Going into my Disney World vacation I was highly skeptically. For starters, I was taking my 2-year-old daughter (spoiler alert: she’s impatient, but what 2-year-old isn’t), my wife, and my parents. Then, mix in the Florida summer heat and the fact that we were driving there from Missouri. All in all, it seemed like a recipe for disaster. Trying to coordinate everything and please everyone was going to be daunting. And, I’ll admit it: I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Much to my surprise, however, this vacation ended up being one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. Find out why with this Dad’s guide to WDW.

Dad's Guide to WDW

Essentially, it comes down to one thing: planning ahead. Be sure to use all the tools available to you. Starting off, I used Reserve Orlando because of their awesome ticket prices. We received some additional days free (we ended up staying 5 but had 6-day tickets for the cost of 4 days). I had multiple questions before and after buying the tickets. However, I got answers pretty much instantly using the chat on their website.

My Disney Experience & MagicBands

After I purchased the tickets I received an email from Reserve Orlando. It contained my Disney ticket codes, which allowed me to setup a My Disney Experience account and connect my tickets. In addition, I purchased a MagicBand for every member of my group and connected it to the Disney account. This was awesome for multiple reasons:

First, you can use the MagicBands for entry into all of the Disney Theme Parks for which you have paid entry. To use, simply tap your band against a Mickey Mouse podium at the gates. The podium will light up green and into the park you go.

Next, there are Disney photographers around all the parks, at character greetings, etc., that you can get your picture taken by. Once the picture is taken, they will scan your band. Then, the photo is added to your account. This is true for anyone in your travel party; if they take a photo and scan their band, it will appear in your My Disney Experience account (Note: be sure they are connected to your group via your Disney account). The really cool part? If you have the My Disney Experience phone app you will see your photos magically appear within 20 minutes. Sometimes, it was almost instantaneous. It was fun to be able to look through your photos during the rare times that you were standing in line.

Another useful part of the bands is that it is used with FastPass+ reservations and dining reservations. Moreover, some rides, like It’s a Small World, will acknowledge you are there by name using the band. Other rides, like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, take an in-ride photo of you that can be scanned to the MagicBand at the end of the ride.11250_48_z

For our Disney vacation, we chose to stay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. I highly recommend staying here due to its seriously phenomenal pool known as Storm Along Bay. It is shared with Disney’s Beach Club Resort and is the BEST Disney World Resort pool. Of course, there are many more benefits to staying at Disney World Resort Hotel. For instance, you can connect your MagicBand to a payment method in your Disney account. As a result, anyone in your family with your unique PIN code can purchase food, drinks, gifts, etc., with their MagicBand. When you checkout you will receive a listing showing who charged what to the account so that you can settle up later. Keep in mind, though, the full amount is auto-charged to your payment method. So, be sure your account can cover all of the charges until you settle up.

Disney’s Memory Maker Service

Another fastastic service Disney offers is Memory Maker. This is a great purchase to add to your Disney vacation as it lets you download all the photos taken of you around the park for one price. (These include ride photos and photos taken by Disney photographers.) If you order this in advance from your My Disney Experience account, it is cheaper than paying for it after your vacation. However,  be sure to buy it at least four days in advance before you go.

There is a three-day (from the time you purchase) freeze on the feature. As a result, you will have to wait three days from the time you purchase it to get all your photos for one package price. Otherwise, you will pay approximately$15/photo. The Memory Maker option was worth it to my family. It allowed us to relax and enjoy the vacation knowing we were going to get some really great photos of the whole family. This is in contrast to those photos we all have where there is always one family member missing (person taking photo.. usually Dad) or constantly interrupting someone else’s vacation asking them to take your photo.

My Disney Experience App

The last major tool any Dad’s guide to WDW should include is the My Disney Experience app. I’ve mentioned it previously, but it’s worth detailing as it is AWESOME. I really would not want to do Disney World without it. It’s that impressive. From the app, you can pretty much do everything from anywhere. It shows a constantly updated itinerary of each day you have planned at Disney World.

