Tips and Tricks for Your Disney Trip!


I am so excited to be a guest blogger today. Natalie and I have been friends since college and I am so excited that she asked me to share my Disney tips and tricks with you. I am a self proclaimed Disney expert and have been to Disneyland once and Disney World 20 times! I know all the ins/outs of planning the perfect trip without breaking the bank. I know how to do a couple’s trip, a trip with kids, a trip with the grandparents. I have done it all. Today I want to share my must-dos for planning the most magical trip. {FREE PRINTABLE PDF LIST}

Disney Tips and Tricks

*Research! The more you plan, the better your trip will be. Disney is not Six Flags. You can not just show up and start walking around. You MUST have some sort of plan.

*Start planning as early as possible. Get the trip booked at least 9 months in advance. This will allow you to get the hotel and dining reservations that you want. Guests staying on Disney property get to make their dining reservations early!

*Know when the best deals are. They are normally during some of the slowest times in the park. Historically, Disney does the same deals at the same time every year. Free dining dates for 2014…probably going to be the same dates offered in 2015.

*If you are not currently exercising, I strongly recommend starting a walking program. You will easily walk 8-10 miles a day at Disney so you will need to build up your endurance.

*Stay on Disney property. Although it maybe more expensive, it is worth it. Staying on property allows you all kinds of perks (free transportation from airport to your Disney hotel, getting into parks early/getting to stay for extra hours at night…the list goes on and on).

*Disney will provide a free pack and play in your room if you request it.

*Make sure to use Disney’s Magical Express from the Orlando Airport to the Disney hotels. It’s free; just remember to tip the driver. $1 per bag is nice 🙂

*Mousekeeping is Disney’s housekeeping service. The general rule of thumb is to tip $1 per person in your room each day…then I usually give $1 extra. Sometimes Mousekeeping leaves magical touches such as turn down service, towel animals and extra shampoo and towels. We love returning to our room each day to see what they have done.

*Bring Disney stuffed animals, stickers, etc. to decorate your room and door. I love this customizable banner.

*Make your dining reservations exactly 180 days before your trip. Sounds crazy, but all of the best/most popular ones fill up fast! If you don’t get your top picks, keep trying. There are cancellations and changes being done everyday.

*Look into the dining plan and see if it would benefit you to have it (and ask me how you can get it for free!)

*Make sure Disney knows if you are celebrating something…first trip, birthday, anniversary. Your agent can add it your reservation. You will probably get some freebies!

*Kids under 3 are free at Disney. They stay in the room free, get into the park free and eat off your plate and buffets for free. Going when they are 2 instead of 3 will save at least $300!

*Disney considers age 10 and up adult…so you will get charged the adult price.

*Park tickets get cheaper per day the more days you add. Consider adding a ticket for the day or arrival or departure. It is usually only about $30 extra for a family of 4.

*Think about using a Disney agent. We are know how to get the best discounts and when the discounts come out. We will save you time and money. Plus we are FREE to work with.

*Make sure to check the hours of the park each day when doing your daily plans. This will often determine when you want to get your dining reservations.

*If you have time, I suggest building in a “rest day” for your trip. Consider spending a day by one of the pools or even heading to Downtown Disney. It’s free and has great restaurants and shopping.

*Stock up on little gifts from Dollar Tree, Target $1 Spot, etc. before the trip. Have your child’s favorite character leave them little gifts each day. More info here.

*Invest in an autograph book before you get there. Find my favorite one here.

*Consider renting a stroller. This company will deliver high quality and comfortable strollers right to your hotel. Info here.

*Bring something to tie on your stroller that makes it easy to spot. I made a really cute stroller sign. See the tutorial here. You can also tie on ribbon or a balloon. Disney cast members are constantly rearranging the strollers so there is no guarantee it will be where you left it.

*Bring a backpack to the park. Use it to store snacks, a change of clothes, etc.

*Know how to get from here to there before you actually need to. It will save a lot of time and frustration.

*Arrive at the parks 30-45 minutes before the park opens. There is always a fun “opening” show and you will beat the lines on the most popular rides.

*Make Fastpass reservations exactly 60 days before your trip. They open at midnight and if you want to meet Anna and Elsa, you must make the reservation the second it opens. If you use me for a travel agent, I will do them for you 🙂

*Disney offers online check-in a few weeks before your trip. You can even request certain room requests (near elevator, ground floor, etc.).

*Make sure to bring at least 2 pairs of shoes. One pair will probably get wet or give you a blister. It’s always good to have a back up pair.

*Know the height requirements for Disney rides. Disney is VERY strict with this and they will measure your kids.

