Disney World is vast and can be intimidating! Having had the luxury of living close to the four Disney theme parks in Florida and enjoying the perks of an annual pass, I know Disney World inside and out. Every year, Disney seems to change and grow with plenty of new rides and experiences. Regardless of the length of your stay, it is impossible to see everything in one trip. It is okay not to do it all, and it is important to remember to relax and enjoy your time together with your family. After all, you can always plan to return to enjoy what you missed and explore all that is new!
In order to ensure your trip is magical for your entire family, I recommend setting goals for your visit to make the most of the time you have. I recently returned from visiting Disney World and have some great recommendations to help make everyone’s Disney dreams come true.
Get a VIP Guide
I cannot stress how much having a VIP guide will improve your experience. One of the best perks they offer is exclusive access to Fast Pass you through every ride. If you aren’t aware of what a Fast Pass is, it allows you to make a reservation for a ride with little to no wait time. Most guests are limited to making three Fast Pass reservations per day. With a VIP tour guide, you are not limited to three rides nor are you required to make these reservations in advance. In fact, with a VIP guide, you will enjoy the luxury of Fast Pass access for all rides with the exception of the two new Star Wars attractions.
Having a guide to navigate the parks and having easy access to rides are great perks, but my guide, Stephanie, embodied the high expectations Walt Disney established when he designed the program. She was so helpful, friendly, and personable, that I came to feel like she was part of my family by the end of the day! She took photos of me as we walked around the park, but by the end of our day, she was in the photos with me.
Another great benefit is your guide’s knowledge when it comes to the parks and anything Disney related. Stephanie showed me how to use the My Disney Experience app to preorder a beverage at the concession stand so I could avoid standing in line. I simply walked up to the counter and was handed my drink and continued to the next attraction. She also shared some fun facts about the park and stories behind the rides. I never knew how much detail was put into creating the Haunted Mansion. Furthermore, she provided suggestions to maximize touring time and offered convenient/comfortable air-conditioned transportation between parks. She also utilized private access roads only accessible to VIP guests and Disney cast members!
A VIP tour is typically scheduled for seven consecutive hours or more and can accommodate up to 10 guests. We recommend booking a VIP guide early in the vacation planning process to guarantee their availability during your visit, but no less than a week prior to your visit to ensure you get matched with the right guide for your group.
The tour I am most excited to book for Frontiers clients (and even myself) is the “World of Dreams” VIP tour. This tour provides up to six guests with 12 consecutive hours of the above-mentioned VIP fun and includes all meals and beverages (including alcohol). In addition to the typical VIP perks, the “World of Dreams” tour allows you to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which do not currently have a Fast Pass option.
Furthermore, you receive the ultimate bragging right of visiting the Cinderella Castle Suite! It is probably the most exclusive spot in all of Disney World that is inaccessible to the general public.
Only celebrities and those who receive a special invitation have had the opportunity to spend the night in the luxurious accommodations. Cinderella’s Suite features Victorian-style vaulted ceilings, ornate stained glass windows, and a spa tub surrounded by beautiful mosaic walls. Any female, be it woman or child, will instantly feel like a princess in this room. I even get cheerful just writing about it!
Magic Bands: Disney is one of the most advanced places when it comes to utilizing technology. I have been a fan of their Magic Bands for years.
What I love most is the convenience of not carrying my purse around the parks. Once you have a magic band, you can link it to your Disney reservation and use it as a form of payment in the parks. If you are staying on property, you can also use it to open your hotel room door. It’s the best way to quickly enter the parks and avoid the bag check line. That’s one less line you have to wait in!
My Disney Experience: Before any Disney trip, you should download the My Disney Experience app and make certain you know how to use it to your advantage.
When you book through Frontiers, we can make reservations for you through the online site, from arranging your dining to reserving Fast Passes. I recommend practicing with the app before you arrive and learning how to use the following features:
- The “Map” feature helps you navigate to attractions that have shorter wait times.
- Use the “My Plans” section to update or change Fast Pass selections.
- View photos captured by Disney photographers and on rides.
- Use Mobile Food Ordering to get a quick bite and avoid lines.
Knowing how to use this app prior to arrival will make your visit much more seamless, and it will also get you and your family more enthusiastic about your trip!
Play Disney Parks: I also recommend that families download the Play Disney Parks app, which is an extension of the My Disney Experience app.
This program allows you to interact with characters, listen to Disney music, and play games while waiting in ride lines. It’s also quite fun when visiting the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge section of the park. It allows your smartphone to act as a Data Pad to search and find different objects, as well as play games and translate secret encrypted messages. If you have a Jedi in the family, they will be ecstatic!
