What would you do with that extra time at Walt Disney World?

Vacation time is precious and unfortunately for some they are few and far between. When you choose a destination like Walt Disney World with so many things to see and experience, you want to make sure you maximize your time there.

Here are a few tips that will save you time on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Minimize your bags

There are security checks at the entry of every park. While they are normally quite speedy, there are some like Monorail and Magic Kingdom where you will line up longer than you like or planned.

There are a few things that you can do-

Travel light- If you don’t need a bag, keep it in your hotel safe. Just take what you need and place the items in your pockets and those of your family.

If you really need a bag take a drawstring backpack, and when you have passed security, place the items from your pockets into the bag.

These two options allows you to bypass the security line. If you must take a bag, have all the sections opened as you approach the security guard.

Stay On-site

You will save a ton of commuting time by simply staying on-site at one of Walt Disney World’s resorts. The transportation comes on a regular basis, and you are just closer to the parks than off-site options. You can even select some deluxe resorts that allow you to walk right into the parks. There a lot of advantages to staying on site, but the convenience of location is high on the list.

Study a map before you go

I have sent my travel clients who have booked a vacation with me the park, maps to all 4 theme parks with their itinerary. Even though we have an itinerary for them, and go over any details or questions, it is always an advantage to know the lay of the land before you start. You can order custom park maps from Disneyworld.com, and you can find some map images with a Google search (just make sure they are up to date). If all else fails, Disney resorts have maps for all four parks in the lobbies, along with places to eat that you can pick up once you arrive, and sometimes you can pick up a park map while you wait for to enter the park. It just helps to know if you should go right or left once you enter the park for the attraction you want to hit first, and to map out a path through the parks.

Online Check-in

If you have specific requests that you want honored by the resort then this may not be a good option, but it can save you a little time when you arrive. By checking in online, everything is ready to go for you once you arrive at the resort. There is a separate line for online check-ins that moves a little faster and everything should be set when you get to the counter. Disney has been experimenting recently with an option of doing online check-in and having your room number texted to you when it is ready—bypassing the check-in area altogether.

Making Dinner Reservations

There are many reasons you should make your dining reservations as far in advance as possible—mainly to avoid disappointment when you can’t get into a restaurant at all because it is filled to capacity. But, on the off chance that they are able to accommodate a walk up, you will usually have to wait a decent amount of time to be seated, or they may tell you to come back in a couple of hours.

Drive or walk- Your choice

Although the Disney transportation system is more convenient than most and comes regularly, it can still be frustrating when you are in a hurry. If you drive to Walt Disney World or if you rent a car once you arrive, you can drive to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. The parking is convenient and you don’t have to wait on a bus to arrive. The Magic Kingdom is easier to do on a bus since the parking lot still requires a ferry or monorail ride to get over to the entrance. If you are able to stay in a location where you can walk to a park that is even better. The Yacht and Beach Club at Epcot tops the list of resorts because it is so easy to walk over to Epcot and even Hollywood Studios. Boardwalk and the Swan and Dolphin are in the same location. The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower have a path to Magic Kingdom if you spend most of your time there. Of course, being on the monorail is super convenient when it is operating at full hours.

Eat Breakfast in your Room

This is a big time saver! While one person is in the shower, someone else can eat their Cheerios, Cornflakes (or muffin, Danish, etc.). It maximizes time and minimizes waiting in line for a Disney breakfast, which can be extremely busy. I highly recommend packing some breakfast items if you can, or having a grocery delivery. You can also pick up cereal and other breakfast items in most resort food courts—they are just a little more expensive than a “normal” grocery store.

Ask for check early

If you are dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet or set-price table service restaurant, this is particularly convenient. If you attend a character buffet always ask for the check as you order your drinks. This way you can have that taken care of and as soon as you finish eating or see your last character you can leave.

Arrive at the park before it opens

The amount of time you will save waiting in line if you arrive before the park opens and tour from 8:30 am-11 am, rather than arriving at 10 am to start your touring is amazing. That is the very best time to be in the park before the lines start to form. There are some exceptions with the particularly popular rides where the queues build quickly, but just use taking minimum bags for that and arrive early for the other stuff.

Use Fast-pass+

Everyone with tickets to Walt Disney World now has the privilege of Fast-pass+. It is free, and everyone should take advantage of it. On-site guests may book their first 3 FP+ 60 days prior to their check-in date, off-site guests begin 30 days before check-in. Choose the most popular attractions (or those that are most important to your family if the most popular rides are not appealing), and book those first. If you are staying on-site use this opportunity to do other attractions, and after you use your first 3 FP+ go to one of the kiosks in the parks, or use your MyDisneyExperience app to choose a 4th FP+. Being able to skip some of the crazy standby lines at attractions like the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom or Frozen experience at Epcot will save you a ton of time.

Having the little ones- and the big ones as well, getting excited and having to wait in line for any length of time, can be frustrating and stressful for you. Hopefully these tips will be helpful ensuring that everyone in your family/group have a great time at Walt Disney World

Rowena is a travel professional and owner/founder at Inspirational Travel Plus.

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