Things to know before visiting Walt Disney World

We love Walt Disney World (if you didn't know this already where have you been?!), we've visited lots of times and always leave wanting to return soon. It has been three years since we last went which is the longest between trips it has ever been. Thankfully we'll be going there this summer but as we're planning our trip I thought I would share with you a few things you ought to know (or do) before visiting Walt Disney World.

Download My Disney Experience

First things first, no matter when you are travelling to Walt Disney World download the app right now! This gives you early access to things like ride times, fastpass+, and anything else related to your trip. 

In the app you can add everyone in your party, assign them a picture and give them Fastpass+ if they need them. 

When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.

Walt Disney

Restaurant reservations

If you are anything like us you like your food and if so you need to know to book your restaurant reservations before arriving in Orlando. You can make restaurant reservations up to 180 days in advance, which means if you wanted to eat a meal at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge on 12th November this year you could book it today. 

The benefits of booking your restaurant reservations so early is that you can be sure to get into the restaurant. A lot of the restaurants in Walt Disney World get very busy, and while some do accept walk-ins some don't and you want to do everything you can to avoid disappointment right?

A strawberry cake with cream and chocolate on a white plate.
You wouldn't want to miss out on this would you?

Our favourite restaurants in the parks:

The Garden Grill, Epcot - Family style food while you meet Mickey and the gang!
Tepan Edo, Epcot - Food prepared and cooked right in front of you, with a show too.
Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood Studios - amazing food, AND you get a special ticket for Fantasmic!

Our favourite restaurants in the hotels (we haven't been to Disney Springs yet...)

Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge - exquisite food, and the children's desserts are brilliant AND entertaining.
California Grill, Contemporary Resort - Again the food is amazing, and the view of Magic Kingdom can't be beat.
Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge - a buffet style restaurant with brilliant food. Fantastic breakfast (we go often) and yummy dinner!


There can be epically long queues in Walt Disney World, think 3 hours and often longer. The popular rides are always worst, like Avatar Flight of Passage which can have a wait time of 120 minutes, often longer. If you're already in the park when you find out the rides have long queue times you have only one option, get into the queue and wait your turn. 

BUT there is another way!


Up to 60 days before the start of your holiday (vacation) you can pre-book your ride times. Basically you go into the app and select your ride, then choose what time you would like to ride. You will have to select every member of your party who wants to go on the ride so they all get a Fastpass but once you've done that you're (almost) guaranteed to ride. 

You can have 3 Fastpasses booked in one park per day but once you've used up the three Fastpasses you can book more. 

It might sound odd to decide what rides you want to go on for a trip you're going to be taking in the summer but this is the best way to ensure you'll get on every ride you want. Otherwise you risk having to wait for hours, hours you could be spending riding other rides or eating food!

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.

Walt Disney

Magic Bands

Magic Bands are bands you wear around your wrist that are kind of like your Walt Disney World passport. You get them for free if you are staying "on property" but they can be bought from any Disney shop if not. 

You can use Magic Bands to use your Fastpasses, to pay for things, even to open your hotel room door. Magic Bands are amazing, they are waterproof so you can wear them in Blizzard Beach and they won't get damaged by all the sunscreen you'll be wearing. 

Pins for your Magic Band, featuring Epcot.

You can choose the colour of your Magic Band ahead of time (in the app) and you can even buy extras if you choose. There are some amazing Magic Bands available in the Disney shops, there's also little badge type things you can clip onto your Magic Band. We bought a few last time we visited and loved them.

Photopass and Memory Maker

All around the parks in Walt Disney World you'll see Cast Members waiting and willing to take photos of you and your family. They take amazing photos, they spend hours every day snapping photos and do a brilliant job. 

The Photopass and Memory Maker is a way of getting the Cast Members to take as many photos as they can while you're there and having the photos show up in the app. 


If you're travelling from the UK then you need to know that Orlando can get very hot. You absolutely need sunscreen but I'd suggest not taking it with you in your suitcase. My top tip for sunscreen would be to travel to a local store like Walgreens and buy your sunscreen there, it'll save you on weight in your case but also you can get some great sprayable sunscreen in Orlando. 

Whenever we go we get through lots of sunscreen and it's cheaper to buy it over there than it is to buy  at home and take it with you.

Make sure you use the sunscreen - I've been caught out a few times when I've missed an area and been burned. It doesn't take long to burn, especially if you have sensitive skin like me and being sunburned is no fun. Protect yourself and your family.

Pin trading

If you're taking children with you, or even if you're not, check out the pin trading. It's a fun way to interact with Cast Members, and it's a great way to teach the children how to interact with people that aren't you. 

We have done pin trading for a few years now, we love it, and we've found it's a great way of teaching the boys how to talk to people. They're very shy when it comes to talking to people that aren't us or someone they know so chatting to Cast Members is brilliant for them. Having something to chat about (the pins) is a good ice-breaker and the Cast Members always make a point of interacting with the children.

Our pin collection so far - I think we may need a new pin board for next time!

It's always fun looking for the best pins too - oh and a top tip here is to do your pin trading early in the day. The pins on their lanyards get changed first thing in the morning so if you're looking for good pins get out there in the morning!

Rope Drop

Rope drop is basically when you're at the park before it opens and you go in at opening time. It used to be when the rope was dropped so you could go into the park but these days it's not that. 

The best thing about being at the parks for rope drop is being able to get on a ride without using your Fastpasses. In the past this is how we've been able to ride most of our favourite rides without having to book Fastpasses. We simply get up early (we do that anyway) and be at the park for opening time. Once the park is open we make our way to our favourite ride. There can be some wait when you do this, unless you run through the park which Cast Members don't like you doing, because there will be other people doing the same but it's certainly not going to be a 120-minute-wait - more like 10 minutes. 

Another great thing about Rope Drop is that there is a show before opening at Magic Kingdom. You'll get to see Mickey and the Gang come in on the train and sing with the Cast Members. It's amazing and definitely one to see.

Cashless hotels

This is a recent development but we were told about a month ago that Animal Kingdom Lodge is now a cashless hotel. This means that payment for anything has to be made either via the app or on credit card. You are allowed to tip using cash but everything else is cashless so be aware. I'm not sure if this is the case for other hotels, it wouldn't surprise me if it was in the Deluxe hotels. 

Don't forget to act like a kid

My biggest tip, and thing you should know before going to Walt Disney World is don't forget to act like a child. It is absolutely fine if you shriek with joy when you see your favourite character. It is fine if you feel like crying when you see Cinderella's Castle for real. And it is also fine if you take your child's hand and skip through the park singing "It's a small world" - in fact I have no doubt everyone would love it - including you!

Wear your Disney branded clothes and dance!

This is one of the very best things about Walt Disney World, you get to leave the adult world behind and you can be a child again. Take the opportunity to act like a fool, laugh with your children, and generally have a wonderful time.

What you should know before visiting Walt Disney World.

What are you most looking forward to?

The Pramshed

Burnished Chaos