120 Walt Disney World DO NOTs: Tips From Real People on How NOT to Screw Up a Disney Vacation!

Disney World Do Nots List

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…

Read: Over 190 Disney World Tips for Kids!
tips for Disney World

Disney Kids

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.”

Read: 6 Reasons to Schedule a Haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

best tips for a Disney vacation

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.” 

Read: When Should You Tell the Kids About A Disney Vacation?

best tips for traveling to Disney World

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)”

Read – Why Book Advanced Dining Reservations: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

main-street-fireworks-at-disney-world

Save money at Disney World

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.

how to have fun at Disney World

Read: 12 Totally Cool Ideas to Replace Your Usual Disney Character Autograph Books

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.  

best tips for Disney World trip
Read: Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

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.”

Read: 12 Disney Craft Ideas from Pinterest for the Disney Princess on a Budget!

Disney World at Christmas

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!”

Read: The Day You Arrive at Disney World, Don’t Waste Your Tickets on This…

I love Disney World

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.”

Read – Pros and Cons of Staying at a Disney Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

vacation-at-disney-world

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.'”

Read – The Disney World Do-Over: Tips for Planning a Better Vacation

Disney World vacation planning ideas

People pointers at Disney World

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.”

Read: How to Pack the BEST Disney World Theme Park Bag Ever!

Disney World trip

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.

Read – What are the Best Shoes to Wear on a Disney World Vacation? We Asked the Fans…

Disney Moms

Resort tips for Disney World

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?

tips for Walt Disney World trip
How to Score Free Drinks at Disney World’s Epcot!

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.”

disney-world-rides-are-fun

Planning a trip to Disney World

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.”

how to take kids to Walt Disney World
Read: Nine Cheapskate Tips to Celebrate a Birthday at Walt Disney World for FREE!

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.”

Read: What Are the 5 Worst Times to Vacation at Walt Disney World?

Disney World best tips

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.”

best tips for Disney vacation
Read: Love the Disney Princesses? 10 Ways to Act Just Like One!

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.

minnie-mouse-souvenirs

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.  

Space Mountain
What You Can NOT Wear to Walt Disney World Theme Parks

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.”

Read: Over 20 Disney Character Autograph Tips from Fans and Parents

go to Walt Disney World

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.

Read: 70% Off Disney Parks Authentic Merchandise? Cheapskate Bargains Galore!

Disney World tips and tricks

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.”

Disney vacation ideas

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.”

Read: Over 30 FREE Activities at Downtown Disney!

Disney Moms

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.”

Trip Planning ideas for Disney World

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.”

Read – The Top 20 Best Disney Restaurants, So Says the Fans!

have fun on vacation with Disney kids

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!”

Avoid These 10 Mistakes That Can Wreck a Disney World Vacation

fin Disney World tips for kids

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!”

How not to screw up your Disney World vacation

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 Cheapskate PrincessAmanda 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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Comments

  1. Ruth says:

    I wanted to add one. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. My friends and I were able to get a reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot for lunch within a 24 hour period (apparently you usually need to make reservations like 3 months beforehand) because we asked if they happened to have any openings. It was a trip where we “winged it” and is by far one of my favorite trips ever.

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree! On your first trip we did not purchase Park Hopper passes, however, after spending the day at AK and enjoying dinner at Rainforest Cafe we still had hours of time with nothing to do. My husband asked about purchasing a one time pass for our family to travel back to MK and was told that was not possible. However, they had him fill out a simple card and then presented us with four tickets MK. The cast member told us it was “on Mickey!” It made our night and gave us another chance to experience that special Disney Magic!

  2. Davis says:

    Bring some ziplock bags to put tickets, credit cards, cash, car keys, and cell phone in so those items do not get wet on various rides where they could. Do not bring a purse when you only need cash/cards/tickets.

  3. Beth says:

    I agree that ist is a waste of time to see characters, but there is one spot in Epcot that is a good character meet and greet. Near the soda around the world, there is an inside place to see about 6-7 characters at once. We waited about an hour but got many pictures and signatures from the classic characters like Mickey.

