As many of you know, I spent the last two weeks of October 2014 at Disney World in Orlando. As with many people, this holiday truly brings out the child in you. Personally, I am so overly happy that Paul and I went before we had children for many reasons. But with this in mind, I would like to give some tips for those who plan to go without children as well as share some of the pictures I took whilst there!
BEFORE YOU GET THERE
BOOK FAR IN ADVANCE
For our 2014 trip, we booked 9 months before flying. The 2017 trip was booked over 400 days before. Yes, it’s a long time. But this way you get the best deals and have plenty of time to save for spending money. We also were given a pass to the V Room at Gatwick Airport which offers free beverages (non-alcoholic) and buffet breakfast before you fly due to early booking.
PLAN THE DAYS
I listed each day with what parks we wanted to visit meaning we could go to them all plus have a couple of free days. Having free days is a great opportunity to go back to places that you want to see again or if you prefer, hang out by the pool.
Paul and I stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort which was SO lovely. The rooms were clean and quiet which is exactly what you want after a long day. It’s best to stay at a Disney hotel as everything is on hand for you. There are shops, bus stops nearby and everything is made so easy for someone to answer your questions everywhere you go. If you book with Virgin Holidays there are great accommodation offers. We managed to get our flight with accommodation and a hire car as a package for a great deal.
Don’t forget to compare prices for what you need separately with the offer prices to see what is best for you.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel buses run to and from the parks free of charge every 20 or so minutes at least an hour before park opening times.
As some days we wanted to travel outside of Disney (for shopping or Universal Studios) we used our hire car from Alamo. Most cars are automatic and they drive on the RIGHT so remember that if you do decide that you want to wander!
Disney hotels do have free parking. There’s also free parking at the parks for hotel guests but it’s easier to just get the bus from park to hotel. The Caribbean Resort has parking at each of the sections (for example we stayed at Trinidad North) and it took less than 2 minutes to get to the car. So handy for when you have large amounts of luggage.
As expected for the USA portions are HUGE.
On the first morning, I had French toast. At lunchtime, I wasn’t hungry at all but I felt I still should eat. Everything we wanted to order came with fries so I was stuffed and honestly, I felt horrible. So after this experience of not wanting to eat all day, I decided to reduce breakfast portions to cereal (which come in a plastic bowl from the shop at Old Port Royale) and orange juice. You can also buy little milk cartons. We stocked up on these as well as drinks and snacks for when we were back in our room.
With lunch, you should always get something small (a pretzel for example) or share a meal. If you have something large you won’t be needing a full meal in the evening.
Reserve a place for dinner on the day so you can ensure you’re not going to be doing more queuing in the evening. Or if you are going somewhere like T-Rex at Disney Springs or Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, you have to book way in advance.
You can get food cheaper outside of Disney but it is more convenient inside Disney World.
We bought a refill flask from our hotel, which we didn’t realise could only be filled up at Disney resorts and nowhere else. You can’t even pop them in your bag as they leak slightly so unless you’re planning on spending the day by the pool and refilling your drinks at the hotel, it is best to buy drinks as and when you need to.
FAST PASS & MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE
Before we arrived, we downloaded My Disney Experience which allows you to view and book reservations and Fast Pass+ for dining, rides and events. But please beware, you can only book 3 fast passes a day so choose wisely.
When you check-in you will receive a Disney pack as well as your Magic Bands which allows you to pay for food and drinks, enter parks and your hotel room. You no longer need to take cash with you to Disney parks which are incredibly handy. We kept our receipts so we were aware of how much we would be spending or simply call reception and ask.
As you may know, the Americans tip as a standard thing so doesn’t think because you don’t have cash that they won’t expect a 20% return. Their service is amazing so why shouldn’t you? They will simply ask you to write how much you want to tip on the bill and then they will ask you to swipe your band and enter your pin (which you can create when you log in to your Disney account online).
Once you have completed your holiday you will receive a final bill. However, we would go to the Custom House and pay our bill every few days to make sure we didn’t go over the $500 limit.
DISNEY PARKS & RIDES
It is best to get to the park just before opening. That way it won’t be overly busy and you will be able to cram in a load of popular rides before the queues get too long (some rides were 70-105 minutes long). The first day at Magic Kingdom, we got there half an hour before opening. This meant the super popular rides had 0 minutes on the timer for queues. An hour later and they were 90 minutes long.
The water parks at Disney are great on a boiling hot day. There are water slides, pools, sun beds, bars, snacks and food. There’s even a rental place that allows you to rent a locker and towels so don’t worry if you forgot to bring it with you.
Shops are available to buy other swimming bits and pieces but you’re better off saving your money and remembering to bring your own sunscreen.
Buy what you need and what you really love. Getting some cute novelty items such as Mickey Mouse ears are nice but getting coloured Magic Bands, hundreds of badges and light up wands can mean a lot of your money is wasted on things you’ll never look at again so think before you buy.
Disney Springs has some of the biggest Disney stores so check them out for a huge range of merchandise and gifts.
There are a huge amount of shops at the Orlando Premium Outlets so don’t forget to have a clothes shop there rather than buying a load of Minnie Mouse vests that you will probably never wear.
WHAT TO WEAR
Depending on the forecast depends on what you will take with you and wear whilst you’re in Disney. So make sure you do some research into what the weather is like the time of year you are going and plan around that. But also take some items for colder nights, hotter days and flash storms.
You MUST have comfy shoes. You will do a lot of walking so bring your comfy trainers and some plasters before heading off for a day of walking and standing.
Remember to wear sunscreen and your Magic Band along with your short shorts and vest top!
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU
I took a bag everywhere I went and here’s what was inside:
- Thin rain jacket
- Magic Band
- Phone (free wifi is everywhere and perfect for when you want to share Instagram snaps!)
- Bottle of water
Everything I could need!
So there are just some of my Disney tips from what I have learnt from my first time at Disney World.