Disney World is known as the place where dreams come true, but it can also be a place of extreme stress and exhaustion as unprepared parents try to navigate the overwhelming crowds, heat, and sheer massiveness of the resort. Luckily, with a little bit of preparation and research, you can save yourself loads of stress. Armed with a few life-saving Disney World hacks, there's no doubt your trip will be the happiest one on earth.
From a child's point of view, a trip to Disney World is on par with your version of heaven. And although parents may see it as a stress-filled nightmare waiting to happen (we've all seen the movie scenes of melt downs), to a kid, there's nothing more exciting. Doing your best to make sure your kids and you have the greatest time possible isn't as hard as you would think. Disney World makes it easy for you to map out rides, rent or buy everything you'll need, and ask questions right on their website. But since you may not think of everything, a few hacks from parents who have gone before you won't hurt.
Whether you're going for the first time or the 10th time, these hacks will make your time at Disney World just as magical as it should be.
1. Download The Disney App
Of course, Disney World has created the perfect app to help you plan and execute your trip. You can check on wait times, navigate maps, see where to find characters, and more.
2. Get There Early
As much of a hassle as it may be it pays off to get to the resort by the time the rope drops. The crowds are usually late and getting there early will ensure that you get first dips on your favorites.
3. Make A List Of Must See's
Are there certain characters that your kids are dying to see or any must-ride rides? Do a little research ahead of time and map out where you want to go that way you're not wandering around looking for Cinderella when the time comes.
4. Use A Backpack As A Diaper Bag
Instead of carrying a traditional cross-body diaper bag while trying to push a stroller, handle kids, carry food, and take pictures, give your hands a break and carry all of your essentials in a backpack like this one from Target ($65).
5. Rent A Stroller
Although this is an extra expense that bringing your own stroller would alleviate, the bulkiness and weight of carrying a stroller to and from your hotel can be a huge pain. Disney has stroller rentals on-site that you can book ahead of time to save you a little extra stress.
6. Check Out Breastfeeding Spots Ahead Of Time
If you're nursing during a trip, it can be stressful to find breastfeeding spots on the fly. With a little bit of research you can map out the best places to nurse ahead of time.
7. Make Reservations In Advance
Obviously, planning ahead is in your favor. Disney's website has a list of all the on-resort dining options saving you the hassle of wandering around trying to find the perfect restaurant.
8. Go Through The Shops
A pro-tip from a Pop Sugar article notes that the shops on either side of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom are all interconnected. If you're looking to beat the crowds, sneak through the shops.
9. Rent A Car On Site
Like everything else you need, you can also rent a car on-site at Disney. Having all of your rentals on-site will save you the stress of juggling multiple companies and save you from traveling far to rent a car.
10. Eat During The Off Hours
Try to plan you meal times around the rushes. Ride when everyone else is eating, and eat when everyone else is riding.
11. Take A Break During The Afternoon
Florida is notoriously hot and humid, especially during the early and mid-afternoon. Taking a naptime break, going back to the hotel, or even eating lunch during these hours will help keep your kids less irritable (and sweaty).
12. Check Out Menus Online Before Making Reservations
Do you have a picky eater? Check out restaurant menus online before arriving, that way you're not hungry and disappointed.
13. Or Order In
Did you know that Disney will deliver pizza to your hotel (if you're staying in a resort hotel, of course) up until one a.m.?
14. Ask For Water
Don't buy bottled water. Just don't. Every establishment is required by law to give you ice water if you request it.
15. Watch The Fireworks Elsewhere
Everyone will be crowded into the Magic Kingdom at the end of the night for the Wishes fireworks show. Instead of being crammed and frustrated, along with everyone else, enjoy the fireworks from afar (you'll still have just as good a view). Some good viewing spots include the Polynesian Resort, the Main Street Train Station, or the Transportation and Ticket Center.
16. Factor In Travel Times
Walt Disney World is about the size of a small American city, according to Pop Sugar, so travel times between the kingdoms and resorts can be significant. Plan out your must-sees, and research how you'll get to and from locations beforehand so you're not overwhelmed when the time comes.
17. Take Advantage Of Free Samples
The Disney Tourist blog advises to take the staff members up on their free samples as you're heading down main street in the Magic Kingdom. It's a sneaky (and free) way to temporarily keep hungry kiddos satisfied.
18. Kids Under 3 Eat Free
Hold the phone. This is a huge money saver- especially if your toddler eats as much as mine does. The Disney Food Blog says that as long as you share a plate, all children under three eat fo' free.
19. Take Some Free Drawing Classes
If you're staying at any resort hotel, you and the kids can take a few free drawing classes, if you're looking for ways to spend less and stay completely entertained, says the Disney Tourist Blog.
20. Go To A Movie Under The Stars
Disney plays a free movie each night for hotel guests— take your kids for free entertainment at night.
21. Buy Disney Merchandise Elsewhere
It's not a secret that Disney World's gift shop prices are sky high. Business Insider suggests buying "souvenirs" elsewhere, like from E-bay or other places that sell Disney merch (aka anywhere).