Updated for 2017!
There are some great “101 Best Disney Tips” lists floating around out there on the Internet. You’ve probably read them; they’re good material with solid information. But they were each written by just one person, from the vantage point of that one person. My ideal Disney article would be to write about waking up at noon, resort swimming until say five.ish, then heading over to the Magic Kingdom and staying up until 4 a.m. Now do that four days straight, because that was my greatest Disney vacation EVER. But my particular vantage point might not be what you are looking for to help plan your next Disney vacation.
I like to hear opinions from all sorts of people who have been there and done that, so we asked this question to our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans:
“What you would tell your friends NOT to do at Walt Disney World?”
And that’s how we came up with this spectacular list, by real people who travel to Disney World a good bit. Several tips completely contradict the tip that precedes it, and that’s OK! It’s still good information if you can use it. You take what you need and leave the rest for someone who vacations differently from you. We all have our own unique vacation style, but it’s never too late to pick up some useful information for your next long-awaited Disney vacation.
And don’t miss our latest article, targeted for anyone traveling with children…
1. DO NOT exhaust the kids
Lana, “Do not expect small children to make it all day at the parks. You just end up with cranky, screaming messes who aren’t enjoying anything (and neither are you) I’m all about well scheduled breaks and half days!”
2. DO NOT forget to pause for a mid-day break
Tonia, “No matter how much planning you do, you will not be able to see it or do it all! Go at a comfortable pace for you and your family. If you need, a break midday to avoid a child’s evening meltdown, then take one!”
3. DO NOT fear long lines
Naomi, “Don’t worry about changing plans to go back and stand in line for 90 minutes because you child just has to ride Splash Mountain again, but without a FASTPASS this time. Some of the best moments are standing in line, forcing you to take time from busy lives to simply talk and get to know your children better. And they’ll remember the times you ran back to ride their favorite ride with them years later over the walk to the next attraction.”
4. DO NOT forget to get the FASTPASSES
Ellen, “I am in agreement with Naomi – sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and stand in a long line to make someone happy. They will surely thank you later for it. But when at all possible, check those FASTPASS times, and work that system as much as possible. That can save a ton of time standing in lines.”
Now that Fastpass+ is being used, make sure you schedule your times as soon as possible, and you still need to pay attention to the start and finish times so you won’t miss out on that Fastpass.
5. DO NOT make everybody miserable by staying on a strict schedule
Kristin, “Do not forget the trip is supposed to be fun for the family. Don’t forget sometimes, your planned schedule needs to be tossed away and enjoy the magic as it happens.”
6. DO NOT show up without kiddie entertainment
Stephanie, “Do not go without little trinkets to entertain your toddlers while they wait in long lines!! We always take bubbles, glow sticks, stickers, Wondercolor markers…anything to keep our toddler happy!” You’ll probably be making those people around you happy as well…
7. DO NOT forget that kids like a voice in the planning
Cyndi, “Don’t forget to let the kids choose what to do! We picked out shows and some rides, and then we let them decide what to do. My daughter enjoyed autographs more than rides. It was all about her! I was totally happy standing in line because she loved it so much. My son rode rides. My husband let my son make the choices. We had a blast. It is all about the kids!”
8. DO NOT bring your kids dressed in cheap shoes
Dana, “Do not let your kids wear cheap shoes…or princess dress up shoes…to walk all day!!! I can’t believe how many children I saw wearing them, and most were being carried by dinner time.”
9. DO NOT take a child on a ride just because they meet the height requirement
Angela, “Do not take your four-year-old on the Tower of Terror just because she’s tall enough and just because she insists she HAS to ride. Really. Don’t.”
10. DO NOT forget extra clothes for little kids that might get wet
Angela, “Do not forget an extra pair of shoes and socks for the kids, and probably some pants too. They will see the splash area and they will want to run through it. It’s easier to change them than try to dry the clothes in the bathroom….”
11. DO NOT forget to take the kids for a bathroom break
Jill , “DO NOT go into attractions with long running times without taking kids for a bathroom break first! Attractions and shows like Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Finding Nemo The Musical,etc. will last at least 30 min.; and, there are no bathrooms inside! Know how long you might be in line or in a show to avoid missing part when you have to run find a bathroom!”
12. DO NOT exhaust your kids in the days before the trip
Jackie, “My cousin took her kids to the beach ALL day the day before our one and only day scheduled at a Disney park. They both became sick and light-headed, causing them to have to leave. I had made the special trip to go with them, and it was one of my other cousin’s first trips as well. Luckily everyone was in agreement, and we stayed while they headed back to the hotel. But the kids missed out on all those memories. Me, being the Disney fanatic I am, I just felt bad for them.”
