Walt Disney World – Lessons Learned

Note: I wrote this in October… I never published it. I don’t have the energy or will to edit it at this point.

We are fresh off of a trip to Walt Disney World. It was fun and rewarding but also tough. I thought I would jot some thoughts. A person can extract a lot more out of WDW if they want to put in the effort but it is work. It’s kind of up to you. If you want to maximize the impact of your dollar there are people much better at it than me (in fact most of the work fell on my friend Nick who took over most of the planning.)

  1. Fastpass – for the uninitiated this is the method for jumping into a faster line. It does not cost extra. It just takes effort and planning. For us, Nick did all the planning. If you link all of the tickets in the Disney app, one person can manage everyone’s Fastpasses.
    • Don’t schedule Fastpasses at park opening. Give yourself time to do some things before the lines start filling up. Wait maybe 90 minutes to 2 hours after the¬†park opens.
    • Don’t waste Fastpasses on rides with short lines. You may have a ride that you really want to do but that does not mean you should Fastpass it. Look at ride wait times. Find out what is popular (that you want to ride) and Fastpass those.
    • Do Fastpasses as early as possible. You get 3 initially and once they are used you can get more, though only one per person at a time.
    • Do start signing up for Fastpass as soon as you can. Some things fill up and people staying in a Disney Resort get to sign up first.
    • Do check in on changes for rides you missed Fastpasses on. We got a Fastpass for Flights of Passage thanks to Nick’s diligence, checking every day to see if someone canceled their Fastpass, giving another opening.
  2. Ride Swap – if you have a kid that can’t ride a ride and an adult who needs to stay with that kid you can ask for a ride swap. Basically, you scan your Fastpass then say you need a Ride Swap to the attendant and they tell you what to do from there. The Ride Swap is like an additional¬†Fastpass. Also, if your party make up is right and you are willing, you can take advantage of this to get multiple Ride Swaps. A Ride Swap can get 3 people onto a ride. Let’s just say we got to ride Flights of Passage multiple times despite an insane line.
  3. Magicbands – Is it worth it to spend $15 per ticket to have it on your wrist instead of a card in your pocket? That’s up to you but I say yes. You have to scan to get in and for every Fastpass you use as well as if you are getting photos (see below.) If you are staying in the Park there are other benefits. Also, my 4-year-old had one fit him fine after we tore out the insert to make it smaller. He never had it pop off. It worked great.
  4. Memory Maker – Formerly called Photopass or something. Basically, you pay up front and any pictures taken by Disney goes into an account and can be downloaded. That means if there is a ride that takes pics while you ride, you can scan your ticket at the end and add that picture. If a cast member using their camera takes a picture of you with a character or in a good spot, scan and it’s in your account. It is super easy and worth the cost if you are the type to visit with characters or stop to get your picture taken.
  5. Eating – WDW is very relaxed with what you bring in. You can’t take a cooler but if it’s a soft bag, even if insulated, you are fine. We had iced down drinks, sandwiches and all kinds of junk food. The food in the park, while priced higher than the real world, is not as crazy as you might think. Do some research and budget accordingly.