Lyft – Minnie Van Service: Lastly, I recommend downloading the Lyft app. It’s the only app that allows you to schedule a Minnie Van. There are times at the end of the day when you want to avoid the congestion of the buses and mass transit and just be chauffeured to your hotel. The Minnie Van will take you to your accommodations or anywhere else on Disney property. Just schedule your ride through the app. The vehicles are driven by Disney Cast Members who are extremely helpful and always prepared with car seats for your little ones. Your family will enjoy a very Disney vehicle design with its red exterior and white polka dots.
You will be thrilled with the service, comfort, and ease of your transfer over other public transportation options. That’s what I call ending your day on a high note!
Add a Touch of Magic
Extra Magic Hours: If you stay on Disney property, you have the advantage of Extra Magic Hours. This enables you to enter the parks and ride rides for one hour before the park opens or one hour after closing depending on the park’s schedule. They limit the number of guests for that exclusive hour to those staying at a participating Disney World hotel. I recommend using this hour to visit the park’s most popular attractions to make the best use of your time and to avoid longer wait times due to crowd levels during regular hours.
In-Room Decorations: When celebrating a special event, such as a birthday, first time visit, anniversary, or engagement, having the room decorated for the occasion adds more excitement for everyone. From princess gowns, magic wands, and stuffed animals to limited-edition champagne glasses, custom floral arrangements, and colorful streamers, Disney has endless options for you to choose from. My cousin recently got engaged at the Magic Kingdom, and I made sure to reach out to Disney to have a special gift put in their room. She was delighted to receive champagne flutes to celebrate with her fiancé, and it was a nice touch that she hadn’t expected but won’t forget.
Four Seasons: The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort can add extra magical touches in your stay. Four Seasons has its own unique in-room decorations, which can include anything from souvenir bags to princess dresses, elegantly displayed on the bed upon arrival.
The biggest advantage of the Four Seasons decorating is that they will arrange it ahead of time for your arrival, whereas at the onsite Disney properties, you can only request decorating after you check in. Because of the extra magic this adds to your stay, I saw quite a few happy princesses walking around the halls of the Four Seasons! This property is also one of the very few that offers a Character Breakfast. You will be thrilled to start your day with Goofy and his pals (sometimes Mickey and Minnie stop by) as you dine in sophisticated surroundings at the Ravello restaurant (reservations required).
Additional benefits include the Four Seasons App, the exclusive resort waterpark, and a complimentary children’s program.
While the Four Seasons offers plenty of perks for children, they are certainly not the only ones that benefit from a stay! I personally enjoyed a little bit of heaven each evening during my stay when I left the park to retreat to my Four Seasons accommodations. I created a ritual where I ended my evening with a stop by their gelato shop, Lickety Split, to get a sweet treat then continued up to my balcony to enjoy the view of the firework show, which takes place over three of the parks.
I then enjoyed the luxury of my in-room wine dispenser and drew a bath in the soaking tub. With endless opportunities for fun and relaxation, the Four Seasons is an excellent option for children and adults alike.
Memory Maker: This is one of my favorite services Disney World offers at all four of their parks! When you purchase the memory maker, you can leave your camera at home and not worry about missing out on all the important memories you want to capture at Disney World.
The Memory Maker package includes Disney photographers all over the parks who take your photo and upload them to your “My Disney Experience” account for you to download within 30 days of your return. My advice is to always ask the photographer to “add some magical moments” to the photo. The photographer will also ask you to pose certain ways and make certain facial expressions. This is a great option to ensure you will capture great family photos on your trip. Within 24 hours, your photos will appear in the app. The most “magical” part is finding Disney animated characters in your family photos!
Grocery Delivery: Clients always ask me if the parks have a grocery store within easy access to their hotel. Then they start to go down the rabbit hole of finding a rental car and paying for parking at the resorts and theme park. I recommend Garden Grocer, a grocery delivery company that will schedule a time to deliver anything from beverages and snacks, to suntan lotion and even baby diapers. The convenience of not wasting your time shopping for snacks and cooking basics will save you time and money.
These tips will make your visit to Disney World less stressful, less of a hassle, and more of an enjoyable experience for everyone. If you are looking for additional ways to enhance your Disney experience, please contact me, as I am Frontiers’ Disney Destination Specialist. I am also a certified Disney Genius and can help you plan the trips of your dreams in any of their twelve theme parks, at Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii, or aboard the Disney Cruise line, as well as plan Adventures by Disney trips. I look forward to adding pixie dust to your next Disney adventure!
Some photos courtesy of Four Seasons.