Cheri Peoples

How To Do Disney World — Tips To Save You Time And Money

by CHERI on May 28, 2012

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Residents Inn Orlando

We are a family of six so we need more than one hotel room or a place large enough to sleep all of us. There are a few options here.

  • We could get a couple of rooms at one of the Disney Value Resorts.  These rooms are basic (we have stayed in Pop Century) and we are OK with that because we are not in the room much.  There is not a kitchen in these basic rooms.  You can request a refrigerator for an upcharge. It is nice to have cold bottled water when you get back to your room.  It is also nice to be able to pack snacks for the park.
  • We could do one of the more expensive rooms for a few more luxuries ( We have stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge). (There is still no kitchen in this option.)
  • We could stay in one of their cabins.  This option has one bedroom with 2 queen beds but the living room has a murphy bed.  The murphy bed has a real mattress. You only have one bathroom (for six people) but you have a kitchen.
  • We could stay in a villa.
  • We could stay off site. You don’t have access to the free bus system to the Disney parks and you have to pay for parking.

This time we decided to stay at a Residents Inn that is only 10 minutes from Disney World.  It is located across the street from Sea World.  We have 2 bedrooms.  One room has 2 queens and the second room has another queen.  It also has a hide-a-bed.  We have 2 bathrooms.  We get free breakfast.  We have a kitchen in our room.  This option–even though we are paying for parking will save us several hundred dollars in hotel fees plus we can save money on our meals–FREE BREAKFAST.  Because we have a kitchen we can prepare snacks for the park.  Yes, you can take a lunch into the park (no straws are allowed, no coolers on wheels are allowed).  We will take an insulated lunch sack with us full of apples, grapes, cheese sticks, wheat thins, peanut butter. This can also save you money because you can fix dinner in the room.  There is a Wal-Mart close by to do your meal shopping.  I would recommend taking time to go shopping on your first day, and pre-cook chicken, ground beef etc so you can throw something together quickly when you get back to the room, other wise you will be so tired and hungry that you will end up eating out–and that is ok too–if that is part of your plan.

One advantage to staying on sight is use of the package delivery service.  If you make purchases you can have the packages delivered to your room so you do not have to carry them around all day.

Another advantage of staying on sight: Extended Theme Park hours, known as Extra Magic Hours, offer guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels the opportunity to enjoy extra time (usually 1-3 hours) in the theme parks-above and beyond the standard hours – at no extra charge.  Sometimes it is an extra hour before normal opening hours and sometimes it is after the park has closed.  It gives you extra time to get on your favorite rides without as many people in the park.

Helpful Info


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Refillable Disney Cups

You can purchase the refillable cups.  The water here in Florida is not appealing at all so I recommend buying drinks or freezing water bottles so you can take them along–the only problem-carrying water gets heavy but it is hot here and the water won’t last long.  I freeze 6 bottles and then pack 4 in the lunch cooler with some snacks.  We carry two into the park and share so we can keep the others cold longer.  You will drink a lot from the heat and all the walking.

**Refillable Disney hotel cups do not work in the Disney parks.  I heard that Disney is also trying a new cup system where your cup will not work after your stay, so if you return to Disney World, your cup will only fill with water.  If  you are a Florida resident and return to the park regularly-you might want to see if they will set your cup for the entire time of your passes.  We drank bottled water the entire time and didn’t purchase any cups.

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Disney Strollers

If you need a stroller be sure to pay for the multi-day discount–it will save you money.

The Disney double stroller is smaller than the doubles at Sea World and Busch Gardens.  The second day we got 2 singles instead of the double.  The kids were more comfortable (as an added bonus it was a little cheaper to get two singles.)  I recommend the strollers to save on blisters for the kids feet.

You can bring your own but if you don’t want to travel with a stroller this is a great option.


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Fan Spray Bottle

I highly recommend having a fan spray bottle or two (or four if you belong to our family).  I chilled the water the night before.  It will save you money if you purchase these at a discount location before arriving at the park.  There are places throughout the park where you can refill with ice water.

On hot days, lots of water and misting yourself will cool you down considerably.

Be prepared because it is hot.

I recommend getting a rain poncho–it will keep you dry when you get on the wet rides.  ALSO–6 months out of the year,it rains every day for a few hours .

It poured one day while we were there and they had all, of the rides that we were near us, still running, in the pouring rain.

