OK, I’m going to introduce you to a small bit of structure in an otherwise structure free plan. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you can setup your FastPass+ reservations 30 days before arriving at the park. FastPass+ is a reservation system for most of the rides at the theme parks. They let you bypass the “standby” lines, which can grow to several hours, to a wait line of only several minutes. Make sure you have your Magic Bands on, though, as they act as your FastPass+ ticket.
You should use these to make sure you get on your three “we have to do this” rides. Don’t put too much planning into these apart from getting them scheduled as early in the day as possible. Once you have used your three, you will get a fourth one, and once you use that, a fifth. But FastPass+ reservations usually all get claimed by mid-afternoon. So, if you don’t get your three used early enough in the day, the extra ones will be useless.
Get the App
Don’t spend your vacation with your face in your phone, but the Disney apps are must haves. Each park has full maps, and attractions have real time wait times.
Sometimes, attractions have short wait times at odd times of the day. At Magic Kingdom, seeing Tinkerbell is one of the first FastPass+ to fill up, and wait times are rarely under 2 hours. On a trip where the youngest was 15 years old, waiting several hours to see Tink was not a priority. But, while checking wait times on the app, I noticed that the wait was 5 minutes. We waited a few minutes for what is usually one of the longest waits in the park, and it was a cool experience. It was also an experience that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have the app installed.
Plus, you can manage your FastPass+ reservations from the app, too. Pro Tip: Once you scan your Magic Band on the way in for your last FastPass+, you are immediately given your next bonus one. There’s usually a few minutes of a wait, even for FastPass+. Use this time to schedule your next FastPass+.
And, if you have a teen, put them in charge of directing the party and try to keep up. Chances are, they will have their face buried in the phone anyway. You might as well put that digital addiction to good use.
Save the Over-the-Top To-the-Minute Plans
Listen, I know you are plopping down a lot of money on this vacation. It’s only natural to want to get the most out of it. Can you plan your visit down to the minute? Can you even pay for a “Touring Plan” sold by other guides?
Yes. Yes, you can. You can spend every second running around hurried. You can pack as much into every fleeting moment as time allows. At the end of the day, they will declare you “Winner of The Disney.” And you and your family will very likely be miserable.
It could be that’s the type of vacation you want. If so, go for it and good luck. I’m not here to judge, but I’m also not here to pressure. If you want a vacation where you can have fun, relax, and make some great memories, then repeat after me:
You are on vacation.
Slow down. Go with the flow. Is it cool to be at the park for rope drop in the morning? Yes, it is. Is it worth seeing with a tired, potentially mutinous child (or parent) that could have used another 30 minutes of sleep? No, it isn’t. Besides, the firework shows at the end of the night are way better. Don’t push your party to the point where they are so tired that they don’t enjoy, or even miss, them.