The family and I spent the last week at Disney. This was our first visit to Disney in about 7 years. Disney is always in flux, so here is some of what we learned this time around:
Book at least 2 to 6 months in advance
We booked the trip about a month in advance. This is normally plenty lead time. However, if you want more FastPass+ options and good restaurant choices/times, you need to be in the system much earlier.
- FastPass+ can be booked 60 days in advance
- Restaurants can be booked 180 days in advance
The restaurants one is not nearly as much of an issue if you are staying outside the park or if your children are not very young (character/themed dining)
We made a strategic bet to skip the meal plans. We did not want to over stuff ourselves, have too much regiment, and our girls generally eat like birds. 😃. In the end, this was a very good move for us. Based on what we were quoted and what we spent, we came out pretty far ahead.
Overall, I felt like food at Disney restaurants was priced fairly. The quality is a little suspect. Drinks (even bottled water) is where Disney makes their money.
Speaking of meals...Disney has started to label some of their meals as healthy choices. I disagree with much of their labeling of health choices, but that's a different story. The #1 thing Disney could do to improve the health of their visitors is to improve the water options. For $20 you can buy a cup that you can fill for free everywhere for the week with sugar. You could also fill it with free tap water (which is probably OK, but really smelled of chlorine to me). Simply having good sugar water alternatives would make a monster difference.
Use Lyft (or Uber)
Since we waited to so long to book, there were no hotel choices in the park with monorail service. We ended up staying at Pop Century which saved quite a bit of money. Unfortunately, to get to and from the parks you have to take a bus. With a three year old, we didn't stay late which meant an easy bus ride back. However, in the morning there was always a long line for a very packed bus.
We took the bus the first morning and learned our lesson. From there on we used Lyft in the morning and quite a few other times. This might have been the smartest thing we did while we were there.
One small tip, when you Lyft to Magic Kingdom, asked to be dropped off at the Contemporary resort. Otherwise, Lyft (and any other service) will drop you off at the monorails and ferry. The Contemporary is across the street from the actual park/bus stops.
The app itself is quite handy and much better than having to call people to book restaurants, etc. However, for something that is vital to your stay and over all experience at Disney, I can not believe how poorly it works at times.
Disney as a whole is massive. But this is an app that isn't used by that many on any given day...especially in the park. I can't think of anything else that would have improved our experience more than this app being flawless at all times.
Last time I went to Disney was about 7 years ago and Disney Springs was called Downtown Disney. It has really grown up in those years. We had by far our best meal (Frontera Cocina) there. We only spent a couple of hours, but if/when we go back with older children, I expect we will be there much more often.
Toy Story Games
There are now two 'shoot-em' Toy Story games. The newer (Mania) game in Hollywood Studios is much better.