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How to Plan a More Relaxed Disney World Trip

We’ve done the whole exhausted, over planned Disney World trips, but this time, we wanted to have a more relaxed Disney World trip. We had to be intentional about this trip, plan ahead a bit, and make a conscious effort to stay relaxed. It was a success! It was one of our favorite trips to Disney and a highlight of our travels so far. Do you want to plan a more relaxed Disney World trip? You can do it too with our tips below.

Tip Number 1: RESEARCH

Don’t go in blind. Do some research ahead of time. We didn’t plan ahead for LEGOLAND, and it worked just fine. However, Disney is a whole different story.

Tip Number 2: PLAY WITH THEIR APP

Play with their app. It has a lot of “moving parts”. It’s great for checking wait times, has maps of all the parks, and you can even order food on the app! You’ll also use the app for Genie+* if you plan to purchase that. We’d recommend you watch some YouTube videos about how to use it, and we have some recommendations at the end of this post.

*NOTE: Genie+ is the system that replaced Fast Passes.

Tip Number 3: HAVE A PLAN, BUT DON’T OVERPLAN

We had a list of rides we wanted to do in each park, but didn’t plan out our day hour by hour.

Tip Number 4: RELAX!

“Mom, chill out!” We actually heard a girl saying something like this to hear mom. Relax! It really is all about your attitude. We saw people totally miserable when we were having a good time in the very same situation…i.e. standing in line in the heat for a long time.

We saw plenty of people totally freaking out when their plan didn’t seem to be going well. Rise of the Resistance was closed when we got to the line entrance (only 20 minutes after the park opened), and we witnessed people lashing out at their loved ones. That’s not magical at all!

Here’s a good quote to remember: “Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn.”

Tip Number 5: ENJOY YOUR TIME IN LINE

Waiting in line is going to happen. Turn it into an opportunity so engage with each other, check out your surroundings, people watch, socialize, or play a game .

PHOTO PASS FILTERS

We especially liked playing with the Photo Pass Lenses/Filters when we were in line for a longer period of time. I didn’t realize it at the time but some of them even have background music so you can do fun videos as well. 

Here’s some more info about Photo Pass Lenses/Filters:

  • They’re only available if you purchase Genie+
  • Some of them are location specific. For example, you can only use the ”Cook with Remy” filter at Epcot. 
  • You’ll have access to the lenses for 45 days after using your Genie+ purchase. 
DISNEY PLAY APP

The Disney Play App has a lot of fun games you can play while waiting in line at Disney World. We especially enjoyed the game that’s location specific to Space Mountain. There are codes hidden throughout the queue, so you can only play this one while in line. It made our time in line go faster, and helped create that more relaxed Disney World trip we were hoping to have. 

HOW TO RIDE THE POPULAR RIDES

Tip 6: STAY ON PROPERTY

Stay on property if you can. It’s fun, you get early park entry, and it’s just a little bit easier. Staying on property has been a dream of ours, and this was the first trip we were able to do. Fort Wilderness is a good option. If you don’t RV, look into the cabins at Fort Wilderness. They’re more reasonable than the resorts from what we’ve seen. See Tips _ through __ for Fort Wilderness tip.

Tip 7: ROPE DROP

Be there when (or before) the park opens and head straight for the ride. This is know as “rope dropping”. If you’re staying at a resort, be there for early entry.

Tip 8: WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY

We’ve heard about people getting in line for a ride 15 minutes before the park closes and walking right onto it even when the wait time says 65 minutes.

Tip 9: JUST WAIT IN LINE

Sometimes you have to just be okay with waiting a while. Look at it as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your group (see tip number 5 above)!

DOING ALL 4 PARKS IN 2 DAYS

Doing 4 parks in 2 days may seem crazy (especially when you’re going for a more relaxed Disney World trip experience), but we knew it could be done. We’ve seen people do all 4 in ONE day! Here’s how we did it and some things to remember:

Tip 10: PICK FAVORITES

Don’t try to do it all. There’s way too much to do in each park even in an entire day, so just make a shorter list of things you’d like to do. We’ve done one park a day, and tried to do everything possible, and it was exhausting! We’d do it this way again even if we spent an entire day in each park.