13. DO NOT forget to let teens have fun being kids
Kristi, “When traveling with a teenager who loves Disney, do not scold them for wanting to take pictures or meet the characters or even go on the ‘little kid’ rides. I’m 17 and my last vacation with my dad stunk because no matter what I did, he told me to grow up and act my age (I was like 13)”
14. DO NOT overlook the value of gift cards
Mary, “After several trips to WDW, both before and after we had a child, I find using gift cards instead of cash much easier. We set our spending limits for souvenirs and got our daughter her own. My husband and I had each a card of our own for meals, snacks, etc. Keep the card number/receipt because if it is lost, it can be reported to Disney and they will check the account. My friend did this and was given a new card with the remaining balance. Better than losing cash or losing your credit cards!”
15. DO NOT buy water in the parks
Louise, “Do not buy overpriced bottled water in the parks. Invest in a refillable Brita water bottle or get free cups of water from any restaurant.”
16. DO NOT hesitate to buy drinks to avoid dehydration
Mykayla, “If it’s super hot and you aren’t drinking enough, dehydration can sneak up on you fast. Don’t spend a valuable day of your vacation recuperating because you were too cheap to buy a $3.50 Gatorade. Spend the money to get something to drink if you can’t get to the free water cup or you don’t like Orlando water fountain water. Do whatever it takes to stay cool and hydrated.”
17. DO NOT forget to bring a camelback into the parks
Madi, “Bring a camelback into the parks instead of hauling around a water bottle. Camel backs usually have places to put snacks (bags of nuts, granola bars), and also you can carry a camera and wallet in them. They are more compact than a backpack, and you can fill them up again all over the park (these things hold lots of water).
#15, #16, and #17 are somewhat opposites. Is there a best plan, purchasing drinks vs. bring your own or getting free water cups? That depends on your financial budget, your willingness to wait in line, etc.
18. DO NOT leave the park on multiple days for meals
Tony, “The time wasted getting to a location and back isn’t worth time lost in the park. Prices nearby aren’t reasonable enough to justify the time lost.”
19. DO NOT eat every meal on property
Mary, “If you have your own car, or even take a cab to other parts of Orlando like the malls or Celebration, then by all means eat a meal off-property to save some money. Golden Corral buffet-style restaurants offer good food at prices way lower than character meals, and by saving money eating then, you might can afford the character meals another day.”
#18 and #19 are opposites. Is there a best meal plan, on vs. off property? That will depend on your budget, your mode of transportation, and your food budget.
20. DO NOT pay full retail park prices for everything
Naomi, “Don’t pay full price for everything at the parks and resorts. Do bring glow sticks, cases of water (even the value resorts have refrigerators to chill it or freeze it), your own sunscreen, and cheap rain ponchos for when the afternoon or impromptu storm starts. Nothing like continuing with the fun while everyone is asking you where you got them or running for cover!”
21. DO NOT feel obligated to get Park Hopper tickets every trip
Lauren, “Our first trip we used it every day. We got it in advance for our second trip and only used it one day because we felt like we had to. It’s great if you plan to park hop, but just make sure you are going to!”
22. DO NOT miss out on Park Hopping
Stella, “There is definite merit to going to one park in the morning and switching parks in the afternoon or evening. Park Hopper passes may cost you a bit more, but you may find it to be worth the extra bucks in the end.”
#21 and #22 and opposites. Park hopping eats up a lot of time changing parks, but it can also give you access to different restaurants and rides, which many families really enjoy. Only know what will work for your group.
23. DO NOT use the Deluxe Dining Plan
Karyn, “Do not buy the Deluxe Dining Plan, as you’ll be too busy planning your day around table service meals and missed park times.”
24. DO NOT forget to look into the Deluxe Dining Plan
Brian, “Some people hate the Dining Plan when it’s not free. But you know what your family will eat, so at least research Deluxe Dining Plan prices so you can be informed. You may decide it’s worth it, and or you might not want that added expense. Knowledge is food power!”
#23 and #24 are opposites. Is there a best plan, paying out-of-pocket vs. paying for the DDP? Furious debates have raged over this one, but it probably comes down to how many pricey character meals/Signature Dining meals you plan to schedule, as opposed to paying far less for counter service meals. Not every family can afford the Disney Dining Plan, so do your research.
25 DO NOT miss your scheduled dining reservation
Sean, “Do not waste your money on cancelled restaurant reservations. (Disney will charge your credit card for reservations cancelled or missed a certain amount of time before your scheduled date.) And make sure you book a reservation in advance, because dining these days is busy.”
26. DO NOT forget to price Annual Passes
Cecelia, “If you even think you could return to Disney in the same year and will go to the parks more than 10 days, look into pricing for Annual Passes. This saves you money on parking if you stay off property, and with a lower per day price, you just might want to come back more often. We all want to come back more often, but now you might could afford it.”
27. DO NOT forget your coolers for meals
Elise, “Don’t forget that you can bring in coolers. Bring an extra stroller and park it with the cooler near where you want to eat. Then enjoy your morning and at lunch, you’ll have an in-expensive and healthy lunch available.”
