This week, I thought it may be helpful to share some of my practical tips for visiting DisneyWorld.
1. Book your fast pass early
A good month or two before travelling, consider which Disney attractions you want to see and do the most, then book ‘fast passes’ for these in advance using the Disney app or website. The ‘fast pass’ booking system opens 60 days in advance for Disney residents (or 30 day for non-Disney residents) and it’s worth booking straight away to secure the most desirable attractions as these slots book up quickly.
Book your fast passes for early in the day. Then, once you have used your three passes, you can book more either on the Disney app or on kiosks around the parks and save more queuing time.
2. Get there early to cut out the queues
Get to the parks at opening time and you’ll get on several of the rides and attractions with little waiting before the crowds. Focus first on the highly popular activities - not only the big rides, but also favoured character meet and greets. In Magic Kingdom, head first to Fantasyland to ride on the massively-popular Peter Pan and It’s A Small World classics.
3. DisneyWorld is more than just the Magic Kingdom
DisneyWorld is actually made up of six parks, not just the iconic Magic Kingdom ‘where dreams come true’. As well as two water parks, there is Hollywood Studios with excellent rides, shows and is a must for Star Wars fans. Don't overlook Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Both have some excellent shows and rides – Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest is a unique white-knuckle ride like none you’d have rode before, and Epcot’s Soarin’ is our family’s favourite ride of all the parks.
In my experience, Epcot is always the least busy of the Disney Parks and you can enjoy a more relaxed day out at a slower pace. World Showcase has many first-class restaurants - try La Cantina restaurant in Mexico for authentic, superb food. I recommend pre-booking tables and requesting one overlooking the Three Caballeros Boat Ride or the indoor Mexican Plaza.
4. Make sure you catch the parade
A day out in the Magic Kingdom isn’t complete without watching the iconic Parade. It starts at 3pm daily and I recommend you consider your viewing spot carefully and take up your position early to get the best experience.
Top tip: Choose a shady spot out of the sun, park any stroller on the pavement edge and enjoy a short wait. You’ll end up front of the crowd and your child can watch it all from their stroller seat.
Disney religiously clear people from the road so no-one will end up in-front of you. I recommend watching from Main Street where you’ll have a good view of the castle as a backdrop. In the height of summer, if you watch from the bottom of Main Street, just as the shops start, on the left side as you face the castle, then you should be in a perfectly shady spot to enjoy it to the full.
5. How to meet your favourite Disney characters
If your child wants to meet Disney characters, most operate on a queuing system in precise locations - they do not roam around the park. Fast passes can be used for many of the character meets and look out for some that are combined.
For example, one queue or fast pass enables you to meet both Anna and Elsa; another, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Many characters can be met at more than one park so consider this when making your plans.
6. Take an autograph book
I strongly recommend taking an autograph book with you. As well as the coveted photo of a character and your child, a book of personalised messages from the Disney characters has become each of my children’s more treasured possessions. Top tip - take a pack of colourful Sharpie pens with you for the characters to use. The characters don’t have their own pens! They like Sharpies as they are chunky to hold and your book will end up beautifully colourful!