Our flight left in exactly 24 hours. I sent a text to my friend, “So are we ready for this?!”
We both agreed that we were in fact, most certainly, not ready for a week of Disney.
Sure we’d been planning our family’s first Disney World vacation for months. We set the date about a year out. Booked a vacation rental about six months out. And finally got around to buying the tickets about two weeks out.
Sounds good, right?
Not exactly. You see, planning a Disney vacation isn’t as simple as you might think. You have to learn about Park Hoppers and Fast Passes. You’re forced to make decisions about meal plans and show times.
We were easily overwhelmed, and as a result just didn’t plan much in advance.
After learning a thing or two over the past week, we decided you really only need to know five simple things in order to have the perfect week at Walt Disney World. Here are my five Lazy Mom’s Disney Guide tips.
#1. Pick up the phone and call Disney.
The customer service people on the other end of Disney’s customer service line are amazing. Truly, customer service done right.
I called this friendly team several times over a few week period with questions about what tickets to purchase and how to coordinate Fast Passes.
Upon arrival in Florida, we were trying to link family accounts on the Disney app called My Disney Experience, so I made yet another call to the customer service line. With a laugh the guy on the other end of the phone told me if I cut my ticket in half pixie dust would come out and that would make it all work.
Then he told me how to do it, and stayed on the phone for 45 minutes to make sure we were all set. In fact, he wouldn’t let us hang up until every adult had selected an avatar on the app. I got Tinkerbell.
I’m not making this up.
But anyway, they are all super helpful and this is one of the only times in this day and age where it actually is a good idea to pick up the phone and talk to someone who can help.
#2. Speaking of Tickets, Here’s What You Need to Buy.
When you look online the ticket options are overwhelming. The first decision you need to make is how many days do you want to be in the parks.
We settled on 3 days early on, but weren’t sure exactly what parks we wanted to include and in which order. That’s ok.
You do need to decide if you want to do the Park Hopper or not. This is a slightly more expensive ticket that allows you to visit more than one park per day.
I don’t think the Park Hopper is necessary. After a full day in a park, we were more than ready to take our tired kids home for dinner and never wanted to visit more than one park per day. Save yourself the money. If you decide to visit another park, you can always add that option on at the parks.
BUT you should purchase a multi-day ticket in advance, as that is much cheaper that daily tickets.
#3. Download the Disney App and Learn to Love It.
The Disney app is actually a MUST have. You can link up all tickets, Fast Passes, other activities and dining reservations (but don’t plan on actually being able to book dining reservations during your stay, everything worthwhile books up months in advance.) You can also connect your family to another family so you’re all on the same schedule. Then refer to this schedule throughout the day from your phone.
Plus, you can use the app to check current ride and attraction wait times, and most importantly access a map that points to where you want to go and navigates via your exact current location.
The map feature saved us on more than one occasion.
#4. What Your Kids Don’t Know Is a Good Thing.
So it turns out there are princess breakfasts, behind the scenes activities and extra hour access passes, just to name a few of the things that you have to book in advance (and in many cases pay more for).
We were betting on the fact that our kids, oldest in 3rd grade, just didn’t know too much, if anything, about what Disney was all about. So if there was something really cool we couldn’t get into they would never even know.
And you know what? We were at Disney. The kids were having the time of their lives. And they loved. Every. Minute.
We used three fast passes a day and got in everything we wanted. The kids were constantly stimulated and had a magical time.
#5. Don’t feel like you have to stay in the park.
Ok this is a big one. I certainly understand the benefit of staying on property, but we couldn’t have been happier with our VRBO vacation rental in Windsor Hills Estate, located a few miles from the park gates.
Every night we were ready to leave the park just after it got dark. Our kids came home and went swimming while we grilled or made dinner. We had plenty of space to spread out. Got plenty of use out of the washing machine. We seriously enjoyed the resort swimming pool for our day off from the parks.
And we saved on average $400 per night. Boom!
Extra Tip: Disney World just might make you thirsty.
The Magic Kingdom doesn’t sell booze, and boy were we thirsty by the end of the day. With a few hours to kill between the last ride and the lighting of Cinderella’s castle, we needed to get our tired kids someplace where we could sit down and relax.
We took the monorail over to the Contemporary hotel, which is the first stop from the Magic Kingdom. With no crowds or lines, we stumbled upon the lobby bar, called the Outer Rim bar, complete with soft couches and friendly service. Everyone was happy when the drinks arrived (and not only because the kids drinks included light-up ice cubes).
It opens daily at 4pm. There. You’re welcome.
I’d love to hear about your Disney experience. Are you a lazy Disney Mom like me? Or an expert? Share your tips here!
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