This isn’t an exhaustive list, as… well… so much depends on if you have kids, how old they are, and how often you are going to go to WDW… BUT, we gotta start somewhere.
- Buy pins on ebay. Do your homework, but most of the people out there are selling real pins. Why you ask? Because Pin Trading in WDW is AWESOMESAUCE! Buying pins at WDW is expensive. So, buy a lot of 25 or 50, they are pretty cheap, go through them, pull out the ones that you like, the rest become traders. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s favorite pin EVAH!
- Go to the dollar store for ponchos (usually 2/$1) instead of paying Disney prices. It WILL rain while you are at Disney – and if you don’t want to get wet – bring ponchos. If you don’t mind the rain – don’t get them.
- If you have littles – while you are at the dollar store – get glow sticks, wands, swords, etc. Also – get glow bracelets, this will help you in identifying YOUR little from the 1874792374374565849 other littles at WDW. And I know, you’d never let your angel get more than 6 inches away from you… but, trust me on this, a glow bracelet tucked into a ponytail, or stacked on a wrist makes all the difference.
- Make a plan… Now – I’m not saying plan every second of your trip, I’m saying make a plan… Do you have park hopper? No? Then check the park times and plan to be in the park with EMH for the best bang for your buck. Plan your ADR for that park. Get your FP+ for that park. Come up with a game plan… Have Park hopper? Then you are a little more flexible – but – it is still a good idea to have a plan.
- Make a Plan B: What’s your Disney plan? We don’t do rope drop very often, we make it to the parks a little before lunch, then stay there till it closes, be that 11pm or 3am. We have done this really no matter the kids ages… 0-now… Yes, sometimes we carry sleeping kids from the bus to the room, but, it works for us. We take it easy in the morning, and then stay till it closes. We get to ride rides without long lines during EMH, and we get to enjoy the parks at night.
- Make a Plan C: What is important to you? Rides? Shows? Fireworks? Parades? Because, if you are hard core determined to get a great spot on Main Street for the 3pm parade – you are gonna want to be there about an hour in advance to stake out your spot. Same with fireworks – gotta be RIGHT in front of the castle? You are gonna spend more than an hour fighting people who just want to get from Adventureland to Tomorrowland. Rides? Then you will probably want to skip the parades and fireworks, because you can get on most rides with little or no wait during those times.
- Make a Plan D: (I know I’m getting annoying) Plan your souvenir and spending budget ahead of time and buy gift cards to cover them. Here locally, our grocery store offers 2x fuel points on gift cards, so I buy a gift card every time I get groceries, so I get $ off of my gas, AND I get to pay for my Disney spending habit. You can use the gift cards to pay for DDP, park tickets, even your hotel stay. If you plan your vacation months or even a year or more away you can pay for your Disney vacation in little chunks. It is likely that you won’t notice the small gift card amounts in your weekly grocery budget.
- This one isn’t necessarily a must do for everyone, but it is a must do for me… Coordinate the Disney shirts. Now… I, as usual, will admit my neurosis… My girls and I ONLY wear Disney at Disney. And, when they were younger, we matched our shirts. As they got older, we simply coordinate. Meaning, on days we are at HS, we will wear Star Wars shirts, or Pixar shirts, etc. MK days are for Mickey and Minnie, or princesses, or more lately tsum tsums. Epcot is also princesses, etc. You get the idea. Again, this isn’t on everyone’s must do list, but it is on mine. Not only does it help remember what your family is wearing that day, but it just sort of adds another level of magic to the vacation.
- Read up… I mean, totally read more of this blog… because we will post restaurant reviews, but know the options, know your family’s preferences and pickiness level. Don’t try for Chefs de France if your littles (or adults) prefer chicken nuggets and mac and cheese… I love stretching a few limits, getting my family to try new things, but, overall, how much fun is a vacation if everyone is angry about the food they had, or worse, hangry because they didn’t get enough to eat. There are so many good options for food at every park for every appetite.
- Order your magic bands!! And please, for the love of Walt… don’t get the grey! Be adventurous, get colors, get different colors every time you go, decorate them, whatever. BUT, don’t do what I did and order 3 years in a row of red ones with “Heather” on them… now, I get different colors, and I make sure there is a date, or something to make sure I remember which trip it was from. This summer Katie and I took a BFF Birthday trip, so mine said BFF 17, or something like that… I’ll have to go find it. The one I just received yesterday says H OCT 17, and it is orange for October, Halloween, etc… Now… this is the 3rd trip this year, plus my AP band, so I have quite the collection of 17 labeled bands, but, despite what my husband thinks, you can never have too many magic bands!!
Ok – I’ll leave off there, that’s a good start on things to make sure you do before you leave for Disney. I’m sure Katie and I will come up with more…