If you’re a Disney World fan, then you know a trip to the parks takes some significant pre-planning if you want to really have a great time. This makes planning a trip to Disney a ton of fun for someone like me, who absolutely loves reading blogs and forums and watching YouTube videos on her destinations. But I also know there are tons of people who don’t like researching – so I’ve gathered my top tips and tricks here so you don’t have to!
*Disclaimer: This information was relevant to my trip in May 2021. Please double-check with Disney’s current guidelines prior to travel.*
Tip #1: Make park reservations!
Currently, in order to get into any Disney World park, you need to have a reservation for that particular park. After you’ve purchased tickets, reservations can be made online or via the My Disney Experience app. You can also check the availability for the days you want to visit before purchasing tickets. I highly recommend booking these reservations as soon as you can because the popular parks like Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom can book out 1-2 months in advance.
Tip #2: Download the My Disney Experience app prior to arrival
There’s so much that you can do on the app – from checking wait times to viewing menus at all the parks. If you have an Apple product, you can link your park tickets via Mobile Pass. This was super convenient for me, as I was able to use my Apple Watch to tap into the parks and for PhotoPass photos. I also used the app a lot to Mobile Order food in the parks.
Tip #3: Get the Touring Plans Lines WDW app
For a super low price of an annual subscription, you have access to crowd-sourced wait times. This was super helpful when I was mapping out our game plans for all the parks. Knowing the wait time trends for each ride really helps you make game day decisions as well while you’re in the parks. You can also use Lines to track when dining reservations come up to Disney restaurants.
Tip #4: Take advantage of going to the parks early and late
Currently, “Rope Drop” refers to arriving to the parks roughly an hour before the park officially opens. At the time of this post, the parks are opening around 45 minutes before posted opening. At Hollywood Studios, this allowed us to do both Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster without any wait. By park open, their wait times were roughly 30 minutes. We’re also huge fans of taking a midday break and coming back in the early evening. The last 3-4 hours of the day usually mean shorter wait times for a lot of rides.
Tip #5: Prioritize what you want to do
Take a look at the rides in the parks and decide which ones are a priority for you. At Hollywood Studios, I really wanted to do Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway while X wanted to do Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. So we decided to head straight to these 2 rides while everyone else ran to Slinky Dog Dash or The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. We never rode Slinky Dog – not because we didn’t think it was a good ride – but because there were other things we wanted to do more.
Tip #6: Get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios
There are a ton of detailed guides on how to successfully get a boarding group and studying them beforehand will really help. I found the guides from Touring Plans and The Disney Food Blog be super useful. For us, we checked our WiFi the morning of, restarted the My Disney app at 6:55am, and refreshed the page once we hit 6:59:56 on time.gov. We were able to get boarding group 50 at exactly 7am by using that method.
Tip #7: Do PhotoPass pictures!
Disney has photographers scattered throughout all the parks. They’re completely free to use and you’re under no obligation to purchase any photos. The photographers take wonderful photos and they also have cool zoom-out photos. I’ve always been a fan of PhotoPass because these are photos I never would’ve gotten otherwise. When I traveled to Disney with my family, it was really the only way we could have family photos.
Tip #8: And lastly, remember to have fun!
You’ve planned the trip, now it’s time to have fun! Don’t let minor setbacks ruin your trip. Go with the flow – if Space Mountain is down, head on over to another section of the park and do another ride. It’ll be there later.