So you’re going to Walt Disney World!

Taking your family to Walt Disney World is the ultimate dream, am I right? After much back and forth conversation between my husband and I about the perfect time to go with our kids, we finally booked our tickets! But newsflash – anytime you choose to go with your kids will be the perfect time! We left Chicago with our two boys, ages 5 and 7, and had the most MAGICAL 5 days of our lives! If you’re wondering what to pack for Walt Disney World and looking for some tips to know before you go, you’ve found the right blog post!!

Having said that, my husband and I hadn’t been there since we were kids ourselves! We didn’t know much about it, including what to pack for Walt Disney World. Heck, I was so young when I was there, that I really only remember a few specific things. Like going on “It’s a Small World”, walking next to the carousal ride (I’m sure we went on it but I have this vivid memory of walking past it), seeing The Magic Kingdom, and being on the monorail! This is going to sound crazy, but I honestly didn’t realize that Walt Disney World has so many different parks and that it’s appeal is rides. Whats more, is that I never could have guessed that I was going to love it so freaking much!!

Now that the trip is over, I know A LOT more about Walt Disney World than I knew going into the trip! I want to share all the crucial tips with you, including what to pack for Walt Disney World!

You Should Know Our Itinerary…

We were there for a total of 5 days, 4 nights. The first night we got in, we had dinner at one of the on-property Disney hotels! Then, we went to sleep to gear up for our first day at the parks! We did Magic Kingdom on day one, Epcot Center on day two, Hollywood Studios on our third day there, and Animal Kingdom on our last day there, before heading home back to Chicago that afternoon. Our trip was JAM PACKED but perfect in every way! And if you’re wondering which park was my favorite – well, I will share that at the end of this post :)

Below, check out my 10 tips to know about Disney, including what to pack for Walt Disney World!

1. Download the My Disney Experience App well before your trip

This app will be your lifeline while you are visiting Walt Disney World and even before you get there, too! It provides Disney tips for you each day you’re there. It’s a hub for your park tickets and passes. If you take any professional photos while at the park, they will show up immediately on your app! You can put in a mobile food order on the go. The app shares info about park hours. It allows you to use mobile check out at park stores, and so much more!! You will also book all your dining reservations via the app, which is why you need to download it prior to going! I’d encourage you to play around with the app and take note of all it’s offerings prior to leaving for your trip.

2. Invest in the Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Passes

Want to skip all the ride lines? The Genie+ is your answer. It allows you to use the Lighting Lane at 40 attractions across the four parks. Of course, there will be times when there is a short line for Genie+ holders, but it goes fast and is pretty painless!

The way it works is that you can make your first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection starting at 7am each day. And while you can’t book a bunch of rides at once using the Lighting Lanes, you can book one either right when you check in to your current selection or every 2 hours {120 minutes}. The only exception to this rule is if you were to make your first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection before the park opens. Then, you’d have to wait 120 minutes after the official park opening time to make another selection. Oh! And the way you book everything is via the My Disney Experience App under the “Tip Board” section! It’s really pretty simple!

3. Magic Bands are your Key to the Kingdom

If you’re going to Disney World, you need a MagicBand+ to do all the things! There are all different magic bands in terms of styles and color to match one’s personality! Everyone in your family will need one, as they should be worn during your entire trip while at the parks! What’s awesome is that they will all be linked together through your My Disney Experience app.

The most important thing that your MagicBand+ does is allow you to enter the Disney parks. It also unlocks Disney resort rooms (if you’re staying at one!) and since it is linked to your payment card on file, you can make food and merchandise purchases while you were on Disney premises. If you choose to buy the Genie+ Pass, you will check into the Lightning Lane entrances using your magic bands. It’s also linked up to your Disney Photo Pass photos! Plus, once you have the bands, you can use them every time you go to Walt Disney World again and again, even in future years to come! So if you’ve been already and are still wondering what to pack for Walt Disney World, start with making sure you have your Magic Bands!

4. Dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance

You have 60 days in advance to start booking your dining reservations!! You can make advance reservations at all the parks, resort hotels and at some places in Disney Springs. If you’re unfamiliar, Disney Springs is the downtown area of Walt Disney World. It’s filled with lots of shopping and restaurants. Anyone can go there and you don’t need tickets to enter!

If you know you are going to want to eat somewhere with sit-down service but you’re not totally sure how your day is going to go, I have a tip for you! Make two different lunch reservations and two different dinner reservations for each day for sit-down service at different times. Though with that, you have to cancel one or both reservations at least 2 hours in advance! This is something you have to remember to do if you decide to forgo those reservations but it gives you options for the day.

My suggestion is to eat a quicker lunch at one of the “quick service” restaurants where you can either order at a counter or mobile order and then pick up your food! They have tables for you to sit at for all these places and it’s easy!! While at the parks, I think it makes the most sense to do that with kids who are hungry! The one exception is if you want to book a character lunch for the family at a sit-down or buffet restaurant.

If you go the quick service route for lunch, I think it then makes sense to eat a sit-down dinner later at night! This is what we did and it worked out really well!

5. Don’t buy souvenirs at the parks

We learned an amazing secret while we were there! There is a HUGE store in Disney Springs filled with ALL the Disney merchandise that is sold at every park retail store. Knowing this information, we told our kids prior to being at the parks that we were not going to be buying anything until the last day. Which was the day that we planned to go to the giant Disney Store in Disney Springs! It was great because they understood the expectations and we weren’t wondering through each park with souvenirs to carry home. Given that all the merchandise is so expensive on Disney property, we allowed each of our boys to choose one thing at the big store to take home! It was perfect and they were excited too! Follow suit and do the same with your fam!