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tennis shoes

Wear comfortable shoes–you will walk a lot.

Carry some band-aids in case of blisters.


Follow Me on Pinterest Toy Story Mania

One of the great things about Disney–they mix rides.  There are “big kid rides” and “little kiddos rides” in the same area.  One parent doesn’t have to go sit by themselves in the kids area while the other is off on rides.

Follow Me on Pinterest Make your own signature books

Follow Me on Pinterest Make your own signature books

I would recommend taking a signature book.  You can purchase these at the park but taking one with you will save you money.

I think the books were about $9 each ($9 x 4 kids + tax=@$38)

We just went to Disney again this past week.  I made the books above

They cost me @$4 (total)-that’s a huge savings.

I purchased the books at the Dollar Tree.  I had the black paper, the polka dot paper and the decoupage on hand.

You can see the decoupage wasn’t dry yet when I took the pictures.

I would recommend taking a ziploc bag for those times when the rain showers decide to show up, to protect your books.

Follow Me on Pinterest Epcot Passports

Epcot Passports are a fun thing for the kids to do while you go from place to place in Epcot.  They get a “stamp” in their passport for each location.

They can also get a DUFFY bear, at the stations and get the stamps, for each country if you don’t want to spend money on the passports.

Duffy Bear is the new Epcot logo and they have stuffed bears and clothes that you can buy for each country.

Follow Me on Pinterest Stuffed Mickey

If you plan on getting gifts for your kids each day–there is Downtown Disney or you can save money and look for deals and purchase gifts that you bring with you for each day.  There will be things they find and want.  Keep this in mind as part of your budget.  The Downtown Disney store is huge and pretty amazing.

Upon entering the park check to see what rides are closed for the day.  You would hate to walk all the way to a ride and have the kids all excited and then have it closed for the day.  If you are staying on site, they have a channel telling you about the rides and which are closed.

Check the times that each park opens and closes each day so you can get the most for your time.  Show up 30 minutes before the parks open so you can get in before all the crowds show up after their late breakfast. (Note Animal Kingdom closes earlier than any of the other parks).  For the most part, we recommend staying at one park for the entire day–it just takes too much time out of your day to leave a park, ride/drive to the next theme park, and get in to start doing things.  Hit your MUST DO rides first before the crowds get there.

If you are going for a week or two you can take the parks a little slower, take a day to relax by the pool and let your feet have a break.

There is an app called Undercover Tourist that will show you which days have a GREEN LIGHT or RED LIGHT (or yellow). It tells you the best day to go to certain parks, predicting when there will be less people attending that park so you have less wait time.  It also gives you info on wait times for rides.

Follow Me on Pinterest Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Check out the calendar for times and locations of the parades, fireworks … Be sure to get to the fireworks area way before hand so you get a good spot to be able to see the show.


It is natural for people to head to the right so REMEMBER to look left and head to the lanes on the left–it will usually help you get on the rides quicker.  (obviously if those around you know this trick then head to the shortest line.)



Follow Me on Pinterest Splash Mountain

Follow Me on Pinterest Rock n Roller Coaster

Follow Me on Pinterest Tower of Terror

Follow Me on Pinterest Buzz Lightyear Space Spin

Rides info:

Use the  FASTPASS.  It’s free and saves you time from standing in long lines. When you get to a ride you can see how long the wait time is.  The most popular rides do have longer wait times.  It is better to grab a Fastpass and then go to another ride.  Upon return to the ride you can enter the Fastpass lane. You can only get a FAST PASS every 2 hours so be sure to grab them on your favorite rides.  Don’t waste it on a ride that has a 20 minute wait time when others have a 75 minute wait time.


If you have some children that are too small to ride certain attractions: Use the “rider swap”. How it works:  EVERYONE get in line.   Parent #1 gets to go on the ride with children that can ride.  The other parent stays with the kids that can’t ride but once the ride is over the parents can switch places rather than having to start in the line all over again.

It’s ALL about MICKEY

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Mickey Ears

There are things you won’t be able to resist or that you can’t replicate for the trip-like the Mickey ears.  You can get them personalized there at the park which I recommend so each child knows which ears are theirs.

Follow Me on Pinterest Mickey Rice Crispie Treats

They sell all kinds of things like rice crispie treats in the shape of mickey…We find that eating a big breakfast and taking along our lunch snacks and lots of drinks we are not very hungry for a big lunch.  Splurging on a ice cream to cool every down as a late afternoon snack will get you through the dinner time hungers so we can eat in the hotel room or at a restaurant.