  4. Joni O says:

    Yes photo passes are expensive IF you buy them after the fact. Add it to your package before hand & it’s a flat rate for all the pics you take. So take a ton!

  5. jami says:

    here’s a tip i do all the time!…stick a sticky note on you’re phone cover and write you’re mother or father or sister or etc, number! so if it got lost and someone found it they can call, i also do that with my backpack and my camera , once my camera fell down on the ground while i was walking i didn’t notice it but after i went to the hotel ,a cast member called my father and told him he found my camera!

  6. Devon H says:

    Photo Pass is expensive, but worth it if you really do want that high quality picture of your group with Cinderella’s Castle or the Epcot Ball. At the same time though, the Photo Pass Cast Members will take a picture for you with your own camera. They also know how to get the best shot with light, positioning, and even with your camera. You would be surprised the pictures you can get with just a phone camera in the right hands.

    Regarding taking your kids out of school, it all depends on their teacher. When I was in 3rd grade, my parents took me out for about a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas (one of the best times to go by the way). I got all the upcoming assignments from my teacher, and worked on them in the hotel room when we weren’t in the park. When I got back to school, I was about a week ahead of everyone else, because the class ended up going slower than they initially thought.

  7. Jen says:

    In regards to not spending a fortune on Disney itunes, I also have a Disney Pandora radio station. It’s 100% FREE and as you like and dislike songs it builds the station around your preferences.

  8. Chelsea says:

    DO NOT miss out on the parades. They have a couple different parades throughout the day which are scheduled, and depending on when you go, they are themed. I am 21 and went with my entire family for Christmas, and the parades were incredible. We also went in August a couple years ago and they were great then too. My parents loved it, i loved it, and my many younger siblings loved it(youngest was 5).

    also…

    DO NOT miss out on Disney World if you have disabled children. I have two younger siblings (14 and 8) who are severely autistic and have a blast everytime them go. They love the rides, characters, and absolutely love the parades.

  9. Carrie says:

    These are great! I would add, don’t cater to one person in the family if the trip is meant for everyone. The first time I went to a Disney park I was 16, and was there with my older siblings and their kids. Everything we did was centered around the little ones, and while I was happy they were having so much fun, I was really disappointed to have to miss out on what I wanted to do because the kids didn’t want to/couldn’t.

    Also, remember that your older children- who are great at watching their siblings at home- are on a vacation too! Don’t expect them to be another parent just because they do it at home. Let them be kids, let them have fun, and if you really can’t do it all without their help, offer breaks as often as you can.

  10. Susan says:

    Do not get caught in Fantasy Land behind the castle up to an hour before WIshes. They rope the area off, and~ if you wish to see the castle in the backdrop of the fireworks~, you will not have easy access to get back around. The streets are crowded, the parade comes through, and you may not be able to make it around the park, and back in front of the castle before the fireworks start.

  11. Patricia says:

    Order the temporary “If lost, call….” tattoos for your small children. No one expects to lose their children, but you’ll be glad you were prepared in the event something happens.

    • Kylene says:

      Where do find those? That is a great idea!!

    • Britney says:

      Another method that works is putting the number on a piece of paper at the bottom of small children’s shoes. This wouldn’t work if they were wearing sandals or flip flops, but if they are wearing shoes like sneakers, this method would work great.

  12. Kylene says:

    Please be considerate of others when stopping to talk to your group. I couldn’t count the times that people stopped right in the middle of a sidewalk to look at a map or talk to their group. My daughter and I were constantly having to stop and go around people. Please move to one side, against a building, or find a table.

  13. Jeanne says:

    Do NOT miss out getting your princess a Disney princess outfit in Downtown Disney. Yes you can buy them on Ebay, at garage sales, at Costco near Halloween, but not the same quality. The Disney ones at WDW are the best, we have put them through the washing machine many times, the glitter never runs out. Even the ones we have purchased at The Disney Store at the mall are not quite as nice. My princess (granddaughter) loves her princess dresses, I do not regret one penny of the joy this has brought her.

