10 tips for planning a last minute Disney World vacation that will help you have a fun & memorable time with the shortest wait times.
In 2016, I shared a post with 10 Things to Do 3 Months Before Your Disney Vacation.
Back then, while Roger was in dental school, we didn’t have a lot of spare time & we knew exactly when he would have time off & when we could go on vacation which meant we always had time to plan ahead.
Now that we are through the pain of school we have a lot more flexibility, especially as he only works 4 days a week.
So when we decided to go to Florida last minute a few weeks ago, I knew we were bound for fun, but I was a little anxious as we had always planned well in advance for our Disney trips.
Luckily, we’ve been enough that we knew the ins & outs to help us create a memorable Disney vacation without waiting in long lines for the best rides.
And since I want to be a good friend I decided to share our favorite tips with you!
So here are 10 Disney hacks we used throughout our last Disney World vacation.
1. Choose the Park(s)
Whether you are staying at a Disney resort, or not, it’s important to look at the day(s) you are going, & which days have magic hours, to base all of your future decisions.
If you aren’t staying at a Disney resort be sure to avoid going to a park with early magic hours first thing in the morning as the park will already be packed by the time normal park hours begin.
We decided to choose park hopper tickets & go to 3 of the 4 parks in one day, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, & Animal Kingdom.
Since we chose not to stay at a Disney resort this time it was important that we avoided choosing the park with early morning magic hours as our first park of the day.
For this trip, Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00 am to the general public, but it opened at 7:00 am for those with magic hours. If we had shown up at 8:00 am the lines would have already been crazy long, which is why we opted for Epcot which opened at 9:00 am.
ps. These times vary by day, week, month, & season! The times mentioned above were specifically for our Disney trip.
2. Set up FastPass+ & Restaurant Reservations
If you are only going to one park than I recommend that you choose FastPass+ that normally have a longer wait time.
If you are choosing to park hop I recommend saving your three FastPass+ for your second park.
Plan to arrive early to the first park so you can enjoy all the best rides before the park fills up. Then go to the second park & use your prescheduled FastPass+. Then you can set up new ones after you have finished the first three while in the second park or for your third or fourth park.
It’s important to note that you can’t split your three FastPass+ between different parks, you have to schedule them all for one park. But once you use them up you can sign up for new ones, one at a time, for whichever park you are in or are going to.
We received our tickets 2-3 weeks before our trip & our trip was planned for right in the middle of spring break time.
So as you can imagine options weren’t as abundant as they were if we had received them & set everything up 60 days in advance when FastPass+ first opens. Especially since you can start making your Disney restaurant reservations 180 days in advance.
Once we knew what parks we were going to we made our FastPass+ reservations for the second park, Magic Kingdom.
3. Arrive Early
It’s always a good idea to arrive at the park at least 30 minutes before the park opens as you will need to find a place to park, walk or take a ferry/monorail to the park, have your bags checked, & then stand in line again to use your ticket or MagicBand to get in to the park.
So if you are coming with your family or a large crowd you may want to plan for even more time.
But as it’s just Roger & I we can easily walk fast & bypass strollers & those taking a slower scenic pace.
Also, look how many people there are already at Epcot before the park even opens!
Luckily, because it’s just the two of us, we can easily fast walk past the majority of these people to the lines that fill up quickly, we chose Sourin’ first.
4. Park Hopper FastPass+ Tip
For any last minute Disney vacation, it will be hard to impossible to get all of your FastPass+ for before noon at your first park.
This is why I recommend that you schedule your FastPass+ for your second park & use tip #3 to ensure that you still get to go on all of your favorite rides in your first park.
After you use your FastPass+ up in the second park you can start signing up for more one at a time at that park of your choice.
We arrived early enough at Epcot that we didn’t need FastPass+ for that park.
We went on 5 rides (In order: Sourin’, Spaceship Earth, Nemo, Living with the Land, & Test Track. Plus we took some extra time to test the Coke products, which we had never done, before heading to World Showcase) in 2 & 1/2 hours during spring break with no FastPass+ & all waits were under 25 minutes.
Oh, & we walked right onto Sourin’ (we were on the first ride of the day) & Spaceship Earth. Living with the Land said it was a 50-minute wait, but it ended up being less than 25.
5. Keep Hitting Refresh
Once you have used up your 3 FastPass+ you will be able to sign up for more one at a time.
Pro tip: you don’t have to wait until you finish the ride before you sign up for your next FastPass+. You can choose your next one while walking in line to ride the ride of your last used FastPass+.
We always do this & have literally gone from one ride to the next never having to wait in lines.
Don’t see any of your favorite rides at a good time? Keep refreshing the page, it’s constantly changing!
Believe it or not, we even saw Avatar Flight of Passage appear as one of the options late in the day. It was gone in seconds!
6. Go Shopping
I have a whole blog post dedicated to everything you need for your Disney vacation.
Make sure you have everything you need for a day of walking/standing, potential mid-day rainstorms, a drained phone battery, & more in my post about 20 Things to Buy Before Your Disney Vacation.
I even have a brand new printable Disney Vacation Packing Checklist that is completely free! Click here to get it now!
7. Watch Disney Movies
This is a great way to prep yourself for fun & help you start feeling the Disney magic even before you arrive.
We usually watch most all of our favorite Disney movie classics in the weeks leading up to a Disney vacation, but as we only had a week or two to prep we each picked a movie & then agreed on the final movie.
8. Listen to Disney Music
We have a few Disney CDs, but I mainly listen to Disney music through live streaming online & on my phone.
And if you follow me on Instagram Stories, you may have noticed I was working out at the gym to Disney soundtrack music too!
I’m not even ashamed to admit I think I worked out harder when I was listening to Disney music, it gets me all pumped up!
9. Check the Weather
Florida doesn’t have drastic weather changes, but there is enough change that you will want to be aware of what the seasonal weather is like for your trip.
We’ve been in the early spring when it was cooler & I mainly wore long sleeves, we’ve also been in the summer when it was scorching hot, & you can’t forget those midday rain storms!
The post I mentioned above about shopping for Disney can really come in handy when preparing for the weather! Oh, & don’t forget about my Free Disney Packing Check List!
10. Avoid Common Disney Vacation Mistakes
I have a whole post with 15 Mistakes to Avoid During a Disney Vacation that will help you create an awesome Disney trip whether you are going in 3-6 months or 3-6 days!
These tips range from things like never paying for water, to avoiding the mass of crowds down the middle of the street, to taking pictures.
I often re-read this post myself before heading to Disney & I hope all of these tips will help you too as you plan your exciting vacation to Disney World!
What is your favorite Disney World Tip?
I’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter!
And don’t forget to check the comments for more Disney tips!
With love, Giustina
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but My words will by no means pass away.
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