July 10, 2023

How to Plan a Successful Walt Disney World Trip in Orlando, Florida with Your Kids

disney world trip with kids

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Walt Disney World can be a lot of fun, but it can also just be a lot! Don’t worry though; if you do a little bit of planning and preparation, it will 100% be worth it! We just got back from Disney this past month, and me and the girls had so much fun! We are already planning for next year’s trip and cannot wait lol! Keep reading for my best tips to make your Disney trip smooth and fun!

Top Tips for Planning Your Disney World Trip

1.) Pick what time of year you want to go. There are pros and cons to every different time. Spring Break can be super busy, but the kids are out of school. It also isn’t as warm yet. Earlier in the year can be less crowded and hot, but then you have to take the kids out of school. Summer is easiest with schedules, but it starts getting pretty hot in June, and it can be super crowded with long wait lines! There are also those pop-up rain showers in summer and fall that can happen anytime.

It’s not as crowded in fall and it can be slightly cooler. We went in September last year, and honestly, it wasn’t as crowded, but it wasn’t cooler! October weather feels even better, but it could be pouring down rain like our only day at Magic Kingdom last year. It poured for about 6 hours straight! You can also attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party which is super fun! It does require you to spend more money on an extra ticket though, but it’s not nearly as crowded. The holidays are also a fun time to go to the park, but it won’t be super warm, yet you won’t see a white Christmas. = ) See, there are pros and cons to it all. Any time is a great time to go just depending on what you’re looking for.

2.) Have a budget for the trip. This is key. If you don’t have a budget, how will you know how long you should go, where you should stay, eat and how many parks you should go to?? You will definitely want to start with a budget so you can help to plan your trip. It definitely adds up, and depending on how many family members and kids you have, you could spend much more on Disney Park tickets per day than your actual hotel. Food and water prices at the park can quickly rack up those charges even more.

3.) Book direct flights. We flew to Orlando for the second time in a row with Spirit Airlines. Spirit’s daily, nonstop service from Memphis to Orlando makes it so easy for friends and families to fly daily nonstop routes to Orlando! Families traveling can enjoy low fares that save more so they can have more to spend at their destination. This is perfect for Disney World! I love that we all got to Orlando in just a couple hours, and it was a direct flight. So convenient! We could easily pay to upgrade our seats or add on more bags. I love that we pay for just what we want and need!

You can also join the Free Spirit Loyalty Program to earn rewards and status. Members get up to 12 points on every dollar spent at Spirit. With point redemptions starting at 2,500, get to your next reward flight faster than ever. Members can also redeem with Free Spirit Points + Cash®, combining as little as 1,000 points with cash. Points don’t expire as long as you continue to earn or redeem with Spirit® or with Free Spirit® partners within a 12-month period. This is another reason why we love Spirit!

travel outfit

4.) Decide on how many days you want to visit Walt Disney World. There are 4 Disney parks and 2 waterparks, and many times going for 7 days to the parks doesn’t cost much more than going to the park for 4 days. It is definitely an incentive to go for several days in a row! When our kids are older, we will definitely take advantage of this. But since Leighton was 8 and Amelia was 5, we knew that 2 days was just perfect for us. We did 2 days last year too. When Grayson gets to Leighton age, we will definitely start going for 3+ days to take advantage of a different park each day. Just know what fits into your budget and what works with your family and your kids’ ages.

5.) Stay at a Disney property hotel. It is the only way to stay in my opinion! There are so many different Disney properties that fall into all different price ranges. You can definitely find some affordable ones that are perfect. After all, do you plan to spend much time in the room anyways?! We stayed at Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista for the second time, and we loved the location. It is considered on Disney property and is super close to all the parks.

kids at disney world

The hotel has a free shuttle every hour to and from each of the parks. It is also located at Disney Springs which has plenty of shopping and dining options. The hotel itself has a breakfast buffet restaurant upstairs and a lunch and dinner restaurant poolside. They have 2 pools and a hot tub which the kids absolutely loved!

