9 Survival Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World in Florida

Congratulations! The moment you decided to visit the Walt Disney World in Florida, you have committed to one of the most terrific and memor...

Congratulations! The moment you decided to visit the Walt Disney World in Florida, you have committed to one of the most terrific and memorable experiences in your life. But how do you get the most of it without sacrificing your sleep and well-being, tormenting your kids or emptying your bank account? This article is the result of my consuming of the two books and testing out all those 9 tips recently with my family. Take it with a grain of salt, of course, because everyone's situation and priorities are different, and invest some more time in prepping yourself either through reading the guide books or surfing the Internet.

1. Plan a Multi-Day Visit.  
Make any effort to extend your visit beyond just one day, time and budget permitting. Touring only one park or even worse - hopping between the parks in one day will leave you either disappointed (is this really worth 170 bucks?) or craving for more. In either case, you won't fully enjoy whatever World Disney World has to offer.
When doing a day trip, most people end up visiting the Magic Kingdom, the very first and arguably the best of all the Disney parks in Florida and, as a result, the most visited theme park in the world.
Totally up to you, but my recommendation would be to do a 4-day visit to be able to see all 4 parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
I don't get people who buy a park hopper option as each park has plenty of things to occupy you for at least a day. Logistical challenges such as driving to a place, parking your car, lining up at security to get your belongings inspected, and entering a park will consume a big chunk of your day.

2. Don't Bring Very Small Kids.  
A huge mistake too many parents do is they bring their very small kids to Disney. No, I'm not saying that there is nothing to do for small kids at the park.
But trust me: they will remember and enjoy it so much more when they are older and will be able to go on most if not all rides. And frankly, between us adults, you as a parent worked really hard to go on a Disney trip, so you totally deserve having some fun too. So why wouldn't you wait a few more years and then go?
But in a case you do have to go with very small kids, stick with Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom as they both have plenty of things to occupy your offsprings.

3. Prepare for Lots of Walking.  
Many people underestimate distances between different rides and attractions within each park. Chances are you'll also have to criss-cross it a number of times as an app on your phone will steer you to attractions with shorter lines.
The good news is that you'll have many options to pick from if you want to take a break: cafes, restaurants or just a bench at the restroom will do. So if you feel a bit tired at the end of your long day, it's absolutely normal.

4. Cut Your Long Waiting Time. 
Walking and lining up is how you'll spend most of your day at Disney. It sounds miserable, but it's true. So being mentally and physically prepared for it will help you a great deal.
Unlike many other theme parks where you can buy a "skip the line" option for double the price and enjoy your rides with little to no lines, Disney does not offer one. Almost. The trick called FastPass+ allows you to pick three rides or attractions per person per day where you can take a fast lane during a specific time period.
In order to take a full advantage of this option, reserve your FastPasses up to one months in advance. It goes without saying that you should probably pick the most popular rides and attractions during the busiest time of the day.
But if you do get stuck in a long line, take a look around. Chances are that you are staying in a nice room with super cool decorations.
I'm sure that the big chunk of the admission fees goes to making sure decorations are of a very high quality. My favourite ones were in the numerous rooms at Avatar Flight of Passage where I spent three hours in line.

5. Walt Disney World is Not Only About Thrills.  
People who go to Disney are paying big bucks not for cheap thrills you can get from riding a roller coaster, but for an experience like no other.
I was among those you lined up for 50 minutes to take a picture with the Little Mermaid. I know, don't say anything. Apparently, I picked the wrong line.
But my point is that there were others who knew where they were lining up. Each attraction had its own story to tell. Even the fastest or the scariest rides had overwhelming visual, sound and even smelling effects. So if you're only looking for an adrenalin, you should probably steer clear of Disney.

6. Food is Good, but Pricey.  
I'll be honest - the food at the Walt Disney World is awesome. It differs from place to place, and normally evokes a different time or location depending on where a restaurant or a food stand is located. 
For instance, you can try some traditional African food at the Harambe Village at Animal Kingdom or time-honoured mom's kitchen at 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios. 
I wouldn't be wrong if I say that the food at the Walt Disney World plays an essential role in creating an overall experience. I'm not surprised at all that some people even go on food tours there! However, unless you have a thick wallet, you'll want to occasionally bring your own food which is allowed. 
This will also save you same time as lines become long at Disney's cafes and restaurants over the lunchtime. Alternatively, you can even leave the park and eat elsewhere, but I would only recommend you do it at smaller parks like Epcot or Hollywood Studios.  

7. Take a Day Off in the Middle of Your Trip.  
Walt Disney World is a lot of fun, but at times too much fun can also be tiring. The least what can happen is your tour becomes a routine and you stop enjoying it. For this reason, I highly recommend you take a day break in the middle of your Disney trip. 
Go shopping, take a nature walk, visit an alligator's farm, sunbath at a beach, or just stay at your hotel room - everything will do. Thankfully, Florida can satisfy your every whim. In our case, I did a bit of research and chose a beautiful state park by the ocean located in the Tampa Bay area.

8. Do Your Research and Don't Pass on Surprise Attractions.  
Spend some time doing your research about the Walt Disney World before you actually go there. 
Trust me, there are dozens of rides and attractions to choose from, so it may feel too overwhelming to figure it all out once on-site. 
Apart from using online resources, a travel book such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guides or Fodors is a great source of well-curated information that aims to help you pick what best suits your age and preferences. But once at a theme park, don't be afraid to adjust your plans and visit an attraction that suddenly caught your eye. 
We got lucky to not pass on Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios or the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom which we never thought would be as good as they were.

9. Buy Merchandise at Walmart.  
I can probably justify Disney's higher prices for food and maybe even admission fees (decorations are fantastic), but certainly not the price for merchandise sold at the Disney's theme parks. 
Thirty(!) bucks for a basic ear headband? $3.50 for a small bottle of water? Come on, Disney. 
Walmart Supercenter at Kissimmee has a huge section with Disney merchandise at one third of the price. Those who want to bring a souvenir t-shirt or a magnet to family members and friends, should definitely check it out. It's open 24 hours, and I think it sees its biggest crowds at around 10-11 pm after the parks have been closed.

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