Saturday, January 28, 2023

Disney Tips from the Non-Disney Mom

Before I start, allow me to preface this with I am NOT a Disney mom. I don't dream of trips to Disney all the time, I don't go every year, it's just not a trip I do often or even plan to do often. Drop me and my family on a beach and we're gold. BUT my son is now 7 and loves the characters, the songs, the movies, and everything Disney and truly is at the perfect age to experience the "magic" of Disney. And that we did.

I recently shared in my Facebook group how we were going to Disney and while I received a lot of tips and tricks, I also have a ton of friends who are Disney gurus and planners so I pulled from them as well. Born and raised in Florida, Disney World was just over an hour from my home so if we didn't have something to do we'd just hop in the car and go for the day. But times surely have changed from the 1980s Disney to now. Here are some top tips and hope they help you on your trip to the happiest (and most expensive) place on Earth! 

Overall tips:

The App. Download it. The best part of the app is it shows you the live wait times at all of the rides in every park. So you can open and see how bad the lines are at any given time. You can also find where characters are and if there's a line.  

Magic Bands. Get them. It made everything so much easier. Even for my 7-year-old. You can scan into the parks each day but you can also link payment to them to buy food and drinks and souvenirs without needing to reach into your bag. 

GeniePlus. This was a thorn in my side because I said I wasn't going to do it. So we did not do it day one. But days 2, 3, and 4 we did. It ended up between $50-60 additional each day for our family to utilize but there were a few rides that we (the parents) wanted to be sure our son go to do and it was just easier to pay the extra money to skip a 2 hour line to do so. Here's the deal with GeniePlus. First, you cannot purchase it until day of. So, at 12:01am you can buy it. BUT you cannot book anything for the day until 7am. So, at 6:59am TONS of people are on the app trying to book their rides. You can only book ONE ride at a time and cannot book the next one until after you're scanned into your first booked ride. For example, at 7am I was able to get a Lightning Lane (what the GeniePlus gets you into) for the Test Track ride for 9:10am. That LL could be used between 9:10-10:10. Once I got to that ride and all of us were scanned into the ride, I could THEN go and book the next LL for another ride via the app. While it is annoying to have to pay additionally for this, it ended up being worth it in the end. 

Reusable Water Bottle. Bring one for everyone in your family, buying water there is $$$. There's places to fill your water bottle all throughout the park. You'll save a fortune. 

Popcorn Bucket. Buy a refillable popcorn bucket on day one, then refill it for two bucks the rest of your trip. Best affordable snack option we did. And, at Epcot, in Canada, they have maple butter popcorn! 

Park Hopper. Get at least one day of a park hopper pass and hit up Magic Kingdom a second time. This is my biggest and best tip: skip the fireworks the second time at MK and hit up allll the rides while people are prepping for the fireworks and watching them. We rode 14 rides in under 2 hours!! Every ride we missed the first day because lines were too long we got to ride when we skipped the fireworks, some twice! We walked directly onto Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, Little Mermaid, Small World, Magic Carpets, Barnstormer, Buzz, and more without waiting even 30 seconds. It was phenomenal!

Celebration Pin. Whatever you're there to celebrate, a birthday, anniversary, first visit, whatever reason, get a free pin when you get there day one and rock it. Disney wants to celebrate you. Ness wore his birthday pin every day and it was so sweet to hear the birthday wishes (and songs) all week!  

Plans. Don't have them. Seriously. Make a few reservations for meals but don't rush to make it to this ride or that character. Just go, have fun, enjoy the time, and watch the magic light up your child's face and experience the true joy Disney can bring. 


Spring Roll Cart. Hands down our favorite snack in this park. It's at the entrance to AdventureLand and they have cheeseburger spring rolls. Get them, and the sauce to dip. There's always a line for a reason. 

Be Our Guest. We went for a 10:15am rez and it was very good but we heard dinner is fantastic. Beast is there and the decor is exceptional and the servers were the best of anywhere we ate! But definitely a one time thing, we won't do it again.  

Liberty Tree Tavern, next door is a Christmas shop, pop in and grab yourself a souvenir ornament. 

Sweets & Treats. We did not do this as we couldn't get a reservation for it, but it was highly recommended by a ton of people. It's pricey but worth it because you get a table to watch the fireworks from and unlimited desserts.

Character Parade. Definitely grab a spot to watch it. It's glorious!

Snacks: Cheshire Cat Tail (near tea cups). Lava You Float. Nutella & Fruit Waffle in Sleepy Hollow. Dole Whip. Mickey Ear Ice Cream. Mickey pretzel.    


Nomad's Lounge. Stop by before lunch and put your name on their list. It's usually a few hours of a wait but they text you when your table is ready. Ask to sit outside along the river. Characters go by on boats for the kids and their cocktails are exceptional for the parents. Plus, comfy chairs and overstuffed outdoor couches are fantastic for a break from 24,000 steps a day.

Tusker House. We did this as our only character meal because we couldn't get into Chef Mickey. I personally prefer Chef Mickey for food and characters, plus it's smaller than Tusker House, but this was a great option for a delicious buffet and not being rushed.

Dole Whip. Get it. Twice.

Safari tour. Go in the morning, animals are more active and awake. Afternoon you'll see less. We went around 11am and saw almost every single animal up and active! 

Playground. There is a MASSIVE playground (and I mean MASSIVE) at Animal Kingdom that kids of all ages will enjoy. It's near dinosaur world so definitely make it a point to go there, let the kids go wild, and sit back to rest your feet! 

Snacks: Mr. Kamals seasoned fries. Night Blossom at Pandora. Street corn in the marketplace.  


France. Hands down my favorite country, we could've stayed there all day. The food, the drinks, the shopping, the ambiance, everything. 

Coral Reef is a fun dining experience because you're practically inside of the aquarium tank but the menu is very limited, especially for kids so just check it before you book it.

Snacks: Norway Lefse's bakery. France macaron ice cream sandwich. Ratatouille nutella crepes. France Les Halles Patisere every single thing. Test track food cart with cinnamon bites topped with candy bacon.   


Oga's Cantina. Try your darndest to get in. You're only allowed 45 minutes for your reservation so maximize it. The drinks are fantastic but the Star Wars decor and ambiance is like nothing you'll ever experience.

Star Wars. Everything Star Wars. It's mind blowing. And I've never seen a movie but was still blown away. Also, make note, Star Wars fans take it VERY seriously so just soak it all in. We saw a grown man cry when he met Chewbaka. I'm not joking.

50s Diner. Cousin Perry. Our best meal with best server was Cousin Perry at the 50s Diner. He was a riot, hysterical, and we almost took him home to be our au pair!

Skyliner. Go for a ride on it just because. Goes between a few resorts but also between Hollywood Studios and Epcot (lets you in the back of Epcot with no lines and right by France too!)   

Snacks: Backlot Express wookie cookie. Galaxy's Edge black spire cold brew. Woody's Lunch Box pop tart (a fav of ours!!)  

I hope these tips help you in planning your Disney trip! Got any tips of your own? Please share with me!    


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