separate occasions) because after I selected the reservation time the system prompted me to log in. Once I logged in, the system did not hold the reservation that I selected. Very disappointing! I sent a message to Disney regarding this problem and their solution was to be sure that you are logged in prior to searching for a dining reservation. - Sarah Kelley
We bring a sleeve of plastic disposable cups to the Disney parks in our backpack. That way we can buy two or three water bottles and share them among the five of us. The cups are light and when we buy five individual bottles no one ever finishes theirs. - Gail Geiser
For all those folks writing about nightlight options -- Make sure your wall-mounted hair dryer is plugged in! Each room I've ever stayed in, regardless of pixie dust level, has the built-in night light feature. Though, as a retired teacher, I admit that the cyalume sticks (glow sticks) are always fun! - Scott Stuart
We have vacationed many times at Walt Disney World since 1993. Oftentimes, I will ship a package a week in advance, filled with snacks and surprises. I've learned the hard way, if you're staying at a conference center resort (for example, the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower) send the box via USPS. If it is shipped UPS or FedEx, you are charged a service/handling fee when you check-in and claim your package. - Ann