J. B. stopped by with a comment regarding Item #27: “I’m a Cast Member at the Magic Kingdom and I agree with most of what is on your site. But after 911 and everything else that happens every day in this crazy world we live in, do not leave anything unattended. That means back packs and coolers. If found, security will be called and it will be searched and taken to lost and found. We have no idea if it has something dangerous in it. You are not to leave your luggage unattended at the airport,so why would you do it anywhere else. We want everyone to have a Magical experience while at Disney, and we want everyone to be SAFE.”
28. DO NOT buy all your snacks in the parks
Tamalyn, “We always bring snacks into the parks with us. I don’t think my two kids need an expensive park snack everywhere we turn. We bring in both healthy snacks and some junk food items as well. This has saved us from kid and adult melt-downs when people need a sweet pick me up.”
29. DO NOT forget to build snacks into your vacation budget
Jeff, “Disney snacks are simply amazing, and I have eaten Fantasyland soft serve ice cream in place of a meal, so I should know. Candy apples, chocolate caramel apples, Rice Krispie treats, cinnamon rolls, cotton candy, and the list goes on and on. But the cost adds up fast. Make sure if you are sticking to a budget that you add in $4-7 per snack, per person per day, plus $3 for drinks if you plan to buy those.”
30. DO NOT eat breakfast in a restaurant
Jane, “Want to save money on food? Eat in your hotel room. Most hotel rooms have mini-fridges these days, and cereal or oatmeal is cheap. We take the money we save on breakfast and spend that on park meals later on. Or desserts!”
31. DO NOT skip breakfast
Kate, “Do not skip breakfast. Not only are character breakfasts fun, but if you are the first family to be checked in you, may get a special surprise!”
Lindsey, “You might not want to pay for character breakfasts or eat cereal in your room, but you better eat something, even if it’s a breakfast bar as you walk to catch the bus. A blood sugar drop at 9 a.m. is sure to put you on a park bench, and kids really need regular meals to avoid meltdowns.”
32. DO NOT regret you didn’t buy a souvenir
Sarah, “Many of the Disney gift shops have the same old stuff, like key chains, t-shirts, and the usual. But other shops have items you may not find anywhere else. Don’t NOT buy something because you think you’ll see it later, because you might not. If you are staying on property, you can have your packages sent to your resort room so you don’t have to haul it around all day.”
33. DO NOT lose your souvenir receipt
Shirley, “Traveling with little kids that change their minds? Keep your receipt. They don’t take merchandise back without a receipt, but they are great about exchanging anything unbroken with a receipt. They even take it back in a store different from where you bought it”
34. DO NOT forget money for tips and tolls
Jackie, “Most people don’t carry cash these days, but you may need some, especially if you are driving your own car through tolls. You might want to tip your waiter in cash. You’ll also need coins for the pressed penny machines.”
35. DO NOT buy souvenirs in the first couple days
Nicole, “What looks good to a first grader on day one might not on day three when he’s out of money. Hold off buying until the end of your trip to keep you from wasting time and money on returns.”
36. DO NOT forget your gum
Stan, “Disney World doesn’t sell gum on property, so if you chew it, ya better bring it.”
Lauren has a point to make about this, “Please do not bring gum into Disney! They don’t sell it for a reason, although you tell yourself you will dispose of it properly, it somehow gets on the ground, it gets on rides and attractions and it turns a magical place into a gross theme park. Please respect Disney and leave your gum at home, you can go the week without it. It is by no means necessary.”
If you are going to chew gum, please chew responsibly.
So not having chewing gum will not wreck a vacation, but substitute that with something else you really need, like prescription medications, special coffees, liquor, cigarettes, or basically anything you would have to drive off property to buy, and forgetting (fill in your blank) can be an issue, especially if you flew or drove from a long distance away.
37. DO NOT spend so much you wind up in debt
Jessie, “Set a spending limit, and try not to go too far over it. Nothing will stink worse than returning from a vacation with a huge debt to pay off. Vacation debt will be like sucking the fun out of all of your memories when you pay that bill each month.”
38. DO NOT hesitate to share meals
Melissa, “My mom and I share meals all the time. This cuts down my food bill considerably. If I had little kids, I’d have them share meals too. Food portions are large at Disney, as they should be, because they are costly. I can never seem to get my food costs low enough.”
39. DO NOT order kids meals for kids only
Ada, “Walking in the heat all day kills my appetite. I order kids meals for myself. This is more than enough food for me, even if the food isn’t fancy. If I get hungrier, I can pay more for an adult meal.”
40. DO NOT let your guard down with your money
Katie, “I was visiting a friend staying off property near Universal Studios and long story short, we went out a side door that locked behind us after she visited the ATM. There were two men watching her and proceeded to run by and grab her purse. Remember that Orlando is a metro area, and outside of the security-heavy ‘Disney Bubble,’ there are people who are on the lookout for ‘dumb tourists.’ They know that people take loads of cash and valuables with them, so it’s a perfect storm. Always know your surroundings and be aware of who is watching you. This happened 10 years ago, and I still can’t believe that stalking tourists is what some people consider a ‘job.'”
