The Walt Disney World resort is massive! You could probably spend a few weeks there and still not be able to take advantage of everything it has to offer. I’ve been to Walt Disney World resort in varying capacities and share a few pointers to get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation – and save you some money as well.
Stay in a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
It may seem counter-intuitive to encourage people to stay in an actual resort hotel while visiting Disney World. Granted, you may pay a little more for the resort hotel than ones that are off site, but admittedly, I loved staying just across the lake from the Magic Kingdom.
We stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort during our first family trip to Disney World. We had a large group and ended up staying in a suite – the bathroom was humongous! There was a kid-friendly pool just outside our building, the beach along the lake, and all the other amenities you could need during your stay.
During a business conference at the Grand Floridian Resort we stayed at that hotel and had a view overlooking the pool. The pool was large, the room was nice, and the housekeeper who straightened up our rooms always left a little thing of chocolate on the pillows for when we returned.
Some of my favorite parts about staying in both of these resort hotels:
- The Magic Kingdom could be seen just across the lake, meaning a great nighttime view of the fireworks show
- The monorail made a stop at either hotel, making access to the Magic Kingdom simple
- If the monorail isn’t your style, take the ferry boat across the lake – it picks up and drops off at both of these resort hotels
- There are fun activities for people of all ages – like a movie night at the pool or a Luau dinner
- There are buses you can take to access all the other parks: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Downtown Disney, Hollywood Studios, etc.
Get the Wristbands
When purchasing our tickets, we added the wristbands option. We each were able to select the color wristband we wanted and it was mailed to us before we left for Florida.
When checking in at the resort hotel, they activated our wristbands and we were set.
The wristbands allowed us to access the FastPass lines without carrying around tickets (meaning it was all done electronically). We also had the option of adding a credit card to the wristband so we could pay for things throughout the park with the tap of a wrist. That might not be the best option to have if you’re trying to keep costs low – never the less, it’s an option.
Avoid Renting a Car
There is no need to rent a car if your only destination is the Disney World Resort. Renting a car will incur the cost of the rental, gas along the way, and there is likely a parking fee to keep your car at the hotel.
If you are visiting multiple locations throughout the area (like the Kennedy Space Center or Universal Studios), you may want to explore some travel options and see if a rental makes the most sense for your vacation plans.
If you aren’t renting a car, simply buy a ticket on Disney’s Magical Express. It’s a good idea to purchase your tickets before arriving at the airport – in order to guarantee a seat and not be stuck in the airport during peak travel seasons. However, you can still pick up some tickets if you decide to use this route upon landing in Orlando.
Disney’s Magical Express takes you (and your luggage) directly to the resort and back to the airport when you are ready. It makes travel so much easier.
Stick to One Park Per Day (No Park Hopping)
At Disneyland in California, you may enjoy the ability to quickly hop between the two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure). Disney World is a whole different story.
In order to get between parks, which are too far away from each other to walk, you need to take a bus (the monorail works between Magic Kingdom and Epcot). The bus ride may make 15 to 30 minutes depending on schedules and distance.
My recommendation: Don’t add the Park Hopper option to your tickets. Save the additional cost and spend the day just enjoying the park you are in. The rides are probably your biggest draw to the park, but take time to enjoy many of the shows or performances throughout the park.
Since you’ve got the full day to enjoy that one park, take your time. Don’t rush from ride to ride. Enjoy your vacation. 🙂
We LOVED Blizzard Beach and highly recommend that water park to everyone – especially if you’re there in the heat and humidity of the summer.
Bring Your Own Water Bottles
Our first trip to Florida was in late July. It’s hot a muggy. And for some reason, the tap water in Florida tastes funny. If possible, pick up a pack of water bottles at a gas station or store and keep them cold/frozen in your hotel room fridge.
Bring the water bottles with you into the park so you can avoid paying up the wazoo for a single bottle of water. If you can get over the taste of Florida tap water, keep refilling your water bottle at the drinking fountains. You can even buy a cup of ice from a stand and fill your water bottle with the ice, then add water as needed.
Pack Your Own Food
If you want to save money on your trip, then bring a suitcase with lunch and snack foods. Foods that travel easy and can be easily prepared at the resort include:
- oatmeal packets
- Small boxes of cereal (you can usually buy small things of milk at the hotel)
- bread (place the loaf in a sturdy box to help keep it unsmashed in transit)
- Small bags of chips
- Plastic jar of peanut butter
- Plastic bottle of jelly (a few flavors)
- Nutella is always great, too
- Paper bowls, plates, cups
- Plastic knives, forks and spoons
- Rice Krispie treats
- Granola bars
- Paper towels
Bringing those with you on your trip will allow you to cover breakfasts and lunches, leaving dinner as the main meal you have to buy while enjoying your vacation.
What tips would you add to make the most out of your vacation to Walt Disney World?
Want to save money on a Disneyland family vacation? Here are 7 ways to make your next Disneyland family vacation more affordable.