Sun behind the main lobby sign at Disney's Art Of Animation Resort

Disney World professionals, whether Cast Members who work at Disney World or frequent vacations who just love it so much, know that there are some “must do” items when it comes to Disney vacations.

Some are pretty basic, while some are less well known. Regardless, they’re all important. Let’s take a look at the top ten tips to do Disney like a pro.

1. Stay at a Resort

While you will most definitely find less expensive hotels off property, the Disney resort hotels offer unmatched amenities for resort guests only starting before you even get on property with Disney’s Magical Express, the Disney only transportation from the Orlando International Airport. Resort guests also get exclusive access to the parks in Extra Magic Hours, free transportation to anywhere on Disney property, and early access to Advanced Dining Reservations and FastPass+. These perks alone will make up for the cost difference of staying off property.

You don't have to spend a fortune to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel. Choose a Value Resort and save!
You don’t have to spend a fortune to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel. Choose a Value Resort and save!

2. Don’t Rent a Car

Speaking of free transportation, you do not need to rent a car if you stay at a Disney Resort hotel.  Just take Disney’s Magical Express from the airport to your resort.

If you’re thinking of staying off property, factor in the cost of having to rent a car of paying separately for transportation, which you would need to do.  You’ll often find that this will close the cost differential of staying on Disney property instead.

3. Visit in the off-season

Disney has worked really hard to offer special events to fill their resort – especially during traditional off-seasons. Therefore, you will hardly ever find a time that isn’t busy in Disney World. However, there are busier times than others. Avoid times that kids are out of school if possible. Instead, visit when kids are, traditionally, in school and especially those times when they’ve just returned from a break like September and October and January and February. You’ll experience lighter crowds and save money during these times.

4. Book FastPass+ In Advance

One of the worst rookie mistakes is not booking FastPass+ in advance. The FastPass+ system is a virtual queuing option that Disney offers for free to any ticket holder. FP+ reduces the amount of time you spend in standby lines by allowing you to pre-register for the most popular attractions 60 days in advance for Disney Resort guests and 30 days in advance for all other guests.

Several attractions have a FastPass+ option.
Several attractions have a FastPass+ option.

Some of the very popular attractions will sell out their FastPasses, so waiting to book them is a mistake you don’t want to make. These attractions also tend to have the longest standby lines.

5. Choose your footwear wisely

I’ve written an entire article about Choosing the Right Shoes for a Disney World Vacation. Since the average Disney guest can walk anywhere from 9-15 miles in one day, it’s important to choose shoes that are comfortable and, more importantly, broken in. Do not buy new shoes and wear them for the first time in Disney World. Instead, break them in before going on vacation.  Your feet will thank you whether you choose tennis shoes or sandals.

6. Pack a Disney Day Bag

You don’t want to bring a ton of stuff with you that you have to carry around all day, but a well-packed Disney Day bag will save you time and money. Bring, especially non-perishable snacks. Sure, you’ll want to pick up a couple Disney snacks like a Mickey Ice Cream Bar, but there’s no need to spend more money on simple snacks like fruit and chips.

7. Be Familiar with Dining Menus

Speaking of food, you should be familiar with Disney Dining menus at both quick-service and table-service restaurants. Doing some research before you arrive in the parks will save you time once you’re there. For example, if you know that you really like barbeque, Flame Tree BBQ will be on your must visit list. If you really don’t like unusual food, stay away from Akershus in Norway.

Disney has dining for every appetite and taste!
Disney has dining for every appetite and taste!

8. Skip the expensive souvenirs

Disney World has some awesome souvenirs from Mickey Ear hats to designer bags, but they’re all pretty expensive. Instead, pick up a free park button. Just head to Guest Relations at any of the theme parks or your Disney Resort Hotel and tell them what you’re celebrating. They’ll give you an appropriate button completely free!

Not only do these make great souvenirs, they also make great memories since Cast Members and even other guests will congratulate you for whatever you’re celebrating throughout your vacation when they see your button!

9. Talk to Cast Members

The Cast Members at Disney World are full of information. Whether you need help or you just want to get some cool information, they’re an excellent source.

This is particularly important in World Showcase since the Cast Members that staff the country pavilions are from the representative country. Ask them about their home, their town, their food, and their family. Most of them will gladly share information about their culture!

Ride attractions during parades and fireworks to bypass the long lines.
Ride attractions during parades and fireworks to bypass the long lines.

10. Skip the Parades and Fireworks

Listen up on this one. The parades and fireworks are amazing shows that you really should see at least once. However, if you spend two days in, say, Magic Kingdom, you don’t need to see them twice, back-to-back. Instead, take advantage of the fact that everyone else is watching the parades and fireworks and walk on to even the busiest rides! This works especially when on attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland and Soarin‘ and Test Track in Epcot. Attractions that have outdoor sections or are completely outdoors provide some amazing views of the fireworks if you ride during the show.

What’s your best Disney World pro tip?