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How To Save Time And Money At Disney Theme Parks

Updated on October 28, 2015

A Day At Disney

Welcome To The Magic Kingdom At Disney!

Our Trip To The Magic Kingdom!
Our Trip To The Magic Kingdom! | Source

It's A Mad House! You Need A Plan While You Are At Disney If You Want To Save Time And Money (And Your Sanity)!

A few weeks ago, we took our kids to Disney World for Spring Break. The first day, we walked around in a daze, jet-lagged and confused, only able to ride 3 rides because the lines were so long.

It was so crowded that we could barely move. The second day, we had it figured out and rode tons of rides!

You definitely need a plan to save you and your families time, money and sanity. We found this out the first day and planned better for the next day. We took the Disney Theme Park Map back to the hotel with us and mapped out a course of action.

Find out what your family really wants to see or ride while they are at Disney and make a point to visit those rides and attractions early in the day.

How to Use Disney's Fastpass System

Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World

Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World
Splash Mountain, Walt Disney World | Source

Save Time At Disney Theme Parks With The Fast Pass!

The Disney card you used to get into the Disney Theme Park can get you a fast pass! Bring it to the most popular ride that you want to ride and get a fast pass. You go up to the machine by the ride and put your Disney card into it.

The machine will spit your card back out with a receipt (the Fast Pass). The Fast Pass tells you when to come back to the ride. It was normally several hours later, but it is better than standing in line for a few hours.

The Fast Pass will give you an hour span of time to come back. For instance, it may say: come back between 5-6pm. If you return to the ride at 6:05pm, you are out of luck, so make sure you return during you time.

While you are waiting to use your Fast Pass ticket, you can peruse the other rides that have shorter lines, see a show or watch a parade.

Word of warning: you can only have one Fast Pass from your card at a time. If you received a Fast Pass for 5pm, you will not be able to get another Fast Pass until after you have used your first Fast Pass at 5pm.

While you are waiting to use your Fast Pass, map out your next ride that you will want to get a Fast Pass for. After you use your first Fast Pass, go directly to the next ride you want to get a Fast Pass for and get your next Fast Pass.

The Fast Pass works at all Disney theme parks. We tried it out at The Magic Kingdom and The Animal Kingdom.

Since my daughter was too small to get on most of the rides, my son and husband used my daughter's and my Disney card to get a second set of Fast Passes for themselves. They were able to get on tons of rides!

Arrive As Early As Possible To Get On The Most Rides

We were never able to make it to any Disney Theme Park before 10:30am. We would wake up around 8am, get dressed, get something to eat at the hotel cafe and wait for the bus to bring us to Disney.

Once we reached Disney, we had to board either a Ferry or a Monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom. The lines were long to get on both, but we were usually able to get on the Ferry much more quickly than the monorail.

By the time we arrived to the Disney Theme Park for the day, it was already crowded, but the lines for the lines were still only around 30 minutes long. After lunch, we started to see the lines get longer. After lunch, they were normally around 2 - 2 1/2 hours long! Luckily, we had already gotten a Fast Pass for one of the more popular rides!

Disney Transport Bus

The Bus To Disney
The Bus To Disney | Source

To Drive To Disney Or Take The Bus?

We mostly took the bus from our hotel to get to Disney. It took a while, but it was free. The bus would come to the hotel every 30 minutes, so sometimes we had to wait up to a half an hour.

Once we got on the bus, we rode it to the Disney Parking lot by The Magic Kingdom. That usually took about 15-20 minutes.

We did drive one time. We hopped in the car and drove to the Animal Kingdom parking lot. We stopped along the way at McDonald's (which was much cheaper than the food at the hotel) and had a nice breakfast.

We then parked our car in the Animal Kingdom Parking lot and walked right into The Animal Kingdom. The parking cost $15, but it was much quicker and we were able to eat a bigger breakfast for cheaper by driving to Disney.

