Planning a stress-free trip to Walt Disney World Resort

Planning a stress-free trip to Walt Disney World Resort

Disney has always been a big part of our lives, we have watched the films and fallen in love with the characters. With my eldest son, I watched the Jungle Book over and over until we both knew the whole film off by heart.  My twelve-year-old son was a Winnie the Pooh fan and for his brother, it has always been Donald Duck.  My daughter has added her own feminine touch dreaming of being like her favourite Disney princesses.

Finding Donald

After our first visit to Disneyland Paris eight years ago, we were all totally bitten by the Disney bug and we have been dreaming of a visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida ever since.  With four theme parks, two water parks, a wide range of resort and hotel options and endless opportunities for shopping, dining and entertainment (and more characters to hug!), we knew that it would be the holiday of our dreams. This summer, that dream became a reality.   Once we had let the children into the secret that we were going, it was time to start planning.  With a trip like this, putting a bit of time and effort into the planning beforehand meant that we were able to get on with the important job of enjoying our holiday as soon as we arrived.

Luckily, Walt Disney World resort have some cool things that really help you with planning your holiday and these are my top tips for planning a stress-free trip to Walt Disney World.

Using My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience has become my best friend over the last few weeks.  It’s a really handy app that can be accessed on the Disneyworld.co.uk website and once the holiday was booked, I was able to set up an itinerary for each day of our holiday and pretty much organise the full holiday through it.  I used My Disney Experience daily before our departure to book FastPass+, which allows you to select a time to ride your favourite attractions; you can also make dining reservations and find out information about the parks.  It was only once the tickets were booked that I realised just how amazing My Disney Experience is.

Using My Disney Experience

Within My Disney Experience, I added the names and details of everyone going and had great fun allocating Disney characters for each person’s profile; my husband was Darth Vader, I was Tinkerbell and A was Alice in Wonderland as she always wears hair bands, just like Alice.

Adding family members to My Disney Experience

Not only is My Disney Experience accessible online but there is also a free mobile app which really comes into its own when you are at Walt Disney World Resort, as you can use it to check your schedule, change reservations, add new ones but also find things on the map and see current queue times for rides!

Draft an Itinerary and make full use of your FastPass+

Having just returned from our trip to Walt Disney World Resort, I think it is safe to say that whether you go for a week or three weeks, there is so much to see and do across the six parks that you will never do everything during your holiday.  With that in mind, as much as I love the idea of going with the flow on a holiday, it really helped us to make the most of the week by deciding which park we were going to visit each day. We did leave one day free just in case but planned one day in each of the parks. I used the previously mentioned My Disney Experience to add a park to each day and then looked at the different rides, attractions, dining options and entertainment available in that park so I could add them to a wishlist.

At that point, we were ready to use FastPass+. This is a really brilliant system that allows you to book a Fast Pass for each person for three rides or experiences each day, free of charge! (you can then book a fourth FastPass+ in the parks when you have used the first three.)  As the boys and my daughter like completely different things, I booked my husband and the boys onto lots of thrill rides, whilst my daughter and I were booked to meet some favourite characters or gentler rides or attractions. Because we all like different things, it was really useful to be able to split the FastPass+ selections into parties to include everyone or different combinations.

Creating a FastPass+ Party

Two of the rides that were top of our list were Frozen Ever After in Epcot and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, I’m so glad that I booked Fast Pass+ rides in advance as there were no FastPass+ times available to book during the week we were there and the queues were long for both! It would have been a shame to miss out.

Riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The FastPass+ system was so easy to use and it made planning our days much easier. On those days when something else crops up, you can use the My Disney Experience app to cancel your FastPass+ or to change the timings, which came in handy!

Make some dining reservations

We also used My Disney Experience to book our dining reservations before our trip.  Most of the restaurants in the parks get pretty busy, so it is worth booking before you go.  Many resorts offer quick service dining options (self-service, no booking needed) and we used this for breakfast each morning before heading out for the day. However, I made sure that at least one meal was booked in each park, each day.  Again, My Disney Experience was brilliant as it showed us restaurant locations, prices and also menus (which were really useful as A is a really fussy eater!).

We love Character Dining and discovered this on our trip to Disneyland Paris last year. Character Dining means that whilst you eat, a range of characters come to your table.  It is the perfect way to meet your favourite characters in a fun and relaxing atmosphere, and we made sure to book two character dining experiences; one with Mickey & friends and the other with Pooh & friends.

