I know that you’ve been wanting to visit Disney but you’re overwhelmed, so I have a few Disney World tips and secrets to help you finally plan a Disney vacation that’s just right for you (even if it’s way in advance). I’m just a Disney World blog Mom that’s learned a Disney tip or two about how to save money, the best time to visit Disney World and things to do at Disney, as well as a helpful Disney packing list. Let’s go?!
Disney World tips and secrets
I’m sharing with you exactly which Disney World tips and secrets I’m using to plan our own 2019 Disney World vacation! I’ve been to Disney many times and this year, we had an incredible time without extravagant choices and breaking the bank. We also learned how to make the best use of our time and improve the vacation quality for the whole family.
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is spend my valuable time at Disney World with 11 bazillion other people. So the first thing I always want to know is the best time to visit Disney World. Due to all of the events and the ever-changing holiday dates that change each year, it’s great to at least glance at the Disney World crowd calendar 2019 before buying any park tickets!
There are many overwhelming Disney World crowd calendar sites that report specifics of these dates each year, so I compared all of the advice and have saved you the time (you are welcome!). I’ve put together the best times to visit Disney World for 2019 in which the experts agree:
- Last 2 weeks of January
- First 2 weeks of February
- All of September
- Weekdays during October
- The week before Thanksgiving
- 2nd Week of December weekdays
Cheapest time to visit Disney
If you are like me, the cost is your #2 concern once the crowd situation is taken care of. Plain and simple… Disney World tickets will be more expensive during certain time frames and holidays. There are dozens of websites with specific dates, but essentially, you’ll see the largest increase on Disney hotels and resorts and tickets from Valentines Day until the end of May and Mid-November until New Year’s Day. A smaller increase, but an increase just the same will be from Memorial Day until the end of August. The cheapest time, according to research by Time + Leisure are the months of January and February.
Takeaway Secret: If you plan ahead when it’s not peak season, Walt Disney World park tickets can be discounted tremendously.
Disney World resorts vs. off-property resorts
One of the biggest questions of this century is “to stay or not to stay on Walt Disney World property.” There are definitely valid arguments on both sides of the aisle but it comes down to whether you are able and willing to pay for extra Disney magic and the conveniences of staying on property. If you visit Disney World during a non-peak time, the value resorts could be $99 a night. Alternatively, campsites at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness start at $55 a night.
It is my humble opinion that it would be worth your weight in gold to stay at a Disney resort with young kids for this reason. -> You have the option to start early in the morning (to beat the crowds and heat in the summer) and then go back to the room for a nap and food, to return later when the crowds have dissipated and your kiddo is in a better mood!
The magic bands and magical express (airport transportation) luggage tags are a nice perk to have for those staying in Disney resorts. The magic bands are your park ticket, room key, and payment (if you wish) for convenience and your luggage tags will keep you from having to go to baggage claim at the airport. Order bands and tags as soon as possible so they’ll have time to be sent to you before your vacation!
The My Disney Experience app is amazing. Create a My Disney Experience on your computer and add the app to your phone. Both places sync all of your information and let you check things like ride wait times and dinner reservations.
Also, “good neighbor” hotels in Orlando don’t seem to offer any guarantee of quality or bonuses for guests. The only step up from a typical hotel is that you can buy park tickets on-site.
Takeaway Secret: Several Walt Disney World resorts can be very affordable if they aren’t booked during peak seasons.
Walt Disney World freebies
Besides the cheaper ticket options and resort tips above, the freebies offered are incredible Disney World tips and secrets at Walt Disney World that many people don’t take advantage of. Here are just a few of my favorite Disney World tips and secrets:
- Free WiFi
- Disney trading pins
- Kids under 3 eat free
- Disney Planning Videos
- My Disney Experience App
- Baby Care Centers at the 4 main parks
- Visit resorts around the property on the monorail
- Epcot’s Club Cool has free foundation drink samples.
- Most resorts have free balloons at the counters – just ask!
- Ghiradelli Chocolate Samples at Disney Spring’s Ghiradelli shop.
- Take a scenic, free boat ride to parks or for resort hopping if you need a break.
- Get a lei at the Polynesian Resort – even if you aren’t a resort guest there – just ask!
- Free signatures from characters for kiddos in an autograph book brought from home.
