Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Walt Disney World Tips for Families 2023

We just returned from Walt Disney World. We dubbed ourselves, after dozens of trips, the "Disney Six."

Hence the new blog title. I'm allgoodinmommyhood at heart, but from this day forward my posts will be Disney centered. 

I haven't blogged in years. Life caught up to me. Schedules were not forgiving with four children and we moved south. Covid. Work. You name it, it contributed to me sacrificing my creative space. Crazy how life works though, because I blinked and my children are self sufficient. They don't ask for much other than money and permission to go somewhere else. This has left me time.

Walt Disney World in 2023 is not an easy place. If you are not a frequent visitor, or even more frightening, you've never been there, this post is for you. I have been on many Disney World travel pages and even I get confused. 

This says something because I've been to Disney World over fifty times. Yes, over fifty times and I don't live in Florida.

There are basics you need to know in order to make the most out of your very expensive trip. Gone are the days of showing up to a park, hustling to a ride or attraction and overpaying for an ice cream. Well, you will still overpay for an ice cream.

Before you leave, there are a few things you need to know. I will add posts about more specific topics (virtual queues, best advice, how to save money...) but this is the bare bones you need to plan a trip. I am not covering places to stay but I will say that I prefer to stay inside the parks and use Disney transportation. There are budget friendly hotels (which are hardly budget friendly) you can book with a package and everything will be easy to manage.

1. Familiarize yourself with the My Disney Experience App (available in the app store). This is absolutely essential. I am not going to write fifteen pages on how to do this, because really the best way to learn it is just go on and start poking around. This app is our everything, from wait times to park hours. This is where you make and manage park and meal reservations. You need to know how to navigate the app before you leave in order for you to manage your trip effectively. Download it, and start to familiarize yourself with how everything works.

2. You need park reservations before you can visit a park. This was a Covid implementation and next year (2024) this is supposed to be a thing of the past. You can make your park reservation on the My Disney Experience App and most often this is never an issue. 

On rare occasions a park will be at capacity. Trust me, on those days you don't want to be there anyway. Most often you just pick a day and reserve. 

3. Park Hopper tickets are not necessary. One park a day is more than enough, especially if you have never been or haven't been in awhile. Save that money and explore one park a day.

4. MagicBands are not a necessity (you can use your phone for park entry) but they make life so much easier. They will open your room, serve as your park ticket and you can even charge to your room. Literally an adult in Walt Disney World needs nothing other than a phone and a MagicBand. 

There are two types of MagicBands, the standard and MagicBand Plus. As you may have guessed, the MagicBand Plus is more expensive and has more features.

As exciting as a MagicBand Plus is, this is a place to save money. If you've never had one, you won't miss one. They light up and interact with statues in the park. You can play games. We bought them for the kids and they enjoyed them, but only one was necessary to see all the fun features.

If you want to see what they are about, buy one for a parent and make a point to stop and show the kids all the fun stuff they do in the parks.  

5. You are best being an early bird or a night owl in Disney. Even better? Both.

There are basically three opening times for the parks. First is the actual opening time. This is for all visitors. If you stay at a Disney resort, you gain the advantage of early entry. This is a half hour before other visitors and it makes a HUGE difference if you get there early. The third is when they actually let early entry folks in the park, which is typically before early entry. 

That was a lot.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 8:03am for a 9am park opening. Early entry was 8:30. We were allowed to explore Main Street and they scanned MagicBands (or phones) to let early entry folks past a certain checkpoint. At 8:25, early entry officially opened. By park opening we were already done with three attractions (Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan and Space Mountain).

See what I mean? The early bird truly catches the worm in Disney. 

If you prefer to sleep in, remember midday is the warmest weather and the largest crowds. Wait times peak and depending on the month, the heat can be unbearable. Take your time, stay cool and watch the app for the shortest wait times. If you stay in a deluxe resort, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom have extended evening hours (usually two hours after park close). I highly recommend utilizing them.

To follow along on our Disney Trip, view our YouTube channel and we'll show you how we "do Disney." Spoiler alert: we don't spend on meals and fancy extras. We love the parks, we love to shop for fun souvenirs and we love the family time.

Cheers! Thanks for reading! 

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