Here are some of my best tips for your Walt Disney Florida Vacation
The Magic Kingdom
- Try to come towards the middle or end of the week, because most families hit the Magic Kingdom early in their Disney visit or on the weekends.
- Take the Ferry for a more enjoyable experience ride to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, it also makes for some spectacular photos.
- Ride the prime attractions first thing in the AM or while a parade is going on (if you are willing to miss it) lines will ease considerably.
- At Town Square, near the entrance, pick up a Guide Map and the Times Guide, which lists show times, character greeting times, and any special hours for attractions and restaurants. Also many of the stores near the cash registers have park maps and show times in case you forgot when you entered the park.
- Book character meals early to get some great pictures before it fills up with people.
- The Crystal Palace Buffet has breakfast with Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet Between 8 – 10:30 AM. So see if you can get a 7 or 7:30 am reservation.
- Epcot is so vast and varied that you really need two days to explore everything. If you have just one day, be highly selective. Be sure to bring good walking shoes as the park is very spread out.
- Stop off by the Club Cool, presented by Coca-Cola, is a small treasure among the other gems of Epcot. Well, at the very least, it is a great way to cool down on a hot day. (We always look forward to the free samples of pop from around the world. Did I mention it’s free?)
- Its best to go early in the week, when others are at Magic Kingdom.
- Visit Soarin when the park first opens as it is usually busy the rest of the day.
- If your family loves festivals, go to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (late March early June) or the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (late September mid-November).
- Book character meals early to get some great pictures before the park fills up with people.
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall has a great Princess Breakfast and is far enough from the entrance to get many pictures of Space Ship Earth, World Show Case, and a few countries before you enter Norway to eat.
- Visit early in the week, while most people are rushing through Magic and Animal kingdoms.
- Hit up Toy Story Mania when the park first opens as it usually is packed the rest of the day.
- “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure is great to let little ones stretch their legs and blow off some energy.
- Check the tip board periodically for attractions with short wait times that you can visit between Fastpass appointments, or using Touring Plan’s “Lines” software on your cell phone for wait times.
- Be at the Fantasmic! amphitheater at least an hour before show time if you didnt book the Fantasmic! dinner package.
- Sit in the back of the room for the best views at Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage.
- Head to Hollywood Scoops Ice Cream on Sunset on a hot day.
- If you plan to have a fast-food lunch, eat before 11 am or after 2:30 pm.
- There are food stands along Sunset. You can get a burger (meat or veggie) or chicken strips at Rosies All-American Cafe, a slice of pizza from Catalina Eddies, or a chili dog at Toluca Legs Turkey Company.
- Try to visit during the weekend as most people will be at Magic Kingdom
- Arrive a half hour before the park opens as much to see the wild animals at their friskiest (morning is a good time to do the safari ride) as to get a jump on the crowds.
- For updates on line lengths, check the Tip Board, just after crossing the bridge into Discovery Island.
- As you are on your way to Harambe Village keep your eye out for the last path to the right after the Tree of Life and before the bridge to Harambe Village. This is a SECRET PATH. The front of path is filled with a lot of vegetation so you might have to look hard. Yes it is open to the public. Follow the path for a close look at the Tree of Life and for some great photo spots. Not many people know about this path so you will have a lot of time to yourself and will not be interruptions when you are taking photos.
The Water Parks
- In summer, come late in the afternoon when park hours run later or when the weather clears up after a thundershower (and being from FL it will rain almost everyday in the summer around 3 or 4pm). Afternoons are also good in cooler weather as the water is a bit warmer. If you plan to make a whole day of it, avoid weekends, when locals as well as visitors fill the parks.
- Women and girls should wear one-piece swimsuits unless they want to find their tops somewhere around their ears at the bottom of the waterslide.
- Invest in Bullfrog sunscreen (Being a surfer I know by experience you only have to apply this once for all day protection) and water shoes for the little ones. An inexpensive pair of water shoes will do wonders to save your kids tender footsies from hot sand and walkways and from grimy rest-room floors.
- Arrive 30 minutes before opening so you can park, buy tickets, rent towels, and snag inner tubes before the crowds descend, and, trust me, it gets very crowded.
- Ride the boats or monorail to relax a fussy child, or stressed out parent. You can get some great pictures of the various resorts, possibly stop by for a snack or just take some time to look around.
- Drink plenty of water! Use Reusable Water containers to refill with water. If you don’t like the taste of water add crystal light or Kool-Aid packets. It doesn’t matter where you get it…drink water while you are in the parks if you are hydrated you are less likely to be tired and irritable.
- No matter where you go bring good walking shoes.. I can’t tell you how many people I see walking around the various parks with Flip-Flops on. While I LOVE Flip Flops, I know they are not good for your back or provide you the proper support when walking long distances. A good pair of walking or running shoes will make you feel less tired at the end of the day..If you don’t believe me try it.
- Take advantage of any EMH (Extra Magic Hours) ask cast members at your resort or check online for the various hours. I know the last time we went the Magic Kingdom was scheduled Extra Evening Magic Hours till Midnight but upon walking in the park a few cast members told us they bumped it till 3am!! The park was almost dead and there was no wait on every ride that was open!
- Take advantage of the Character meals at the various restaurants and resorts. We always visit the character meals so our little one can meet, hug, kiss and take pictures with the various characters she has grown to love. All characters make rounds in the restaurants and we have never missed a one. It saves so much time when visiting, you don’t have to take time out of your busy day to wait and line to get your picture taken. Mind you not all characters are present you will still have to stop off and see some of the newer ones. But this cuts it down by 75% and you get a good meal too!
- Get a Photopass! The Photopass cast members are in all the prime spots, are very creative with how to take the pictures, and can get your whole family in one shot. It cost you nothing to get a photopass, and when you get home you can go online and relive your memories and possibly order a few mementos.
- Pintrading is an excellent way to get souvenirs without breaking the bank. My wife and I usually buy 1 or 2 Pins when we visit. It gives us something to do while shopping and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Maybe someday they will be worth something but for us it reminds us of our past trips and makes for some fun conversations while waiting in the lines.
Check out these tips on what to pack in your park bag.
Learn more tips and tricks for your next Walt Disney World vacation. Destinations in Florida can also help you add tips and tricks to your next vacation.
When Chip isn’t out finding Disney Deals on the internet he is sharing Disney News, Food, and Views at the Chip and Co website.