41. DO NOT act like you are the only people on vacation
Donna, “Don’t act like the only people in the park on vacation. The quality of your experience directly affects the experience of everyone around you.”
42. DO NOT take flash pictures on rides
Mary, “It’s understandable that you may want to capture every aspect of your vacation on film, but flash photography is disturbing to other ride goers and ruins many rides. The flash will reveal hidden machinery on dark rides. Just enjoy the ride and leave the pictures for outside!”
43. DO NOT forget about people behind you
Crystal, “When watching Wishes or Illuminations, don’t hold an iPad above your head and film it. This blocks the view for everyone behind you, and truthfully, the very small sensor, and it moving around your video won’t be very good anyway. Just enjoy the show. Same for kids on the shoulders; hold them on your hip so their head is at your eye level and does not block everyone behind you and they can still see. Every time I watch Wishes – my view gets blocked!
44. DO NOT attract huge amounts of attention to yourself
David, “Have you ever been on a monorail with a group of teens that laughed and cackled so loudly you couldn’t hear yourself think? Ever been standing in a gift shop and someone walks by just shouting into a cell phone, so loud that people turn and stare? A restaurant is not the place to make a phone call. A gift shop is not the place to scream at your child. Basic courtesy can take you a long way.”
45. DO NOT expect miracles from Cast Members
Felicity, “Do not expect Cast Members to perform miracles or change the weather. They are people who want you to have a magical vacation, but they are human and are frequently given unreasonable requests.”
46. DO NOT show up with all your problems
Terri, “Do not bring the outside world and its problems in with you…leave them at the front gate. The magic can work so much better!”
47. DO NOT wander aimlessly
Laurie, “Do not wander around aimlessly when there are guests and Cast Members who can tell you where to go.” Cast Members are everywhere – just ask which way to go! Or make sure you are familiar with park maps to make walking more efficient.
48. DO NOT get loaded
Grayson, age 12, “Don’t drink too much. Just because they sell alcoholic drinks doesn’t mean you have to drink too much. There are videos of drunk people at Disney, mostly EPCOT, all over YouTube. That’s not funny. Drinking too much can ruin your trip.”
49. DO NOT lose your cool
Alice,” It makes me so sad to see people fighting at Disney. I’ve seen couples fighting, parent’s yanking kids around. I’ve heard some of the WORST language at the Happiest Place on Earth. Chill out. Calm down. Don’t say things you’ll regret when you get back home. Calm down and think about what a Disney Princess would say.”
50. DO NOT forget the rules of the road and personal space
Laurie, “Do not forget the sidewalk rules of the road such as staying to the right, passing on the left. Don’t shove a semi in a VW sized space, and no usurping other person’s space. Do not forget that strollers, canes, scooters, chairs, dogs, and other mobility devices are part of the person’s body thus not something to lean on or jump over.”
51. DO NOT use words you will regret
Jeanne, “Do not curse in the parks. My husband said bull s— in Epcot years ago to a staff member and we were escorted out of the park! They employ state troopers and it will ruin your day.” It’s a good idea to talk in a nice manner on any vacation.
52. DO NOT skip the resort mug
Shane, “Even with the RDIF changes coming to resort mugs on how you can just use it during that trip only, paying the $15-$17 for a mug can save you money if you will be dining at the resort for multiple meals.”
53. DO NOT smoke in the resort rooms
Rick, “If you’re travelling with a smoker, make sure they know they absolutely cannot smoke in their room. Disney is very strict about this, and they will charge $250 environmental clean-up fee.”
54. DO NOT forget to take home the resorts shampoos and soaps
Ashlee, “You paid for them, so be sure to take the soaps and shampoos home. Sometimes the housekeeping Cast Members will give you extras if you ask. It’s good quality stuff and smells so good. Smelling it weeks later reminds me of being on vacation.”
55. DO NOT stay anywhere but on property
Monica, “The Disney Resorts do cost more than off-property hotels, but you are paying for the experience. You can ride the bus. You are in the middle of all the fun. Staying on property is the best part of a Disney trip.”
Bill, “Do not stay off property. Staying off property is cheaper but a much different experience.”
56. DO NOT stay on property
Amanda, “We enjoy renting a house off property when we want to bring our dogs along with us, and it gives our family a lot more room to spread out. It’s a different sort of vacation from staying on property, but it can save money.”
#55 and #56 are opposites. Is there a better plan, paying more to stay on property vs. paying less to drive in from outside the resort gates? Entire books could be written about this planning topic. It seems to mainly depend on your lodging budget. You can save a lot of money staying off-property, but you will have a “different” time staying on property. Not everyone can afford to stay in the Disney Value resorts, despite a desire to do so. Whatever gets you there, right?