Tip 11: START EARLY AND STAY OUT LATE

This will give you the maximum amount of time to explore and enjoy the parks. Just remember to go with the flow. When park hopping, you can’t enter your second park until 2:00 PM, and that seemed to be about the perfect time for us to switch parks.

Tip 12: SPRING FOR GENIE+

While we wouldn’t say it’s necessary in all the parks, it made it easier for us to do some of the big rides (Smugglers Run is a good example). We found it most helpful at Hollywood Studios, and least helpful at either Epcot or Animal Kingdom. What we’ve heard and makes sense to us is that it’s most useful at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

If you decide to buy Genie+, be sure to read up on it and/or watch some videos explaining it. A Disney cast member recommended a video we have listed in our Resources section below.
Be sure you’re comfortable with Genie+ and maybe even research ways to book faster. There’s some strategy to it for sure. There’s an article in our Resources section below that’s helpful in getting set up for booking Lighting Lanes quickly. TIP: Lightning Lanes for Slinky Dog Dash go VERY fast.

Tip 13: WORK IN RESTING DAYS

We had a resting day in between park days and one after the second park day. That made a huge difference! I truly think those resting days were a huge factor in making it a relaxed Disney World trip this time around.

Tip 14: ORDER FOOD ON THE APP

You can use the Disney My Experience App to order food, and it’s such a time saver! You won’t have to wait nearly as long in line to order and then wait for your food. We mostly chose our restaurants based on whether or not they had this option. It was so handy.

THEME PARK TIPS AND INFORMATION

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Hollywood Studios is the place to go for some of the most fun rides at Disney. Jeremy’s favorite ride at Disney is at Hollywood Studios: Rockin’ Roller Coaster. It’s a classic! Hollywood Studios is also home to the popular Rise of the Resistance and Slinky Dog Dash. 

Tip 15: HOW TO RIDE RISE OF THE RESISTANCE

Rise of the Resistance is one of the best rides at Disney in our opinion! We were lucky enough to wait less than an hour. If you know much about this ride, then you know that’s pretty good!

Here are some tips and things to remember:

  • This ride only has a Lightning Lane available for an extra cost person. 🤑
  • If you don’t want to pay extra, you may want to ”rope drop” (see Tip 7) or ride it at the end of the day (see Tip 8).
  • This ride breaks down A LOT. Don’t be surprised if that happens.

EPCOT

There’s something fascinating about the “Epcot ball”. Reed couldn’t wait to get inside it. It’s not the most exciting ride, but it’s cool to say you’ve been on it.

Using Tip 8 we were lucky enough to ride the new Ratatouille ride without waiting too long. We had planned to watch fireworks, but at the last minute chose to do this ride instead. We finished the ride AND caught the last 5-10 minutes of the fireworks show. It was a win, win in our book. 

Tip 16: EAT AT WORLD SHOWCASE

If you’re at Epcot for meals, be sure to go around World Showcase to eat. The food is so good! We think it’d be fun to go to Epcot for several days and just eat. Seriously!

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Animal Kingdom is home to one of the most popular Disney World rides, so we started day two of our parks days there (see Tip 7). 

Tip 17: CHECK PARK HOURS

Pay attention to Animal Kingdom’s opening and closing time. It’s often very different from the other parks. They opened at 7:30 in the morning when we went, so early entry was at 7:00.

Tip 18: DO KILIMANJARO SAFARI EARLY

Do Kilimanjaro Safari as early in the morning as you can. We’ve heard the animals are more active before it gets too hot. Makes sense.

One thing to note here. Though the park opened at 7:30 AM, Kilimanjaro Safari didn’t actually open until 8:00 AM. We were easily able to do Flight of Passage, eat some breakfast, and then head to Kilimanjaro Safari for our Lightning Lane time.

Tip 19: ENJOY THE ANIMALS!