Using the app, I found it incredibly useful that I could:

  • Make dining reservations
  • Check current line times
  • Create FastPass+ reservation changes on the fly (Tip: if the ride you are going to has little to no line, use the app to cancel your FastPass. Then, you can schedule another FastPass at a different time without wasting one on a no-pass needed line)
  • Check park hours
  • See which parks have Extra Magic Hours (Tip: this is another perk for staying on-site at a Disney resort as Extra Magic Hours allow you to be in the park an extra two hours early or late on designated days/parks)
  • View maps of attractions and restrooms in a park
  • Discover location of character meet and greets
  • View dining options and menus
  • Review shows and events schedule
  • Discover location of Disney photographers

One of the best changes to the app that I noticed was that they recently added in GPS-like directions that show you how to get from point A to point B. It also estimates the distance from your location via different methods (walk, bus, boat, monorail).

Disney Character Dining

Now, on to more of the magical moments we had at Disney World! We did two character meals, both of which this Dad’s guide to WDW highly recommends. The first was in Epcot’s Norway lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. This was perfect for my daughter because it is a princess lunch featuring the likes of Snow White, Belle, Ariel, and Cinderella. Beyond the excitement for my daughter, the food was really good. You get a buffet style first course followed by an entree and a dessert to share. The other character meal we did was held at the Beach Club Resort’s Cape May Cafe. Upon arrival, we were greeted with beach themed Goofy, Donald, and Minnie Mouse. It was fun meeting the characters. Plus, the breakfast was huge and had anything you could desire for breakfast.

A Dad’s guide to WDW wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Disney Springs. Even though Disney World parks have some wonderful shops, it’s definitely worth a visit. It is home to World of Disney (the largest Disney store in the world) and The LEGO store, as well as The Art of Disney which sells unique artwork and prints.

Dad’s Guide to WDW: Kid Tested, Parent Approved

Needless to say, the vacation was amazing and we’ll definitely be back.

One last Dad tip: Drink plenty of water. Get comfy shoes and break them in before you go. Also, build in time to your plans for naps for both kids and adults. You will need them.

If you’re celebrating turkey day in Orlando, chances are Disney World will be a part of your plans. A Disney World Thanksgiving offers plenty of family-friendly activities, with each of the four parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios—all open. From where to eat to what to see and do, my guide to a Disney World Thanksgiving will give you a head start on this traditional American holiday.

Disney World Thanksgiving

Image via Walt Disney World®

Where to Eat

The following restaurants will be serving delicious Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings:

Magic Kingdom
Liberty Tree Tavern: Lunch and Dinner

Epcot
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Lunch and Dinner
Biergarten – Lunch and Dinner (buffet)
Coral Reef – Lunch and Dinner
Le Cellier Steakhouse – Lunch and Dinner
Restaurant Marrakesh – Lunch and Dinner
Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room – Lunch and Dinner
Sunshine Seasons – Thanksgiving menu all day
Via Napoli Ristorante – Lunch and Dinner

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
50’s Prime Time Cafe
Hollywood and Vine – Lunch and Dinner (buffet
Hollywood Brown Derby

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Tusker House – Lunch and Dinner (buffet)

Downtown Disney
Raglan Road
Fulton’s Crab House
Planet Hollywood
Portobello
Wolfgang Puck Cafe – The Café

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels will also be hosting Thanksgiving dinners.

What to Do

What are the best things to do at during a Disney World Thanksgiving? Each park features festive fun along with the classic Disney attractions you know and love. Keep in mind the theme parks will be busy, so bring your patience and be sure to utilize FastPass+.

See a Thanksgiving Parade
At the Magic Kingdom you are in for a special bonus as you can watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade as well as a Disney’s Thanksgiving Parade. It features Mickey, Minnie and the gang dressed in pilgrim regalia plus a nod to the theme of the holiday—turkey!

Have a Thanksgiving Meal To-Go
At parks like the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you can grab a giant turkey leg to-go and skip the massive Thanksgiving meal. This way, you’ll be able to explore more theme park attractions yet still get your traditional holiday fix.

Experience an American Adventure
At the Epcot American Adventure pavilion the American Adventure show takes guests on 45-minute journey through the history of America. Fairly fitting for Thanksgiving, it is an innovative and visually enjoyable production honoring the humble beginnings of the United States.

Get a Sneak Peak of Christmas
During the Thanksgiving holiday, the Disney World Theme Parks will decked with beautiful Christmas decorations. It’s an excellent time to embrace the Christmas spirit without having to deal with the Christmas crowds.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Did you know Walt Disney World is the same size as San Francisco? At 42 square miles, this theme park is more like a town than a typical park. This means you’ve got to have a plan in place if you want to conquer Disney World in 3 days. Sure, a week at Disney World is ideal. But if you don’t have that much time you can still have the full Mickey experience if you follow this fast-paced yet fun itinerary.