*If you are going to Disney with little ones, you need to know about an unadvertised Disney amenity called Rider Swap. Rider Swap enables a parent to ride with the older children while the other parent waits with the younger child. After the older children ride, the parents swap places and they ride again. To use this, just approach the Cast Member at the entrance of the ride and let them know that you want to Ride Swap.

 *Try to get a Fastpass for Be Our Guest. It’s a great quick service lunch option! They usually open 30 days before the trip. Once again, use me as your agent…I will do them for you.

*Want to enter the Magic Kingdom before anyone else? Make a reservation at Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table in the 8 o’clock hour. You will be able to get a picture in front of the castle without any other guests in the background.

*There is a working barber shop on Main Street. At Harmony Barber Shop, you can get your baby’s first haircut. Included in the price is the haircut, a certificate, pixie dust and Mickey ears. They will even save a lock of hair for you. Read all about our experience here.

*Go to the $1 store and buy several cheap throwaway ponchos. Florida is known for their afternoon showers. You won’t even feel guilty throwing them out after wearing once and it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying this inside Disney.

*Keep your camera in a big Ziplock bag. You will go on a few water rides and it rains a lot, so Ziplock bags come in handy for storage.

*Download and familiarize yourself with the My Disney Experience app. It allows you to see current wait times, change your FastPass experiences, see your current dining reservations, etc.

*Go to the parades but make sure to get there at least 45 minutes early to get a good spot.

*Disney is expensive so take advantage of these 10 Free Things at Disney.

*Make sure that you understand how Disney’s FastPass system works. Read all about it here. It basically allows you to schedule 3 rides per day that you would like a FastPass for. Once again, this is something you need to plan for because when your day opens up to do it, you will want to do them the minute you can. Some rides and meet/greets fill up in a matter of seconds. You will also be scheduling these around dining reservations, nap times, parade, fireworks, etc.

*Bring sunscreen and wear it!!

*Bring snacks into the park. It will help you save a ton of money.

*Bring some first aid supplies. Disney has several stations available but it’s nice to have some band-aids, mole skin and blister block in your own bag.

*Try and stop once in a while and take in your surroundings. Days at Disney can be super busy but try to actually enjoy yourself.

*Take some time to explore each country in Epcot. The food, shopping and entertainment is top notch and super fun!

*Work the night-time fireworks and shows into your daily plans at least once. They are amazing!

*Take the time to customize your Magic Bands. Disney allows you to choose the color of your band and they will be shipped right to your house. I also love getting the decals from Fantasy Bands. We got so many compliments on them during our last trip.

*Your Magic Bands serve many purposes: they are your room key, tickets into the park, Fast Pass and you can even charge things to your room with them.

*Consider starting your trip on a Sunday. Friday and Saturday nights are usually the most expensive.

*Make sure grab to a daily schedule when entering the park. It will tell you parade times, special meet and greets, etc.

*We like to pack easy breakfast foods in our luggage. Granola bars nutri-grain bars and trail mix are my picks!

*Prepare your kids before the trip. Talk to them about waiting in lines, being polite and patient, etc.

*Get your set of Mickey Ears!! You may feel silly with them on at first but after you see everyone wearing them it will just be fun!

*Try the DOLE WHIP! It will change your life!

*Make sure to stop and enjoy some of the live shows. My favorite is the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom.

*Learn about pin trading. It’s super fun especially for older kids.

*Bring a tube of quarters and some pennies. Disney has pressed penny machines all over and its’ a cheap souvenir.

Interested in booking a free dining Disney package of your own? Contact me for a free quote. Did you know that working with an authorized Disney vacation planner is 100% free for you? You will get advice, park strategy, knowledge, and the gift of time (before, during and after your trip) at no cost to you!

If you currently have a Disney reservation and want me to do all the hard work, you are able to transfer your trip to me at no cost. It’s just one form to fill out. Check out my blog for more information. 


SarahDisneyAbout Sarah

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom and full service travel agent specializing in Disney World vacations. She lives in Germantown, TN with her husband, Joe, and her spunky three year old, Sally. Sarah loves baking, crafting, throwing parties and traveling!



  1. I need HELP ! I need help buy ticket oe what the best way , we want to stay in the resort if possible … money wise!
    2 – parents
    1-16 yrs
    1- 18 month old
    Thank you for your time

  2. Hello Sarah! Please help me plan a Disney trip. I tried many times and thwn gave up. I feel so overwhelmed. We really want to go in about a month, so we don’t have a lot of time. Could you help me?

  3. Hi Sarah, can you help me book a disney trip? I feel so overwhelmed whe I try to plan it. We are planning to go the end of February. Could you help me?


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