If you’re planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth, having some inside information is definitely helpful! A Disney trip with family and friends should be enjoyable and memorable, and taking the time to plan ahead is essential. We’re sharing some tips and tricks to help make your Disney vacation as stress-free as possible…see our recommendations below!
How to Plan
Planning your trip a year in advance is NOT as crazy as it may sound! The more time you can give yourself to get everything in order, the easier it will be. Plus, this will help you get the reservations at hotels and restaurants that you’re really looking forward to! Reservation availability definitely depends on the time of year you’re going and your group size, but booking further in advance is highly recommended.
Book your hotel rooms first! There are plenty of hotel options, but if you have a particular spot in mind, get those rooms reserved ASAP. Once your hotel is booked, start researching park tickets – if you book your hotel and park tickets together, you get a discount! When Kristy went with her family, she found the biggest discount through a travel agent (she went with Dana from Infinity & Beyond Travel Co. – if you use this agency, say Kristy Leo referred you!!). After you’ve got your park tickets all set, plan your itinerary!
Now that you’ve decided which day you’re going to which park, start thinking about dining options. You can book your dining reservations 60 days in advance of your arrival…time slots fill up quickly so we recommend doing this right away. Be ready to get up at 6am and get on the phone for those reservations. The early wake up call will be worth it though when you get prime dining with Mickey and friends!!
Once you’ve got your hotel rooms, park tickets, and dining reservations situated, order your Disney MagicBands. These bands easily connect you to everything like your park passes, hotel room keys, payment options, and PhotoPass info! You can order them through the Disney website after you book your hotel reservations. We also recommend investing in Genie+, which will help cut down on wait times for rides…this is especially useful if you’re traveling with very young kids!
After you’ve got the big items out of the way, it’s time to make a packing list.
What to Pack
Make your packing list and check it twice (or three or four times)! While you can buy almost anything you need at the parks or a store nearby, planning properly will save you time and money. So what should you plan to bring? Aside from whatever clothes and toiletries you’ll need for your trip, we have a few favorites that we found super helpful.
This stroller fan is perfect for keeping the kids cool while waiting in line or watching a show or parade! And if you’re stroller-free, this neck fan or this hand-held fan are also great options. These cooling towels also provide some relief from the heat and help absorb moisture!
This hanging toiletry bag is ideal for packing all of your beauty essentials. It keeps them organized and off of the tables and countertops in your hotel room! Some not-so-typical toiletries you may want to bring are a shower cap, anti-chafe balm, and Band-Aids for those blisters you may get from all of the walking
This adorable Mickey Mouse head carabiner clip will help keep your hands free while walking through the parks! Clip your shopping bags and cooler bags right on your stroller and you’ll have one less thing to worry about carrying.
Speaking of hands-free, this sling bag will be a life saver!! With plenty of pockets everywhere, including a secret compartment in the back for your money and cards or keys, and a clip at the top for hand sanitizer or whatever else you want on-hand and easily accessible, this bag will make life a walk in the park (get it?!). Here’s another option from the Vera Bradley Disney Collection.
And if a sling bag isn’t really your style, a cute fanny pack is also a great option to keep all of your essentials safe and nearby!
If you’re planning on rocking Mickey Ears during your trip, we recommend grabbing them ahead of time to save some money…they can be really expensive if you buy them at the parks.
And these princess-inspired dresses will make your little one feel like royalty and let her match her favorite characters. The soft cotton material makes them comfortable and great to wear in the heat, too!
For the ladies, these GapFit exercise dresses with built-in bike shorts are a must-have for those long, hot days. Look cute and feel comfy…it’s a win-win.
Some other items we recommend bringing are metal straws (they only have paper at the parks), collapsible water bottles, sippy-cup caps, bottle top spouts, and ponchos (in case of rain or for water rides).
Where would we be and what would we do without Amazon…like, seriously?! Ordering big items (like sunscreen, diapers and wipes, and snacks) through Amazon and having them sent to your hotel will be a game-changer. Just make sure you check the delivery dates of your items to ensure they’ll be delivered in time! When you arrive at check-in, let the front desk know you’re expecting an Amazon package and they can retrieve it for you. You can avoid extra baggage fees this way and give yourself more room while packing…and more room to bring back souvenirs!
What we order from Amazon:
- Gatorade Powder packs (or Propel, if you prefer)
- Take & Toss cups
- Men’s toiletry kit
- Kids’ 3-in-1 bubble bath, body wash, and shampoo
- Beef jerky packs
- Happy Baby Yogis snacks
- Nabisco favorites
- Nature Valley oatmeal squares
- Goldfish individual packs
Perishable foods like produce; bulk beverages like milk, water bottles, and even beer for the grownups; and paper products like paper towels can be ordered through Garden Grocer and also delivered to your hotel! Order in advance and set your delivery time for when you anticipate arriving at the hotel…pickup is usually in the bell hop area.
Once You’re There
Your reservations are made, your bags are packed, and your groceries are ordered. Now all you have to do is show up and get ready for the magic to unfold!
A cute idea for your character autographs is signed instant photos! Grab this camera and film kit and have your favorite characters sign your photos with them! Then add your photos to this autograph book and preserve your memories forever.
If you’ve got little ones, then you know that even in the happiest place on Earth, with an endless amount of things to see and do, the kids will still need extra entertainment. This will help while waiting in line for rides, at restaurants, and even winding down at the hotel in the evenings. Here are some entertainment items we highly recommend:
- Hidden Mickeys book
- Where’s Mickey? look & find book
- Toy Story scratch book
- Disney Princess magic ink book
- Melissa & Doug Felt Friends craft activity book
- LCD writing/drawing tablet
- WikkiStix fidget toy
- Melissa & Doug water-reveal activity books
When your trip has come to close, everyone will be sad to leave but full of happy memories and stories to share with friends and family. If you’re flying home, we recommend booking a transit service from your hotel to the airport (as far as we know, the complimentary shuttle service is no longer available, so this could be super helpful). The last thing you want to worry about after your vacation is catching a last-minute Uber to the airport!
The shuttle usually picks people up almost 3 hours before your flight departure – we like Happy Limo (check out rates here). You can ask for car seats for an additional fee if you need them too! Once you’re in your spacious, comfy shuttle and on your way to the airport, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you are now officially an expert at conquering Disney.