57. DO NOT think you must have the best
Laurie, “Do not get obsessed with having the best. That Pop Century room is good enough for you, and you save $400 a night over Club level at the Polynesian Resort. Save yourself money by omitting fancy rooms that you are never in. Use that money on Hoop Dee Doo Review, souvenirs, tours, and memories.”
58. DO NOT feel guilty for spending time off property
Janice, “So many people talk endlessly about just doing Disney. I felt like I had to sneak off-property and hide my photos so they didn’t harass me. Orlando has fantastic malls, Universal Studios and Sea World. Do what you want, and enjoy your time doing it.”
59. DO NOT miss out on the resorts
Danielle, “Disney allows you to visit their resorts for free, just to hang out and see what the property looks like. This is a great way to spend an afternoon when you don’t have tickets, especially during the holidays when everything is decorated. Eat a meal while you are there.”
60. DO NOT pay for a Moderate Resort if you won’t be swimming a lot
Laura, “The Moderate Resorts cost almost $100 more than the Value Resorts per night, and the rooms are really not THAT much nicer. However, the pools are nicer and have slides. If you plan to do a lot of swimming, book a moderate resort, otherwise, spend that extra money somewhere else.”
61. DO NOT wing it
Melissa, “Do not just wing it. Have a plan, even if it’s just for what you want to do most that day. You will lose so much time just wandering around the park. Plans are made to be changed, but it’s smart to start out with one.”
62. DO NOT over plan it
Jennifer, “Have a general plan but don’t plan every minute. Go with the flow. Wander. Discover.”
#61 and #62 are opposites. Is there a better plan, winging it or pre-planning it? That depends on your level of knowledge on all things WDW, you willingness to do your homework, and your ability/inability to stick to a rigid plan. Some families plan nothing, and some plan every waking minute. It’s what works for you.
63. DO NOT forget to do your vacation homework
Breanna, “Study the park maps. Look over menus on the internet. Talk to friends. Read articles. Read show reviews. Learn as much as you can before you get there, because Disney is overwhelming for people who don’t know what to expect.”
64. DO NOT forget to get your free park maps
Emily, “Be sure you pick up the free park maps at the entrance to the parks. You can look at these when you get home or do crafts with them.”
65. DO NOT forget to download the My Disney app
Dawn, “ My Disney Experience is a set of online mobile tools that everyone with a smart phone should get. It’s free and easy to use. I like looking up park wait times with this app.” You can find the My Disney Experience info. here with this link.
66. DO NOT forget to plan with a calendar
Erin, “Check out crowd calendars at touringplans.com BEFORE committing to a trip. Changing your dates by a few weeks could help you find less crowded times of the year to go. And if you can’t avoid the crowds, use the crowd predictors to figure out where you are going to each day of your trip.”
Lynn, “We go during off-season because we save money. Check the prices of resorts, because there can be a big difference between week to week. And weekends usually cost more.”
67. DO NOT think you can do it all
Mendi and Nick, “Do not think you will get everything done in a day. Enjoy each moment and take in the magic without planning what’s next.”
Kerry, “Do not attempt to see everything. You can’t. Slow down and enjoy yourself. Take breaks, relax. Remember you are on vacation. Do not approach it like a marathon. You will wear yourself out and be miserable.”
68. DO NOT stick to just one form of transportation
Vicki, “Ride every form of transportation – bus, monorail, train, and boat. It’s great fun! Do visit other resorts to check out the theming or grab a bite to eat.”
69. DO NOT forget those ADRs
Sharon, “Do not NOT make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for sit down meals. It is very hard to get walk up seating.”
70. DO NOT plan your trip around dining reservations
Angela, “Do not plan your vacation around meal reservations. We purchased the deluxe dining plan and did 5+ Character meals. It was a great experience for my dd but we would have been fine doing 1 character meal. Our whole day everyday was planned around meal reservations.”
71. DO NOT be scared to try new things
Tamara, “Disney is crammed full of food, rides, and experiences you can’t do at home. Don’t be afraid to try something you wouldn’t normally do at home. This is how you make memories”
72. DO NOT go to the “wrong” park
Eric, “Research what to expect at each park and decide what is best for your family. Not alkyds enjoy animals, and not all adults like roller coasters. You decide what is best for your group.”
73. DO NOT listen too carefully to your friends
Candy, “It’s OK to listen to your friends tell you what to plan sometimes. But everyone vacations differently. If you listen to too many opinions, you can stress yourself out before you even get there.”
74. DO NOT think you will make everyone happy
Misty, “You will drive yourself nuts if you think every member of your family will have fun all the time. Split up and go different directions if needed. Try to keep your cool when tempers get heated. Try to make the most people happy and deal with the rest.”
75. DO NOT miss night-time shows
DeAnna, “DO NOT miss the nighttime shows (Wishes, IllumiNations, Fantasmic). They’re the best you’ll see anywhere. My Daddy always had to ‘beat the crowd’ and as children, we always had to catch glimpses of fireworks from the monorail. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I was able to watch the shows, so when Daddy came with me, I made him stay. He loved it and then would stay every time.”