- Nightly events held at several WDW resorts like the Fort Wilderness campfire singalong.
- Disney resorts guests have free transportation around the property & to/from the airport.
- First Aid centers at each park have free supplies for common ailments needs like band-aids.
- Main Street, U.S.A., Confectionery gives free candy or pastry samples when they are available.
- Fastpass privileges are charged at Universal Studios/Six Flags theme parks but free at Disney Parks.
- Stickers and celebration buttons to match the occasion of your visit (1st timers, grads, etc) – ask resort staff.
- Walt Disney World offers free cups of water, hot or cold, for free all over the park in addition to water fountains.
- Merchandise purchased within parks can be delivered near the front entrance for convenient pick-up as you exit the park.
Takeaway secret: Pick just a few and be diligent!
Walt Disney World discounts & deals
If you know the time of year you’d like to visit Disney World in 2019 and are diligent in checking on the special offers, deals, and discounts on the Disney World site, you can save significant amounts. Unfortunately, the resort and vacation package discounts from Disney are somewhat unpredictable.
Did you know that you can attend one of Walt Disney World’s special night events by purchasing the event ticket only – it is not mandatory to buy a regular park ticket and spend the day. You are welcome to show up at the time of your special events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Keep in mind that special events typically bring larger crowds.
Don’t waste your time and money on any ‘discount’ book that you have to purchase for Walt Disney World. You will fare better planning ahead and cutting corners where you can with the help of this article and others.
If you use our Disney World tips and secrets advice and book your hotel in advance as a “room-only” reservation (meaning that you aren’t getting a room + tickets package) in order to secure the best time for your family, the reservation can normally be changed later to reflect any discount codes or Annual Passholder discounts if the amount of them allotted is still available. If a discounted package is released later and you want to change your “room only” to a package – it’s totally doable. You’ll just have to book the package and then cancel the “room only” reservation. No worries, the Walt Disney World phone representatives are incredibly helpful when you call.
Takeaway secret: Plan well in advance and put it on your calendar to check back for deals at certain times.
Walt Disney World dining tips
If you have your heart set on dining at a specific venue at Disney World, make reservations as soon as possible. All families are different, but for most, the following Disney World tips and secrets can save you gobs of money.
- Eat a big breakfast at your Disney resort or another breakfast joint
- Bring your own lunch (Disney allows this) or…
- Ride free transportation back to your Disney resort and have lunch (and a nap) or…
- If eating lunch in the parks, make it your main, large meal so that…
- You spend much less on lunch than dinner in the parks
- Try to only buy a large lunch meal & snacks in the parks
- Research the Disney dining plan and only use if it is a perfect fit for your family
Make sure that your Disney resort has a small refrigerator so that you can keep a few water bottles and snacks (and possibly breakfast items) in it for the “snacky” times when you aren’t at the parks. Granola bars, yogurt, crackers, or any convenience foods will do.
Did you know that there is now mobile food ordering on your My Disney Experience app? Simply make an order from the restaurants listed and pick it up at the specially-marked window when you get there. No waiting in excessive food lines!!!
Takeaway secret: Plan ahead and you can save a gazillion dollars on food at Disney!]
Other helpful content:
This may seem silly to some, but to others, it will be your favorite of my Disney World tips and secrets! When in the Magic Kingdom, do not try to find a bathroom in Liberty Square – there isn’t one. The restrooms in Fantasyland at Rapunzel’s tower are the best ones in my opinion and the least crowded. Be sure to locate the bathrooms on a map for the Disney park you will be visiting ahead of time – you’ll know exactly where to go – especially will small ones.
Takeaway secret: Plan for potty breaks ahead of time.
Random Disney facts you’ll love
Did you know that you can request a Disney World Resort wake up call? Let the kiddos answer and they’ll be shocked to know that the call is made by a Disney character!
Did you know that the Animal Kingdom has a lock on all the bathrooms? Rumor is that they are for protection in case an animal were to ever get loose!
You can look up the average historical weather well in advance (from years past) to do your best in predicting your Disney World Weather?!
All in all, I hope these Disney World tips and secrets allow you to bite the bullet and plan that Disney family vacation that your whole family is wanting to take. Make me a promise though, please tell me all about it!
Which Disney World tips and secrets surprised you the most? Do you have any to add? Let me hear from you in the comments!