Regardless of whether you have a super strict budget or one with a little more wiggle room, everyone likes saving a little money when they head on vacation. If you haven’t had a chance to read my post on 8 easy ways to save money at Walt Disney World, head on over there, we can wait for you here before we dive into some time saving tips.
Seriously, take a few minutes and head over there. This post will be waiting for you…
All caught up? Yay! Good. Now that you’ve read the 8 easy ways to save money at Walt Disney World post, we can dive into ways to save time!
Why did I make you read that post first? Well, because in a lot of ways, saving money and saving time go hand in hand. It’s good to have a background on my recommendations on easy ways to save money before diving into some easy time saving tips.
Let’s take a look at my favorite recommendations:
1. Don’t Buy Breakfast
Much like a recommendation for saving money at the parks, I also recommend you don’t buy breakfast in order to save time.
Even if you get a quick service meal, your bound to spend at least a half hour of your time standing in line to order, waiting for your food, finding a place to eat and then (quickly) wolfing down all the food.
If you plan ahead, perhaps by using Amazon Prime Now’s food delivery service, you can have breakfast ready in room for you to grab as you’re walking out the door to the buses or monorail. If you end up having to wait 10-20 minutes for the buses, you can multi-task and finish your breakfast.
Now you don’t have to wait in line at any quick service locations, either at your resort or at the parks to get your breakfast!
Just take a look at any of the Starbucks on Disney property at park opening. The coffee might be good, but it’s not worth wasting valuable park time waiting for it!
2. Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
For years I have used Undercover Tourist as my go to for purchasing tickets. In all my years of purchases I have never had a problem with any of the tickets I have purchased.
Undercover Tourist is an authorized ticket vendor and often offers tickets at a lower cost than you would pay at the gate at any of the Disney parks.
As a matter of fact, the most expensive tickets are almost always the ones purchased at the parks. Be sure to plan ahead and get your tickets before you go.
Plus, if you have your tickets before you head to the parks you can head straight to the gates to enter, no waiting in an ADDITIONAL line to purchase your tickets. More time saved during your day!
Let’s say you opt to not purchase your tickets before you head to the parks. Which, as mentioned above, we highly, highly recommend. If it doesn’t work out, or your trip is last minute, or even cooler, a surprise, don’t fret. If you are staying on property you are able to purchase tickets directly at your Walt Disney World hotel. Just head up to your concierge desk and let them know what you are looking for, they can point you in the correct direction.
While this does take some time away from your vacation, it doesn’t take away any park time!
3. Mobile Ordering
If you had a chance to read my previous post on Mobile Ordering, you know I am hooked on this service. It is such a time saver!
Be sure to check out my post on Mobile Ordering for all the details. A quick summary shows that Mobile Ordering can be used for a ton of quick services and snack locations located around Walt Disney World.
Lines can get crazy long around meal times, so this is a definite time saver.
4. Three Words: Advanced Dining Reservations
I’ve heard both sides of the argument of guests not wanting to place advanced dining reservation, based solely on the fact that they don’t want to decide where they want to eat so many days ahead of time!
I get it, I have a hard time deciding what I want for lunch when that is my next meal of the day.
Let alone having to decide what I want for dinner in three months on a random Tuesday in July. (Although pasta sounds good and is always a good choice in my book).
Trust me though, even if you don’t know 100% what you might want to eat before you head to the parks, it’s a good idea to have at least a few advanced dining reservations.
Walt Disney World requires you place a credit card to reserve your spot, but you can make modifications to your reservations.
Just be sure to read the fine print, cancellations made less than 24 hours prior to your reservation can result in a $10 per person credit card charge.
Walt Disney World is always changing its policies, so be sure to stay updated on the latest changes so you are aware.
5. Eat on Off Hours
If you don’t want to take advantage of Mobile Ordering or Advanced Dining Reservations (you really should though!) and you want to eat at a sit-down restaurant, try to eat during off hours.
During the normal lunch and dinner hours sit-down restaurants tend to be super crowded, especially if it is a busy day at the parks. An hour wait, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon.
However, a lot of sit-down restaurants are becoming a little more user friendly. For example, during a recent trip we dined at Skipper’s Canteen. We had an advanced dining reservation, but wanted to move the time up.
Thankfully, we were able to move it up slightly, but still had an anticipated 45 minute wait. Not really wanting to spend 45 minutes (with a hungry four year old and 11 month old, I might add) waiting for a table, we debated even taking the reservation change.