Disney properties allow you to enter all of the Disney parks 30 minutes earlier than guests who aren’t staying on property. So you get to enter the parks earlier, you are closer to the parks and you can view your reservation and all your information right from your Disney app. Some hotels on the property even allow you to unlock your room with the app and charge all your Disney purchases at the parks to your room by just scanning your app or Magic Band. It is super convenient!

kids at disney world

6.) Decide on which parks to visit and which rides are on your must-do list each day. Use Genie+ for your favorite rides. We also look up the rides at each park and look at height requirements. From there we make our decisions based on our top must-do rides that we don’t want to miss. You can even look at the app the day before to view ride times to get an idea of which ones you want to cross off your list first before they get too long the next day. It will give you a good idea of the wait times the following day around the same time.

On the day of, you can purchase Genie+ or use Lightning Lane services. Purchase Disney Genie+ service, and you’ll be able to use Lightning Lane entrances at select attractions and experiences. Genie+ can vary by park and by day. Some Lightning Lane entrances are not offered through Disney Genie+ service but may be purchased individually or a la carte with Individual Lightning Lane. Check the Disney app the day you’re visiting the park as early as 7:00 am for more details. We didn’t use either at Magic Kingdom because it was $23 per ride per person. But at Hollywood Studios, it was $25 per person and it helped us to get through quickly on both Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror. That $75 was a little more worth it for 2 rides for 3 people.

7.) Order Magic+ Bands. You don’t technically have to have Magic+ bands, but they do make your trip even easier and better! You can use a card, the app, or even a regular Magic band, but I have an idea as they update more rides and things at Disney, eventually, the Magic+ bands will be used for even more. And they aren’t that much more expensive than a regular Magic band. You can reuse them each year, but just know that they can only be used for the same person each year. They cannot ever transfer one to a different person or account. But the magic+ bands start at $34.99 and are worth it for the convenience to me!

8.) Book at least 1 Disney World dining reservation each day 60 days in advance. I always mark 60 days out from my Disney trip on my calendar. That is when I immediately search for dining options and make my reservations. It’s good to always know in advance which dining places you want to possibly eat at, which days, and which times. For me, it is too hard to stop during the day to sit down and eat at a nice restaurant for lunch, so we typically make late dinner reservations. That gives us more time at the parks to ride the rides first!

Some of my favorite sit-down dining options at Magic Kingdom are Cinderella’s Table and Be Our Guest. At Cinderella’s Table, you can meet Cinderella and get her autograph. At Be Our Guest, you will see Beast, but you won’t be able to talk to him or get his autograph. Your server, however, will give you a card at checkout with his autograph. This is always a favorite of our kids! They have autograph books and love collecting them throughout the Disney parks each day.

I recommend 1 nice dining option each day. You can grab breakfast or something quick in the morning at your hotel before heading out to the park. Then we find a food spot via the app near to us around lunchtime and place a mobile order. The app lets us know when our food is ready, and we can quickly pick it up and eat. This helps to really save time! The app also lists different menus, so you can even view a gluten-free menu and order on the app or in person. Super convenient! All of the dining options at Disney parks offer gluten free options too now! We were very impressed with the menu and the staff at both of these restaurants.

For a quick dining option at Magic Kingdom, I really like Pinocchio Village Haus. For a quick dining option at Hollywood Studios, I really like ABC Commissary and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Even the kids loved the options! They do a decent job of trying to provide a small variety of foods that will keep both adults and kids happy while also offering options for people with certain allergies.

9.) Pack a backpack or crossbody bag with the essentials. Chapstick, sunscreen, bandaids, Tylenol, etc. I have this crossbody in the pink version, and Leighton loves this fanny pack that she carried this year. I thought she would complain, but she actually loved carrying it and never once took it off. She kept her papers in there for autographs, chapstick, and sunscreen. It was perfect! And my bag is big enough to fit all my essentials from my wallet to my sunglasses to my chapstick.

10.) Schedule some downtime during the Disney World trip. This is essential! Especially when traveling with small kids. It gets tiring going to the park ALL day long for several days. It is hot, you are walking a lot, and you are tired and thirsty. And grouchy! We scheduled in relaxing pool time on our first travel day in and our last travel day out. Amelia also took a nap on the last day. And since we had early and late flights, we got in bed at 8:00 pm one of the nights after spending 10 hours at the park all day. It made for a much more successful trip!

Have you been to Walt Disney World yet? What are your best tips?


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