It is a new year and for many people (including me!) that now means we can say 'I am going to Disney this year!!!'.
This is such an exciting moment and often it also means the starting of properly planning the details of your holiday.
If you are taking your very first trip to Disney World in 2022 these are my top 5 tips to help you have the most magical experience!
Use Jet Lag To Your Advantage!
If you are travelling to the US from the UK most people will experience jetlag. The change in time will mean for the first couple of days (or even your whole trip) you may get up much earlier than usual. 'But I am on holiday', you may say, 'I want to lie in'! When visiting Disney World jetlag can actually give you a big advantage!
The parks are quietest first thing in the morning you can actually get more done in the first few hours than the whole rest of the day! This is why jetlag should become your friend when in Orlando!
Try to get to the parks as early as possible to make the most of the quieter hours. Remember: you have the advantage over many other people visiting Disney World as you will already be rising early naturally so are able to beat the crowds and arrive at the parks for when they open!
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort you can now enter the parks 30 minutes early. This happens every day and in each park! For example if Magic Kingdom is officially open at 9am you can enter at 8:30am. This will give you the opportunity to head straight to the rides and get some in before the park is even open to day guests!
If you want to get on the most popular rides that draw the biggest queues first it is a good strategy to arrive 30 to 45 minutes before you can enter the park. This will give you time to get as close to the gates before they open and then you can walk straight to your first attraction and be some of the first people in the queue to ride that day!
This can also help to save you money as you may be able to get on the Individual Lightning Lane Pass rides with a shorter queue time and not have to pay for them! (More on this topic later!).
Plan Rest Days
Visiting Disney World is so exciting and wanting to experience everything is part of the fun! But Disney World is massive! On average you will walk 20,000 steps a day and over a week, two week or three week period this can get tiring! (To find out more about this read my blog called 'How Far I'll Go, Walking at Disney World').
To help your body, and most importantly your feet, rest and recuperate be sure to add rest days into your itinerary.
Great rest days activities include exploring what your resort has to offer, spending the day in a water park or seeing a movie in Disney Springs!
People do worry about missing out by taking a whole day out of visiting the parks but having a day to relax will give you more stamina to enjoy the parks when you are in them!
If you don't want to take a whole day out to rest instead plan rest times in your day. If you use your jetlag to your advantage you can get lots done in the morning (see point one!). After lunchtime is when the parks get the busiest and the most crowded. This is also the hottest time of the day. After lunch is the perfect time for you to head back to your resort to relax, hop in the pool or nap for a few hours! You can then go back to the parks when it is a bit cooler and quiet and get to experience the parks at night, which is a completely different experience!
Book Your Dining In Advance
Dining in one of the Disney World restaurants is often on most people's must-do list. With over 200 restaurants on property, serving every type of cuisine you could imagine and with a variety of dining experiences on offer there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Dining reservations are a must as most of the restaurants will become fully booked very quickly, often within minutes of going live!
You are able to book a dining reservation via the Disney World website or My Disney Experience app 60 days in advance.
Use the Disney World website to book your dining reservations as it tends to be more reliable than the app.
Only table service restaurants require a reservation. If you eat in quick service locations there is no need to book!
Character dining is super popular as you get to enjoy a great meal whilst seeing classic Disney characters! These book up very quickly so be sure to try to get your reservation as soon as you are able to book!
If you are staying in a Disney World resort you can book dining reservations for your entire trip at the 60 days mark (up to 10 days). This is a huge advantage and gives you the best opportunity to book the hardest to get reservations! See my blog about how to do this.
If you don't manage to get your dining reservation at the 60 day mark never fear! People's plans often change so closer to your trip you may find reservations start opening up, so do keep checking!
I have a whole range of blog posts to help you plan your dining at Disney World including The Hardest To Get Dining Reservations At Disney World, Tips To Help You Get The Most Popular Dining Reservations at Disney World, the Hidden Gem Restaurants at Disney World, my Most Magical Guide To Character Dining At Disney World, the 10 Most Underrated Restaurants at Disney World and the 5 Most Overrated Restaurants at Disney World!
If you or anyone you are travelling with are vegan or interested in the plant-based foods at Disney World be sure to check out the Vegan WDW section of my website which is your one stop shop all about vegan food at Disney World!
Here you will find lists of the best vegan options you can find in each Disney World Park, the Disney Resorts and Disney Springs, FREE guides that tell you every single vegan option available at Disney World and a link to all my blog posts about everything vegan at Disney World!