Disney World Kids at Castle Copyright Disney World in 3 Days

Key Tips to Follow

 

rsz_disney_balloon_girl_rgb Disney World in 3 Days

Day 1: Magic Kingdom

FastPass+ suggestions

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Character Meet and Greet
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade

 

What to Do

On your first day at Disney World, make your way to the Magic Kingdom. It’s the premier Disney Park, and the one you’ll want to visit first. There’s something about seeing Cinderella’s Castle that totally puts you in the Disney mood. Ideally, you’ve already used the My Disney Experience app to reserve your FastPass+ selections for all your must-see rides and attractions. I recommend getting FastPasses for the most popular activites, so you’ll spend less time waiting and more time having fun.

You’ll notice only one of the suggestions for FastPass+ is for a ride. This is because some of the most memorable things to at the Magic Kingdom are the meet and greets and parades. Depending on which characters are your favorites, classics like Mickey Mouse or fairytale princesses like Cinderella, you can arrange a time to meet them. By using a FastPass+ you’ll be able to have that fangirl moment and not have to waste an hour in line.  Trust me when I say these are the moments that make Disney amazing.

I recommend using FastPass+ for Festival of Fantasy Parade. Why? You get VIP, front of the crowd access for a perfect view of this stunning parade. No craning your neck to get a view, or putting a stop to fun to a get a viewing spot. It’s kind of the best.

To find out more about tackling this park, read our guide on how to conquer the Magic Kingdom in one day.

Where to Eat

 

Disney_Safari Disney World in 3 Days

Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Hollywood Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

 

What to Do

On day 2 of our itinerary that conquers Disney World in 3 days, you’re going to wake up early. Wildlife at the Animal Kingdom is most active in the morning, which makes it prime viewing time. A ride on Kilimanjaro Safari is the main attraction at Animal Kingdom. Aboard this safari, Disney transforms into an African plain. Animals like giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras and more frolic around, putting you thisclose to the action. It’s by far the coolest experience at the Animal Kingdom.

Other notables at this park include:

  • Expedition Everest
  • It’s a Bug’s Life
  • Festival of the Lion King

 

Where to Eat

 

(Please note, FastPass+ selections must be used at 1 park per day. For this Disney World in 3 days itinerary, save your Fastpasses for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)

After a late lunch, make your way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park is undergoing a massive transformation right now. Long gone is the Sorcerer’s Hat and backlots. Incoming are all things Star Wars and Frozen. Currently, these are the best attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Hollywood Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

 

When you’re trying to make the most of Disney World in 3 days, you have to take advantage of Disney Springs. On Day 2, you’ll do just that. This newly redesigned, waterside entertainment complex (previously known as Downtown Disney), bustles with activity day or night. You can browse stores like World of Disney, with more than 50,000 square feet of retail space, for the perfect Disney souvenir. Then, have dinner at The Boathouse. A waterfront restaurant with charming views, this harbor-esque eatery is the place to dine for a memorable meal at Disney Springs. The atmosphere combines with a menu of fresh seafood and savory steaks to create a one-of-a-kind Disney experience. You can even go on a boat ride around the harbor of the restaurant! How’s that for dinner and a show?!

Outside of Spaceship Earth Disney World in 3 Days

Day 3: Epcot

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After

 

Epcot has long been misunderstood by the masses. It’s been known as “Disney’s adult theme park” as its ride selection is fewer, and its focus is on global culture. But you know what? Epcot has really revved up its attractions recently, staring with Test Track. An overhaul four years ago made this ride futuristic and even more hands-on. Here, you can buckle up in a 6-passenger “simulation car” and put a virtual vehicle that you created to the test. It’s a lot of fun to see how your design handles the twist and turns of Test Track.

Another recent addition is Frozen Ever After. Geared towards guests who love Frozen (basically everyone!), this attraction is an unforgettable adventure through Arendelle. Your favorite Frozen characters such as Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf whisk you away for on over-the-water experience, one of which is even set to popular songs from Frozen. It’s a must-do for any Frozen fanatic!

Soarin’ is an Epcot staple. It’s worthy of a FastPass+ simply for the airborne adventure it features. Likewise, the journey is all-new and showcases beauty from across the globe. It’s an easy way to view extraordinary landmarks worldwide.

