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Travel Tips and Hints for Vacations to Disney World and Disneyland Resorts

Disney World and Disneyland are two of the most fun places in the world, but trips to the parks can also be crowded, expensive, and confusing.   With a little bit of planning, your vacation can be enjoyable, fun, and magical, without all the hassle.

#1 Tip:   Go early to Disney.

#2 Tip:   Bring your own snacks and bottled water.  Disney is expensive.

#3 Tip:   Bring a stroller.  Even if your kids are a little older.  The stroller can carry a bunch of snacks, water, sweat shirts for later, and you can park it anywhere.  You can rent a Disney stroller as well.

#4 Tip:  Have your whole family wear the same color bright shirt.  Much easier to pick out the kids (even the big ones like Dad) this way.

Disney World Orlando

Where to stay at Disney World

I hear time and time again that you have to stay on site to have a good stay at Disney World.  Not true!  Although staying on site can be fun, you can stay off the Disney site and still have a good time.  Some advantages to staying off site:

1) The hotel rates may be better.

2) You can use hotel points you've gained while travelling elsewhere or on business

3) You can go to other parks like Sea World without feeling like you are waisting a day at Disney

4) You can rent a house cheaply when staying with a large party.

Here are the keys to staying off site:

1) Rent a car and drive to the parks.  Don't take the shuttles offered by the hotels, they take forever.  You only have to pay for parking at one Disney property for each day.  So you can park hop in your car (which is pretty fast) and not have to pay for parking at each Disney park.

2) Go early.  You can eat breakfast in line.  Some of the hotels offer free breakfast and will put in a bag to go.  You can take the to go bag, get to the park early, and eat while you are waiting.  At Disney's Magic Kingdom they have a fun opening ceremony that you won't want to miss.  This is a key to any good Disney stay.  The first two hours at the park are a dream.  Lines are much shorter.   Quite often you will get in as many rides in the first two hours as you will the rest of the day. 

3) Call the Disney hotels and find out which days are early entry for which park.   Plan your week and try not to go to a park on the early entry day.  It will be much more crowded.

When to Go to Disney World

The time of year, week, and day can all have an impact on the attendance and the wait you will have in lines.  If you want to go when it's not as crowded, there are some tips.  Of course a lot of things can impact attendance such as weather and other special events.  Also, Disney will tend to have longer  park hours, special shows, and more rides open on the more crowded days.

Time of year to go to Disney World

Some people can control when they can go on vacation, but if you can (or even if you can't) here are some tips:

1) Most Crowded times at Disney:

  • President's Day week
  • Spring Break (the last 3 weeks of March to the week after Easter)
  • Summer (the second week of June to the third week of August) 
  • Thanksgiving weekend
  • Christmas week to just after New Year's

2) Least Crowded times at Disney:

  • The second week of January to the first week of February (except Martin Luther King holiday weekend)
  • Third week of August to the start of October
  • The month of November (except for Thanksgiving weekend)
  • The week after Thanksgiving up to week of Christmas

Of course there are several other variables that can impact Disney World crowds including conventions, special events, etc.

Time of week to visit Disney World

Be sure to check with the Disney hotels find out which days are early entry for which park.  Plan your week and try not to go to a park on the early entry day.  It will be much more crowded.

Time of day to visit Disney World

Go early to Disney.  You can eat breakfast in line.  Some of the hotels offer free breakfast and will put in a bag to go.  You can take the to go bag, get to the park early, and eat while you are waiting.  At Magic Kingdom they have a fun opening ceremony that you won't want to miss.  This is a key to any good Disney stay.  The first two hours at the park are a dream.  Lines are much shorter.   Quite often you will get in as many rides in the first two hours as you will the rest of the day. 

Making the most of your time at the Disney World theme parks

Okay, so your finally at the theme park.  Your early.  It's not an early entry day.  Ready set go....What do you do now?

1) Look at a map of the Disney park the night before.  Be sure to know which rides and shows are must-see's for you and plan where you want to go accordingly.

2) Use your Disney fast passes.  Fast passes are available for some of the more popular rides.  They allow you to come back at a later time and get in a shorter line.  You use your ticket to get them at the entrance to the ride and you can only have one at a time.  If you plan ahead fast passes are awesome.  Some examples:  1) grab a fast pass before eating lunch.  You go eat lunch and then can jump in a short line at one of the busiest times of the day.  2) grab a fast pass before getting in a long line.  A good idea to grab a fast pass for the Peter Pan or the Winnie the Pooh ride before getting in the Dumbo line.  Dumbo doesn't offer a fast pass, but the line can be long.  This way you wait in the Dumbo ride, but get to go right on the Peter Pan ride when you are done.  There are lots of ways to use the Fast Pass, just be sure you do.

3) Eat early.  Hopefully you've already gotten the park early and, as a result, had an early breakfast.  Now grab lunch at 11:15am or so and dinner at 4:45pm.  You will avoid another line this way.

Be sure to check out our favorite rides at Disney World Orlando.

Disneyland and California Adventure

Where to stay and Transportation at Disneyland

Disneyland is significantly different than Disney World.  Downtown Disney, the Disneyland theme park, and California Adventure are right next to each other.  A couple hundred yards apart at most.  To go to Disneyland or California Adventure you only have to go through one security line.  This makes it very easy to go from one park to the next.

The real advantage this offers is transportation and non-Disneyland hotels.  If you stay at a hotel on Harbour, you can easily walk to Disneyland and/or California Adventure.  It is so cool.  There are also lots of resteraunts right there as well.  You can park your car at the start of the week and not start it up again.  Even if you are staying in a non-Disney hotel.  There are lots of hotels, Disney and non-Disney, to choose from.  I strongly recommend you find one that is walking distance.

When to Go to Disneyland

Disneyland attendance is different than Disney World as a lot more of the visiters are locals.  This means that the weekends tend to be more crowded than the week days.   Of course a lot of things can impact attendance such as weather and other special events.  Also, Disneyland will tend to have longer  park hours, special shows, and more rides open on the more crowded days.

Key tip:  Find out what days the Disneyland annual passes are NOT good for.  These days will be the most likely to be crowded.

Time of year to visit Disneyland

Some people can control when they can go on vacation, but if you can (or even if you can't) here are some tips:

1) Most Crowded times at Disneyland:

  • President's Day week
  • Spring Break (the last 3 weeks of March to the week after Easter)
  • Summer (the second week of June to the third week of August) 
  • Thanksgiving weekend
  • Christmas week to just after New Year's

2) Least Crowded times at Disneyland:

  • The second week of January to the first week of February (except Martin Luther King holiday weekend)
  • Third week of August to the start of October
  • The month of November (except for Thanksgiving weekend)
  • The week after Thanksgiving up to week of Christmas

Of course there are several other variables that can impact crowds at Disneyland including conventions, special events, etc.

Time of week to visit Disneyland

As Disneyland and California Adventure get a lot of local visitors, the weekends tend to be more crowded with Tuesday, Wedneday, and Thursday the least crowded.

Time of day to visit Disneyland

Go early.  One idea is to stop by the McDonalds on your walk from the hotel and eat while you wait for the park to open.  The first two hours at the park are a dream.  Lines are much shorter.   Quite often you will get in as many rides in the first two hours as you will the rest of the day. 

Be sure to check out our favorite rides at Disneyland.

 

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