The very beginning of planning a Disney vacation can be a bit overwhelming to say the least… but once you get that reservation booked and start the planning, you won’t want to stop! That’s how it was for me anyway, and I am NOT a planner, so if I can do it anyone can! There’s lots I want to cover in this post, so I’m breaking it down into these categories:
-Tips & Tricks
-Our Daily Itinerary
Tips & Tricks
-Travel Agent. Disney Travel Agents are free of cost to you. They get paid a commission from Disney, and they can be as involved as you’d like them to be when it comes to planning your trip. Mine provided rates for various resorts and different dates we were considering, and she eventually took care of officially booking our resort, park tickets, transportation to/from airport and more! She has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Disney and was a great resource to have. While we were there I would ask her different questions and she was always quick to respond. I personally liked booking our dining reservations and fast passes because that was the fun part to me! Having her set up the initial part of our trip made planning feel a lot less intimidating to me. If you don’t know anyone who does this, feel free to contact my hometown friend Roslynne Gongre at email@example.com (tell her I sent you!).
–My Disney Experience app. If you have a Disney vacation booked and you don’t yet have the My Disney Experience app, stop what you’re doing right now and download it! Your entire Disney trip can be planned and seen through this app/website (I personally liked to use the actual website on my laptop to do all the planning).
–Fast Passes. So, each person gets to reserve 3 fast passes per day before the trip. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can reserve these fast passes 60 days before your trip, everyone else can do so at the 30 day mark. Your 3 advance fast pass reservations can only be booked at 1 Park each day. Once you’re in Disney World and have used all 3 fast passes, you can book more but only one at a time; once you use that fast pass, you can book another and so on. Chances are, the app will say that the really popular rides/attractions don’t have any fast passes available, but Matt would just keep hitting refresh on the app and something always became available! We literally did not stand in one real line. We fast passed EVERYTHING right from the MDE app. It’s amazing and I don’t think people know about this?! Or all their phones died 😂. PS, if your phone does die, they do have “fast pass” stations throughout the park, but I def suggest bringing a portable charger with you so you can do everything from your phone! *I just read there’s now an option to purchase a ticket that comes with additional fast passes… this definitely sounds like something worth doing!
-Dining Plan. If you stay on site at a Disney resort you have the option to choose a Dining Plan. We got the Deluxe Dining Plan which allows 3 table service credits per day, and each meal came with an alcoholic beverage (heyooo!), appetizer, entree and dessert… for each of us… at EVERY MEAL. It was A LOT of food. But also A LOT of fun! Matt literally gained 10 pounds 😂😂😂. And then he gave up soft drinks when we got home and lost 8 pounds in 4 days because he’s a man and men are just annoying like that. Anyway, one nice perk to having the dining plan is being able book your dining reservations 180 days in advance. But I honestly didn’t even do it that far in advance and I’ll tell you… there wasn’t one restaurant we didn’t get to eat at that we wanted to… something WILL become available. You just have to stalk the reservation page on MDE and keep refreshing until a reservation time pops up. There were a couple nights that I stayed up really late and scored a couple hard to get reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest. A ton of reservation times will also become available when it gets closer to your trip because people will cancel and move around their reservations last minute, so don’t stress! (I’ll go over all the restaurants we ate at in our daily itinerary!).
-Photopass. I 100% recommend buying photopass! It’s $160 for your whole trip and it’s unlimited professional pictures of your whole family. And YOU will be in them! It was so nice not having to worry about pulling out my phone to catch sweet character interactions because the photographers took care of it. You can see the pics within minutes on your MDE app and you have 30 days to download them onto your computer afterwards.
-Backpack Purse. My husband wasn’t interested in wearing a backpack, which I was delighted to hear because that meant I NEEDED to buy one for myself! Our trip is over and I still carry my Kate Spade backpack purse everywhere. My normal purse wearing days might be over… I have so many free hands now!! I brought it on every ride with me and kept all the things in there that i didn’t want to leave in the stroller, such as: phone, portable phone charger, diaper/wipes (kept additional diapers at bottom of stroller too), hand sanitizer, Beautycounter sunscreen stick & lip gloss, sunglasses and bandaids. (Things I kept in the stroller basket listed below.)
-Stroller Rental. We ended up renting a stroller and I am SO GLAD we did. We have an uppa baby umbrella stroller that we love because it’s lightweight and easy for on the go, but it doesn’t recline and I wanted P to have that option in case she wanted to nap while we were at the parks, and nap she certainly did, every-single-day 🙌🏻. We rented a city mini jogger and man did that thing recline! The umbrella cover also extended really far which was great, and it was honestly just a much better stroller for going several miles per day. Not to mention we completely trashed it! Haha. It had 2 cup holders and a place for my
phone or whatever else which was nice too. We rented it from www.kingdomstrollers.com and it was around $65 for all 6 days (we did buy the $10 insurance for peace of mind as well). It was waiting for us at our resort when we arrived, and we left it at our resort’s Bellhop on our way out the last day. SO EASY. I did request in the notes section for a black stroller just because I preferred black, so if that matters to you, just ask and they may be able to accommodate! It also came with a free rain cover that we fortunately didn’t have to use. The basket at the bottom was a really nice size as well, here is what I kept in there: diapers/wipes, sweaters for all of us, a blanket for P because it was really cold several nights, extra pair of sandals for me just in case, and whatever toys P wanted to bring that day. We let her pick out one (ish 😂) toy per day… it helped prevent meltdowns and she still plays with her Disney souvenirs at home which is fun! I totally recommend including some type of daily toy/souvenir in your budget if possible 😊.