Thankfully, we were issued a pager and cast members told us we didn’t have to wait in the restaurant’s lobby area. Grateful, we continued roaming around the Magic Kingdom (and were even able to take in part of a parade!) while we waited.
6. Catch the Second Fireworks Show
At some of the Walt Disney World parks, a second fireworks show is offered. If this is the case at your park, it might benefit you to catch the second show.
Due to bedtimes and challenges with younger guests, it might not be feasible for you to stay out a long time at the parks.
However, if you can swing it, the second show does tend to be less crowded, giving you a little more wiggle room to watch the show.
Plus, lots of guests tend to leave the park after the firework shows, so the parks in general might feel a little less crowded after the first show.
7. Don’t Wait in Lines Longer than 30-35 Minutes
It might go against the norm, but I hate waiting more than 30-35 minutes for a ride at Walt Disney World.
Mostly because there is just so much to see and do at the parks. I hate to spend all that time waiting in line. Therefore, my rule of thumb is to wait no more than 30-35 minutes if I can help it.
When we head up to a ride, I take a look at the cue and judge if it is pouring over it’s current ‘cue roping’ to judge whether or not the posted wait time is accurate.
Disney does a great job of trying to stay updated with their ride wait times. Yet, sometimes the times don’t get updated right way.
When this is the case, I try to gauge if the timing might be off.
If it looks questionable, we skip the ride for the time being.
If my limit is 30-35 minutes, then, yes, there often are rides I am unable to ride because they historically have a super long wait time. These are the rides I try to rope drop, use Fastpass+ for or utilize single rider.
8. Ride ALL THE RIDES During the Parades
People love parades at Walt Disney World. This should come as no surprise, as they are spectacular.
One of my favorite things at Walt Disney World is actually the Boo to You Halloween parade.
It is phenomenal.
That being said, if parades aren’t your jam, or perhaps you’ve already seen all the parades at Walt Disney World and need a break, you’re in luck.
Instead of spending 15-30 minutes claiming the perfect spot to watch one of Disney’s spectacular parades, head towards your favorite rides. If it is a moderately busy day and the parade draws a big crowd, you might be able to head on the rides in less time.
Be sure to mind the notes above about not waiting more than 30-35 minutes in line if you don’t wait to spend the entire parade time waiting for one ride.
9. Go to the Left
Disney Parks are mostly designed with a center area and different ‘spokes’ that house the different areas of the parks.
People tend to head towards the right when they enter into the parks.
If you want to go against the regular flow, head towards the left.
You just might find yourself sneaking onto Big Thunder Mountain without much of a wait!
10. Use a Dining Plan
Having a dining plan might not specifically save a ton of physical time, but it can save some mental time!
There are so, so many different dining options at Walt Disney World. Then within the dining options there are so, so many different food choices.
If you have the dining plan, especially one that just allows for quick service meals, you’ve already cut your food choices in half as you might not bother with many sit down locations.
Plus, with the dining plan, you already have your food budget planned out since you purchased the meal plan.
No quickly adding totals of the different meals in your head if you’re trying to stick to a budget outside of using the meal plan.
Mental fatigue is real and can happen at Walt Disney World too!
If saving money is your ultimate goal when using the Dining plan, be sure to price your meals out.
Depending on what your party decides to get, you might not actually be saving that much money!
11. Have Outfits Planned and Separated
Planning park outfits is not a new phenomenon at all. The thing that has changed if there are so many more options of what you can wear to the parks and so many more vendors offering the coolest products.
Plus, some of the most amazing small business have a Disney themed focus as well!
That being said, creating the perfect park outfits takes a little more planning that it might have in the past.
Either way, if you have your outfits planned before you head on vacation and pack each one in a separate bag, all you need to do is pull out each day’s bag.
You can even group your family’s outfits all together to make your life even easier!
This tip might take a little more work up front, but it ends up saving you time on vacation. Which is super valuable!
12. Singler Rider
It’s no secret that the popular rides can have extremely long wait times not very long after the parks open.
If you don’t mind splitting up from your group, you can utilize the single rider option that several of the more popular rides have to offer.
We like to use this for Test Track and Expedition Everest.
One time we got on and off Expedition Everest about 6-8 times in a row.
