5 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your Time During Your Disney Vacation
If you follow the site at all, I know I can sometimes sound like broken record. To me Disney is all about doing the things that so many guests overlook or fail to take full advantage of when touring the parks and enjoying the resorts. It’s not about hitting every attraction or doing everything you possibly can but rather making the most of every moment you have in the parks and taking the time to truly appreciate the little things that make all the difference in the world. As I’ve said here time and time again, it’s not about the place but rather the memories the place helps to develop for you and your family. The parks are simply a place but the memories and stories you share with family will genuinely stick with you for generations as a result of the true connections you make with the people you care the most about.
I know that sounds cliche and in many ways it kind of is, but if you’re a repeat Walt Disney World guest you likely understand exactly what I mean and it’s a feeling and mindset that cannot be conveyed in words. You can tell people story after story, but nothing allows them to really “get it” until they experience it for themselves and have that moment that takes their breath away when they least expect it.
So you may be asking, “What does any of this have to do with making the most of your time during your vacation?” It’s certainly a warranted question and the answer is fairly simple. If you go to Disney with the mindset of making the most of every minute, that truly is the key to it all. Our list could relay 100 different tips but when it’s all said in done, appreciating the little moments with family that have nothing to do with the parks is the key to a great Walt Disney World vacation. Sure, I can tell you exactly what we do on every day of our trip and some posts on this site do just that, but what’s important isn’t what you do each day but rather the time you spend and the memories you create exploring the parks with the people you care the most about. I cannot stress that enough.
However, if I did have to make a list of top tips to make the most of your time at WDW, the following things would be near the top of that list!
Stop Worrying About “What’s Next on the List”
My go to approach with guests looking to book every single minute of every single day is to have each person in your group pick three things they want to do during your stay more that anything else. Make it a priority to hit everybody’s top three no matter what they may be and then make everything else secondary. If you’re successful in doing this, by the time your vacation draws to a close everybody is happy and while you may not have accomplished everything in every park (a near impossible task), you’ve met everybody’s goals. It sounds so simple but it works and it helps groups of all ages avoid those “melt down” moments in the parks.
Long story made short, set the list aside, live in the moment, and stop worrying about what’s next long enough to appreciate what you’re doing when you’re doing it. Distractions are everywhere but being connected is the key to making the most of your vacation.
Take the Time to Relax
It sounds a little nuts at first, but stepping away from the parks, even if only for a few hours, can truly allow you to experience far more during your stay. When you take that mid day break in the heat of the day, head back to the pool, or even go take a nap at your resort, it is amazing how refreshed and ready you are to take on the rest of the day after the break. You’re more productive, you’re less exhausted, and ultimately you can stay out later that the vast majority of the crowds and still have the energy to keep going as other guests tire out and give up on the late night hours.
If nothing else, taking a break can allow you the unique opportunity to stay up late and do something like stay until closing time in the parks or even to head over to Disney Springs for a bit of nightlife. Staying until closing (or after closing) time at the parks is a surprisingly unique experience. As the crowds filter out, and as attractions close out their lines, every park takes on a shockingly unique feel. As the crowds dissipate the music becomes more audible, the details start to stick out more, and the feel of being there is like being in Disney in the golden years before the crowds really “took over” the parks.
Only Plan What You Have To
Don’t worry about planning around “crowd calendars” (I’ve never seen a crowd calendar that was actually accurate) or trying to book every meal of your trip 180 days in advance, and as mentioned before don’t plan out every second of every day.
If you’re worried about dining reservations, don’t be! Even the most elusive reservations can be found the day before your desired dining timeframe in many cases simply because other guests are shifting their plans which opens up new spots as the free cancellation window approaches. Fastpass+ selections are kind of the same way. If you’re determined, sit on your couch the day before your trip and refresh the app or booking website every few seconds for about 30 minutes straight. You will be shocked at how fast things change!
I used this exact tactic to book a Slinky Dog Dash Fastpass+ two weeks after the new land opened to secure a fastpass just a few short days before we arrived. It may not be the easiest way to do things, but don’t stress if your “perfect” fastpass+ selection isn’t available when you try the first time. If nothing else, get to the park early and go straight to the desired attraction you couldn’t get a fastpass for and I assure you it wont be the end of the world.
Let Yourself Try Something New (mostly a suggestion to repeat guests)
For example, move away from your seemingly picture perfect view of Illuminations from the Italy pavilion and head to Canada for a far different but equally as unique view of the show. Up until our last trip I had never taken the time to try this particular spot but as you walk up the stairs entering the pavilion stop and step off to your right and camp out for about 20 minutes before the show. About five minutes before show time, turn around and watch for someone wearing all black and carrying a radio. If you spot them in time you can watch as they walk to the back of the pavilion, move “backstage” and then like magic appear out of a chimney to peer out over the show as it begins. I’m not entirely sure what that particular individual does but I’ve heard speculation that they control the show or at the very least monitor the show from that vantage point to assure everything goes as planned.
Additionally, from this same spot, you get a near unobstructed view of the nighttime spectacular and if you stand close enough to the wall it’s impossible for anyone to stand right in front of you at the last minute. If this spot is taken, the Japan pavilion’s main staircase is another great option (pictured above)!
Take the time to try something new and it may become a new favorite of yours in the long run! It doesn’t matter if it’s something as small as a new fireworks viewing spot or something large like trying a Disney hosted tour, it’s all special and different in a way that will likely exceed your expectations.
Look Beyond the Parks
In my opinion that’s the key to why we all vacation in the first place. Vacation is often times a needed escape from reality and time to reconnect with those that mean so much to us. That’s what it’s all about, and hopefully this helps each and every one of you make the most of every minute of your trip to the Orlando area and in particular Walt Disney World!