-Balloon. Make your child’s Disney dreams come true and purchase the big $12 balloon on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. One, it makes for darling pictures. Two, it makes life SO much easier when it’s tied to your stroller (which will get moved often by cast members when it’s parked, and this balloon will make it so easy to spot when tied to your stroller!). Ours actually started to deflate our first day, but we went to “town hall” and they gave us a new balloon for free. Everyone was so nice and helpful!
-Ask for “pixie dust” at the Disney Couture shop near the castle and they’ll sprinkle pixie dust (aka glitter) in your daughter’s hair for free! Matt got some too… 😂
-All of the shops on Main Street connect, so if it’s raining or there’s a parade and you need to get down the street you can just walk through the shops.
-There’s a scavenger hunt you can ask to do after you ride Pirates of the Caribbean, and if you complete it you get a free fast pass to ride it again! This is the one ride that was closed for refurbishment while we were there, but I hear the scavenger hunt takes 15ish minutes to complete.
-Alcohol is easy to find everywhere in Disney World… except for Magic Kingdom. Only 5 restaurants offer it in MK, & here they are: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, Liberty Tree Tavern, Skipper’s Canteen, and Tony’s Town Square. You’re welcome.
-Purchase your Minnie ears ahead of time! Ours are from Shop My Mouse and we got tons of compliments on them. Not to mention, these were much comfier than the one pair I did purchase from the Disney Store. I felt naked without Minnie ears! haha.
-If you stay in a WDW resort, you can opt out of “mouse keeping” and receive a $10 Disney gift card for each day you’re there. We are complete pigs though and would never choose to do this haha. I personally love coming back to a tidied hotel room after a long day, but I still thought it was good info to pass along for all the folks out there who are cleaner than us!
We stayed at the Beach Club resort and absolutely loved it. The location couldn’t be beat. It’s a 5 minute walk to Epcot (there’s a back entrance right by the World Showcase that you enter thru). We would spend almost every evening eating and drinking in the different countries in Epcot (we chose the park hopper option mainly for this reason!). PS Theres a quaint little area in Italy where you can sit and drink wine outside, and it also has little tables for kiddos to color and make crafts. I mean I can’t think of a better way to wind down after a long day at Disney! That’s just one of many examples, we LOVED Epcot in the evenings. The pool at the Beach Club was also incredible with a super kid-friendly area which included a sand-bottom pool that was only about 2ft deep. There’s also a lazy river and a huge pirate ship with a water slide. Hollywood Studios is also within walking distance, or you can catch the “friend-ship” which is just a 5 minute boat ride. We road a bus to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and never waited longer than 5 minutes for it to arrive. There were several restaurants to choose from in our resort as well as a little market with groceries and other essentials.
OUR PARK ITINERARY
-Dinner: San Angel Inn– We arrived around 3:30pm and it was about 5:30pm by the time we were ready to walk over to Epcot. We had dinner reservations that night at San Angel Inn in Mexico, and it was amazing! The ambiance is so neat in there.. it’s very festive and feels like you’re outside in a Mexican villa, except you’re in a controlled AC restaurant where you can watch a very life-like volcano erupt whilst sipping a margarita and chowing down on chips and salsa. There’s also a little boat ride inside that has a very short and fast-moving line. Highly recommend having dinner here!
Sunday: Magic Kingdom
-Breakfast: Trattoria Al Forno – This was a cute character breakfast located at the Boardwalk (another cute resort that’s only a 5 min walk from the Beach Club that I’d be glad to try one day!). The characters included Rapunzel, Ariel and their princes Eric and Flynn Rider. It was adorable, and the breakfast was delicious. Prince Eric grabbed Presleigh’s hand to dance/parade around the room… my heart is still on the floor! Even if this magical moment didn’t happen I would still definitely recommend this breakfast! I should also note that the characters are only there at breakfast, I believe its a traditional Italian restaurant for lunch and dinner. (Also, If you don’t have a park hopper this is a great one to try because it’s not inside of a park.)
-Lunch: Liberty Tree Tavern– This is one of the restaurants in MK that serves alcohol…P slept the entire time in her stroller, which we were totally fine with! It was a boozy nap to say the least 🤣.
-Dinner: Cinderella’s Royal Table (inside of the castle!) This is my favorite restaurant in all of Disney! There’s a meet and greet with Cinderella prior to being seated, and it was PRECIOUS. During the actual meal, all the princesses walk around and each one comes to your table. It’s an incredible experience and my favorite by far. It counts as 2 table credits on the dining plan but it’s totally worth it in my opinion!
