November 2021 Update
This is an update of an article posted two years ago. Since then a lot has changed regarding what to do to make the most of your Walt Disney World vacation.
Back a number of years ago the average Disney World trip involved making a hotel reservation and traveling to Orlando. Once at Disney World you bought your park tickets and spent a few days eating fast food, waiting in lines and riding rides. A lot has changed from those times and today there is much more to do. There are hundreds of places to eat from fast food to fine restaurants and dozens of additional entertainment options. If you plan right, there’s a lot more you can fit in to your visit as well. Following are a number of tips to help you make the most of your vacation.
- The First Thing You Have To Do.
Regardless if you are staying at a Disney World hotel or outside “The World”, you need to get a My Disney Experience account. Setting up your account is free and allows you to register your park tickets and MagicBand to your account. Next you need to get a My Disney Experience App for your phone or tablet. With this app you can begin to plan your day in the theme parks, make restaurant reservations, set-up a photo account and more.
- Buy Your Park Tickets and Pick Your Dates
You cannot make use of a number of perks at Disney World until you have your park tickets. Once you have your ticket confirmations, register them with your My Disney Experience.
Pick your days and the parks to visit. At the present time you need to make reservations to enter Disney World parks. This is partly because of Covid-19 but it’s possible that this change may become permanent. With Covid it was a way to limit the number of guests entering the parks but now it looks like it may have other uses. You now make your park reservations on your My Disney Experience account which allows you to add your ride priorities for each park reservation.
- The Not-So Secret Tip To Getting On Rides – FastPass
FastPass was free up until October 19th 2021 and allowed you to pick a date, select key rides and reserve a specific time to show up and bypass the wait line. Now there’s no more free FastPass and instead it will cost you an extra $20 per day to subscribe and use.
The newest option is the Disney Genie built into the My Disney Experience App. The description touts it as an innovative process that will guide you through your day in the park. You tell it what your priority rides are and by keeping tabs on your location it will direct you to those rides with the shortest wait times.
Disney’s official description states; Introducing Disney Genie service and Disney Genie+ service, conveniently built into the My Disney Experience mobile app. Once you log into your Disney account, these services magically make your theme park visit easier and more fun. It’s like having your own personal genie in the palm of your hand. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, Disney Genie can help you get the most of your visit to Walt Disney World Resort.
In addition to paid FastPass and the Genie there’s also Lightening Lanes. Available in two options:
A. The Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Selections – When you take your day to the next level by purchasing Disney Genie+ service, you can select the next available arrival window for select Lightning Lane attractions and entertainment all day long. There are more than 40 experiences across all 4 theme parks that are eligible!
B. Individual Lightning Lane Selections – For some of our most highly demanded attractions, Lightning Lane entry will be available to purchase individually. Guests may purchase and select an arrival window one at a time for up to 2 attractions a day. This option will be available for all Guests—with or without Disney Genie+ service.
It seems that now how fast you get on rides depends on how much you’re willing to pay and if you are unaware of these changes and just enter the parks without a plan you may waste your day just waiting in lines.
- Get a MagicBand – Before October 19th if you were staying at a Disney Resort you would automatically receive a MagicBand, either in the mail or at check-in. Now if you are staying at a Disney resort or not, you need to buy your MagicBand. You can get them through the My Disney Store or online when checking in to your resort. Once you have a MagicBand you can register it at My Disney Experience and connect your park tickets and use it for admission, selecting Lightning Lane options, charging purchases, unlocking your room and more. At the park just tap your MagicBand and enter and make purchases.
- Carefully Plan Your Visit
The simple fact is there is more to do than you can be fit into a month or two. In order to make the most of your trip you have to get out a calendar and start planning which days you will want to do what. Picking a date for each park is important so that you can start planning your ride reservations. Also many restaurant and special event reservations are hard to get so you need to book as soon as possible.
- Build In Some “Down Time”
If your trip is going to be more than a few days make sure you include some down time in your calendar. A couple of days in the parks can wear anyone out, so fit in some recuperation time. Planning an afternoon at a pool or cruising around the lakes and canals could be just the thing. Also plan an evening over at Disney Springs. There’s lots of entertainment and good restaurants, especially if you visit after dark.
- Make Restaurant Reservations
sWith the explosion in Disney World prepaid meal plans it is getting harder and harder to get into restaurants around “The World”. It’s a very good idea to make some reservations as soon as you can so you don’t waste hours waiting for a table.
- Make Special Event Reservations
There are a great number of special events to consider during your vacation. From the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue to Dessert Parties and fireworks cruises and they all require reservations, often far in advance. WDW Special Events.
- Include and Make Plans For Water Parks And Shows
In addition to the main theme parks there are also two water parks and additional shows like Cirque du Soleil (a new one will be opening soon) to consider. You’ll need to check if reservations are now required and allocate a time on your calendar.
- The Magical Express
Until December 31st 2021 if you are staying at a Disney property and are flying in to Orlando you can make a reservation on the Disney Magical Express. It’s free and probably the best way to get back and forth from the airport to Walt Disney World. With 2022 there will no longer be a Magical Express.
As the Mouse says “See you real soon”, and have a great time…