Despite Walt Disney World being a mecca for kids and kids at heart, ‘Doing Disney’ is not child’s play. But with some planning, you can pull off a no-stress, fun-filled trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Here’s how:
First, make sure your booking site is in Canadian dollars or you’ll get a rude awakening when the exchange is applied on your credit card bill. Not a happy beginning! Expedia. ca puts all Walt Disney World information including hotels, packages, and theme park tickets in one place (and yes, prices are in Canadian dollars). Expedia also has on-going deals for Disney at Expedia.ca/Disney. Book at least six months in advance.
Stay On Site
Don’t underestimate the many benefits of staying at one of the more than 25 hotels on Disney property. There are accommodations to suit every budget and style. Disney Resort hotels are like an extension of the parks with their own activities and amenities, so it’s almost like you’re at another park. At the French Quarter of New Orleans, you’ll find a seaside boardwalk, opportunities to dine with your child’s favourite character, cool pools and championship golf courses. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can wake up to zebras outside your patio door, while ankole cattle and a giraffe or two wander in the distance. It’s a little slice of savannah at your doorstep. Other perks include:
- Extra time in the parks: Each day one of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center or Hollywood Studios) opens early or stays open later for Disney Resort hotel guests.
- Resort transportation: A free shuttle bus runs regularly between on-property resorts and the parks (or shuttle boat in some cases).
- Complimentary airport transportation service: Disney’s Magical Express bus will get you to and from Orlando International Airport. They’ll even pick up your luggage at baggage claim and deliver it to your room.
Plan Some of Your Visit
You can create an interactive itinerary at MyDisneyExperience.com and its free mobile app, MyMagic+. With MyMagic+ in hand, you can book three timed FastPass+ tickets per day, skipping to the front of the line for rides that tend to have long waits. If you’re staying on site at a Disney property, you can book the tickets 60 days ahead; 30 days if you’re not.
Some passes will also available the day of your visit at in-park kiosks. While MyDisneyExperience automatically spaces your FastPasses throughout the day, you might want to think again. Jason Cochran, author of Frommer’s EasyGuide to Walt Disney World and Orlando, recommends using the FastPasses in the morning, when kids tend to have more energy and before it gets too hot. Plus, after you use your three daily passes at the parks, you’re eligible to get more from kiosks on-site.
Once you arrive, you’ll receive your MagicBand, a micro-chipped rubber bracelet that stores your MyMagic+ booking info, FastPasses, money for purchasing meals or merch, and even acts as your room key. MagicBands are free to Disney Resort hotel guests; non-Disney-resort guests can buy one for $12.95, or use MyMagic+ with paper tickets.
Book A Meal Or Two
Reservations can be made up to 180 days ahead through your account (and are a must for any kind of sit-down or special meal in the parks). A popular choice is the Be Our Guest Restaurant in Beast’s Castle in Magic Kingdom. This castle is the heart of the newly opened Fantasyland, and the restaurant is a feast for the eyes, too. Three meticulously designed dining areas make you feel like you’re sitting in the animated classic. For more themed dining options, go to disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Nov/Dec 2016.