Of course, you can’t visit Epcot without spending some time bouncing around World Showcase. Eleven countries create the pavilion, each dedicated to the food and culture of its respective country. I suggest walking around the entire pavilion, stopping to take in live performances and for a drink or two at your favorite countries.

World Showcase Standouts

Mexico: Grab a margarita, listen to the strolling mariachi band and take a tour through a pre-Columbian pyramid

China: View intricate recreations of the Temple of Heaven and the Terra Cotta Army

Germany: Stroll through cobblestone streets and bavarian architecture while sipping a strong brew

Italy: Romance rules in Italy, with Venice inspired plazas, bell towers, palaces and gardens among the highlights

France: Sip some wine as you walk amongst recreations of The Siene and Eiffel Tower

Where to Eat

Trying to conquer Disney World in 3 days means you’re probably only eating dinner at Epcot once. So, be sure to take advantage of breakfast and lunch specials so you truly can taste your way around the world.

 

End your day at Epcot with the stunning Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show. Set on the World Showcase Lagoon, this night show celebrates the past, present and future of Earth. A stunning fireworks show set to stunning music, this is one show you’ve got to see!

For the best viewing (aside from restaurants), stake out a spot here:

  • Canada Pavilion
  • Waterfront Benches in China
  • World Showcase Plaza
  • Bridge between the France and UK pavilions

 

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Disney World in 3 Days

Conquering Disney World in 3 Days

With this fast-paced itinerary it’s totally possible to conquer Disney World in 3 days. You might not be able to see it all. But hey, that’s just a good reason to come back!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Disney World vacation is a dream come true.  Families flock to this famous theme park to delight in meeting characters like Mickey Mouse and exploring iconic places likes Cinderella’s Castle.  If you’re looking to make this dream a reality we can help with some money-saving tips.  Follow our suggestions and you can visit Disney World Orlando without breaking your budget.

Disney World Orlando Statue IMG_1609_RSZ

1) Purchase a Park-Hopper Pass

If you know you’ll be spending the week at Disney, a Park Hopper Pass is your best option.  Currently, you can purchase a discount 4-day park hopper pass and receive two bonus days free!  That means you not only save on your ticket purchase but extend your time at Disney World to six full days.  The two days free promotion also applies to 5, 6, 7, and 8-day tickets. 

2) Stay-off Site

Sure, Disney World Resorts are a wonderful place to stay due to the extra amenities and park services they offer guests.  If they don’t quite fit into your budget, though, you can stay at Orlando resorts. Many are located just a few miles from Disney’s entrance for a half or even third of the price.  Some of our favorite Orlando lodging options located near Disney include WorldQuest Resort, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, and Star Island Resort.    Looking for a value-based property?  We recommend Hampton Inn Lake Buena Vista and Comfort Inn Maingate. A Disney World vacation will be still me incredible when you stay off-site, and you’ll save a bundle. 

3) Use FREE Disney Fastpasses

Disney Fastpasses are invaluable timesavers that are available at many of the theme park’s most popular rides.  And, let’s face it, the longer you wait in line for anything, the more money you are wasting.  So, make use of Disney’s Fastpasses. The easiest way to do so is by using a MagicBand. Disney Resort guest receive one free with their stay, while off-site guests can purchase one for $12.95. Plan the FastPasses you’d like to do before you go, and you’ll be sure to skip the lines while riding the best and newest rides. And don’t worry. If you don’t want to purchase a MagicBand, FastPasses are still available at kiosks outside of ride entrances. 

4) Pack a Snack

Theme park drinks and food can add up quickly when you are on a family vacation. Luckily, Disney World allows coolers smaller than 24″L x 15″W x 18″H. So, you can bring some snacks and pack a few water bottles that will help you stay hydrated. Also take advantage of the FREE hydration stations available at any location serving fountain drinks. You can get filtered water from any of these stations.

5) Save the Souvenirs for Later

Disney World souvenirs are available everywhere throughout Orlando and Kissimmee.  While at the park all of the shirts, stuffed animals, coffee mugs and mouse ears call out to you, saying “Buy me!”  The call becomes even louder if you’re traveling with kids.  If you can, hold out on your purchases until you can browse stores located off-site.  You’ll likely find many of the same souvenirs as you will in the park, but at a much cheaper price.  But, if you must walk away with a Disney souvenir from the park we say go for the Mouse Ears.  You can purchase a pair for around $14.