  14. Jeanne says:

    Do not miss the opportunity to get pictures of your princess dressed as her favorite princess with her favorite princess. They get that special attention. Also when meeting characters, be sure to have that autograph book ready, and the over sized pens make it so much easier for characters to sign with.

  15. Britney says:

    Before entering the parks, have all of your children (no matter the age) recite your cell phone number and the number for police (911). If they’re too young, have your cell phone number in the bottom of their shoe on a small piece of paper. Make sure they know it is there, so if they get lost, they will be able to have a crew member call the phone number to tell you where they are.

  16. Helen Hardin says:

    Do not miss the afternoon parade in magic kingdom! You see TONS of characters and we have had great one on one moments with characters in a huge crowd. Also if you will spend multiple days in Magic Kingdom skip the nighttime parade and wishes, the rides are empty, literally walk on and some nights they will do an encore parade later.

  17. Jillian G says:

    DO NOT miss out on the disney dinners. Even the kids like going out for dinner late at night (maybe not toddlers), but one of our favorite parts of the disney parks is being able to fine dine, and the disney deluxe dining plan helps with this!

  18. Jillian G says:

    Do NOT go to the parks early in the morning if you are returning to disney world. I cannot stress this enough. I’ve been to disney 12 times, and my family already knows the things we love, the things we hate, and the things we want to try so we stay by the pool till around 2 and then head to the parks till late at night. You don’t really NEED an entire day to explore the parks, unless you plan on seeing EVERYTHING, and the heat goes down at night, along with the crowds and lines. Plus the nightlife at disney world is the best part about the trips!

  19. Jillian G says:

    don’t think you need to gear up for disney with crazy snacks and good walking sneakers and crazy medications and sun visors, the whole 9 yards. Honestly, unless you plan on going to a park from 9am-9pm you have nothing to worry about. I wear flip flops in the park and only carry my phone and a water bottle with me, and i do just fine. then again we only visit parks half a day considering ive been there 12 times. i’m just tired at the end of the day. disney isnt this long trek through the forest of which you should be scared of. theres alot of time sitting on the floors waiting in lines for rides too. dont stress please! no need to overpack.

  20. Jillian G says:

    this is more of a do- if you can get any advice from disney vacation club members (such as myself) that have been to disney 12+ years DO IT! they know the secrets, the hints, the best things to do and the worst. and its especially fun when you know things better than the other people do such as if you dont NEED to see the day parade in magic kingdom, hit the most popular rides and there will be no wait!

  21. Jillian G says:

    DO. NOT. MISS. CHEF. MICKEYS. the ONLY place for the best breakfast in disney world. seriously

  22. Jillian G says:

    do not try to go to disney on a low budget. hate to say it, but to experience the full disney experience you need to dig into your wallet a little, not for souvenirs, but for dinners and park tickets and hoppers and such.

    • Sally says:

      Respectfully disagree.

      Three of us (all adults), went to Disney World for the first time, and had a fantastic time on a low budget. We drove a total of 44 hours there and back, and with hotels and gas along the way, stayed well under our budgets. We left with a car load of souvenirs, a camera full of great pictures, and money in our wallets.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        I think this goes to show, you can go to Disney with all the money in the world or with very little in your pocket. Disney is great about making it “easy” for everyone to enjoy. The cost is expensive to enter, but once you are in a park, it is really up to you on how much you spend. Every restaurant will give you free ice water, if you ask, there are also water fountains throughout the park if you want to bring in your own water bottle. Everyone has to eat, right? Disney allows you to bring in your own food. Bring in a PBJ from home/hotel and then only spend money on those beloved Mickey Mouse ice cream bars or a Disney Dole Whip. You could also bring in your own Soda/Pop from your hotel if you really need your caffeine fix (Note: they only serve Coke products on site. If you need Pepsi, bring it yourself). Disney has lots of shows in the park for free, transportation is free (minus parking for most) and they have free fast-pass for rides and some shows, which a lot of other parks charge big bucks for. You can easily have a great time and experience with a little pre-planning and saving without it costing an arm and a leg if you choose.

