Monday, February 22, 2016

Tips and Tricks from a Disney Pro


As both a travel agent specializing in Walt Disney World Resort family vacations and as a former Disney Parks Moms Panelist, I am often asked to share my ‘tips and trips’ for visiting. I could go on for hours and hours and often sound like I have diarrhea of the mouth when trying to think of every single bit of advice I keep in my magical brain. The truth is – there is SO MUCH advice to give and the advice varies from family to family.
Depending on the genders and ages of your little princes and princesses and even the size of your family – there is a wide range of topics to cover. The best advice I can give to everyone is to find themselves a fantastic travel agent (like me)! They become your partner in pixie dust and will use their knowledge and expertise to work right beside you planning and tweaking your family’s perfect visit!

The most important thing for you and your agent to keep in mind is every family will ‘do Disney’ differently. You may not care about where you stay and want to play in the Theme Parks from dawn until dusk – your resort is just a place to quick recharge and head out the next day! Or perhaps you go on vacation to live it up, surround yourself with luxury, and soak up the sun next to the pool. Do you like to plan out every detail or go with the flow? Do you get more of a rush dropping 13 stories on Tower of Terror or finding the perfect souvenir while shopping at Disney Springs? Do you enjoy fine dining at a restaurant such as Victoria and Albert’s, earner of the AAA Five Diamond award? Or would you rather grab a hot dog at Casey’s Corner on your way to meet Merida? Just as no two families are the same, no two Walt Disney World Resort family vacations should be either! Don’t follow another family's vacation agenda and don’t let someone else, even a travel agent,  plan every detail for you without asking what YOU want. Make sure you have a conversation with them on your likes and dislikes. Take a look at everything there is to offer and with the help of your Travel Agent – you will plan the best vacation ever!

Now I did title this blog post ‘Tips and Tricks from a Disney Pro’ so I will not disappoint. I will certainly share with you some of my favorites.

• WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!!!!! Yes I am yelling. Not following this one piece of advice can seriously ruin your entire vacation. I can say this, because I have been there. I have literally had a blister on top of another blister – I won’t go into details. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and make sure they fit. Better yet – bring two pairs and rotate them each day.

 • GET TO THE THEME PARKS EARLY As the day goes on, more people arrive. This makes wait times longer and crowds thicker. Disney World veterans refer to arriving before parks open as 'rope drop'. If you are one of the first to arrive at the park, you will enjoy little to no wait times on even the most popular attractions before the masses arrive. The early birds truly do get the worm, even at Disney World.

Get to the Theme Parks early for 'rope drop'!
• STAY HYDRATED. This is especially important in the warmer months. Being from Wisconsin that is pretty much any month besides December – February for me. Now I am not going to lie – central Florida water is the worst water I have ever tasted. You can get water for free at every counter service dining location – however it is hit or miss if they have filtered water or not. You CAN bring water into the Theme Parks and I highly recommend this unless you enjoy paying $4 for a bottle of water. I do not.

• KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN Entertainment can pop up unexpectedly at all four Theme Parks. From marching bands, actors playing skits, street performers, acrobats, barbershop quartets and more. You never know what is behind the next corner or what may pop up in front of you as you sit on Main Street, U.S.A. enjoying an ice cream.

This actor from days gone by was trying to withdraw money out of an 'automated teller' at Hollywood Studios
• LET OLDER KIDS CARRY THEIR OWN ‘STUFF’. Each of the boys bring their own backpacks with their water, trading pins, any souvenirs they purchase, a sweatshirt if needed, etc. Once your kids are older and you no longer have a stroller to hold everything, mom and / or dad quickly turn into the family pack mules. Walking all day AND adding all that extra weight can tire you out quickly. Each time you ‘move’ you do need to do a quick backpack check – then off you go!

Give older kids their own small bags so they can carry their own 'stuff'.
• PACK FOR THE WEATHER If it will be warm, pack light colored and loose fitting clothing. Chilly - pack layers. ALWAYS carry rain ponchos with you. It is Florida and chances are you will be caught in the rain at least once. Don't let some raindrops ruin your fun. In fact, my favorite memories are of my family and I running around the parks in rain with the crowds all scrambling for shelter. Less people in line in front of us!

A rainy day at Disney is better than any sunny day spent in the office!
• BE A KID. Even with all the Mickey Bars, hugs from Chip and Dale, rides down Splash Mountain, and special souvenirs; if you ask my boys why they like to visit Walt Disney World Resort they will tell every person the same thing. “I like playing with my parents and spending time with them acting goofy.” Let your guard down. You don’t have to adult while you are here. Give Mickey a hug. Dance with Rapunzel. Bounce with Tigger. Skip down Main Street, U.S.A. holding hands with your spouse. Have the ice cream cone. Scream like a little girl on Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. Wear the Mickey Ears. Hug your child close as you end your day watching Wishes over Cinderella Castle. I can promise you, THOSE are the memories that your children will hold close to their hearts – and heck you might just have some fun, too!


  1. Such helpful tips if you are heading to Disney! Especially if you have a family its great to have a heads up on these things!
    Karen |

  2. Those are all really great tips and you know I'll be picking your brain even though we've been there quite a lot of times in the past. I do however really want to visit all the Disney Parks and Disneyland California is really next on my list.

  3. I went to disney for the first time this year. In fact, we were the first in our family to go. Loved it and could have used these tips.

  4. I'm definitely one to get to the theme parks early as I can't stand waiting around for the queues - I imagine them at Disney to be huge! Great tips :)

  5. I am seriously taking this all in because we are making this trip next year. I cant wait to go with our 4 year old! Thanks for the tips!

  6. So when is the best time to go? Every time we go "off season" it turns out to be more crowded than we care for!

    1. The least busiest week is the week right after Labor Day. The second less busiest time is January; you just have to be mindful of Martin Luther King day or any Run Disney events that may take place in January - plan around those!