Sunday, November 3, 2013

10 Disney World Prep & Planning Tips

I spent hours combing the web for the best planning tips and deals for our Disney vacation.  I signed up for newsletters and added 30+ blogs to my daily feed to better my chances of seeing the next big thing.  It was one part exhausting and ten million parts AMAZING AWESOME SAUCE!  I love the thrill of the hunt, and I love the binders, dividers, copies, and highlighting that came with this project.

In case you aren't as into all of the above, here are a few of the tips that I picked up:

1.  Buy this book.  It is amazing, and you will use it for everything.  It contains a plethora of information.  Don't doubt me.  It is the best.  Besides not just any book gets to hang out with the vacation binder and the iPad on the bed. ;)


2. Sign up for MouseSavers newsletter.  You get emails about discounted Disney tickets, and they send out hot deals for local and onsite hotels.

3.  Do follow a touring plan.  It saved our life a thousand times when other people were chilling in line, and we had already done everything on the list.  I highly recommend the ones found in the amazing book that you bought in step one. 

4. Make a cool stroller sign like this one.  Our stroller isn't super common, but in all of the congestion, we still ended up finding a few that were just like ours.  It was nice that we could just scan the masses for our sign and know definitively that it was ours.  If you really like it, you can download the blank template here and just put your name on it.  The font I used it called Waltograph, and I downloaded it for free.


5.  Make or buy an autograph book ahead of time.  When you get to the parks, theirs are pretty high and just not as nice as the ones that you can get from Etsy or create on your own.  Here is a photo of the ones that I made for Emmarie and GiGi.  More later on the step by step process of how I made those.  Be sure to bring a fat sharpie marker for each book as well so the characters can easily grip it when signing. 


6.  Get on and make your dining reservations 180 days in advance.  The best places like Chef Mickey and Cinderella's table go fast, and if you don't book ahead, you aren't getting in.

7.  Bring lots of individually wrapped snacks and drinks from home.  The food and snacks at the park are a little high, and even the grocery stores there were a lot more expensive than ones at home.  We brought lots of snacks with us, so we only ended up having to buy a few essentials like milk at the store.  You can bring water, drinks, and snacks into the parks with you so I highly recommend it.  It was even nice for all of the adults to have a little snack when we were starting to feel a little low.


8.  Sign up for the free Disney Planning Guide.  When I did this, they asked for my address and email, and I was emailed personalized deals with a unique pin not available to the public. CHA-CHING!

9.  Visit Wal-Mart while you are there for souvenirs for people back home.  They had a 500+ square foot section of their store devoted entirely to Disney souvenirs.  They had anything and everything that you could imagine wanting to buy someone, and it was significantly cheaper than the in-park prices.  We still bought stuff at Disney World, but we bought a whole lot more to bring back at Wal-Mart.

10.  When planning your trip, get online (or look in the awesome book that you purchased in step 1) and look at the crowd calendars.  Choose an off-season week if possible.  Then plan out your days at Disney using the individual theme park projections.  They have apps and websites that will tell you which parks will be more crowded on any given day of the year.  Plan your vacation around days that are labeled "green" days rather than "red" days, and you will be good to go.  I planned our theme park days based on the projections that Undercover Tourist had on their website, and we were very pleased.  Disney also has a free app that I downloaded that gives you current wait times for all attractions at the park.  It's nice to know that there is only a 10 minute wait for Pirates of the Caribbean before you trek across the park!

crowd calendar

BONUS:  Pack your children's clothes in gallon sized zip-lock bags.  I planned out Emmarie's clothes by day (because I am definitely type A), but even if you didn't know what your child was going to wear to each park ahead of time, it is still nice to be able to pull out a plastic bag and have the whole outfit for the day at your finger tips.  I put her outfit, socks, bow, diaper cover, and any other accessories for the day that she had in each bag.  I then pushed all of the air out and Viola!  Packing made simple.  On any given morning, anyone in our party could get her ready to my exacting standards because all of the pieces of the puzzle were laid out for them. No more digging through the suitcase disrupting everything in search of matching socks or an errant bow.


I did sneak in a few loose pieces of clothing in case we had spills or mishaps along the way, and I had bought so many new items that I felt like I had to needed to take it all with me.

I am sure that I will think of more must have tips as I blog about each day of our Disney vacation.  If you are currently planning your own Disney trip, and have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to share some of my knowledge, and let's face binder isn't really ready to be put away for a few years yet!

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