        Most of all, no matter how much money you bring, or don’t, enjoy the time with your friends and family. That is one thing that is not only free, but priceless.

  23. Feivelour says:

    DO NOT deny your kid who has finally made the height requirement the chance to go onto the ‘big kid’ rides. They will finally feel like a big kid and that is so special and important to younger kids. Just think back to your own experience when you finally got to ride ‘that ride’. If you’re worried specifically about the Tower of Terror, if your kid can go on a plane, he can ride an elevator. Seriously, the cast members are scarier.

  24. LT says:

    Totally agree. A few years ago we paid for the dining plan (about $900). Last year, I paid cash and we spent $150 less. Also, the dining plan is restrictive with rules about snacks vs meals etc., and not all restaurants accept the plan, especially downtown disney. Pay cash, it’s easier and cheaper.

    • Jen says:

      My husband and I went to Disney in January and did the deluxe dining plan. We like good food and did a lot of character meals and signature dining. We actually saved almost $400 over seven days doing the dining plan versus paying with cash. It depends on the family and budget, really. I totally understand that it doesn’t work for everyone, but we will never go back without doing the deluxe dining plan.

  25. Sally says:

    Do not stay home because Disney is too expensive!

    My mom, sister, and I went through Disney on a tight budget. We went to all 4 parks (buying 4 day tickets meant one day was almost free!), plus two others in Orlando. We stayed off-property at a hotel for $37 a night. It wasn’t the greatest hotel we’d ever stayed in, but it was clean, had a HUGE room, had a microwave and fridge, free breakfast, and had been recently updated. We paid $17 a day for parking at every park, but with such a cheap room, it wasn’t bad. We also bought gift cards every month on payday, so we only had some souvenir expenses when we were on vacation. We also split meals, and ordered a couple kids meals here and there. By asking for cups of water at every meal (which is really what we were craving, anyway), we kept our food under $50 a day for ALL THREE OF US! And, that’s including several yummy pastries and desserts we found all over the parks (especially Epcot!).

    Don’t be afraid of the Disney credit cards. I applied for the Disney Visa, and got $200 credit back after making my ticket purchases. I also booked the hotel on that card, and racked up enough points by the trip to get a $25 gift card back. But, do this wisely! I’m money conscious, and paid off my card after every purchase. I mainly used it for the points back. You can also get discounts on purchases in the parks. We also got a private meet and greet with Minnie and Pluto, along with a free 5×7 picture!

  26. CW says:

    We purchased a Princess Shirt online thru Disney for our daughter to wear. The shirt had all the princesses on it and so we figured each princess could sign the shirt. Much to our dismay, the characters are not allowed to sign items that are on your body. If you want them to sign a shirt, then bring it along with you…don’t wear it!

    • Melissa brown says:

      Haha Aladdin signed my sister’s shirt while she was wearing it a long time ago (we were still in our twenties tho). Pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to but man he was cute!

  27. Melissa brown says:

    Don’t assume the other people waiting for a show or parade around you are the “enemy” trying to steal your precious space. Talk to them, get to know them. When the show starts, you’ll be happy and feel less crowded because you are watching with friends all around you!

  28. Melissa brown says:

    Oh, and don’t go during free dining if you can help it! The 30% off room that they often do is better than free dining, and you will never get into a restaurant!

  29. BethMarohn says:

    We’re not DW experts by any stretch of the imagination & love finding new tips & opinions. When we went the last time (Oct 2012) We splurged just a bit more than the 2 trips we had taken before. We paid for the full tilt Bibbity Bop Boutique experience for our daughter. Since it came with an inclusive photography session after her make-over (I hadn’t realized that it did-LOL). After the photo session, the manager came up to us & told us that our daughter did wonderful with her photo session & they loved her pictures & asked for our permission to have her picture framed & ON DISPLAY in the boutique! Of course we agreed, & their compensation was a FREE additional 8×10 of our pose choice. What seemed like a problem at first (the printer wouldn’t print the free picture) had turned into a blessing! The printer finally printed & we were done & given our packet, we walked outside to debate our next adventure, when the mgr came out to us with another packet & told us the printer had printed out all the previous failed attempts, and since they would just throw them away, they might as well give them us!!! (Luckily, we hadn’t walked away yet) So we received four more 8×10 pictures for free for grandparents & scrapbooks! We went back later to see our daughter’s picture hanging on the wall at the checkout of the boutique studio.