76. DO NOT forget a packing list
Mandi, “The one time we forgot to use an actual check it off packing list, I forgot my daughter’s stack of clothes. That cost me nearly $70 to replace at Wal-mart on the drive down. Don’t get me started on how aggravated my husband was. Start you vacation off by packing with a real list – don’t just wing it and hope you remembered everything.”
77. DO NOT go when it’s crazy busy
Kristie, “Don’t go on Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. Do not miss the opportunity to go to MNSSHP OR MVMCP!!”
78. DO NOT hesitate to go when it’s a holiday
Amy, “Holidays may be crazy with high crowds and long lines, but no one does holiday seasons like Disney. Use those Fastpasses, arrive at the parks early, and don’t expect to ride everything. Stop to enjoy the decorations. Christmas is especially breathtaking!”
#77 and #78 are opposites. Is there one preferred vacation plan, going off-season vs. holiday seasons? That will depend on your willingness to take kids out of school, your ability to handle long lines, your vacation budget, etc. Some families love Disney during the crowded times, while other people say no way and go other times.
79. DO NOT stand in a bag check for one item
Anna, “Do not take a bag just to tote a bottle of water. Every entrance requires a bag check and lines can be very long.If you can make it without a bag, do so.”
80. DO NOT lose your car
John, “If you ever asked yourself where your car is in a Disney parking lot, you know the true feeling of panic. Take a picture of your parking lot number to send it to yourself, or just text the number to yourself or a family member.”
81. DO NOT forget your deodorant
Brian,“This seems pretty straightforward. It’s 105 degrees in Orlando in the summer, and standing behind stinky people in line is gross. And if you bring a sample size of white deodorant, you can also use this to put on bug bites to stop the itching. Double score!”
82. DO NOT lose your cell phone
Sasha, “It’s really easy to set your stuff down in the parks and the gift shops. If you lose your cell phone, you could be in big trouble. Cell phones and like life lines these days. My husband and I use those goofy looking phone clips on our shorts. Function over fashion!”
83. DO NOT waste time charging a cell phone
Edward, “There are now places to charge your cell phone in several of the parks. Is this really the best use of your time? Buy an extra battery or one of those portable chargers. Those are cheap these days, and that’s a good use of funds. Spend that charging time on a ride or taking a nap in a dark show!”
84. DO NOT take a break mid-day
Jennifer, “When we do Disney, we go, Go, GO GO GO! We don’t get to Disney but every couple of years, so we hit it hard and do not stop. I can take a nap when I get home.”
85. DO NOT underestimate the power of a quick power nap
Tammy, “If you don’t want to leave the parks mid-day for a nap, to get the most bang for your buck, take a little snooze in some of those dark rides. No shame in waking up at the Hall of Presidents all refreshed and ready to make it until park closing.”
86. DO NOT underestimate the power of an long nap
Jessica, “I know lots of friends who stay at the parks all day, because who wants to sleep on vacation. But man, I can’t wait to get on a bus and go back for a real nap in our hotel room. Shades drawn, air conditioning turned down. The kids complain about leaving, but we all feel so much better after an hour nap. This is a serious vacation must-do for us.”
#84, #85, and #86 are somewhat opposites. Is there a best plan, resting mid-day vs. going full-out all day long? That depends on your body, your age, your family, and how long you can walk for hours without exhausting yourself. Some families never nap, while others swear they take a break every day. If you go all day and decide you need a nap, then change-up your vacation plan for the next day.
87. DO NOT wear new shoes
Vicki, “Make sure your shoes are broken in. Do wear socks that are designed to wick moisture away from your feet.” Kid’s shoes were mentioned earlier – just imagine carrying kid’s with aching feet while your feet are killing you…
88. DO NOT forget your camera
Laila, “Packing a backpack can be daunting, even for the most organized of us. Put your camera on the top of your back-pack packing list. Keep it in your hand. When you put it away, that’s when the perfect photographic moment pops up. You can’t get that back.”
89. DO NOT take the kids out of school
Aimee, “I know people take their kids out of school to go on vacation but don’t. Their education is just too valuable. Go in the summer and deal with the heat and crowds. Your kids may not thank you now, but they will later. ”
90. DO NOT hesitate to take kids out of school
Kelly, “Kids grow up so fast. You can get make up work before you leave or do it when you get back. The times when kids are in school, the parks are their least busy. They will still get in college if they miss some school for a Disney trip, and think of the memories you will make.”
#89 and #90 are opposites. Is there a best plan, taking kids out of school vs going when the kids are on a break? There may be no more personal vacation planning question than this one. You know what your kids can handle, what work they can make up. Talk to their teachers if you have concerns, or plan a summer/Christmas/Spring Break vacation.
