Are you planning a Disney World 2022 Vacation? We recently got back from our family trip and I wanted to share some tips that will hopefully make your time at Disney extra enjoyable!
We've been to Disney World a handful of times since our kids were little but it's always been just part of a larger trip. In the past we'd do a day or two at Disney along with other Florida attractions like Legoland, SeaWorld, Gatorland, etc. In 2019 we decided we were going to "do it big" in 2020 and visit Disney for at least a week...and then Covid happened.
We ended up postponing our Disney World trip until 2022 because I wanted to have the full experience - character interactions, parades, and all the things that have been absent the past two years. We started booking in 2021 hoping that everything would be normal this year, and while it wasn't 100% the same as our previous visits, we still had an amazing time and made so many memories! Here are some tips to help your trip go smoothly and to enjoy it to the fullest.
When Buying Your Tickets, Make Your Park Reservations
If you haven't been to Disney World in the past couple years, you may be surprised to learn that they require reservations to get into the parks now in addition to purchasing your tickets. It reminds you on the website to make your reservations multiple times through the checkout process, but it seems people are still forgetting and getting turned away at the parks when they don't have a valid park reservation for the day. During the off-season they didn't always reach park capacity so if you forgot, you could make your reservations the week or even day of your visit. However, with spring break and heading into summer now, parks are reaching capacity weeks ahead of time.
I would look at the Theme Park Reservation Calendar, then purchase tickets, and immediately after make park reservations. You can change your reservations later if there are available parks, but making those reservations right away will ensure you can get in! If you purchase hopper passes you can currently hop to any other park at 2PM or later also. You'll still need to visit your reserved park first, so keep that in mind.
Price Out Multi-Day Passes + Hopper Passes
If you're the type of family that will only visit one park per day, you can save quite a bit of money on tickets by not choosing the hopper option. However, we always go with hopper tickets because we like the freedom of starting the day in one park and ending in another. When we were planning this trip we looked at multi-day hopper passes and decided to go with 10-day tickets. While that may seem like so many days and a large expense, it was only around $250 more to go from 7 to 10 day tickets (for four people). Having the hopper passes was a great benefit to us because we could head to another park if it was super busy or after going to our resort for a mid-day swim.
Consider Staying at a Disney Resort
We've stayed both off-site and on-site for trips to Disney World, and we've decided that we'll never stay off-site again! Some people are happy to get up early and travel to the parks, waiting in lines for the parking lots, but that's not us. We're not morning people so just getting to the parks is difficult enough. Hopping on a bus, the monorail, or the skyliner (my favorite!) straight from our resort room is so convenient. Disney transportation is all complimentary unless you decide to utilize their Minnie Van Service that's coming back soon.
Staying on-site also means we get to take advantage of extra morning hours and (at certain resorts) extra late hours. It's amazing how much we were able to get in during those early and late hours before the general public could get into the parks. Plus, the theming of the resorts is incredible and you really feel in the Disney bubble!
Decide Whether You'll Utilize Genie+ at Disney World 2022
Genie+ is a relatively new service and it's taken the place of the FastPass that Disney used to offer. Genie+ costs $15/person per day during your trip; you can purchase it when you buy tickets or you can add it on each morning while you're there. Our visit was intentionally scheduled during Disney's "off-season" but it seems they don't really HAVE an off-season anymore. It was just as busy as when we've visited during March in the past. We were surprised at the long lines!
Disney World 2022 is going to be busy no matter when you visit! We decided to add Genie+ for a couple of the days. It was definitely worth it at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The service allows you to book an attraction and return time so you don't have to wait in regular lines; it is somewhat complicated until you get the hang of it, but Disney Food Blog explains it fairly well.
My tip about Genie+ is that if you decide to use it, either book it with your tickets OR get it as early as you can in the morning. You can book your first ride at 7AM and the popular rides go quickly. Be sure to check back throughout the day as people drop rides, also. You can't use Genie+ for the "biggest" rides at each park (think Rise of the Resistance, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, etc). For those, you'll have to pay a one-time fee which varies in the app if you want to skip the standby line. Rope-dropping these rides (arriving at extra magic hours opening) will be a good choice if you don't want to wait in huge lines or pay the fee in Genie+.
Have Fun with Family Outfits!
I'm lucky to have a husband who is happy to dress up for Disney World! I found so many fun family Disney shirts on Etsy. You wouldn't believe how many times Tyler got stopped for his "I Pooped at Disney!" shirt - it was fantastic.
We also dressed the kids up in outfits from Little Adventures and they got so many compliments! Their dress-ups really are the best for Disney World. It was fun to see their excitement when interacting with characters who shared the same outfit. Our kids felt SO special when they were singled out which happened a lot, especially during character interactions and cavalcades. The videos I have of these interactions are priceless!
