Disney for Beginners from Beginners

One of the top campgrounds to stay at in the United States is Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground in Orlando, Florida. When I heard this my bags were packed. Mostly because we live in our RV and my bags are always packed but you know what I mean. 

We could’t wait to experience this with our Toddler. Both my husband and I have been to Disney a few times growing up, but never experienced Disney as new parents. This journey is a little intimidating, so here are seven tips we learned from our recent trip to the most magical place on earth! 

1. Consult a Disney Lover

Disney vacation planning is comparable to being a ninja. These Disney lovers are devoted, skilled, smart, and crafty. You only catch a glimpse of them as they sneak by you in the fast pass line (We will talk about that magical line a little later).

I consulted a few of these Disney lovers/ninjas I knew before we headed out and I recommend you do the same if you know any. I thought these Disney planners were just hard core and liked to be on top of things, but I discovered very quickly if you want to see as much as the parks as you can and avoid waiting in line most of your day this is why you become a “ninja” at Disney.

Also other members of my family used a Disney vacation planner. She helped them book rooms and park tickets at a discount all free of charge! 

2. If possible stay on a Disney resort

Country_Inn___Suites_Maingate_at_Calypso_Cay_Resort_007Before you think this is out of your budget and skip this step I would highly recommend looking into this option. Hear me out. They offer some affordable rooms that I found were comparable or even cheaper than staying off site as well as discounts on park tickets.

Dont make the mistake I made. We booked our housing reservations because they fill up fast and decided we would buy tickets closer to time. You can only save on park tickets if bought within 30 days of your room reservation according to the travel agent I contacted after the fact. Also included is free transportation to all the Disney parks and Downtown Disney for onsite guests.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, on-site guests are are allowed to set up those magical fast passes in advance before offsite guests and also receive “Magic Hours”. Magic Hours are extended hours for Disney Resort peeps. SCORE!

3. My Disney Experience app is essential!

This saved our app if you know what I mean:) You are able to navigate your whole Disney experience through this app including managing fast passes, reservations, park maps, ride wait times, plus a whole bunch more. Best tool to have for your vacation. Get it…. Like yesterday. 

4. Fast Passes

What is the fast pass line? Oh you learn that line real quick when you visit Disney. That is the line that gets you to the front of the lines to your favorite rides while all us “procrastinators” like myself line up and wait a crazy amount of time for 30 seconds of enjoyment because we didn’t set up our fast passes ahead of time.

This is a science that some people have perfected and I am not claiming to have this disney-fast-passsuper power but I will tell you what I learned about them. If you haven’t set up your fast passes (GASP) don’t panic like I did. The good news is people cancel their passes and good ones do come available to us procrastinators or people who work better under pressure as I like to call us.

We had to choose afternoon fast passes and this worked out best for us because we park hopped for that day. That meant we showed up at the opening of Magic Kingdom and hit up a lot the rides with little to no wait before the crowd built up. We had a little over an hour before lines started building so pick with strategy.

That afternoon we used our fast passes in Animal Kingdom and it worked out great for us. Hollywood studios had Magic hours that night so the park stayed open an extra 2 hours so we hit up those rides with limited riders. We avoided lines pretty well for the day while visiting 3 parks. Not bad for a Disney day with two toddlers. 

5. Rider Swap

If you have small children and you are planning on doing a parent swap or what Disney calls a rider switch that is equivalent to a fast pass. Parent swap is designed to help riders with small children be able to ride attractions while taking turns with children who are not tall enough for that ride without waiting in line twice.

How this works is once you enter the line of a ride you ask for a rider switch or a parent swap pass. They give you a card that is exchanged for a rider switch pass which is actually another fast pass. So technically if you set up your fast pass for the same ride you are kinda wasting a fast pass is what we discovered because they have you a fast pass card and you could use your other fast pass on another ride.

Do be aware rider switch is only available on rides with height limits. If your little one is able to ride there is no need to switch so you would need to set up for 2 fast passes in that situation. 

6. Bring plenty of snacks

Food can be expensive at the parks and the lines are extremely long. Reservations go fast so if there is a particularly restaurant you are wanting to try make those plenty in advance. Dining wasn’t a splurge of ours so we didn’t have any reservations and opted for quick dining. Food adds up quickly so we packed a few snacks to get us through the day and in between meals. 

7. Strollers

One of the questions we had was what kind of stroller is best for Disney? We debated on this one because we have a large BOB running stroller and it is bulky and heavy. This can be difficult getting on and off trams and maneuvering in busy parks but that’s what husbands are for right? Thanks Hubby.

We opted to use the stroller we had on hand because we didn’t want two strollers in our limited space in the RV, money saved not buying another stroller, and comfort for our picky 18 month old who thinks she is the Princess and the Pea.

Although it was a little annoying due to the size, it was not that bad and was a good option for us. We were happy with our decision. The couple who traveled with us opted the other route and bought a travel stroller. They loved this option because it was light and easy to collapse and it worked best for them. I think this is all about what is most important for you. 

So there you have it. Just a few tips and tricks to get you started. We had a blast at Disney World and it’s true when they say you want to start planning your next Disney trip as soon as it’s over. I hope this helps make your Disney vacation a little less stressful so you can enjoy making memories with your family.

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