Follow Me on Pinterest Mickey Apples

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 Mickey Ice Cream

Character Meals are fun and the kids can get lots of character signatures while eating their breakfast.  You do need to schedule these in advance-they book up quickly.  The parks have characters but you have to be there at the right time or the line will be closed.  Wait times for the characters can be 30-40 minutes.

  Follow Me on Pinterest Character Meals

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 Disney Breakfast Bar

Helpful Tips

We take a pool bag so we can store things like band aids, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, a few pain reliever pills, camera, signature books and pens for the signatures.

I coat everyone with sunscreen before we leave then re-apply with a sunscreen stick as needed.

As you get hotter and hotter throughout the day –pop into air conditioned shows to cool off and give your feet a rest.

Florida residents do get considerable discounts but don’t try to trick them by saying you’re a Florida resident just for the discount.  You do need to show a drivers license.  If you try to trick them you will have added expense to your ticket prices as well as added hotel expenses if you are staying on sight, if you can not provide a Florida drivers license.

There are additional parks to spend time at, as well.  Sea World is just a few minutes away from Disney.  Busch Gardens is about an hour and a half away.  (Those parks do require a birth certificate for kids so don’t forget those.)  There is Legoland and Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center….lot and lots to do while in the Orlando area.  Florida is not a wide state so you can get to a beach within an hour, from the center of the state.  The West coast (Gulf side) has beautiful white beaches of soft powder sand while the East coast (ocean side) has the bigger waves.

Follow Me on Pinterest Bright Shirts

It is helpful to dress everyone in bright matching shirts so it is easy to spot those in your group.  If you have several families attending (family reunion) each family could wear a different color.  Picking unique colors helps to quickly identify those in your group.

Follow Me on Pinterest Princess ears

On the note of DRESS–we see a lot of little girls in princess outfits.  Make the decision that is best for your family.  If you are going during the “cooler” Florida months (Nov, Dec, Jan) it might not be so bad but during the rest of the year those little dresses are extremely hot.  We have seen little girls get sick from the heat, early in the day, meaning the parents are most likely heading back to the hotel for the day.  Make the decision that is best for you.  A solution to dressing as a princess is wearing something cotton, pink and frilly and buying one of the Disney Princess hats.

Tomorrow I will share our family’s favorite rides at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bev May 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hope you had a great trip ~ making me miss our favorite excursion {next to the beach}!

2 Becca May 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Are you sure you put this post together to help us and not to make us jealous of your vacation!?! 😉 jk
Thanks for the tips, Cheri! Happy Memorial Day!
xo Becca
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3 Kel May 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Why would a park require a birth certificate?

4 CHERI May 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm

We have asked the same thing. We renewed our 2 year passes and didn’t take them thinking–they already know we are season ticket holders but they were stinkers about it. They did give us a pass to get it but the next time we had to take it to renew the little ones passes. (CRAZY — I know).

5 CHERI May 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Becca–I hope you get to go and have lots of fun. If you saw all the blisters that were on my feet you would have felt sorry for me.

6 Inspire Me Heather May 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

Great post! We’ve been thinking about Disneyland very much these days – we gotta go!!!
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7 Annie May 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Wow so many great tips! You are really making me want to go to the Disney World!
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8 malia May 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

great tips wish i had this article in hand last june for disneyworld! you would have saved me a ton!
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9 TJ June 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Actually not all rides Rider Switch works that way. On Soarin’ (and probably others with a height limit) one parent and the child who is too small get the Rider Switch Pass first and wait outside the line entirely.

10 CHERI June 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

Thanks. We didn’t need to use the Rider Switch as all of our kids were big enough to ride Soarin’.

11 Amy Sinclair July 26, 2012 at 3:22 am

My family were planning to have a trip to Disney land and of course, to less and save money on our vacation in order to avoid inconvenience… Thanks much for sharing this wonderful helpful tips.
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12 Renee January 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Thanks for the tips. I plan on taking my daughter to Disney World in April.

13 Melissa March 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Thank you for all this helpful information for my families 1st Disney trip in April!

14 CHERI March 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Have fun!!! It is so fun to watch your kids having such a magical time.

15 CHERI March 22, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Have fun– we enjoy it quite often since it is a few hours away/

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