The Disney low-down

Are you thinking about booking your family’s maiden voyage to Disney World? Whether you are dying with excitement or dreading the crowds, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip for your kids that they will never forget. But it requires some definite planning.

Here are some pro tips from local moms.

Book it!

Disney World is made up of four parks, two water parks and the Disney Springs shopping area. A definite must-do is Magic Kingdom. It is the classic Disney park with Cinderella’s Castle, fireworks and all of the classic attractions you’ll remember from your childhood. When planning, don’t count out the Certified Disney Travel Agent who can help plan an epic vacation. Sonya Andonov has tons of information. For example, we learned that renting a stroller from a company that delivers and picks up directly at your hotel is much cheaper and more convenient than renting one in the park. Valerie Gager 

Check the crowd calendar. If you can, look for weeks in the year when the crowds are lightest and that typically means less expensive, too. Bekah Kalita

Book meals in advance! Character buffets fill up quickly and need to be booked 180 days before your trip. Tina Harle

Don’t underestimate how much fun you can have at your hotel. If you are going to stay at a Disney hotel, take advantage of what the hotel has to offer and build in a day to enjoy the pool and skip the parks. Shayna Williams

Try a reseller ( to buy points to stay at one of the timeshare Disney properties. Staying in a one-bedroom condo was cheaper than a hotel room. Plus we had a washer, dryer and kitchen and pre-ordered groceries from Garden Grocers, which were delivered. Meghan Hubbard Burkhart 

Feed them!

Pack a collapsible cooler and rent a locker for it until lunch. Instead of ice packs, use frozen water bottles. You’ll be able to drink them instead of buying water. Erica Alhorn 

The character lunches are worth every penny. Instead of standing for 45-60 minutes to see one character, you are relaxed in a sit-down restaurant that has air conditioning, and five to seven characters will come visit. Emily Tower 

You need to make reservations 120 days out for most restaurants. If you want something like Cinderella’s Castle (which you do, you really do!), you need to reserve at 11 p.m. 180 days out. Heather Cohen 

Have a late afternoon treat to hold you over. While most people are eating at 6-7 p.m., you can get in more rides, then do dinner at 8:30 p.m., and go until the kids pass out or park closes, whichever comes first. Lisa Mitchell 

Ride it!

FastPasses are key to an enjoyable trip. Once you use your three reserved, you can add more (one at a time) using the app or at an in-park kiosk. Gerrianne Hartman 

Download the Disney app a week beforehand and check wait times for all the rides throughout the day. Plan out which ones to use your FastPass on based on wait times, so you don’t waste your passes on rides that aren’t as long. Erica Alhorn

If it’s your first visit, be sure to get your “first Disney trip” pin. You will be treated special all day. Tina Harle app is a must-have if you want to avoid lines. Elyse Cutler 

Arrive 30 minutes before the park opens to put on sunscreen. Go back to your Disney hotel for lunch and a swim. You will miss the crush of the heat and afternoon crowd. Head back to the park at 5 p.m. and enjoy shorter lines and cooler weather. Meg Sweeney Nelligan

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