In my years as a vacation agent, I sold a lot of ‘Magical Vacations’ to happy clients, and the day finally came when my children reached the ultimate ‘Disney’ age. Tinkerbell must have sprinkled me with pixie dust, because I fully caught the Disney fever and immersed myself in planning.

The many options available for my family’s vacation were daunting! But my Disney knowledge paved the way to an unforgettable getaway for our multi-generational family holiday.

Here are some tips for before & during your stay that might help make it all more ‘magical’.

Before you book:

  • Narrow down your dates of travel, and watch for semi-annual deals and promotions such as the Canadian Resident’s ticket offer or the Free Dining Plan offer.
  • Your Ellison travel agent can provide a quote for a package offer with on-site accommodation, park passes, and Disney dining plan!

What to book in advance:

Once you have a package booked, mark the following dates on your calendar: 180 days prior to arrival (Dining Reservations Day!) and 30 days prior to arrival (Fast Pass Selection Day! – 60 days prior to check in to a Disney resort!). Then, download the My Disney Experience app – where you can make dining reservations and choose your fast passes. Alternately, call 407-WDW-DINE to make dining reservations.

The benefits of staying on property at a Disney value, moderate, or deluxe resort include:

  • free transfers from the airport on Disney’s Magical Express
  • the ability to book Fast Passes early (up to 60 days prior to check-in)
  • early or late access to the theme parks called ‘extra magic hours’ – outside of regular public park hours
  • the use of Disney transportation: all resorts have bus transportation to/from all parks, some resorts have direct access to a monorail line, and some resorts also have boats to the Magic Kingdom park. The newest form of Disney transportation is the gondola system. If you would like to travel in a private vehicle, you can also opt to use a *Minnie Van, which comes with 2 car seats and driven by a Disney Cast Member who can answer any questions you may have during your drive! (*fees apply)

Tips for choosing your dining and fast passes:

  1. Find out which parks have extra magic hours during your stay – plan your visit to these parks accordingly
  2. Choose your dining experiences at these parks, check to make sure reservations are available. If your ideal dining time is not available, make the reservation as close as you can to your ideal time, and then check back using the app to modify your reservation time
  3. Choose fast passes at rides located near your dining plans. For example, if you plan to be in Magic Kingdom for lunch at Cinderella’s Castle, plan morning fast passes in Fantasy Land so that you’re not criss-crossing the whole Kingdom and rushing to your lunch reservation.

When your Disney Trip departure date is fast approaching, here are some tips for packing that will make your Disney park days stress-free:

Use extra-large freezer bags to group and sort items that you will need on various park days; these bags are easily labelled and can be tucked under your stroller within a larger re-usable grocery bag, making it easy to pull out for security checks when entering the parks. If you have multiple children, it might be helpful to also use freezer bags to pre-plan their complete outfits for each day

Cinderella dresses bought second-hand in advance, and a hair kit for a DIY princess makeover before lunch at Cinderella’s Castle

Purchase a picture frame with a large mat, remove the mat from the frame and have it autographed by the characters you meet during your holiday! You will be able to print a favourite photo to display once you get home. Don’t forget wide, colourful markers that the characters can easily grip!

Tuck ponchos into a bag in case of rain. Park day grab n’ go snack kits.

Tips for at the parks:

  • Make use of the park’s photographers: you don’t need to have purchased a photopass as they will take photos for you using your phone!
  • Take photos of ‘the small things’ such as your perspective looking down at your child holding your hand, eating messy melting ice creams in line for a ride, or the look on your children’s faces after they’ve conquered a scary ride! These are the most cherished memories.

If you’ve been to Disney as a child, snap a pic of your own character photo from your childhood photo album, and recreate it as an adult!


For more information on planning the perfect Disney family vacation, contact the Disney Experts at Ellison Travel & Tours! Ellison Travel & Tours is an Earmarked Agency and specializes in Magical Disney Vacations.

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Haley Whitelaw
My travel style has varied greatly from budget backpacking, to family comfort, to adults-only luxury. I have a special interest in sustainable and adventure travel. I appreciate destinations that work closely to develop tourism responsibly alongside the local communities, and my favorite travel experiences are the ones in which I’ve learned about a foreign culture, tried new foods, or done something crazy like bungy-jumping or cage diving with sharks! In my personal experience I have travelled extensively throughout New Zealand & Australia; and to Fiji, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Belize, Honduras, Indonesia and various destinations throughout the United States and Canada. I have also been to the UK & Europe; visiting Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy, and Greece.

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