6) Eat Smarter

There are a lot of dining options available at the Disney theme parks.  Plan ahead by browsing our Disney dining guides, which will help with price points and menu listings.  Then, when you’re at the park order a la carte.  Most of the time everyone in your party doesn’t need the combo meal.  Split the fries and coke.  You’ll be impressed with how much you can save over several days at Disney by choosing your food purchase wisely.

Don’t miss the Disney World vacation experience because you think it may be out of your budget.  Plan ahead, book early and follow our tips and you can find ways to maximize your vacation value.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Researching Disney World vacation packages? If so, you’ve probably realized staying on-property at a Disney World Resort hotel is the best way to fully experience all that Disney World has to offer. There are a range of resorts to choose from, including Disney World value resorts, moderate resorts and even deluxe places to stay. Which hotel is perfect for you and your family? Follow my guide to the best Disney World resorts. You’re sure to find a favorite!

your-guide-to-the-best-disney-world-resorts-text

Best Disney World Value Resorts

If budget is key to your vacation planning, Disney World value resorts are an easy choice. They offer a lower price point, yet still boast the Disney resort benefits guests love. The best two value resorts are:

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation
Price: Starting at $115/night
Be surrounded in the artistry, enchantment and magic of Walt Disney and Disney•Pixar movies. Stay at a Disney Resort hotel that invites you to explore the storybook landscapes seen in such classics as Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. From delightfully themed family suites to wondrously detailed courtyards, Disney’s Art of Animation “draws” you and your family in to become a part of some of your animated favorites.

Disney's Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Price: Starting at $102/night
Experience the unforgettable fads of the 1950s through the 1990s all over again. From yo-yos and Play-Doh® to Rubik’s Cube® and rollerblades, this Resort hotel salutes the timeless fashions, catch phrases, toys and dances that captivated the world through the decades.

Best Disney World Moderate Resorts

Moderate resorts expand guest amenities, offer larger rooms and have more elaborate theming than value resorts. Some of the best moderate resorts include:

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
Price: Starting at $170/night
Discover a place where simple pleasures flourish and Southern hospitality abounds. From the stately white-column mansions of Magnolia Bend to the quaint backwoods cottages of Alligator Bayou, delight in this picturesque Resort hotel that evokes the romance and tranquility of the rural Louisiana Bayou. Located near Epcot and Typhoon Lagoon, Port Orleans not only immerses guests in a the antebellum south but provides easy access to Disney theme parks.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs
Price: Starting at $175/night
Relive the romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico as you follow in the footsteps of explorer Don Francisco de Coronado at this Resort hotel. Find your own mythical city of gold in a Southwestern-themed haven of brightly colored Casitas, rustic Ranchos and beachfront Cabanas encircling a glimmering 22-acre lake. Each accommodation provides a unique escape and a welcoming home away from home. On-site restaurants like the Mayan Grill have a flavorful menu, while libations at Rix Lounge and the Dockside Bar melt the day away.  A quiet pool is an ideal spot for adults to relax, but if you want a bigger thrill head to the Mayan temple themed pool.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Price: Starting at $170/night
A tropical paradise built around 45-acre Barefoot Bay, this Resort hotel brings the Islands to you with swaying palm trees, white-sand beaches and colonial architecture. Six villages—Trinidad North, Trinidad South, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba and Jamaica—host colorful Guest rooms, some pirate-themed! “Island-hop” as you explore 200 lushly landscaped acres, or simply enjoy lazy days soaking up the sun in a hammock.

Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts

Unique theming, stunning décor, imaginative dining and superior service are highlights of Disney World deluxe resorts. When you stay at one the deluxe options, you can rest easy knowing every last detail is covered. Top deluxe resorts offerings are:

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Price: Starting at $420/night
Celebrate the spirit of the South Pacific at this oasis of tropical palms, lush vegetation, koi ponds and white-sand beaches. From moonlit nights on our torch-lined waterfront to the exotic tastes of world-class restaurants, discover the signature tropical ambience that’s made Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort a favorite Disney destination since 1971.

Animal Kingdom Lodge
Price: Starting at $284/night
Step into the heart of Africa at this magnificent Resort hotel. Inspired by the traditional African kraal, the horseshoe-curved design provides spectacular views of 4 lush savannas that over 200 hoofed animals and birds call home. Delight in dazzling pool areas, exciting animal programs and one of the largest collections of African art in the United States as you experience your own African safari adventure with a touch of Disney magic.