Don't Stress About Disney Genie!
Disney World launched Disney Genie in 2021. This new system has three parts, Disney Genie, Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Passes. It can feel daunting and confusing when you start planning your trip! What does each element mean? Do I have to pay? Is it worth the money?
Here is a simple run down of just what Disney Genie is and whether you need it or not for your trip!
Disney Genie is a section of the My Disney Experience app which can help guide you to the rides, attractions and restaurants you want to experience when the waiting times are shorter. This is a free service and is there to try and maximise your time in the park. Simply select what you would like to do in your day and Disney Genie can tell you the best times to visit!
Genie+ is a new way to skip the queue on up to 40 rides across Disney World. This costs $15 per person, per day.
Individual Lightning Lane Passes can be purchased for the 8 most popular rides at Disney World, which are not included as part of Genie+. These passes cost between $7 and $15 per person, per ride. You do not need to purchase Genie+ to be able to buy the Individual Lightning Lane Passes.
For a more in-depth look at this check out my blog post all about this called Disney Genie Explained!
So do you need to buy Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Passes?
This depends on how you would like to experience the parks. You do not need to purchase either, you can just wait in the regular standby lines for all the rides at Disney World. Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are just there as a way to queuing for a shorter amount of time.
If you are travelling in a busy time of the year it can be beneficial to skip queues for rides that can be hours long. In quieter times of the year you may find you don't need to skip the queue as the wait times may be reasonable.
Some Disney Parks benefit more from Genie+ than others. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios have very popular rides that can get long queues. Genie+ can give you the most bang for your buck in these two parks.
EPCOT and Animal Kingdom do not have as many rides that would need to have the queue skipped so they don't always offer the best value for money.
A great feature of Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes is you don't need to use them every day. If you are visiting Disney World for 2 weeks you will most likely visit each Disney Park a few times. A great strategy is to see how much you can get done the first time you visit a park and if you feel like you need Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes Passes you can then purchase them later in the trip.
You are able to purchase Genie+ from midnight on the day you will visit the park and can book your first reservation at 7am. Be sure to do it right at 7am as some rides, like Slinky Dog Dash, will sell out in minutes for the entire day!
Individual Lightning Lanes are good for must do rides that you cannot miss out on. Lightning Lane Passes can be purchased at 7am if you are staying in a Disney World Resort or when the park opens if you are staying off-site. There is a limited amount of Lightning Lane Passes available each day so if you are staying at a Disney World Resort you do have the advantage of being able to book them first.
You can also check out my 'Is Disney Genie Going To Ruin My Trip' blog post for a look at the pros and cons of Disney Genie, Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Passes!
Learn The Disney Lingo
When planning a Disney World trip you will hear lots of new words and acronyms which can be confusing!
Here are some of the most common terms you will hear and their meanings so you can be up to speed with all the Disney lingo!
ADR stands for Advanced Dining Reservation. This is a dining reservation that is booked for a Disney World restaurant.
A cast member is anyone who works for Disney! Instead of being called a member of staff or employee, Disney uses the term cast member. Disney does this as all elements of the company are referred to by film industry terms. For example the areas of the parks where visitors cannot go are called 'backstage' and any areas of the parks where visitors are allowed are called 'on stage'.
Quick service dining or quick service restaurants are similar to fast food restaurants. Here you will order your food at a counter, collect it and take your food to a table yourself.
Table service meals or table service restaurants are traditional sit-down restaurants where you will taken to a table and your server will take your order and bring your food to you.
Mobile Ordering is a handy system where you can use the My Disney Experience app to pre-order from quick service locations. You can then let the restaurant know when you have arrived so they can prepare your order for you!
Check out my blog post to get the low down on mobile ordering!
Staying on-site is when you are staying in a Disney World hotel, which are called resorts at Disney World.
To stay off-site is to stay in a hotel that is not on Disney World property.
To learn more about this read all about whether you should stay on-site or off-site.
Magic bands look like a wrist watch and are used to gain entry to the Disney World Parks, can open your Disney World Resort room door and can store your Genie+ and Lightning Lane reservations.
They are not necessary, as you will be able to use your card ticket to enter the parks and will be given a key card for your resort room, but many people like the ease of being able to just tap their Magic Band.
Magic Bands can be found with a range of different designs which is a real fun way to show off your favourite films or characters!
Check out my blog post all about Magic Bands to learn more about them and whether you need one!
To find out even more Disney slang terms head to my blog post all about this!
Some other helpful blog posts for planning for your trip to Disney World include: