Your vacation time is very precious these days. And unfortunately it seems like our vacation days are too few and far between. When you decide to take your family to a big destination like Walt Disney World in Orlando for your vacation, you need to make sure you have a solid itinerary and help in finding ways to maximize your time. With so many different things to see, do and experience there, make sure you work with a Disney specialist, like Dreams Travel Consulting to help you with your full itinerary. But in the meantime, take a look at some of our top tips for time saving!
Here are my top tips for saving time on your next Walt Disney World Vacation:
Leave your bags in the room
There is a security bag check at the entry to every park. While they usually move quickly, if you show up at a peak time at the Magic Kingdom and the monorail and ferry just let out a swarm of guests, you may have to wait longer than you would like. There are a few things you can do here. If you can, travel lightly. You don't need an ID or credit card since you can link that to your Magic Bands. Just put your phone or small things in your pockets. Not having a bag will allow you to bypass the bag check line. If you must carry something, have all of the compartments open as you approach the security guard, and try to take as few bags as possible. And like I said, with Magic Bands and staying on property, you don't need to carry much!
You will save a ton of commuting time by staying on-site at one of Walt Disney World's resorts. The transportation comes regularly, and you are just closer to the parks than off-site options. You can even select some deluxe resorts that allow you to walk right into the parks. There a lot of advantages to staying on-site, but the convenience of location is high on the list.
Study a map before you go
I recommend taking the time to explore the parks on your My Disney Experience. Take a look at the park maps, attractions, and more. Even if you have an itinerary, go over any details or questions. It is always an advantage to know the lay of the land before you start. You can order custom park maps from Disneyworld.com, and you can find them on your My Disney Experience. Also, you can pick them up once you check-in. It just helps to know if you should go right or left once you enter the park for the attraction you want to hit first and to map out a path through the parks.
I don't always recommend this, particularly if you have specific requests that you want to be honored by the resort, but it can save you a little time when you arrive. By checking in online, everything is ready to go for you once you arrive at the resort. There is a separate line for online check-ins that moves a little faster, and everything will be ready when you get to the counter. Disney has been experimenting recently with an option of doing online check-in and having your room number texted to you when it is ready—bypassing the check-in area altogether.
Make Dining Reservations
There are many reasons you should make your dining reservations as far in advance as possible—mainly to avoid disappointment when you can't get into a restaurant at all because it all booked up for the day. But, on the off chance that they can accommodate a walk-up, you will usually have to wait a decent amount of time to be seated, or they may tell you to come back in a couple of hours.
Drive or Walk
Although the Disney transportation system is more convenient than most (see #9), it can still be frustrating when you are in a hurry. If you drive to WDW or if you rent a car once you arrive, you can drive to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. The parking is convenient, and you don't have to wait on a bus to arrive. The Magic Kingdom is easier to do on a bus since the parking lot still requires a ferry or monorail ride to get over to the entrance. If possible, stay in a location where you can walk to a park, that is even better. My family loves Epcot, so Yacht and Beach Club top our list of resorts because it is so easy to walk over to Epcot and even Hollywood Studios. Boardwalk and the Swan and Dolphin are in the same location. The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower has a path to the Magic Kingdom if you spend most of your time there. Of course, being on the monorail is super convenient when it is operating at full hours. And you could also hop into a taxi. They are always waiting at the parks and hotels. There have been a few times we were in a rush and just took a cab to our destination.
Eat Breakfast in your Room
Eating in your room before you leave is a big time saver! While one person is in the shower, someone else can eat their Cheerios (or muffin, Danish, etc.). It maximizes time and minimizes waiting in line for a Disney breakfast. I highly recommend packing some breakfast items if you can or having a grocery delivery. You can also pick up cereal and other breakfast items in most resort food courts—they are just a little more expensive than a "normal" grocery store. Then if you're on the dining plan, you can use your quick service for lunch and your sit down service for your evening meal!
Ask for your check early
If you are dining at an all-you-care-to-eat buffet or set-price table service restaurant, this is particularly convenient. When we attend a character buffet, I always ask for the check as we order our drinks. This way, I can have that taken care of, and as soon as we finish eating or see our last character, we are ready to leave.
Arrive at (or before) Rope Drop
The amount of time you will save waiting in line if you arrive before the park opens will be excellent. Enter at rope drop, and tour from 8:30 am-11 am rather than coming at 10 am to start your touring. Being there before Rope Drop is the very best time to be in the park before the lines begin to form.
Everyone with tickets to Walt Disney World will automatically get the option to the Fast Pass+. This is a free service, and everyone should take advantage of it. On-site guests are able to book their first 3 Fast Passes 60 days before their check-in date, and all off-site guests will be able to begin at 30 days before check-in. You can choose the most important attractions for you and your family. Once you use your first pass, you may book another one. It's on a rolling system, so you can always have three at any given time. Use your My Disney Experience app to choose your additional passes while you are waiting in line. Being able to skip some of the long standby lines will save you a ton of time.
Do you have some favorite strategies of your own? Share them with us!
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