    Also, when your little princesses are dressed in their princess outfits & walking throughout the parks, they are greeted by Cast Members as such. My daughter had just turned 9 & thought that was just awesome! (and yes, we brought along sparkly tennis shoes to change into when the heels got to be a bit much)

    We also splurged on the Cirque de Soleil show, & even my VERY frugal hubby agreed it was worth the price tag.

    We always stay in the All Star Resorts because we’re never in our room, so don’t feel the need to spend the extra fun funds on a bed & shower. However, was quite disappointed the last time that our room staff never did any interesting decorating with our room. Not sure if it was a lazy staff member or a budget cut, but noticed other “wings” had decorated windows & such. That was our only complaint.

  30. BethMarohn says:

    There IS a lot of information to review & try to absorb, but until you experience it yourself, you won’t be able to really know how good or bad it is.

    Actually, you’re lucky that the internet has so much valuable information available to you. When we took my son there 13 years ago, we didn’t have nearly the information then that’s available now. We missed out on the fireworks, the open early/late park events, all because we weren’t aware & didn’t recall seeing anything on the Disney paperwork to inform us either. But you know what? We all had an excellent time anyway & on a really tight budget! It beats going to work!!

    Just remember, like one person said, Disney has thought of just about everything (sometimes with a price) but, as much as Disney has tried, it’s not necessarily a “one vacation fits all” & you sometimes have to just go with the flow & be flexible. We made it to where we only scheduled one reservation per day (either for eating or entertaining, but not both) so that we weren’t so stressed on where we needed to be and when & we sort of worked our day out based on what park the reservation was in. We don’t do the dining plan because our daughter is a picky & light eater & the dining plan can have some limitations (I believe). I remember seeing families wasting their vacation time in a park discussing their dining plan & entertainment reservations. I didn’t want that.

    I also recommend staying on site because using the buses is one of the best stress savers & many of the bus drivers are nice. We even had one that did a trivia game & was very interactive with the passengers! It can even pay to chat with one while he’s waiting to start his shift…he might let you on the bus, even if it’s already at capacity… just sayin’, it can be worth it to be extra friendly with a Cast Member. 😉

  31. Mari says:

    DO NOT waste so much money on Disney food, specifically their restaurants.
    Besides buying snacks outside the amusement park, I recommend eating outside of the park as well, like before entering the park. The food in Disney is honestly overpriced and not great. My family usually just eats to family restaurants or buffets because they’re either cheaper( or around the same price) and better! Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Golden Corral are our go-to places. The price may be hefty for some but we recently ordered two plates of a steak and chicken ($15 each) at a Disney Restaurant and it was GROSS! And with that money we could’ve just done the 2 for $20 with one appetizer and two entrees at Chili’s! It’s a thousand times better taste wise and money wise and in the end, we go in with some satisfied stomachs . Then if we ever get the munchies again we just eat the snacks we bought from Walmart!

  32. Tina says:

    Do not forget to make sure your camera can find its way home! The first picture on your phone or digital camera should be a picture of your business card or a paper with your name and contact information. (How sad are those viral “do you know who this is?” pictures from a good samaritan trying to return someone’s vacation pictures and the camera they found?) If your phone is locked, at least put an address sticker on it!

  33. saf says:

    Great tips! one more…

    No public displays of affection, please!
    It’s a family place, I don’t need to see you with your hands up your girlfriends shirt!

    • Erica says:

      When I first read, “No public displays of affection, please!” I thought, but stealing a kiss with my husband at Cinderella’s Castle is magical! Then I read the rest of your comment and I totally agree! By all means, people, grab a kiss or two, but keep it G-Rated.

  34. Lisa S says:

    take a picture of your photo pass with your phone in case you lose the pass during the day.