91. DO NOT expect perfection
Tandy, “Stuff goes wrong on vacation. It probably won’t be the BEST vacation you ever took. (But it might be!) Don’t set your expectations SO high that you freak out when plans change. You know, just roll with it and have a good time.”
92. DO NOT go to the theme parks everyday
Chrystie, “Do give yourselves a day off the parks somewhere in the middle of your vacation. You’ll be surprised how much that helps kids (and you) recharge. Most importantly step back from the stress, breathe and have the time of your life!!!”
93. DO NOT go when it’s so hot
Janna, “Do not go in July or August. If you have to follow the school calendar, you’ll always be there at peak times, so go at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring Break. It is too darn hot in July and August.”
94. DO NOT have nowhere designated to meet up
Pamela, “Kids get separated from their parents at Disney all the time. Pick a place to meet if you get separated. Make sure your kids know your cell number or to find a Cast Member. Nobody wants to waste time searching for lost members of your group.”
95. DO NOT stay at home because of a baby
Alissa, “Friends told me never to take a baby to Disney because babies won’t remember it, so it’s a waste of money, but we did anyway. It was a great vacation for us, and we took some of the best pictures to show her later on. Our five-month-old baby just slept through most of the rides. And babies get in free!”
96. DO NOT shop on Main Street first thing
Stacy, “DON’T waste time shopping on Main Street right when you enter the Magic Kingdom. The shops stay open an hour after the park closes and although it’s busy, you can usually get what you want before leaving the park.”
97. DO NOT pay for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Alicia, “If you really want to save money, don’t go to the BBB. It’s a simple slicked back hair style – just do it yourself. Start this when your daughters are young, and they won’t know until they are older that this actually costs anything.”
98. DO NOT miss out on the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique because of the price
Melissa, “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is worth the money and the memories! Yes, it’s a simple hairstyle…but the quality of the costume and the over all experience at the boutique led to pictures and memories that my daughter is still talking about 2 months later. We will remember this experience forever. Cast Members know a DIY princess and a boutique princess and we noticed a huge difference with the attention our daughter got the whole two days she stayed in the outfit (that hair gel is awesome!)”
#97 and #98 are opposites. This is a pretty simple one, really because it comes down to money. If you have the $$, parents rave their daughters loved the experience, and if not, go the DIY route.
99. DO NOT plan it yourself
Robin, “We use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner every time we stay on property. You don’t get free anything when you call Disney directly. But you do if you use a vacation planner. If I have any problems or questions, I just call my planner, even when I’m actually standing in the parks.”
100. DO NOT forget you can separate & meet up later
Heather, “Don’t forget that you can separate and meet up later. Even though it is a family vacation not everyone is going to want to do the same thing. Split up for a little while and select a meeting place and time to get back together. That way everyone gets to do what they want and be happy. We usually spend the mornings together, and when we come back in the afternoon separate; then spend the evenings together again.
101. DO NOT forget about special occasions
Yoly, “Do not forget when checking in to a Disney Resorts to let them know if you are celebrating something like a birthday, anniversary or if it is your first time visiting the parks. The resort will give you a button to wear and the park cast members will acknowledge the occasion. We did this for our son and my dad when turned 80 and they both enjoyed the attention they got. The resort housekeeping staff even made them a cake out of towels.
102 DO NOT forget to mention food allergies
Julie, “Remember that Walt Disney World is prepared for food allergies too! They are so kind, considerate and knowledgeable about gluten allergies. I almost cried the first time someone asked if I ordered the sandwich without a bun because of a gluten allergy.. The cast members and chefs were wonderful!
103. DO NOT forget adults should dress appropriately
Heather, “Dress appropriately! One trip I saw a woman with a visible thong because her pants were see through. Remember there are kids at this park and most are at waist level. Be appropriate for everyone.”
104. DO NOT forget your non-ear hat
Camille, “I feel like the sun is frying my brain in Orlando during the summer, not to mention wrinkling my face. Take a hat with you that has a visor. This is great advice for people with kids too. I’m always hunting for cheap Disney visors on eBay.”
105. DO NOT forget your sunscreen
Shawn, “A Cast Member once told me the number one reason people seek medical treatment at Disney is for sun burn. I don’t know if that’s true, but I see lots of people who appear to be burning by the minute. Don’t forget your sunscreen, and then don’t forget to reapply if you are sweating in the summer.”
106. DO NOT leave your ________ in the ________
Michelle, ” A Cast Member once told me you would be amazed the amount of junk that is lost every day on vacation. And by junk I mean expensive stuff. Keep up with what you bring. That sounds over simple, because there is so much going on every second of your vacation, it’s too easy to set your ___________ down and walk off. And now you gotta buy it again.”
107. DO NOT forget extra camera stuff
Mindy, “I still remember trying to take a picture of my daughter, then 3, hugging Mickey Mouse. We don’t use Photopass, and my camera battery died. I see it in my head, but she won’t ever see it on paper. Bring extra camera batteries and memory sticks. Sniff. Those moments don’t come back again.”