Disney World's Grand Floridian

Disney World’s Grand Floridian

Disney World’s Grand Floridian
Price: Starting at $517/night
Victorian elegance meets modern sophistication at this lavish bayside Resort hotel. Relax in the sumptuous lobby as the live orchestra plays ragtime, jazz and popular Disney tunes. Bask on the white-sand beach, indulge in a luxurious massage and watch the fireworks light up the sky over Cinderella Castle. Just one stop to Magic Kingdom park on the complimentary Resort Monorail, this timeless Victorian-style marvel evokes Palm Beach’s golden era.

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Price: Starting at $356/night
Discover the casual elegance of this charming, New England-style Resort hotel. Savor exquisite dining, and explore the pools, lagoons and spas of Stormalong Bay. Sail around Crescent Lake on a rented mini-powerboat, and experience the luxurious comfort of a Club Level Suite. Sharing many amenities with its more formal sister, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort is walking distance to Epcot and a convenient boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Price: Starting at $381/night
Experience the charm and whimsy of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City at this waterfront Resort hotel. Make a splash at Luna Park Pool and delight in a massage at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Discover carnival games, unique dining and exciting nightlife on the Coney Island-style boardwalk. Strung like saltwater taffy along the shimmering Crescent Lake, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is located within walking distance to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

With the holidays quickly approaching, many families are planning a visit to Orlando to celebrate. Just like the summer months, the winter season is busy in Central Florida. Disney World fully embraces the magic of Christmas and each park presents festive ways to make your holiday vacation a memorable one. Even with the throngs of people, it’s possible to enjoy the parks if you follow these helpful tips for dealing with Disney World crowds.

Disney Copyright Family MK

Have a Plan
To make the most of your time, especially when crowds are involved, be sure to have a plan. Know what you want to do, what you can skip and try to avoid those people clogging sidewalks with a “What do we do now?” conference. With My Disney Experience, you can reserve FastPass+, dining and other activities up to 180 days in advance. Believe me when I say, being able to skip lines and eat without a wait will save your nerves you think they can’t be stepped on one more time before you lose it.

Disney PRINCESS_V5[2]Pack your Patience
Speaking of losing it—try not to! Pack your patience because no matter what you do you will still have to deal with throngs of people. Help keep Disney World Orlando the magical place on earth by keeping kindness at the forefront of your day, too. You’d be surprised how far a smile and a thank you will get you.

Embrace the Crazy
Instead of bemoaning your day at Disney because it’s not exactly like world depicted on commercials, embrace the crazy. There’s plenty of charm to be found in the crowds, as it kind of feels like you’re celebrating the holidays with thousands of your newest friends. Plus, you might think an empty park would be more enjoyable but really it’s rather boring. The mix and mingle of the crowds actually adds a bit of excitement as it feels like you’re part of something truly magical.

0918ZY_0886CG_RSZUpgrade Your Options
One surefire way to avoid the biggest crowds is by taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours offered to Disney Resort guests. The ability to arrive an hour early, or stay on hour later, than general Disney theme parks guests means you’ll have more of the park to yourself before the masses really start to pile in. If you’re staying at an off-property hotel, it still pays off to arrive early as crowds don’t really begin until late morning (10am).

Remember…It’s Vacation!
My Dad always says a day on the lake is better than any day at work. The same holds true for a day at a Disney World Theme Park. No matter how busy it is, I always walk away with a smile on my face and am happy to have got my Disney fix. As with any day, it is what you make it. And at Disney World, you can make it a really great one if you want to. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy your vacation!

Do you have any tips to handling Disney World crowds? Tell me about them in the comments.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Every family needs to experience the magic of Disney World Theme Parks. The best way to do so is by staying at a Disney World resort, where benefits like park transportation and extra magic hours add to your Disney vacation. It’s really the only way to be completely immersed in Disney! The only downside? Accommodation costs can add up quickly. To help save your hard earned money, follow this guide to the best Disney World Resorts that won’t break the bank.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Price: Starting at $115/night
The best bet for a Disney World value resort is Art of Animation. Comfort is key, as most rooms have been upgraded to suites. Plus, the resort has dedicated bus transportation, upgraded amenities and a food court–Landscape of Flavors–with offerings that raise the bar on value resort dining. The over-the-top theming, featuring scenes from The Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King and Finding Nemo, puts guests right in the heart of their favorite Disney cartoons.

