I am a huge Disney Parks fan. I’m not long back from Disneyland California at Christmas, and in a few months I’m off to Walt Disney World in Florida for my honeymoon. Navigating Disney parks and resorts can be daunting and difficult for those who aren’t well-seasoned or know all the tips and tricks to get the most out of your visit. I’ve put together this blog post to help you plan your next visit.
Should you stay inside or outside Disney?
This is probably the most important decision of your trip, and I think the answer depends on a number of factors. If you are Disney crazy and are going to that city/region specifically for a Disney experience, I’d recommend staying at a Disney hotel, as it’s more magical and you get a lot of extra perks for your park visits, such as merchandise discounts, early or late park entry, free dining plans, park shopping delivered to your room for you and many more. If you get a Disney Magic Band, it makes so many things easier. You can do so much with it. Plus, if you stay on site, you can get into the parks first and get Galaxy’s Edge done. However, if you are planning on also purchasing Universal Studios tickets or doing any other sightseeing or shopping excursions, it would probably be more beneficial for you to stay off-site, as drinks are cheaper and you can experience a bit more of the US instead of being in that Disney bubble. Are firework/show dessert parties or premium seating worth that extra money?
When you go to book your dining at Disney, you’ll notice that many of the restaurants offer fireworks/light show viewing dessert parties or dinner with premium view seats. These are always quite expensive – at least $70 each minimum for a dessert party – so it’s important to look closely at what you’re getting for that money.
For example, with the fireworks shows at Magic Kingdom, a dessert party ticket will allow you to access the dessert buffet for around 1.5 hours before the show begins, then be seated (or standing) in a cordoned-off ‘premium’ viewing space. You don’t a buffet during or after the fireworks, just for that time before. There’s only so much cake you can eat in an hour though right?! I also feel that no matter where you stand at the top of Main Street, you get a really good view of the show, as it’s high up and raised above you. Plus, for shows like Fantasmic, all parades or Epcot Forever, if you sit down with some snacks and grab your spot at least one hour before kick-off, you’ll get an amazing view.Disney’s PhotoPass and Max Pass – what are they and are they worth it?
I was stung with Max Pass at Disneyland last month, and although it was only $15 for the day, I would have liked to have got something for that $15. Basically Max Pass is an app service at Disneyland where you can digitally book Fastpasses for yourself and your party (but all need to pay the $15 too). If it’s exceptionally busy, you’ll only get to do this once or twice at the most as you can only have one Fastpass active at a time.
It also allows you to give a scannable barcode to official Disney PhotoPass photographers around the park who will take your photo in front of landmarks and it’s then available free for you to download from Max Pass. The same goes for attraction/ride photos – you input the code of the ride photo you want, and it appears on your app to download for free. If however, you go to the park on a very busy day e.g. during the Christmas or Halloween decor periods, there’s a 30-minute queue for each photographer; making the ‘free’ photo totally not worth it. The ride queues when I went were also extensive, and I only managed to get on one ride that offered an attraction photo – Splash Mountain. However, when it came to getting my photo, the man in-front of me on the ride had put his arms up and completely obscured me from the picture.
I got so many nice photos of my Mum and I together from my trip to Disneyland last month, and they were all just taken on my phone by a passerby. Don’t pay Disney for them. Just take a photo on your phone of your ride photo on the screen too – extra tip!Get the most out of your dining plan!
If you are on the most popular dining plan at Walt Disney World, you’ll get 2 snacks, 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal and 1 refillable resort cup included. Be careful how you use those snacks though so that you get the most value out of them! It’s easy to use your snack credits on a $4 cupcake or toffee apple that isn’t going to fill you up; but if you look at many of the quick service restaurants/food trucks’ menus, you’ll see some appetisers or sides are also eligible to be bought with a snack credit. Often these are more expensive and would be a size that would do you for lunch, meaning you could have a sit-down buffet breakfast and a substantial quick-service meal at night. Use those snack credits wisely and research what you can spend them on before you go.
If you have any more US Disney Parks questions, I’d be happy to answer them – just tweet me! I hope you have the best time on your next Disney adventure! If you need help with Disneyland Paris, this is a really helpful blog.
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