Posted: Apr 10, 2014 7:00 AM
Make your Disney vacation magical with ease! Our best Disney tips and tricks are Disney expert approved! From planning to packing to staying to riding, we’ve got your trip — magically! — covered! Ready to plan your Disney trip? You will be as soon as you click through to our Disney tips!

Magic of Mickey Travel is a free site dedicated to turning magic into memories by helping you plan the perfect Disney vacation. Its founder Monday Cleghorn says, "We understand and appreciate the difference between a good vacation and an exceptional experience. That's why we take the stress out of vacation planning for you. We never charge our clients any fees for the work we do." That's how much her employees believe in the magic of Disney.

Stephanie Platko is a Travel Agent and Dream Maker with Magic Of Mickey Travel. She shares her top 10 Disney trip planning tips.

Disney vacation

Timing is everything

Stephanie suggests considering planning your trip during off-peak times of the year. She says, "Avoiding holidays and common vacation months will assure lower crowds and lower prices. September, October and November (before Thanksgiving) as well as parts of January, February and the summer months are the best times to go."

Location, location, location

Staying on property has numerous benefits and are well worth the price point. Stephanie says, "The perks of staying on property include complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, complimentary transportation within all of Walt Disney World Resort property and complimentary parking. Centrally located within the World, all Disney resorts have impeccable theming surrounding you in the Disney atmosphere from the moment you drive on property. The quality of the Disney resorts as well as Disney's world famous hospitality will ensure you have a memorable vacation from start to finish. As a guest at any Disney resort, you will also have access to Disney's Dining Plans as well as Extended Theme Park Hours."

Disney vacation

Disney does dining right

Stephanie suggests investing in a Disney Dining Plan whether you plan on eating on the go or sitting down to a nice meal once a day. Stephanie shares Disney's dining plans: 

  • The Quick Service Dining Plan includes two Quick Service Meals (think, fast food), and one snack per person per night of stay
  • The Plus Dining Plan includes one Table Service Meal (think, sit down restaurant), one Quick Service Meal and one snack per person per night of stay
  • The Deluxe Dining Plan includes three meals (these can be used as either Table Service or Quick Service for ultimate flexibility) and two snacks per person per night of stay

Stephanie adds, "All of the Dining Plans include a refillable mug to be used at your resort only for fountain drinks. If you're hoping to partake in one of Disney's many character dining experiences or to dine at any other dining locations throughout all four parks, Downtown Disney or the multitudes of Disney Resort Restaurants, the dining plans will not only save you money, but will provide the ultimate convenience."

180 Days in advance

Yes, you read that right. Stephanie suggests reserving table service meals 180 days before travel. She says, "Staying on Disney Property allows you to reserve the meals for the entire length of your stay (provided it's 10 days or less) at your 180th day before arrival mark and many of the restaurants book up that quickly especially character meals such as Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort, Be Our Guest and Cinderella's Royal Table which are both at the Magic Kingdom."

Disney vacation


Stephanie highly recommends utilizing the Fastpass+ System via My Disney Experience. She explains, "Disney's Fastpass System has recently gone through some technological advances allowing you to reserve times at some of Disney's most popular rides. You're now able to reserve these Fastpasses starting 60 days prior to your arrival from the comfort of your home. Planning ahead allows you to arrange your ride times around your dining reservations and take the stress out of your Disney days."

There's an app for that

My Disney Experience AppOf course there is. Stephanie says that downloading the My Disney Experience App to your phone or mobile device is helpful and convenient. She explains, "Combined with Disney's free Wi-Fi in both the theme parks and resorts, the My Disney Experience App allows for changes in itinerary at the drop of a hat. You can adjust dining reservations and Fastpass+ times and choices as well as find out ride wait times and character meet and greet locations."

The magic of rest time

Disney is magical and addictive and you'll be tempted to squeeze the most out of every moment of your trip. But Stephanie recommends planning for downtime, Disney style. She says, "Traveling with young children is stressful enough. Trying to fit in every ride and every character meet and greet may seem daunting and can be tiresome for both you and your children. Non-park days spent swimming and relaxing at your Disney Resort are just the solution to this problem. Downtown Disney is also a great place to visit for dinner, entertainment and shopping on these 'off' days."

Disney vacation

Hello, do you deliver?

Packing for Disney can feel daunting. Stephanie suggests cutting yourself some traveling slack by planning on having some of your essentials delivered to you. She says, "Take advantage of delivery services. Shipping items or utilizing a grocery delivery service can definitely cut costs and add convenience to any Disney vacation. This is especially useful for families with young children who require diapers, formula and so on. Strollers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters are also available for rent during your time in Walt Disney World."

Ask questions, and make the trip your own

Some families worry that their needs can't be met on a Disney vacation, but Disney is incredibly dedicated to accessibility. Stephanie says, "Disney has received numerous awards for their accessibility. Some examples of this include accommodations for service animals, assistive listening systems, sign language interpretation, Braille guidebooks, digital audio tours, disability access service for guests with cognitive disabilities, accessible hotel rooms, zero entry pools and bus transportation outfitted with wheelchair ramps and seating just to name a few. In addition, Disney's commitment to food allergy safety is unmatched worldwide. Disney restaurants can accommodate guests with common food allergies such as gluten or wheat, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs and corn as well as other metabolic disorders and multiple allergies not listed above."

Meet your new BFF

Disney vacationStephanie's last — and probably most important — tip is to contact an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. She says, "With so much to see and do at Walt Disney World, you'll want to be sure to plan in advance to maximize your time and money. This is where an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is your best friend. They get to know your family and are able to make recommendations based on your specifications. The goal of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is to take the stress out of planning a Disney vacation and they will work with you to plan a trip that meets your needs. Additionally, not only do they stay in the know of the newest shows, rides and additions to the Disney experience, they have access to all the latest deals at Disney and are able to apply them to your booking. An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner will provide personalized concierge service which can include booking dining reservations, reserving seasonal event tickets, arranging for Disney tours, planning Fastpass+ reservations and providing customized itineraries. The best part about all of this is that using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is of absolutely no cost to you. That's right, it's free!"

Learn more about Magic of Disney Travel on their website and follow Stephanie on Facebook.

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Photo credit: Jason Platko