Disney's Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Price: Starting at $102/night
Pop Century is the perfect second choice for families seeking a Disney value resort. Set amongst scenes highlighting pop culture trends from the 50s to the 90s, this resort highlights everything from yoyos and Play-Dog to Mr. Potato Head and Pac-Man. The whimsical atmosphere is complimented by updated furnishings, easy access to food options–including Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors food court–as well as pools with aquatic features and movies under the stars.

Disney's Port Orleans Resort

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
Price: Starting at $170/night
For a moderate Disney Resort, you can’t beat Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. Invoking the charm of the antebellum south, the theming is some of the best of Disney World resorts. The picturesque setting is enhanced by white-columned mansions, backwoods cottages and tranquil bayous. Rooms here have been recently refurbished, allowing for more comfort and space to stretch out. Amenities like the 3.5 acre aquatic hideaway with a Tom Sawyer theme add to the appeal of Port Orleans Riverside.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Price: Starting at $175/night
The lakeside, southwestern theme of Disney’s Coronado Springs is transportive. Spanish and colonial Mexico cultures are celebrated, both in the brightly colored casitas, ranchos and cabanas and the dining selections available like Maya Grill. It’s also seen in the Mayan-temple designed pool, complete with water slide. Heavenly bedding and modern updates make rooms rather inviting too. When you stay at Coronado Springs Resort, you have access to all of the Disney resort perks but at a fraction of the cost of other resort options.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Price: Starting at $170/night
Want a beach experience while visiting Disney World? Choose Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Located around the 45-acre Barefoot Bay, this tropical paradise brings a bit more fun in the sun to your Disney World vacation. Palm trees, sandy beaches, colonial architecture–it all puts you in an island state-of-mind. Villages of the resort are themed after islands like Barbados, Aruba and Jamaica, with vibrant colors and sea-worthy, pirate-themed rooms adding to the Caribbean cool. With 200 acres to explore, this resort is a nice choice for visitors who want the best of both worlds on vacation.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

If you want to stay at a Disney World resort, but don’t want to spend a fortune, Disney World value resorts are the solution. The resorts offer all the perks of a Disney World resort at an economical price point you can afford. Along with the built-in Disney resort benefits, value resorts feature larger-than-life theming that bring Disney characters to life. Definitely family-friendly, amenities like large poolscapes, easily accessible bus transportation and food courts add to the appeal of Disney value resorts. Curious about which are the best Disney World value resorts? Read on.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

1) Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Price: Starting at $115
Imagine being immersed in the enchantment of Disney and Pixar movies: that is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Scenes from Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Cars delight visitors. A renovation three years ago provides newer rooms, most of which are suites, and an upgraded Landscape of Flavors food court. In fact, the food court is probably the best of all the value resorts. Dedicated bus transportation also means less of a wait for a ride to the park.

Disney's Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

2) Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Price: Starting at $102
Talk about unique! Disney’s Pop Century Resort takes you on a journey through unforgettable pop culture fads, from the 1950s to 1990s. Think yo-yos, Play-Doh, Rubik’s Cube, Pac-Man and the like. The theming, although not Disney specific, is pretty rad. As is the dedicated bus transportation, kid-friendly pool areas and easy access to a food court. Interestingly enough, it’s not the food court at Pop Century that stands out, but rather that you’re within walking distance to the Landscape of Flavors food court.

Disney's All Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All Star Movies Resort

3) All Star Movies Resort
Price: Starting at $92
Surround yourself with scenes from class Disney movies at All Star Movies Resort. Walk among dogs from 101 Dalmatians, then stay in a room decorated with toys from Andy’s bedroom in Toy Story. Then, swim in a Fantasia-themed pool before watching a movie under the stars. It’s all possible at All Star Movies Resort. All Star Resorts do share bus transportation, which makes them less popular than the first two options.

Disney's All Star Music Resort

Disney’s All Star Music Resort

4) All Star Music Resort
Price: Starting at $92
Tributes to the world’s most popular music genres are found throughout All Star Music Resort. The harmonious atmosphere is complimented by jazzy décor both inside rooms and outside buildings. It’s not connected to any Disney theming, necessarily, and the rooms are also fairly basic, as are the on-site amenities. This makes All Star Music a good choice for those who simply want to enjoy the perks of a Disney Resort, but don’t plan on spending a lot of time in-room.

