Walt Disney World Travel Tips: 17 insights for a not-to-forget visit
In another Walt Disney World tips story, we detailed a few key tips to pay attention to before booking and traveling. But once you are at Walt Disney World, knowing the insider wisdom for getting around, taking breaks, charging your electronic devices, and finding food and drink, attractions, and souvenir shopping is super helpful. To that end, here are 17 HI Travel Tales Walt Disney World travel tips to help you stay sane and have more fun once there.
- Indeed, to avoid unneeded stress, plan on 60-90 minutes to get where you want to go. Yeah, perhaps shocking, but between waiting for buses and taking them between attractions, time just disappears.
- If you are not staying on-site, you can always park at Disney Downtown. Yes, it’s free. But don’t say that too loudly. From there you can take a bus or boat only and then just to resorts, not to theme parks. But from those resorts, you can either leapfrog via bus to your intended destination – or walk if it’s a close one. For example, head to the Contemporary Resort to get to Magic Kingdom where you can connect on the Monorail or a bus to Epcot. From there you can walk to Hollywood Studios. OK, OK, take a boat or bus if you must, but you’re missing out on a great walk along the water.
- Always keep in mind that Hollywood Studios and Epcot are nearby each other while Magic Kingdom is at the far end (and Animal Kingdom is off in a world of its own), so plan your visits accordingly to minimize transportation time.
- This is your mantra: Between Magic Kingdom and Epcot = Monorail. Between Epcot and Hollywood Studios = Boat. Between Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom = Bus. Between Downtown Disney and the theme parks = zippo — well, OK, not actually zippo, but you can only get to resorts. So, see above tip on how to leap-frog about: From Downtown Disney you take the bus or boat to a resort, then choose your transport mode from there. There is always a way!
- And, remember, you do have two feet! Assuming you don’t have little tykes with you or anyone who can’t walk a mile or two, letting your feet do the work is often faster – and did we say already it was fun too? For example, walking from Epcot to Hollywood Studios only takes about 20-30 minutes and leads you along the back of resorts along a waterway – quite relaxing! From Epcot, head for the “back entrance” between United Kingdom and France to hit the walkway.
- Take breaks … from the park and its constant sensory input. Sometimes just a little stroll along a waterway or a serene boat ride just to breathe is a release. And you get to watch over-stressed families blow up at each other!
- Or, if you are sans car, take a public bus and leave the grounds. There are a lot of fantastic restaurants pretty close – and you’ll be away from Disney areas and piped-in theme music for a bit.
- Take a break … from each other. We saw a number of meltdowns and the worst one was a mom! The dad had to leave her behind to take the well-behaved kids to the next ride.
- Take a break … for food and water! An absolute must! You can refill bottles at drinking fountains here and there, but if you suddenly go hypoglycemic in your quest to not miss a thing, you will have your own meltdown. Even if you plan to spend the big bucks for the smallest Disney snack, being able to reach into your bag for an apple or a healthy nibble is a lifesaver.
Charging up — An essential travel tip
About that fantastic Disney App we mentioned in our previous Walt Disney World Tips story? Do NOT forget your phone/tablet charging cable when you head to a park! The app runs all the time and chows through battery power like a devil, yet you are beholden to it for booking rides, meals, FastPass+, and orientation.
- Without going into huge restaurant recommendations – there are enough expert sites that do that – we have one hidden, less-known gem to point out: At Epcot Center in the Living with the Land pavilion, downstairs, there is a food court called Sunshine Seasons with a variety of healthful items, from salads and sandwiches, to stir-frys and soups. We found out about this by asking a member of the Disney cleaning crew! Thank you Felix from Puerto Rico! We were staring at a map and he went above and beyond to ask if we needed help!
- At the time of our visit, a new restaurant had opened at Epcot Center called Spice Road Table. It is RIGHT on the water and if you time your reservation well, you’ll get the best front-row view of the fireworks you could ever ask for. The food was OK, albeit the staff was very nice, and the creative wine list a treat. But, remember, you’re there to be able to sit down with an adult meal, a glass of wine, no Mickey ears in sight, and a view that is to die for.
If you see something you truly want, don’t count on seeing it again. Oddly, some items are only in certain areas. In Downtown Disney, where we expected to see all of the offerings, we never could find some of the cool Tees and sweats we had seen elsewhere. So no sale for us. Bottom line: See something you want? Buy it. Prices won’t change!
- Do not miss Living with the Land: Sure a slow-moving boat cruise looking at plants may not excite some, but if you have any kind of interest in plants or the land, it is a must. It is what Epcot was based on — entertainment meets education (And the food researched and grown there is used in the park). And you get 13 minutes on a boat without visits from a Princess or listening to themed songs. (Don’t make us sing that “Small World”song now!)
- Speaking of princesses, not interested in sparkly, bouncy parades? Then use the popular parade times as the time to visit a fave restaurant or popular ride. Guaranteed less busy!
- Take advantage of the FastPass+, noted in our other Walt Disney World Tips story. Remember you can only initially choose three rides and you can only add one at a time after that. So choose wisely. Remember too that although your app shows you what you have, you cannot book on the app. You must find a FastPass+ kiosk for that.
- Downtown Disney – Take the time to stroll and people watch. Enjoy music – there are some great musicians, including Nicholas Marks’s flamenco guitar. Take a boat to Port Orleans. Just because. Admire the Lego structures. Because you can still be a kid.