With that said – when thinking about what to pack for Walt Disney World, make sure you leave some room in your suitcase for souvenirs!

6. Rent a stroller, even if your kids don’t use one anymore at home

I never in my life would’ve thought that my five and seven-year-old boys would need a stroller again! And I was wrong!!! One of the very best things that we did was to rent a stroller while we were at Disney World. Because when you’re going to a giant theme park and walking for hours on end, having a stroller for your kids – even if they’re your big kids – when their little legs and feet get tired, is imperative.

I’m pretty sure having the stroller and a place to sit stopped numerous meltdowns from happening! It definitely allowed my kids to be at the park for longer than they would’ve enjoyed being there without it. If you’re looking for a stroller rental company for Disney, I found two with a quick google search. Note: I don’t know much much about either of these companies but that they look legitimate online! They are Buena Vista Rentals and Baby Quip.

7. It’s worth it to wake up early to be at the parks first in line

Hear me out – getting up at the crack of dawn to wait in a line sounds daunting. And it is – especially when you are sooo exhausted already from your long day BUT it will be worth it! Especially if you’re staying at an official Walt Disney World hotel or a good neighboring hotel. Because in those cases, you are able to enter the park 30 minutes early! This allows you to start your day going on the most popular rides without having to use your Genie+ Pass {if you bought it!!} because there will be no lines!!

We did this and knocked out a good 2-5 popular rides at each park right away! Another bonus is that the earlier you are there, the less people who are at the park in general. Which makes your time there much more enjoyable! Make sure you check park hours and plan accordingly for wake times the night before. Side note: bring breakfast with you!! And eat it while you’re waiting in line for the park to open!

8. Wear COMFORTABLE shoes and clothes!

I read that the average Walt Disney World guest walks 7-10 miles PER DAY during their vacation!!! Which means you MUST wear comfortable shoes and clothing. When thinking about what to pack for Walt Disney World, I would stick to easy breezy clothing and packing sneakers that have been broken in already. Do not plan to get new ones for the trip as that can backfire and your feet might kill! Also, I highly recommend wearing moisture wicking clothing to keep you cool and dry, as it’s typically HOT in Florida year round. When thinking about what to pack for Walt Disney World water rides, you might want to bring some thin, easy to carry ponchos with you to the park or just enjoy getting wet if it’s a really hot day, as we did!

Before you head to Disney World, read this! Sharing 10 crucial tips, including what to pack for Walt Disney World, that you need to know!

9. Stay at an official Walt Disney World Hotel or a Good Neighbor Hotel

Staying at official Walt Disney World Hotels or select Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels, which are conveniently located near the theme parks, get you perks aplenty! Some of those perks include access to a Guest Service desk at the hotel to help you with ANYTHING having to do with Disney! These hotels also provide transportation to Disney theme parks. Also, those who stay at these hotels are able to enter the parks 30 minutes early! That is a huge plus!

If you were wondering, we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which is not on property but is considered a Good Neighbor Hotel. We used points we had to stay there and it was wonderful! We loved it!

Before you head to Disney World, read this! Sharing 10 crucial tips, including what to pack for Walt Disney World, that you need to know!

10. Don’t miss the fireworks!

The fireworks at The Magic Kingdom are a non-negotiable must-do!!!!!!! It was truly the most magical part of our whole trip and a spectacular show for all ages. My suggestion is to do the park rides all morning and into the afternoon, leave the park and go back to your hotel to rest, and then head back to Magic Kingdom, maybe eat an early dinner there or get some ice cream and find yourself a good spot prior to the fireworks show starting where you have a open view of the Kingdom!

There are also fireworks at Epcot Center but they started at 9pm when we were there while The Magic Kingdom fireworks show started at 8pm. We opted to make sure we saw the show on the earlier side so we could all go home and get to bed to gear up for our next day! These fireworks were unlike anything we’ve ever seen! They were incredible and the songs that went along with them were as well. Just amazing!! You can literally feel the Disney magic while watching!

Before you head to Disney World, read this! Sharing 10 crucial tips, including what to pack for Walt Disney World, that you need to know!

Bonus tip!

I say this with lovingness – don’t bring a baby on your trip!!!!!! I mean, you can, of course, and if you have to in order to get there, you should. It would be easier if you also had a babysitter with you too but in all honesty, everyone who we saw with little babies seemed miserable. The parents and the babies! It was sad! If we had brought Demi with us, someone would have had to stay back with her and we couldn’t all go on many of the rides. I’m very thankful that we were able to keep her home with my parents while we were gone. And I can’t wait for the moment we can take her to experience the joy that is Walt Disney World for herself one day!!

My Favorite Park was…

Magic Kingdom!!!!! It truly screams quintessential Disney for me and I believe it’s where the ultimate Disney magic happens! You feel the Disney energy just walking around Magic Kingdom! In my opinion, it is the very BEST! My second favorite was Hollywood Studios, then Animal Kingdom, and then Epcot! {But my fave ride was at Epcot – Guardians of the Galaxy!}

Also – I want to be fully transparent with you in that we did hire a VIP tour guide to walk us through the parks each day. For us, it made our trip that much more enjoyable walking around with someone who fully knows each of the parks and how to get around. This service was incredible in every way and one of the reasons why we didn’t need to do much research about Walt Disney World prior to going. If you’re interested in learning more, simply shoot me a DM on instagram as I am happy to share more information with you!


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