I don’t highly recommend doing this on an empty stomach! Ha!
13. Stay on Property
If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I have a strong preference for staying on property.
As a family, we like to stay inside the ‘Disney Bubble’, utilizing everything from the Magical Express to the buses to enjoying the special resort magic each resort has to offer.
We also love the proximity that the resorts offer when it comes to distance to the parks.
Others might have a different preference, but we really liked not having to worry about a car and using Disney transportation to chauffeuring us around the parks.
14. Have a (Loose) Itinerary
The easiest way to get really stressed out when you head on a Walt Disney World vacation is to have every single minute planned out.
This leaves no room for mistakes, the need for extra breaks, or even for unexpected magic! Instead of planning every single last second, I strongly recommend having a general idea of what you want to do for the day.
Plug in your Fastpass+ times and possible dining reservations, maybe even throw in a few parades. Have everyone make a list of one must do ride, and aim, hopefully with the use of a Fastpass+, to do those rides.
Beyond that, let the magic unfold and the fun happen!
15. Don’t go to Magic Kingdom on a Monday
The Magic Kingdom is Notoriously busy on Mondays.
Personally, it is my absolute most favorite park at Walt Disney World. It’s the park that says ‘Disney’ to me. I am sure many people feel the same way and can’t wait to head there once they arrive at Walt Disney World.
A lot of times guests might only have a short week at Walt Disney World, and Monday is the only day that works for them to head to the Magic Kingdom.
If that isn’t you and you have flexibility, maybe try to move your Magic Kingdom day back a little further in the week.
During a really, really busy season this might not noticeably save you a ton of time.
Yet, if it’s a slower time, saving yourself from the crowds that can pop-up at the Magic Kingdom is huge!
16. Bus Stop Park Prep
There are always things we forget to do before leaving our hotel room and heading to the parks.
Inevitably, we realize right when we get to the parks that we have forgotten to put on sunscreen, our hats are buried at the bottom of our Disney backpack or we need to throw a few bandaids on our feet or any new boo-boos.
If you can, take note of the things that always seem to hold you up when you first get to the parks. Make a quick list, if you will, and complete that list while you are waiting for your resort bus to arrive!
After you finish the breakfast you brought to go, anyhow…
Wondering what to bring along inside of your park bag?
Be sure to check out this post on the essentials needed for a successful day at a Disney park!
17. Rope Drop First
When making your Fastpass+ reservations, you might be tempted to make them for first thing in the morning when the park opens.
While this isn’t a totally bad idea, I want to recommend an alternative. If you can get your party to the park first thing, right at rope drop, don’t book a Fastpass+ reservation right away. Instead book the Fastpass+ reservation starting for about an hour after the park opens.
When you first enter the park, if you make rope drop, head to a popular ride that you always has a long wait. If you can make that ride early enough, odds are you will only have to wait 20-25 minutes to ride. Possibly less!
Rope drop can be a gamble, especially if it is a super busy day, or there is a hot new ride that everyone in the enter park seems to be heading towards, but it usually works well.
Let’s say it’s going to be really hard for your family to make it to rope drop, don’t worry. Go ahead and make the Fastpass+ reservations for when the park opens.
If you arrive shortly after opening, check and see how long the wait time is for some of the hot rides. If the wait time isn’t long, I recommend still heading over there to ride without a Fastpass+ reservation. This is as long as you have enough time to get through the cue before your hour long Fastpass+ reservation expires.
It can be a gamble, but sometimes it works out smoothly.
Not sure which way to try? Perhaps try one way one day and the other way another day.
Speaking of Fastpass+, it is a wonderful tool to use to save time. If you are staying on property, at 60 days out you are able to select three Fastpass+ selections per person per day.
Odds are the members in your party are all going to ride the same rides together. This is unless there are preferences or height differences keeping this from happening.
Be SURE to take advantage of this super timesaving tip!
There ya go, a handful of suggestions to help you save time at Walt Disney World!
While these tips are all great, be sure not to forget the ‘Golden Rule’. Don’t try to cram it all in! If these tips don’t work out perfectly, or you find the day getting away from you, don’t fret!
As a matter of fact, breaks and taking things slow can be the key to a happy trip.
Remember, you are going to have a magical time if you have the right mindset!
Don’t get too stressed about everything not going ‘perfectly’.
There is no perfect, but there is magical, and there is fun when it comes to Disney!
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