  35. Amanda says:

    Thanks for re-iterating exactly what we said in paragraph two. “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 thanks for reading! ~A.

  36. paula says:

    Consider getting a fast pass for the parades. We weren’t able to get a spot 20 minutes before the parade, so we watched from lousy spots. (It was still amazing.) Even if we got a spot an hour before the parade, our girls would not have been very happy just sitting there. This is one thing I’ll do next time!

    • ann says:

      I have been wondering about the fastpass for the parade/fireworks. Wondering also how having the preferred viewing areas with fastpass will effect those who do not. We usually just make it to a great spot right before fireworks start. Last time we ended up in front of Casey’s Corner. Now I see that will be the fastpass viewing area. We were always pretty lucky in the past. There were a few times that odd spots turned out to be not so bad. We ended up behind the castle one time. It was not so bad. Last visit we also were in front of the Dumbo area one night. It was empty and the fireworks were kinda cool fr there. I think now I want to try other spots from New Fantasyland for the fireworks. Sorry, I diverted to fireworks instead of parade. A good place for the parade (although crowded) is along Frontierland across from the Riverboat. The viewing spot in front of the castle was great, but seems like we were in the hot sun. I am not sure if I would tie up my passes by getting a fastpass for either of those.

  37. Cheryl Franklin says:

    Awesome tips! Thank you! I totally agree with tip#52. We visited Disneyland at Halloween. I was so excited to get a pic of us in front of the Main St pumpkin. Wanting a good one we decided to use the PhotoPass. It turned out horrible. Off center and out of focus. Never again. Love your blog 🙂

  38. Bobby says:

    Do not get a fast pass for the rides that most people would probably have fast passes for it too or else you will end up staying in a longer line than The line with the people that don’t have fast passes for it.

  39. Dianne says:

    I forgot our MNSSHP tickets (this was several years ago) in our room and didn’t realize it till the bus was almost there. I hated the thought of going all the way back on the bus while my family enjoyed the park so I took a chance and asked a CM at the ticket counter. She was able to look them up on the computer and issued new ones. Talk about relieved! I also couldn’t find a swimsuit for my 3 year old son at the Beach Club gift shop and while we were at a pin cart in Epcot, the CM asked if he could help, I jokingly asked if he had boys swimsuit tucked away. He asked where we were staying called the gift shop and confirmed they had what I needed. The CM’s are wonderful and really do want you to have a Magical Day so ask (nicely).

  40. Annie says:

    i completely agree with #67 do not ignore the cast members ; I went to disney a few years ago with a family i was babysitting for. after going on alot of rides the other children didnt want to go on tower of terror again but the 4 and 6 year old did. but when we went up
    the four year old needed to use the bathroom we alerted a cast member and they personally escorted us down a back escalator let her use the bathroom and took us right back up to the front of the line where we were. while the girl used the bathroom the cast member printed out two special certificates indicating how brave the girls were for going on the ride when no one else wanted to. the older children were so jealous when they saw. disney cast members really do go above and beyond =]

  41. Katie says:

    I have one! In 2011 my husband and I went by ourselves for our anniversary. On our checkout day my husband was running a low fever so we ended up not getting out the door as fast as we should have to get to Disney’s shuttle service. I think we ended up being only a minute or two late, but the guy taking tickets said, “You’re late. You can’t get on. We’ll try to squeeze you on the next one but you probably can’t get on that one either.” Our shuttle was still there and stayed there for another ten minutes, so I’m not really sure what the hangup was … but I learned that day that Disney takes their times VERY seriously!

  42. Jo says:

    On one of our trips we were at Animal kingdom on St. Patrick’s day, I had prepared at home T-shirts specially made for our family along with special headbands and glow necklaces with shamrocks….. while pin shopping at one of the pins carts an English family with a young girl asked my husband where we got our necklaces and my husband told her we had brought them from home. And then after seeing her sad face he gave her his necklace which made her smile!! Unbeknownst to us while this exchange took place we were being watched by a Cast member who approached us aftrrwards and thanked us for our generosity and then handed us a special 2pack of pins (which can’t be bought) One was for us for spreading magic of our own and one was for giving to someone else we saw spreading magic of their own. Our next trip back to Disney we were at Chef Mickey’s for dinner and a gentleman lost his wallet and a young girl noticed and she ran after the man all the way down the hall to return it to him. So we felt this was the deed that fit the bill and she received the other half of our pin. I lo e the Class act that Disney is!!!