There are trails to explore and some neat shows. It’s not all about the rides here.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Tip 20: STOP AND ENJOY THE MAGIC

This park has a lot happening! It’s easy to get caught up in trying to do it all. When we went to Magic Kingdom in 2018, we didn’t even walk through the castle! Be sure to stop and enjoy the magic. It’ll make it a much more relaxed Disney World trip.

TIPS FOR STAYING AT FORT WILDERNESS

The parks are great, but a big reason why this was a more relaxing Disney World trip was that we stayed at Fort Wilderness. We loved it there and can’t wait to go back. Just the campground itself is nice, but here are some really cool perks about it too:

  • Free parking at the parks
  • Early entry to the parks
  • More reasonable than other resorts
  • Vouchers for free Disney mini golf
  • Lots of activities at the campground (included and for extra $).

Here are some tips specific to Fort Wilderness:

Tip 21: BRING YOUR BIKES

If you can bring your bikes, use those to get around Fort Wilderness. You won’t be able to drive your vehicle around, and it’s BIG!

If you can’t bring bikes, there are buses within the campground, but we found we were too impatient to wait for them. You can also rent golf carts and bikes. There are plenty of pathways for bikes and walking. If you’re going to use the buses within Fort Wilderness, see if you can request a spot near a bus stop. We had one right outside our loop, but some spots are pretty far away from the bus stops.

Tip 22: P & J’s SOUTHERN TAKEOUT

Worrying about the cost of vacation can really make it hard to have a more relaxed Disney World trip. Places like P & J’s Southern Takeout are helpful! We were able to feed our family of 4 dinner for under $40.

Tip 23: YOU CAN CHECK IN EARLY

Check in time wasn’t until 3:00 PM, but you can go early! We let them know we’d be arriving at 12:00 PM, and our spot was actually already ready for us. If they’re not ready for you, there’s a parking lot for your rig to wait until it’s ready. We’ve heard people will park in the lot and head to one of the parks while they wait for their spot or cabin to be ready.

Tip 24: WATCH FIREWORKS ON THE BEACH

You can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks really well from the beach area at Fort Wilderness and they even play the music from the show. This was a really fun experience. If you’re up for staying up a little later, they also have the Electrical Water Pageant go by after the fireworks. Check with the front desk at Fort Wilderness for the time.

Tip 25: THE MEADOW SWIMMIN’ POOL IS GREAT FOR FAMILIES

We enjoyed the Meadow pool. There was a water slide, organized games, and a splash pad for little ones. You can also find a snack bar, pool table, and ping pong.

If you’d like something a little quieter, though, the Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool might be worth checking out. We heard it was less crowded (though the Meadow pool didn’t feel crowded in our opinion).

Things to know about the Meadow pool:

  • Shade is somewhat limited. There are umbrellas scattered throughout the many chairs.
  • The water is not deep in any part of the pool. The deepest area was 3 feet 9 inches.
  • The temperature was quite pleasant when the weather was in the 90’s.
  • Towels are not available at the pool.
  • Complimentary life vests for kids are available.

We certainly aren’t experts, but hopefully these tips are helpful when you’re planning your trip. You can make it a more relaxed Disney World trip too! If you have questions, feel free to reach out. Instagram is where you’ll find us most often.


MORE RESOURCES

There is so much information to help plan a Disney World vacation, and we’d like to share some of our favorite resources.

Apps:

My Disney Experience App
Disney Play App

Genie+ Helps:
Favorite Video

When I called Disney abut our upcoming trip the Cast Member recommended this video when he saw we had purchased Genie+. It’s quite helpful in getting a feel for how the Lightning Lane selection process works. Keep in mind that Genie+ is always changing. I would look for the most current video from this channel and watch it too.

Speed Strategy:

Milliseconds matter when you’re booking your first Lightning Lane. This speed strategy was very helpful. HINT: Slinky Dog Dash goes VERY quickly, so if you’re hoping to book a Lightning Lane for it, this could help.

Websites

The video above is from All Ears. They have A LOT of helpful and fun videos, but their website is also a good resource. Another website is Undercover Tourist. We’ve even purchased Disney tickets from them in the past. Their posts are always helpful.

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