Plan Ahead for Some Meals
If you're staying on-site, Disney allows you to make sit-down meal reservations 60 days (plus the duration of your trip) in advance. While there are lots of quick service restaurants in the park, I also wanted to do some table service meals so we could interact with more characters.
Table service meals also break up the day nicely and you don't have to find a curb to sit on to eat your lunch - ha! Each park offers different character dining options and I'll share in-depth about our favorites in an upcoming post. If you're planning to do quick service meals, take advantage of mobile ordering! You can place an order on the app and choose a pick-up time. Then, when your window opens, they'll start preparing your meal and it will be ready in no time!
Go With the Flow at Disney World 2022
This is especially important if you have kids! The first few days of our trip we were really pushing it, trying to get to the parks as early as possible to take advantage of the extra magic hours and get on as many rides as we could. What we realized, though, was that we were making it less enjoyable than if we'd just gone with the flow and done what we could get in. Of course, there's some planning involved to get on the rides that were really important to us! Our kids had just as much fun playing in the water fountains as they did going on rides. Once we realized that, a lot of the stress went away. If your kids are younger, I'd plan to bring a stroller with you (here's my recommendation). Their little legs will need a rest throughout the day!
Buy the Souvenirs!
Disney (like most other retailers) is having serious supply chain issues when it comes to getting products in. While we were there, we found out that the shops would get in a small batch of product, put it on the shelves, and within days it would be gone. Since it's the 50th Anniversary Celebration (through March of 2023), there are lots of exclusive souvenirs and they go FAST. If you see something you love, I'd personally buy it right away so you aren't disappointed when it's sold out. I bought one of the 50th Loungefly backpacks and I'm so glad I did, because the next day it was impossible to find in the parks!
Try All the Snacks
Disney always has a variety of snacks to choose from, but even more now with the 50th Anniversary Celebration going on. We found lots of tasty treats and, of course, coffee from Joffrey's every morning!
Catch a Few Shows at Disney World 2022
Walt Disney World 2022 has so many different forms of entertainment in the parks. During our stay they didn't have any full-length parades going yet, but they had cavalcades, motorcades, or flotillas with a variety of characters!
We also sat down to watch a number of shows and WOW - they are so worth it! The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular returned this year and it's exactly what you'd imagine - full of fast-paced, intense stunt work and explosions. If you're afraid the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration won't be worth it, you're wrong! The royal historians had tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard - the show is incredible for adults and kids alike. And the Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage show had me tearing up in nostalgia, and it truly felt like a short and incredible Broadway performance. So don't miss out on the shows!
Interact with the Characters
This might seem obvious, but it's amazing how much fun can come from truly interacting with the characters. Sure, you can snap a quick pic if that's your thing. But did you know that you can have a full conversation with them? The characters in full get-up (Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Mickey) can't actually talk to you, but they can communicate with gestures! Stitch was so adorable when he saw that our son's shirt had flippy sequins. He tried flipping his belly to do the same thing and Lincoln found it so hilarious.
The human characters will have a conversation with you and tell you things about their life (aka Disney story). Princess Tiana taught our kids about making gumbo and Cinderella was excited to hear that our kids had gone to breakfast in her castle. Also, the evil stepsisters are not to be missed! Our daughter Harper was wearing a Baby Yoda shirt and Anastasia said "I like your cat sweater"! (Because of course a character in Cinderella wouldn't know who Baby Yoda is). It's worth taking the time to visit with the characters to make lasting memories. We look forward to when we can hug and get close to our favorites again!
Pay for PhotoPass Service at Disney World 2022
You have the option to add Memory Maker to your Disney trip and I'd highly recommend it. As a mom who is rarely in the photos, Memory Maker allows us to get great pictures that I can be in, too! The most priceless photos are ones of our whole family. We love putting them into a Shutterfly book to look through again and again after our trip.
Along with regular shots, PhotoPass Service offers super fun magic shots throughout the parks! When you're getting your photos done, be sure to ask the photographer if they do any magic shots. Then, be prepared to play along! These are some of our favorites from our trip! You can purchase individual pictures but we always do the Memory Maker package and come away with hundreds of photos.
Along with magic shots, there are magic video shots, too! The SuperZoom videos are my favorites and you can find one in each park. Plus, with Memory Maker you'll get photos on many of the rides at Disney World!
Don't Miss the Night Entertainment
The night shows at Walt Disney World 2022 are the best! We watched the Tree of Life Awakening at Animal Kingdom, Electrical Water Pageant, Harmonious at Epcot, and Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom. All of the shows were beautiful, incredible, and emotional. I know it can be hard to stay in the parks until the evening shows, especially with kids. I would still try to watch each show at least once, even if that means a mid-day nap. We saw Enchantment twice because we loved it so much!
Wrapping Up on Disney World 2022
To wrap up, a Disney World 2022 Vacation may be different from years past, but that doesn't mean the magic is gone! On the contrary, we found magic all over during our trip and we can't wait to start planning the next.