Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Let's just get one thing straight: Walt Disney World is not just for kids, it's for people of all ages! With four theme parks, two water parks, Disney's BoardWalk, Disney Springs, and a variety of outdoor activities, there's something for everyone! Planning a WDW trip can be kind of chaotic, so here's a guide:
I recommend ditching the meal plan and just eating wherever you want, when you want. Definitely make a reservation for Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom. It's an amazing, all you can eat, family-style restaurant serving what I call "Thanksgiving food" 😂. They have turkey, corn, mac and cheese, pot roast, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls 😋. Disney World also has a feature on their app where you can order food from quick service restaurants and pick it up at any scheduled time. This is super useful if you just want a quick bite to eat between fast pass times. Also, definitely make a reservation for a restaurant that offers character dining, like The Crystal Palace. It's such a fun experience!
If you're staying at a WDW resort, don't forget to buy a refillable mug. Once you buy it, you have unlimited refills at WDW resorts. Unfortunately, you can't get free refills with the mug at the parks, but the parks offer free cups of water.
Buy the PhotoPass! After you scan your Magic Band (you only get a Magic Band if you're staying at a WDW resort) and look at your photos you will want to download them without the watermarks. With the PhotoPass you'll be able to download ride photos and photos taken by park photographers.
If you have the time, plan to spend 5 days at the parks. Spend 1 1/2 to 2 days at your favorite park(s) and a day each at the other ones. My family usually spends around 2 days at Magic Kingdom and one at the rest of the parks. Make sure you buy the Park Hopper if you think you'd like to go to 2 parks in one day, otherwise, you'll only be able to go to one park per day.
A great thing for families to take advantage of is the Rider Switch Service. If your child is unable to go on a certain ride (and that ride offers Rider Switch), one parent can go on the ride while the other parent stays with the child. Once the ride is over, the parents switch and the second rider doesn't have to wait in line.
Lightning Lane Passes & Genie Service
If you've visited WDW before and stayed at one of their resorts, you probably remember being able to reserve Fast Passes in advance for certain rides. While they no longer have Fast Passes, they have a similar system. You can purchase up to 2 different Lightning Lane Passes per day to gain access to quicker lines for certain rides.
WDW also introduced a new service called the Genie+ service! This service is also available for purchase and is accessed on the My Disney Experience app. It suggests different rides and restaurants based on current wait times, gives you access to your daily schedule (all reservations and Lightning Lane Passes), allows you to combine the Genie+ service and Lighting Lane Passes, and provides custom tips!
There are so many different places to stay in and around Disney World. Although staying at a Disney resort can be quite pricey, it does have some benefits. There are shuttles (free of charge if you stay at the resort) that take resort guests to and from each of the parks. The shuttles run fairly frequently and are extremely convenient! All resorts have activities for guests, like movie nights and campfires with s'mores. All four Walt Disney World theme parks open 30 minutes early for Disney resort guests and different parks have extended hours for deluxe resort and deluxe villa guests on certain days!
Walt Disney World is fun for people of all types and ages. The costs of visiting the parks and staying at the resorts can add up, but with these tips you can save and make the most of what you pay.
Note: Disney Resorts offer fun activities for visitors to take advantage of during their stay. There are movie viewings, s'mores making, and much more! Something to keep in mind when planning accommodations for your trip.