Disney's All Star Sports Resort

Disney’s All Star Sports Resort

5) All Star Sports Resort
Price: Starting at $92
Have a little boy or girl who can’t get sports off the brain? At All Star Sports Resort, they’ll go gaga for the athletic-inspired atmosphere. This resort is in many ways similar to the offerings of All Star Music Resort, as neither have a Disney theme and offer standard rooms and amenities meant to appeal to budget-minded vacationers. That said, the resort is very kid-friendly and is guaranteed to provide the Disney Resort perks promised.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Planning a trip to Disney World Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida? If so, you’re probably researching where to stay, what to do and how to squeeze so much fun into one vacation. One of the best ways to enjoy the full Disney experience is by staying at one of the Disney World Resorts.  Yes, the price to stay at a Disney Resort is higher than an off-site property. But, there’s a good reason why! The perks of a Disney Resort stay are endless.

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Disney Yacht Club Resort

Disney Resort benefits include:

Free Ground Transportation: Disney World hotel and resort guests can board complimentary Magical Express buses at the Orlando International Airport, and be shuttled directly to their resort. Once there, you’ll never need a car as you can use Disney’s Magical Express buses, the monorail, and ferry boats to hop from park to park.

No Hassling with Luggage: With Disney’s free ground transportation from the Orlando Airport, guests can avoid the baggage carousel all together as Disney delivers luggage directly to your hotel room. On your return trip to the airport, which is also free, visitors can save time by checking their luggage and receiving your boarding passes at your Disney Resort. Travel to the airport and let Disney take care of the rest!

MyMagic+: The MyMagic+ program allows Disney visitors to pre-plan their visit, and by doing so they can maximize their fun at the park and minimize line time. All on-property Disney resort guests receive complimentary MyMagic+ bands.

Extra Magic Hours: Take advantage of this unique opportunity to have a more private park experience. Each day, one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to two hours after regular closing time. Additionally, Disney Water Parks offer Extra Magic Hours during select times of year.

Walt Disney World Resorts are available in three tiers, from value resorts to moderate places to stay to deluxe accommodations. I’ll guide you through each category, so you can easily choose which option is perfect for your family vacation.

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney Value Resorts: A relatively low price point coupled with the standard Disney amenities make value resorts a good option for many families. Many of the Disney Value Resorts feature over-the-top theming geared towards kids, excellent poolscapes, on-site fast food options and kid-friendly amenities like arcades. Value Resort options include:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

 

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney Moderate Resorts: For an upgrade in amenities, Disney Moderate Resorts are the accommodations that strike a decent balance between cost and services. These mid-level resorts and hotels have more elaborate theming, larger play and pool zones, more elegant and varied dining options, as well as more on site options such as fitness centers and lounges. Moderate Resort options include:

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

 

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Disney Contemporary Resort

Disney Deluxe Resorts: At Disney’s top level resorts visitors will be treated to the white glove experience. Expect high-end amenities with a luxurious touch, including spa services, valet parking, character dining and gourmet restaurants. Each Disney Deluxe Resort has an elaborate theme and backstory, as well as a prime location for easier park access. Deluxe Resorts include:

  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kigndom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

 

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Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Two other on-site Disney Resort options include the high-end Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels. These posh hotels are where adults come to play at Disney. Although they are operated by a third-party, both offer all of the benefits of a typical Disney Resort excluding the Magical Express airport transportation.

When you visit the home of the world’s most famous mouse, stay where Mickey and friends call home. You’ll be able to avoid the hassle of travel time, as well as paying parking fees, car rentals and for gas. Plus, you’ll be at the forefront of the magic so you’ll never miss a moment of fun. Choose the Disney World Resort that fits your budget and vacation needs, and be on your way to vacation memories.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Eight Disney World Resorts have been selected as the “Best Hotels in Orlando,” as well as Silver Badge winners by U.S. News & World Report. The distinction is based on an unbiased analysis of awards, expert recommendations and user ratings. Eager to find out which Disney hotels were selected? Read on.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

 

If you travel to Hawaii or Anaheim, California for your Disney experience you’re in luck. Two more Disney properties were named to the “best of” list. At Disneyland, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel made the list and was named one of the “Best Hotels in Anaheim.” Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii was named one of the “Best Hotels in Honolulu – Oahu.”

Learn about the advantages of staying at a Disney World Resort.
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Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know. Before you pack your bags, get the latest scoop on Orlando vacations from Ashley.