108. DO NOT forget to bring ponchos
Cindi, “Don’t forget your cheap ponchos! The ones at the park will eat your budget if you need more than one!!”
109. DO NOT forget simple medical gear
Brice, “Kids run everywhere and fall all the time. Adult trip. If you get a scratch, you can walk over to the first aid center. But that wastes time. Carry some Band Aids, Neosporin ointment, and maybe some Tylenol in your backpack.”
110. Don’t forget your rain GEAR
Talia, “It rained so much at Disney this summer. People complained all over Facebook about rain during their vacations. Whether it’s an umbrella, flip-flops, rain coat or poncho, don’t forget it rains a lot in the summer time. Coming prepared can save you from paying $9 for a Mickey poncho in an Orlando monsoon.”
111. DO NOT bail if it rains
Teresa, “Don’t bail back to the hotel if it starts to rain. Throw on the poncho and keep going. Inside rides and shows have no lines.”
Melanie, “I agree with Teresa, do not go back to the hotel if it rains! Put on ponchos and keep on going! I tell my family that the trip is an adventure, a sometimes rain is part of the adventure and fun!
112. DO NOT skip the water parks if it rains
Vicki, “Do head for the water park when it starts raining. It will be a quick shower & by the time you get there, the park will have emptied out.”
113. DO NOT waste time in line for characters
Janine, “I walk by those character lines, people piled 15-20 deep, as fast as I can with my kids. There are just so many things I would rather be doing than standing in the sun for a quick photo. As long as I get a shot of Mickey with the kids up on Main Street, I’m cool, as long as the kids agree.”
114. DO NOT miss the chance to greet characters
Mona, “Ever see a kid greet a character for the first time?! It’s pure magic! Spending time in line to get personal time with those characters is so worth it, especially for the little girls dressed as princesses.”
#113 and #114 are opposites. Is there a best plan, spending time meeting characters vs riding rides? That will depend on how bad your kids, or you!, want to get a photo hugging a character. Some people say the waits are totally worth it, while others are glad you are not in line ahead of them for Space Mountain.
115. DO NOT meet the characters anywhere but a character meal
Naomi, “Make the latest character breakfast reservation. The characters will come around to you instead of you standing in line to get pictures and autographs. Plus most are buffets, and you’ll be full until a late dinner or snacks through the day.”
116. DO NOT forget some characters roam around
Taylor, “Not all characters have a specific place that they stay and just sign autographs. They have special spaces in the park where the characters will come out for about 15-20 mins and then walk around. You can find these place in forums all over the Internet or even by asking Cast Members at the park.”
117. DO NOT rush for the bus
Vicki, ” Do not rush to the buses as soon as a park closes. You will wait in line forever. Let the crowds thin out.”
118. Use snack credits wisely
Michelle, “Do not waste your snack credits on bottled water or soda. Research the menus at the fun places in Epcot and all around the parks.You can get fabulous snacks and take home snacks with those credits instead!”
119. DO NOT be careless around the busses
Sonny, ” I wanted to mention something which I personally witnessed. When you are using bus transportation, please be kind, considerate, and above all, use some common sense! People have been killed darting in front of and around the busses, and also badly hurt while on the buses. I saw a lady get hit by a bus last year and she died! I always try to hard to be nice to those around me. Before you say something mean, hateful, or down right rude, please think how you would feel if someone said ‘That’ to You! Please stay safe while at the Happiest Place on Earth.”
It can be very congested in the parking lots and bus loading zones, and as fast as some people drive to grab the perfect parking place, accidents are a possibility with children of all ages. Adults too, so safety first.
120. NO NOT forget your stroller etiquette on the bus
Veronica, “We have a double jogger we fondly call a ‘Cadillac.’ It’s huge, but when folded, it fits nicely in the bus rows. Don’t hold up the bus lines getting kids out and folding those suckers up. Let other people go while you do so, or have your kids out and ready before the bus pulls up. Even if the folded stroller stands on its own, it will fall on turns, so hold on to it so others aren’t hurt! If riding the monorail and its empty, the strollers can be pushed right in, great for nap time trips. And for the love of Mickey, be respectful of others while pushing your strollers through crowds!”
121. DO NOT come unprepared for “Orlando” winter
Stacey, “Don’t forget to bring sweatshirts or sweat jackets for cool evenings in the fall. Sweatshirts in the park are expensive! Some people don’t realize how cool it can get in October or November.”
122. DO NOT forget a small towel for the regular parks
Taylor, “DO NOT forget to pack a towel not only to the water parks but everywhere! You can use it to: save a spot at a parade, clean off a seat, dry wet ponchos, shade you from the heat, wet your face, and warm you (if dry) if it gets a little chilly!”
If you ever ate french fries off your child’s meal, as a meal, to save money for dessert, then you might like one of our latest saving-money articles.
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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.
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