Planning a family vacation to Disney World can come with a lot of stressful expectations. The readers of WeJustGotBack.com reveal how to make the most of your time and money.
By Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
When it comes to Disney World. every family hopes to get the most fun out of every hour, and the most value for their buck. The readers of WeJustGotBack.com share 10 ways to maximize the magic.
Tip #1: If you know you'll be returning to Disney World next year or the year after, the "No Expiration" option can be very worthwhile. We wanted three days at the park this year, and another three days on our next trip. By buying six-day passes with the No Expiration option, we saved more than $400. We can use three of the six days' admission on our first trip and the remaining three days admission on our future trip. It pays to do the math on these options. --Kimberly from Columbus, OH
Tip #2: The biggest mistake is trying to do everything in Disney World in a few days. The point is to have fun, not to drive everyone to exhaustion. Especially if you have little children, it's important slow down and do as much as you can, but know when to head back to the hotel pool and chill out. --Lynnette from Allentown, PA
Tip #3: Keep an eye out for sales at your local Disney Store. The Disney Store at our mall had a 50 percent off sale six months before our trip, and I bought both my boys a souvenir for each day that we were going to be at Disney World. I packed the goodies in our suitcases, and each day I gave them something. They were 7 and 2 years old at the time and didn't know that their gifts were from home. It kept them from asking for things while at the parks. The drink cups from the Animal Kingdom also make great gifts. --Peggy from Louisville, KY
Tip #4: We spent one day at Epcot. Despite what you might read elsewhere, don't shy away from the countries in the World Showcase if you have small kids. There is so much to do and see, including watching street performers, looking at small museum displays, and going on fun rides. We ate dinner at the Rose and Crown, the English pub, and it was wonderful. My daughter (age 11) is now in love with "bangers and mash." --Pam from Greenwich, CT
Tip #5: We stayed at Bay Lake Tower (disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/bay-lake-tower-at-contemporary/ ), which is the timeshare property attached to Disney's Contemporary Resort. It's a new building with a nice setup. We had a two-bedroom condo with a kitchen and living room for the five of us. It was pricey, but money well spent for a couple of reasons. First, it is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom. Second, it had a nice pool with slides, so we could retreat from the Magic
Kingdom when it got too hectic, which was about 11am. Third, it allowed us to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and get into the park an hour before people who were not staying at Disney properties. Following the advice of others, we took advantage of that both mornings -- we were up and at 'em at 6am! I highly recommend that you get to the park early if you are there during peak season. --Phillip from Brooklyn, NY
Tip#6: We took a printout of the Disney Day Planner with us and used it to map out our days, saving us a lot of time and energy. Getting to the parks when the gates open is the key to getting several rides in before the crowds arrive. Another tip: You will see lots of people keeping cool with spray bottles that have battery-operated fans attached. Inside the parks, vendors sell spray bottles with Mickey Mouse painted on them for five times what a plain one costs outside the parks. We took a short car ride off-site to a chain drugstore and bought a spray bottle for each of our three kids, and our total was less than what we would've paid for just one with the Disney logo. --Carrie from Memphis, TN
Tip #7: We usually stay at one of the Value Resorts, where there is a food court with a microwave and a toaster. We bring our own microwavable foods, such as packets of oatmeal, waffles, and popcorn. We always get a refrigerator in our room for storing yogurt, drinks, and other snacks; it's worth paying the extra $10 per night. --Maria from Ashburn, VA
Tip #8: If you're visiting the Magic Kingdom, park in Epcot and take the Monorail over. This saves a lot of time when you're entering and leaving. --Deb from Richmond, VA
Tip #9: After six trips to Disney World, we have our routine down pat. Regardless of the park we decide to visit on a given day, we get to the gate first thing in the morning and then stay until about 11:30am or noon. Then it's back to our hotel for some downtime by the pool for three or four hours (and maybe even a nap) before heading back to the park late afternoon or in the evening if we want to see fireworks or a parade. Alternating park time with downtime is the best way to keep your stamina up. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. --Bethany from Manchester, VT
Tip #10: If you only have one day, do Magic Kingdom. If you have two, do Magic Kingdom plus either Epcot or Animal Kingdom. Hollywood Studios has the least to offer, so save that for longer trips. --Stephanie from Alexandria, VA
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