How To Do Disney World The Right Way — Tips From A Former Cast Member
Walt Disney World is truly the most magical place on earth, but it can also be really overwhelming if you are going for the first time. Most people plan months, even years in advance for their vacation, mapping out every minute to the last detail, and end up being frustrated and even disappointed when they finally get there. Disney burn out is real, and you can end up coming back from your vacation more tired than you were when you left. I’m going to give you some tips that will hopefully help you enjoy your vacation, hit all the spots you are dying to enjoy, all while avoiding that Disney burn out.
1. Stay At A Disney Resort!!
This one is a no brainer to me, only because I grew up staying at Disney resorts and could not imagine doing it any other way. But, when I worked at Disney and talked with guests I was really surprised by the number of people who didn’t stay on property. I know it can be a little more expensive staying in a Disney resort. But, considering the fact you get free transportation to the parks, which saves you the expense of having to pay for Uber or rent a car, I feel like this is the most economical choice. Staying at a Disney resort also comes with other perks like beautiful pools, really fun activities for your kids, child care provided by Disney, and not every resort has this, but being within walking distance from the parks. And being able to see fireworks from your hotel room? What more could you ask for? Also, just the fact that you never have to leave Disney property, so you can stay in that Disney bubble without interference from the outside world, is truly worth it to me.
2. Last Minute Fast Passes
I know a lot of people who schedule their fast passes MONTHS in advance. Which, there is absolutely no harm in doing. If there is something you truly want to ride and like adhering to a strict schedule, (I personally do not. I like going with the flow and deciding on a whim where we will go each day.) then more power to you! But, if you decide last minute to go to the Animal Kingdom instead of Hollywood Studios, and want to get on one of the Avatar rides, but you, unfortunately, did not make a fast pass for that ride, It may seem hopeless, but there is a way to still possibly score that fast pass. I’ve gotten fast passes for the most popular rides like Mine Train, Slinky Dog Dash, and the Avatar rides, the day of. Even like, the moment of. All you have to do is keep checking your My Disney Experience App, and refresh a lot, and most of the time something will pop up! I wouldn’t count on this method, though, I still advise you to create fast passes ahead of time if you absolutely need to ride something on your vacation, but don’t be afraid to be spontaneous because you can still get on some great rides that way! This is definitely a good method to use if you are staying in Disney for a while, or have been a lot of times like me, and don’t have too many “must-dos”.
3. Do NOT Wait To Buy A Souvenir
When I was a cast member I worked at World Of Disney, the biggest Disney store in the world. I cannot tell you how many times people came in looking for a specific souvenir thinking we’ll have it because we have “everything”. Which we actually do not have everything. Some souvenirs can only be found in certain parks. Or we do carry it, we were just out of stock that day. My advice is, if you see a certain souvenir you want to get, but want to wait to purchase it later, please do not do that. Buy it as soon as you see it, because you may not see it again, and most Disney merchandise they do not sell online. If you do not feel like carrying it around the park, or you can’t fit it in your carry on, get it shipped home or to your resort. Getting it shipped to your resort is free and you can pick it up at the front desk or at the gift shop in your resort. (Another reason to stay in a Disney resort!) And you only pay may be at the most ten dollars extra to ship it home if you live domestically. If you, unfortunately, did not purchase it right away, and you can’t find it anywhere else. You can go to your nearest gift shop on Disney property, and cast members usually have an iPad where they can search all across the property for that specific item, and they will tell you what store has it in stock.
4. Save Money On Food
If you are going to Disney on a budget, here is a good way you can save some money. Instead of buying all of your meals in the parks, order groceries online beforehand, and get them delivered to your resort. You can pack some snacks for when you go to the parks, or even pack sandwiches. Food is definitely a HUGE expense in Disney. So this is a great way to save money. You can pack your breakfasts and lunches, but still, eat Disney food for dinner! That will alone save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation. If you still want to eat most of your meals in the parks, maybe get some kids meals here and there, or order quick service instead of going to restaurants for every meal. Most places in Disney, especially quick-service places, have a great selection for kid’s food. Especially if you are a simple eater like me. I lived off of The Land’s kids pasta when I lived in Florida. One last tip for saving money on food is splitting adult meals! I did this a lot when I went to Disney with my dad and we still had plenty of food to eat.
5. Pin Trading On A Budget
This tip is for all of my pin traders out there. I actually learned this one from my old roommate who got me into pin trading. Pin trading is one of my favorite things to do at the parks, and you can really grow an awesome pin collection fast this way. I would buy lots of Disney pins on eBay as my traders, they’ll sell you like 50 to even 100 pins in a lot for a pretty good price. And those are the pins I would use to trade with cast members. You actually can get some pretty cool pins in these lots, too so I would end up keeping some for myself. This is way more affordable than buying a bunch of pins on property for trading. A lot of “serious” pin traders frown on this practice because apparently these lots are full of “fake” pins. I honestly do not see a problem with fake pins. A pin is a pin, and if it looks cool I’m going to keep it. And 97% of cast members (including myself) could not spot fake pins or did not care. I would just make sure to take the pins out of the little plastic bags they come in, then no one will be able to tell if they’re “fake” or not. If you’d rather trade with “real” pins, though, join some Disney pin trading Facebook groups and a lot of members sell “authentic” Disney pins in lots to trade with.
6. Try And Slow Down
At the end of the day, you are on vacation, so try and relax and enjoy yourself. I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you have to constantly go go go because there is so much to see and do! But, don’t be afraid to take it easy and take some days to sleep in and lazily head to a park or just stay at the pool. Even take a day and just do some shopping! Disney Springs has a special place in my heart since I worked there so I may be biased, but there are so many cool things to see and do there. A lot of fun restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. Don’t be afraid to just spend a day and rejuvenate so you can really enjoy your vacation without getting burnt out. Disney also has two wonderful water parks to enjoy if you would want to spend a day at one of them. Just make sure to give yourself breaks and listen to your body if it wants you to take a rest. You can always go out in the morning to a park, come back to your hotel at the hottest part of the day then maybe go back out in the evening for more fun and dinner. Just make sure to take care of yourself and to not wear yourself out. You are there to have fun and to have a respite from your busy life. Don’t leave Disney needing another vacation from your vacation!