  43. Alecia Moore says:

    Know that the Holiday Parades don’t happen on that holiday! SERIOUS mistake of my parents when I was younger!

  44. Gerri S. says:

    You don’t need to lug water into the park. Any of the fast food/food stand places will give you cups of ice water FOR FREE!

    • Chris says:

      This is true but taking bottles can save you from staying more in lines to get just a cup. Even empty bottle if allowed, we just take bottles full.

  45. Tara says:

    I always take a picture of each of my children as we enter the park. Then if they get lost I know exactly what they were wearing that day from head to toe. The picture could then be quickly given to a cast member and they can share it with other cast members.

    • Jodi says:

      I lost my then two-year old son in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at Hollywood Studios. After a minute of not being able to locate him I ran to the entrance which is always supervised and showed the cast member his picture and was like “don’t let him leave”. It took my four-year old going through the mazes to find him. As we were leaving I let the cast member know we found him.. The CM chuckled and said I wasn’t the first mom to do that and won’t be the last.

  46. Meg says:

    Taking screen shots of images without purchasing them is actually illegal.. You don’t own the copyright or the prints and could be fined heavily if someone wanted to pursuit legal action over it.

    • Chris says:

      Meg. Copyright laws don’t count with pictures taken from individuals. You legally can take pictures but Disney doesn’t want you to which I totally understand. That is why the watermarks and cast members present. I don’t agree with people taking free pictures at all, we get the magic maker, I think that is what it is call.

  47. Maureen says:

    One of the best tips I had on my last trip – don’t risk cameras, phones or paperwork get damaged if it rains, or you go on water rides – take a couple of ziplock bags with you to put stuff in and keep it dry. Worked a treat on the Kali River Rapids!

    • Ann says:

      Great tip about the zip lock bags. Thanks, will keep that in mind when packing. We love to ride Splash Mountain so this will come in handy. I usually have a smaller sized zip lock for my daughter’s autograph book. I do that just to keep it in good shape, even without water. We road Kali last year. We did not get wet, but my daughter’s friend was soaked! Thankfully, I think she had her bag in the dry compartment in the midde of the ride. We have also encountered wonderful rain showers!! Very good tip!

  48. Missy says:

    DO NOT forget about Magic Hours. Before planning what park to visit which day (and making dining reservations), check and see what day which park has extended hours.

    Also, DO NOT forget to take advantage of Rider Switch. It allows adults to take turn riding while someone waits with a non-rider. More info on how this works is on Disney’s website.

    When making dining reservations DO NOT forget to check and see how many table service points a restaurant takes. More expensive places will take 2 meals worth.

    DO NOT forget if you are using the table service dining plan, some of the best restaurants are at the hotels, just a shuttles ride from wherever you are.

    DO NOT forget that there are lots of great places to see the fireworks away from the park, like at nearby resorts.

    DO NOT forget your Magic Bands!!!

  49. Joanne Marshalls says:

    I think that using Photo Pass is great because my daughter got to hold Tinkerbell.

  50. Jessica Kimray says:

    Number 67 is so true. I was 15 and staying with my family at the Beach Club resort. I came down with Mono while on vacation and the greeter at the hotel (sorry don’t remember his name as it was over 12 years ago) was so kind. When I was rushed to the ER in an ambulance he drove the rest of my family to the hospital and also took us to the airport because we missed our MEARS bus. We had been talking to him all week before I got sick, but never more than 5-10 minutes because we wanted to get to the parks. It was such a great above and beyond experience from a cast member that I will always remember and appreciate, I still have the Cheshire Cat pin that I traded him for on that trip. Every time I look at it I remember not that I got so sick but how wonderful he was to my family in a pinch.

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