Meeting Eeyore at Character Dining

In order to make these dining reservations, we had to link a debit or credit card to the reservation, no money is taken unless specified when you make the booking and you can automatically use the card to pay for your meal (they charge a  cancellation fee if you don’t arrive).  We did have to cancel one meal and change numbers on another while we were there and were able to do it via the My Disney Experience app, which was really handy.

Choose your MagicBand

Two weeks before our trip, we were able to choose our MagicBands.  I had no idea what these were but they are brilliant! MagicBands are wristbands that are personalised to you (they even have your name inside) and they were included as part of our holiday package.  Such a clever idea: they were our room keys, our park ticket, our FastPass+, they held official park photos, they activated special treats throughout the parks such as our names coming up at the end of certain rides and finally, we were able to link a credit or debit card which means that we could use our MagicBand to pay for things and it was charged straight to the hotel room account.  They are sturdy, waterproof and you easily forget you are wearing them, but they make life at Walt Disney World Resort much simpler as you can leave tickets, keys and money at home.  My daughter loves hers so much, she won’t take it off and says that she never will!

Magic Bands

There are 8 different colour bands to choose from and the children enjoyed picking theirs.  The MagicBands are then waiting for you at your resort when you check in.  Once in Walt Disney World Resort, you can accessorise your Magic Band too with character magicbandits (like plastic charms) or different covers.  The children loved accessorising them and there are lots of different accessories available in the parks.

Accessorising your Magic Band

Pack carefully for your holiday

A week before our trip, I really felt as though the holiday was under control.  We knew roughly where we were going each day, we had rides booked in, dining reservations, MagicBands ordered and thanks to My Disney Experience, we already knew a lot about our resort and the different theme parks.  All that was left was the packing.  For two of the children, this was the first time they had flown and it was the first long haul flight for all of us.

Packing for Walt Disney World Resort

I tried so hard to pack lightly and not go too overboard but as usual, I still managed to over pack and lots of clothes came back with us unused.  Looking back, as each person travelling can check in one large case on the plane, it is worth leaving some space to fit in those holiday souvenirs on the way home (and definitely leave jumpers at home as you don’t need them in Florida, even on rainy days!).

For the flight, I packed a rucksack for each of the children and I am glad that I included a few things to keep them occupied during the flight.  In each bag, I put a notebook and pens and pencils, which I thought might double as a diary or scrapbook while we were away. I also included a magazine and book for each of them, some snacks, a neck pillow (which was a lifesaver), ear plugs, puzzle book, a teddy for my daughter to cuddle, a couple of travel games such as Uno or Pass the Pigs (our favourites) and their iPads.  Even with the in-flight entertainment, the bags came in really handy as nine hours is a very long time when you are young and most things were used.

Reflecting on our first holiday at Walt Disney World Resort, I am really impressed at how using My Disney Experience and FastPass+ really made a huge difference to our holiday.  Not only are they both included in the price of the holiday but they really helped us to get to know more about where we were staying and the parks we wanted to visit.  More importantly, being able to book FastPass+ and make dining reservations was so straightforward, it made our overall experience much easier and better. This is definitely one holiday where planning is worthwhile.

Come back next week for my blog post on how Walt Disney World caters for everyone; princesses and thrill seekers of all ages.

 

This post is in partnership with Walt Disney World. All opinions here are my own

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36 Comments

  1. August 18, 2016 / 9:26 am

    Visiting Disneyworld is our dream! We’ve been to Disneyland last year and we loved it. Thank you so much for your tips. I need to give them to my hubby to read too 🙂

  2. August 18, 2016 / 11:35 am

    The Fast Pass tip is a good one. We failed to do that in advance and there was nothing available for fast pass apart when we got there except a show that we weren’t interesting in seeing.
    Erica Price recently posted…DIY HelpmateMy Profile

  3. August 18, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Fab tips. We took our daughter to Disneyland Paris a couple of years ago and would love to take her again, preferable a different location, maybe in the States? x

  4. August 18, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    Fabulous tips! One day we’ll go. One day! I loved watching your adventures on Facebook.

  5. August 18, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    I’ve been to Florida on a number of occasions and of all the Disney parks, Hollywood Studios is my favourite. I love Tower of Terror and Rock N Roll rollercoaster. The Fastpass + is definitely the way to go and we always make reservations in advance as Disney restaurants get booked up. Our favourite is The Yachtsman Steakhouse
    Mellissa Williams recently posted…Energy Saving Ideas For Your Home All Year RoundMy Profile

  6. August 18, 2016 / 7:15 pm

    Great tips! I felt like my husband acquired a degree in Disney Studies before we went! There was so much to cover….(we loved it too!)

