Thursday, November 9, 2023

How we do Disney

After a big trip like Disney, I have a lot of opinions on the "best" way to do things, so here is how we did our Disney trip, and some tips you may find useful. 

- Stay on the resort.  This gives you access to the free transportation to all parks (bonus if you can get one that is on the Skyliner), extra Magic Hours (meaning the park opens earlier for resort guests), and you can book into the virtual queues (Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy) at 7:00 am rather than when the park opens.  

- Order Magicbands through Disney reservations.  You don't need a Magic Band, you can use the app on your phone, but if you have kids, the Magic Bands are just so much better.  You can also buy these anywhere, but since we got them through our reservation, they were just waiting for us at our hotel when we arrived.  If you have the Magic Band+, and they are synced correctly, they light up and vibrate when you're on certain rides.  The kids can also wave their bands in front of some statues in the parks and the statues will talk back. 

- Download the Disney Game App.  There are some fun games that the kids can play throughout the park or when you're waiting in line. The best was the scavenger hunt at EPCOT.

- Place an Instacart grocery delivery order to your hotel room.  This is what we bought: yoghurt, croissant, mini-muffins, scones, Capri Sun juice packs, vitamin water, mini-hummus, baby carrots, mini-cucumber, mini-bell peppers, apples, dried fruit, beer, wine, chips, Uncrustables, Lunchables, and trail mix (we would have bought granola bars but Dave had a bunch of those from the conference he had gone to beforehand).  I also brought little baggies from home to bring veggies to the park instead of the entire container. 

- Eat breakfast in your room.  Because of the aforementioned grocery order, we were able to eat quickly in our room. 

- Eat all day.  We would eat a small breakfast in our room, get to a park, ride a few rides, then have a snack.  Ride a few more rides, eat something else, and so on.  We would bring a couple of things each day that we got with our grocery order, and that were somewhat healthy, but then buy little snacks at the park. This prevented anyone from getting too hangry.  

- Make one lunch or dinner reservation per day.  Quick service restaurants have their place but when everyone is tired, it's nice to be able to sit down and have someone else bring you your meal.  It's also rare that you can walk into a table service restaurant without waiting at least 30 minutes, and usually longer. The food is fine, but there are few restaurants worth that kind of wait.  (Another benefit of staying at a Disney resort is that you can make reservations earlier than those staying off property.)

- Bring water bottles and other drinks. There are fountains to fill up water bottles throughout the parks. We also had juice packs and vitamin water that were nice on those hot days. 

- Drink iced coffee. Florida is hot and drinking hot coffee while running to rides is just a recipe for sweating profusely.  On this trip, we drank iced coffee most of the time and it was the right choice.  

- Pizza from your hotel is the cheapest meal.  We did this twice when we were wiped out and did not want to sit in a restaurant to eat.  We picked up a pepperoni pizza for $20, and brought it back to our room. We had beer in our little fridge, and the kids could play iPad and watch TV and unwind.

- Buy the popcorn bucket.  The first price you pay is $14 and then it's $2 for each refill after that.  We bought it on our first day and filled it up again that day, and then two more times at each park we went to, as it was a nice quick snack and goes along with the "eat all day" tip. This brought the cost per use down so we felt like it was worth it.  You can also get the maple popcorn at the Canadian pavilion in EPCOT as a refill, worth every penny!! I should note it's kind of annoying to carry around the empty popcorn bucket, but it did fit in our backpack and we would just put other things inside while transporting it.

- Bring dollar store glow sticks from home.  This is if you don't want to buy the fancy ones they have at the park and your kid still wants something fun to wave around, you have something already with you and cheaper. 

- Bring little toys/colouring books. The time we actually waited in lines for rides was pretty short, but for the few times we did have to wait, it was nice to reach into our bag for something to keep them entertained.  

And now a few comments on Genie+. Before the trip I was a bit overwhelmed by this and was worried that if we didn't do it "right" that we would either be waiting around all day for rides or glued to our phones the whole day trying to figure out where to go next.  I needn't have been so worried. This is how we managed our days:
- First of all, get familiar with the various options before you get there.  This Genie+ was different from when we went in 2018, Virtual Queues are a new things, and the fancy ride lightning lanes were also a new concept. I won't explain the details here, but you should definitely know what's going on.

- I would buy Genie+ when I woke up around 6:00. You don't want to wait until the last minute in case there is a glitch or something.
- At 7:00 I would go to the Tip Board and select something right away. I would know in advance what our top choice was.  

- We used our extra magic hours to run to rides that you can't use with Genie+ and/or that fill up quickly (Animal Kingdom - Avatar Flight of Passage, Magic Kingdom - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (although it was down so went right over to Space Mountain), EPCOT - Test Track, Hollywood Studios - Slinky Dog Dash). 

- Pay attention to the next time you can book your next Genie+ ride. Either right after tapping in at the previous Genie+ ride, or 2 hours after making your first Genie+ selection, even if you haven't used your first one.  You can always make changes so select something and then revise if your day changes.

- The parks aren't as big as you think (at least not if you have big kids that can keep up) so we didn't worry too much about where we were at any given time, we just did more walking. That said, if you are familiar with the parks, and you can make better geographical decisions, do that.

- Sometimes the Genie+ options will be too late in the day so you may need to just wait in the regular line. If you do this, make sure the ride is worth it.  For example, Barnstormer is so short, I would have been mad if I'd waited 45 minutes for it, but didn't mind that we walked right in with our Genie+.

- Do some research in the weeks/days before you arrive by downloading the app and checking wait times. You may see that some rides fill up right away and have long lines all day, others may go down throughout the day.  This helped us determine which ones we wanted to run for, and which ones we could catch later in the day after the initial lines died down.

- We probably did not need to get it for Animal Kingdom and EPCOT, but again, check the wait times for these parks before you arrive to determine if you think you'll need it.

- If you're a bit early for your Genie+ timeslot, they can still let you in. We did this a few times when we arrived 10-15 minutes early.

- Universal Fast Pass. We did not get this, but we thought about it. We had looked at the wait times in the weeks before we arrived at the park and noticed they were never that bad.  We waited in longer lines for Hagrid's ride and the VelociCoaster but that was it.  I think that unless you're going in peak season, this is not necessary. 

If you have any questions I'll put a question box on my Instagram Stories and you can ask me there!



  1. These are great tips! Genie+ sounded a bit complicated when I first heard about it on YouTube vlogs. But I’m getting my head around it now. I’ve been doing some research on Disneyland because you never know when they might come in handy 🤞

  2. It looks like Disney is FINALLY bringing back their dining plan; I missed that so much on our trip last summer. We have always stayed on resort property and I definitely think the extra cost is worth the extra hours, transportation, and other "perks." When we went to Universal we stayed on sight; with a one night deluxe hotel stay you get the express passes included for BOTH days! So we checked in super early knowing our room would never be ready but we picked up our passes and spent a nearly full day in the park riding everything. It was definitely worth it for the late August time slot we had where it was quite crowded and oh so hot.

  3. You have so many great tips. Instacart to the hotel...genius!
    We took our kids to Disney when they were 5 and then again when they were 9,...both times were a success and not as overwhelming as I thought it might be. I'm getting caught up on blog reading... Looks like you all had so much fun.