These are the five things that I have learned over the years that seem to come in most handy. (It was hard not to cheat and read yours! I almost did accidentally… :laugh:)
1. FastPass is the most handy thing for us
My father enjoys being the “runner” and FPing for us all day. He keeps up with the times and knows when to use them and when to get new ones… he’ll have it down to the minute. I think FP makes his life. They definitely cut down the time we spend waiting in line. Some people think they are a waste of time, but if you keep up with them and strategize what to FP and what to ride, then it really pays off.
2. Arrive early
Oh, in our Disney newbie days we would roll up to the gates an hour or two after it opened… only to find the park packed. We figured that was how it always was. And then, once I got into this online info-sharing thing, I learned that if you arrive to the park early, then you can get a lot in before the late crowd arrives. Also, keep AM EMH in mind - if you can do it, then go… if you can’t, then avoid the park. We made the mistake of going to AK at regular opening time when we could have done EMH an hour earlier… it was packed and we faced long wait times. But then several times, we have made out with MK’s AM EMH, doing Fantasyland and Tommorrowland, then heading over to Adventureland and Frontierland when the park was set to open to everyone. Great strategy!
3. Make Advance Dining Reservations
This was another thing we picked up over the years. (I had to learn things for us to do them… my parents knew of ADRs, because my dad would make an ADR for Alfredo’s in Epcot. But we never ate with the characters. When I learned we could do this, I booked the meals! :laugh:) For us, it beats finding a crowded counter service restaurant and then pairing off to save the table and get the food. So much hassle is removed with ADRs… plus, character dining and specialty dining make awesome experiences. :happy:
4. Stay on Property
I grew up going to Disney because my parents owned a vacation home in Central Florida. However, over the years, my parents decided the costs of keeping up with the condo just weren’t worth it, anymore. I was scared we would never go back to Disney… but boy, was I wrong! Selling the condo allowed us to stay on property, and once we did that, we decided never to stay off-site again if we could help it! It is so much more convenient to be near the parks, and it really helps continue the Disney magic throughout the entire stay.
5. Have a Plan, but Don’t Overdo It
Okay, this is something my family is still kind of struggling with. My dad is the theme park commando, and he makes Disney so tiring! So don’t overdo it - take time to smell the roses. Check out all of the little details. Sit and people watch.
At the same time, I recommend that people plan and research before going to Disney, especially if they have never been before. I see so many people who save up to take the kids to Disney (perhaps the only time they will ever go), but haven’t taken the time to read about the parks and understand how much time you actually need to see everything you want to. On a cruise, I chatted over lunch with a family from Norway who was going to WDW after, and they had planned to spend two days there. “That should be enough, right?” My mother and I exchanged glances and told them that they might be able to go to two parks like MK and Epcot. They had no idea that WDW was so big.