You don’t go to Disney World to unplug. If you need to turn your mind off and get away from all responsibilities, head to a sandy shore and unfold your beach chair. But if you want to be entertained and surprised, thrilled and fed, to build more cinematic vacation memories for the whole family — then by all means, book a ticket to Orlando.
But, and you probably know this, you’re going to need to do some work. You need to get fluent in the language of Disney World — a bureaucratic tongue laid out in the My Disney Experience app and Genie+ systems and Disney.go.com. You also need to have a plan, an itinerary, and it should probably be marked on a map. You need to treat Disney World with the respect the 39-square-mile amusement park with 173 rides, more than 200 restaurants, and 77,000 cast members that draw roughly 160,000 guests a day deserves.
Let’s be clear: The folks at Disney World will give your kids a wildly entertaining experience. That’s pretty much a given. But to get the most out of it — and you do want to get the most out of it after you’ve dropped $200-plus per person per day on average — you should talk to those who have been there. Better yet, those who live for Disney and have been there over and over. To offer some well-informed Disney World tips, tricks, and hacks, we talked to the bona fide Disney experts — mostly dads because, hey, we’re Fatherly — as well as experienced parents who’ve learned a thing or two about what really makes a memorable trip to the Magic Kingdom. Here they are in no particular order. We hope they help.