Updated for 2017!
Time is money at Walt Disney World. You will spend a ton of your hard-earned money at Disney, and wasting time is really the equivalent to wasting your precious vacation dollars. The more time you spend standing in lines, the more time you are not doing something else fun. So let’s get to it and not waste any more…time.
Here are 10 ways to save time (equals money), because who among us doesn’t need more of both?
1) Walk faster
I have read a lot of Disney books, and I have never read this suggestion anywhere, so I hope I am the first person to point this out. You will save time if you just walk faster! But you had better be ready to do some serious walking. Most people average between 10 and 15 miles each Disney day. You need to start training right now for that vacation that you started saving money for months ago.
Start walking every day now, so you don’t have to waste time sitting on a bench later with sore feet and an aching back.
2)Read and make plans
Read up on park touring plans and use them. People actually study up on where to go and when to play at Disney, sort of like studying for a semester exam, because even if you don’t follow the plan to the letter, you will still save time by having a clue where you are going. Getting lost in the parks and doubling back will cost you valuable rollercoaster-riding time.
Google is a great place to start, and there are tons of Disney themed websites with a plethora of information. Travel agents can be a fantastic source of information. Book a trip with a reputable company and your travel agent will also answer any questions you have about events and dining. We recommend our Disney Vacation Planners, Erin and Elizabeth, with Destinations in Florida travel.
3) Eat when it’s less crowded
Eat before or after the “normal” meal times. My kids are now all older than sixteen, but when they were much younger, it really made me nervous to leave them at a table while I went to stand in line at noon that was 15 people deep. During really busy holidays, some restaurants will not let even find a table until you have your food in hand. I can’t imagine standing in a 20-30 minute ordering line with hungry toddlers or three griping teens.
If it’s a popular time to be eating a meal, like noon or 5 p.m., then you’re going to be standing in line for a while. Try lunch at two or dinner at four, and you will notice the lines are shorter.
Last year, my kids and I somehow got distracted riding rides and looked up to realize it was 9:45 p.m., and we had completely missed dinner. We popped into Cosmic Rays, where we had an entire section to ourselves. We were also starved, so the food tasted extra good. My sons said it was the best meal they ever ate.
There’s always pizza delivery to the resorts, which, ordered by cell phone from the back of a Disney bus on the way to your room, will arrive in no time at all.
4) Get there early
Get to the park early and ride your favorite rides first thing. This will save time standing in line later on when the whole world wakes up and arrives at the parks – to stand in line.
I admit it: I am absolutely no morning person. Although my parents arrived at the parks plenty early in my childhood, I have seen just one rope drop during my adult life. The traditional Disney planning wisdom is to get there first thing while people like me, who stayed up past closing and then walked around the Contemporary Resort past 2 a.m., sleep in. Late risers like me start arriving around ten or eleven, so get up and get moving.
5) Stay up late
Here is where I am a total expert. Stay up late and ride your favorite rides at the end of the day. We stay until the Magic Kingdom closes, then shop Main Street, U.S.A. until Cast Members are practically asking us to leave. Temps are cool late at night in the summer, and you don’t waste time standing in line for a monorail when the whole world leaves right after Wishes at 10 p.m.
If I had a favorite suggestion for Disney Moms, it would be to enjoy those late night hours after the kids have taken a nap and had a good dinner. Grab a nap yourself.
6) Use three Fastpass+es and then make some more
Fastpasses have changed a lot from days gone by. Paper Fastpasses are no more; these days, you need to schedule your Fastpasses as soon as possible so you get the rides you really want. You simply link your park admission to your Disney account, which you can do with a ticket or pass up to 30 days in advance. If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, you can make your Fastpass+es 60 days in advance.
Once you use your third pass, go make another FastPass+ selection at an in-park kiosk or on a mobile device. Then repeat that process until you leave the park for the day.
Don’t forget this, because passes your favorite raised will go fast.
7) Skip parades and shows
Ride your favorite rides during big shows or parades. Well, that’s common sense for those who have seen the shows and parades multiple times so the newness has worn off. If people are watching shows and parades, while you then won’t see the entertainment, you won’t wait in lines as long either if you just skip the shows altogether.
8) Work those Fastpasses!
Pay attention to start and end times on Fastpass+es. Years ago with the paper FASTPASS system,you could probably talk a Cast Member into letting you on a ride before your time started or after your time expired. With the system being computerized, Disney now enforces these times and there’s little flexibility.
And as we mentioned in #6, once you use your three scheduled passes, go make your group another one.
Working the Fastpass+ system will ensure you get your money’s worth from those expensive tickets.
9) Pick and choose your park well
The size of the park will determine how much time you spend there and how you plan your day. It will take longer to see all of Epcot because it’s huge, and you’ll walk more. It will take less time to see Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios because they are more compact. Everything is usually less crowded than the most popular theme park, Magic Kingdom, and of course that depends on the day of the week and the time of year.
There are lots of apps. you can use now to see wait times, although the best would be My Disney Experience. Use this link to see more information on My Disney Experience.
10. Map it out
Never been to Disney or one of the parks before? Study a map. Study maps. They are in books and online, and you will save mucho time by not getting lost and wandering around aimlessly. Not getting lost translates into feet that don’t ache as much as well. Knowing where bathrooms are located will save you time.
Plus the Disney maps online are just too cool.
Use this link for information on how to find them.
A Disney trip can be a ton of fun, but time equals money on vacation. Every minute there is costing you money, so you better send that time wisely.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you checking out park maps, way ahead of your trip.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Erin and Elizabeth. You can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.