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      Walt Disney World was definitely a magical place, we loved it and would all love to go back again.

  7. August 18, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    Wow My Disney Experience sounds like it was perfect to help you plan your experience. I love Disney too so jealous !

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      It really is amazing, I used it so much.

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      Some of the queues were big but some had some interactive areas to keep you amused while you were waiting which was great. The FastPass+ avoids a lot of the queues which is a bonus and the app is really handy as you can see what the queue wait times are during the day.

  8. August 19, 2016 / 6:53 am

    Brilliant tips, it all sounds so helpful. We’ve been to Disneyland Paris, but that’s on a much smaller scale, so we didn’t need to do quite so much planning. I’m glad the app helped everyone to do what they wanted to do on holiday. You must have had the best time there!

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:08 pm

      Yes, this is so much bigger than Disneyland Paris so it was great to be able to use the app and My Disney Experience to plan so much in advance. We did have the most amazing time.

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Thank you. My daughter is still wearing her Magicband three weeks on.

  9. August 19, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    I love Disney. Wrote a Disney post today on the blog. Been to Disneyland Paris. Can’t wait to visit DisneyWorld next.

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      We love Disney too, huge fans. Disneyland Paris is amazing but if you loved it there, you would really love Walt Disney World

  10. August 19, 2016 / 3:21 pm

    Things have certainly chained since we went to Disneyland last time. I can see how much simpler the Disney app and bands would have made it for my family. We went in a big family group and it all became a little too structured for one of my kids.

    I love how technology is making life so much simpler
    Jen Walshaw recently posted…Rules for relaxed family mealsMy Profile

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      I was so impressed with the way technology helped us to organise the trip before and during the holiday. I can see why it would become structured but we did find plenty of time to chill out too as that is so important when you are on holiday.

  11. August 19, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    These are great tips! I always wanted to visit Disneyland.

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:02 pm

      Thank you, it is so worth a visit.

  12. August 19, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    Brilliant tips! If ever I go I will be picking your brains for weeks. It just look so so magical. We go away a lot but I always always overpack. I get twitchy if I think I don’t have enough!
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Visiting the Kelpies at FalkirkMy Profile

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:01 pm

      I always overpack too and I did take lots of stuff our before we left too! Please do pick my brains, it was such a fabulous trip and definitely magical.

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      Eeyore was a highlight for me, I must admit. It has been a dream to take my children and it is definitely worth the wait.

  13. August 20, 2016 / 8:00 am

    Great tips here Nikki. We have never been but is it in our wish list!!

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you. I would definitely recommend it.

  14. August 20, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    We’re going back to DIsneyland Paris next Easter. Going to check if they’ve got this in place too. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 21, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      These features are currently only available at Walt Disney World Resort but there are different systems in place at Disneyland Paris to make sure that you can plan your trip.

  15. Nikki Thomas
    Author
    August 21, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    We really did have a fabulous time thank you. The Magicbands are so clever, I was so impressed with them. It certainly is really busy there but being able to book things in advance does help you to get your days organised.

  16. August 23, 2016 / 11:15 am

    Looks like you had an amazing time, will take these tips into consideration when planning our next trip x
    Sonia recently posted…Glasses Direct ReviewMy Profile

  17. August 25, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    At 22 years old I still dream about going to Disney World. Maybe because I’m a Disney aficionado hehe

  18. August 26, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    I love the whole planning for a Disney trip and I have spreadsheets for everything, and then the planner of what we are doing gets stuck on the hotels wall lol. Last time we went the magic bands were just coming out, and they look fantastic. Your holiday looked amazing. The first time we went to WDW it was the first time my kids had flown. They were fab and I always say to them if we are going to Greece that the flight will be easy peasy. I would definitely use the Disney app if we ever go back x
    Tracey Williams recently posted…Film Memorabilia, food and lots of fun at Planet HollywoodMy Profile

    • Nikki Thomas
      Author
      August 31, 2016 / 9:27 am

      The app is amazing and we found it so useful while we were there. I think that planning is the way forward, I thought that I had planned this one but I like the idea of spreadsheets and a planner on the wall, that’s a great idea.

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