The Disney parks might be a magical place to some people, but for others, the idea of taking a family vacation to Disney World or Disneyland make their heads spin.
And as pretty much anyone who has trekked to either park can attest, the key to a successful trip that the whole family will enjoy involves planning … lots and lots of planning.
So we asked the HuffPost Parents community about their top tips for visiting the happiest places on Earth. Their answers didn’t disappoint. Here are some of their tried-and-true tips:
“We planned our trip a year early. Each month I purchased a $25 Disney gift card, saving them for the trip – $25 a month didn’t break the bank. When we got to Disney, each child had $25 a day of ‘Disney money’ to use on souvenirs. They got to buy stuff and I didn’t have to worry about spending too much or constantly telling them no to everything!” ―Stephanie Yakubovsky Shackelford
“I live by the Undercover Tourist crowd calendar. It has crowd levels for each Disney park. After we know which week we are going, I use the crowd calendar to determine which park(s) we will visit on each day of our trip. That, in turn, helps me plan dining reservations and fast passes. This has been a huge benefit for us as we typically have to go during pretty crowded times of the year.” ― April Lollar
“WDW Prep School and Touring Plans are two of my go-to websites [for planning]. Also, hire a Disney Travel Agent. The fee is built-in so it won’t cost you any extra to utilize their services.” ― Lauren Couch
“Use the Mobile Ordering app. Add your credit card to the app, and you can order your food from your phone and then can go directly to the pickup window. Especially when you have a big group- it’s super helpful!” ― Mary Diaz
“You can book a trip a year out with a $200 deposit and pay throughout the year so it’s not one lump sum! Also, refillable popcorn buckets. Buy the bucket for $10, refills for $2. The cheapest thing at Disney besides the free water!” ― Stefanie Loehr
“Skip the hour-long character lines in the parks and just plan character meals instead—knock out the autographs, pictures, and hugs while enjoying a meal!” ― Sarah Wilson
“A pillowcase for the characters to sign is a great alternative to an autograph book so your children can have something to remember the trip on a daily basis upon return. Also, measure your child before you go. Nothing is worse than a disappointed child who misses a ride by a hair.” ― Laura Arblaster
“Use the baby centres inside the park. I used them to nurse my baby while my husband took our other daughter to potty in their little toilets. My daughter fell asleep while I was rocking in their rocking chairs.” ― Mea Casabay Corpuz
“Renting a stroller. Best investment ever. They bring it to your hotel and pick it back up. Worth every penny!!!!!!” ― Rachel Kelley
“We rented the double stroller in the park but wanted a way to identify our stroller from the sea of strollers that looked just like ours. We took a four feet long bright ribbon (what you might put in a girl’s hair bow or on a present) and wrapped it around the handlebar. That way when we left our stroller we could easily spot it upon our return. It worked perfectly! ”― Jennifer Brooks
“If you have a child who needs/find comfort in their stroller in crowds, get a ‘stroller as a wheelchair’ tag at guest services in any park. This will permit a stroller to go where a wheelchair can. Disney is very strict about where strollers without these can go.” ― Bethanie Rose
“If your child has a disability, get the disability access pass. Life-changing!!! We went 9 days without a single meltdown or overload because of it.” ― Kimberly Hall
“At Epcot, if you plan a sit-down meal, do dinner and use one of the restaurants on the water. If you get a 7:30-8 pm reservation, arrive early (30 min. to an hour) and ask to sit on the water. As your meal is ending, you will have a great view of the fireworks. Anywhere in the World’s Showcase has a good view as long as you are at the water.” ― Anne Davis
“Have a physician on speed dial! Without fail, every time we go to Disney, someone is sick. We’ve used an on-call physician’s service that makes room calls and has always been happy with the care. Physician Room Service in Orlando is one of the services we’ve used in the past, for example.” ― Nicole Trager
“Keep a bag of dumdum suckers handy. When waiting in line for anything, easy to distract little ones with them.” ― Amber Scoggins
“Water in a CUP (not bottled) is FREE from all restaurants at all of the parks and resorts. Download the app Charades for when you’re in a long wait line! It’s FREE and an absolute lifesaver to keep everyone entertained.” ― Amanda Kinder
“The best hack I have is to pack tiny vials of bubbles (like the ones you can get for weddings) in your park bag to keep squirrelly children happy while waiting in line. Pack enough to give away to other squirrelly children!”― Jessica Cleveland.
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