In the end, I think driving would have been the way to go each day because we saved time and even though we paid for parking, our breakfast was much cheaper, so the money part balanced out.

You Need A Plan When You Go To Disney

Should You Get The Disney Park Hopper Pass?

My children are 3 and 5 years old. They could only handle one park a day. My husband and I could only handle one Disney Theme Park a day.

There is so much to see and do at each Disney Park, that you could spend a couple days at each one.

I would not recommend getting the Disney Park Hopper Pass. They cost extra money and there is a slim chance you will be going to two Disney Theme Parks in one day.

Plus, you will have to wait in line to get on the mono-rail to bring you to the next Disney Theme Park. That will take a chunk of time out of your day.

Remember, there are long lines EVERYWHERE at Disney! That includes transportation to and from Disney.

Disney Poll

Do You Bring Your Own Food To Disney?

See results

Bring Snacks, Food And Drinks To Disney To Save Time And Money

Did you know you can bring food and drinks into Disney. A few people brought rolling coolers into the park. i would not recommend a cooler just because it is so crowded that you could barely walk without getting stepped on. The cooler would just be one more hassle.

Take a book bag or purse instead. They don't get in the way as much. Fill your book bag or purse with snacks and drinks that don't have to be refrigerated. The food and drinks are very expensive and they have you trapped in there with tons of other people who are also looking for food and drinks.

Most food lines at Disney were 45 minutes to 2 hours long! When you are hungry, the last thing you want to hear is that you have to wait 2 hours for food! Bring some healthy snacks and drinks with you.

Either my husband or I would stand in line and wait for the food while the other took the kids around Disney to see the sights and maybe ride a ride. This way, the kids didn't have to stand in line that long and they still got to see Disney. Only one person had to suffer through the long food line. Once we got the food, we would call or text the other one so we could all get back together and eat.

Keep Your Children Safe At Disney

Have A Plan If Someone Gets Lost At Disney

One thing I want to mention is that my husband and my phone barely had reception in the park. We were not able to get ahold of each other a few times. We were able to text though, so if you don't have phone reception, try texting.

I took a picture of each of my kids in the morning each day before we left for Disney. By doing this, I had a picture of them with the clothes they were wearing that day. If they were to get lost, I would be able to show Disney employees the picture and have an accurate description of him and his clothing.

I thought about writing my phone number in ink on their arms in case they got lost, so someone could call me if they found them, but I never had a marker on me. Luckily, they didn't get lost.


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    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks WiccanSage! I agree with you. We ate breakfast before and dinner after the park. Water fountains are all over the park and their free!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Great tips-- I try to avoid eating a lot in the park. The 'cheap' food isn't cheap, but it's poor quality. The good food is really expensive. And the service takes too long-- I'd rather be having fun! I pack snacks and eat before & after the park. Saves us a lot of money. Drinking water instead of soft drinks is better too. Better for hydration, and those soft drinks can really add up in the day for a family.

      Great job.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      Hi LCDWriter! Yes, Disney was a madhouse during spring break. Once we figured out how to use the Fast Passes, we had a lot more fun!

    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 4 years ago from Florida

      Oh man, Spring Break is a madhouse at Disney. You have some solid advice here including driving to the parks and the fast passes. We do both of these when the parks are more crowded.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks Mepperly! We had tons of fun while we were at Disney, especially after we did the planning.

    • mepperly profile image

      Shelly Epperly 4 years ago from Vancouver,WA

      My Family lives for the next Disney trip and we are avid planners when we are there. I do all the meal planning, in the room, at the park and eating out while my Husband is in charge of the Attractions and what park to go to first and last for early openings and late closings. I love your hub!!! Great job.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      This was a fantastic and informative hub. I took my children to Disney for the first time this February and had a different experience in terms of the lines, but I'm chalking that up to time of year. I loved your idea of taking your children's pictures everyday and writing your phone number on their arm, very smart.