Monday: Hollywood Studios / Epcot
-Breakfast: Cape May– This was conveniently located inside the Beach Club so we got to walk right down. It was a breakfast buffet with Minnie Mouse and friends, and while it was cute and fun, I’m not sure that we’d go out of our way to do it again if we weren’t staying there. Does that make sense? However, if you don’t have a park hopper, this is another good option for a character breakfast since it’s not located inside of a park! It is also fun getting to checkout other resorts, so I would never tell someone not to go here. It just wasn’t a top favorite for us personally, but overall still good!
-Lunch: Sci-Fi Theatre– This was one of our favorite lunches! It’s a Drive-in movie theatre that plays old-times cartoons and you eat at tables that look like old-timey cars. The burger was delicious, the (adult) drinks were refreshing and it was just a nice place to sit and relax with a break from the sun (not much shade at Hollywood Studios in my opinion!). Presleigh loved it as well! While she napped her in stroller, we drank beers and took turns riding things that she couldn’t such as Tower of Terror. It was a really fun day!!
-Dinner: Le Cellier – this was a 2 credit table service located in Canada in Epcot… And oh em gee the Filet Mignon. Maybe the best one I’ve ever had. I’m usually all about ambiance, but this dinner was all about the food. Food in Disney is honestly pretty lack-luster for the most part if we’re being honest haha.. but seriously, this filet was incredible!!
Tuesday: Epcot, Pool Day & Magic Kingdom
-Breakfast: Akershus – this is another character meal in Epcot with princesses and it was so so cute. When you walk in there’s a meet and greet with Belle, then all of the other princesses come to your table and visit while you eat. There’s also a “princess processional” every 20 or so minutes where the kids basically get to second-line around the restaurant with the princesses. This was a breakfast buffet but the food was pretty good!
-After breakfast and riding a few rides in Epcot, we walked back to our hotel and spent the afternoon at our resort’s pool. It.was.awesome. There are people who walk around taking food and drink orders, so we ate lunch while we were down there too. I definitely suggest scheduling at least 1 or 2 afternoons for hanging out at your pool’s resort if possible!
-Dinner: Be Our Guest – This is located inside of MK and another favorite of minel! It’s designed to look and feel like the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast. After dinner you get to do a meet and greet with the Beast before leaving, but FYI this is only at dinner time! He’s not there for breakfast or lunch. I honestly can’t even tell you what I ate because the food wasn’t memorable haha, but I’d still go back! Presleigh slept through this entire dinner which was kind of sad… but I strongly believe in not waking a sleeping child. PS, I read that starting this August, Be Our Guest will count for 2 table service credits at dinner time… I’m pretty sure it will still be a counter service meal for breakfast and lunch though (just no Beast at those times!).
Wednesday: Animal Kingdom & Epcot
-Breakfast: Tusker House – This was a cute safari themed character breakfast inside of Animal Kingdom with Mickey and friends. I’ll be super honest … aside from the rum dole whip and the safari ride… I kind of hated animal kingdom 🙈😂, and clearly P was not a fan either. ha! It was just so hot and didn’t feel as magical to me as the rest of the parks. And I kind of feel like I see 15x more animals at our local zoo.. so until P is a little older, we might be skipping out on Animal Kingdom next time. We personally would’ve been happier spending that time at the pool again. I had a blast at Animal Kingdom when I went with my family during college, so I think it’s just a better experience when you’re older and able to ride the cool stuff. It was the most crowded park our whole trip too (probably due to the new Pandora attraction) so that didn’t help either. Needless to say, there weren’t enough rum filled dole whips in the world to make me happy enough, and after the safari ride we high-tailed out of there and took a glorious afternoon nap before heading to Epcot 😂.
-Dinner: Coral Reef – Before dinner we drank away our Animal Kingdom memories and did our usual evening stroll around the countries in Epcot. Presleigh continued to sleep for the majority of the evening and even slept through our entire dinner at Coral Reef. So we basically had a date night. I think she would’ve loved dinner though – you’re basically dining inside of an aquarium! I highly suggest avoiding the crab cake appetizer though 🤢😂. For dinner I got the mahi mahi and Matt got the shrimp and grits, both were delicious and and we’ll for sure go back again!
Thursday: Magic Kingdom & Epcot
Breakfast – 1900 Park Fare – This character breakfast was our favorite by far! It’s located inside the Grand Floridian which was absolutely gorgeous. The breakfast itself is a buffet, but the food was DELICIOUS and just a step above the rest of the buffets we’d had all week. The characters included Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad-Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. After breakfast we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom for our last day. We rode all of our favorite rides and just soaked up the Magic that is Disney. It was a bittersweet day and I may or may not have shed a little tear on our way out.
Dinner: Italy in Epcot– We spent our last evening in Epcot using the rest of our left over snack credits trying different food and accidentally getting super stuffed before dinner! We ate dinner in Italy which was very charming and delicious. We ordered the most beautiful charcuterie board I’ve ever seen. We basically boxed up our pasta and brought it to the hotel because we were soooo full. Nonetheless it was a perfect last day/night and I wouldn’t change a thing!
I’m already SO looking forward to our next trip whenever that may be (hopefully sooner than later!). Here are some pics from our memorable and oh so magical Disney World vacation. Hope this was helpful to any of you planning to go soon!!