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I grew up 2 miles from Disney World.  Here are 8 things I wish tourists knew.


Typhoon Lagoon water park at Disney World.Samantha Tetrault

  • As a Disney World “native”, I know tourists get a lot of things wrong when they visit the parks.

  • It is definitely worth visiting resorts and water parks apart from theme parks.

  • Don’t feel like you have to do it all in one trip because no one else could.

Growing up a few miles from Disney World, I consider myself a Disney native. Going to the parks on weekends, for day trips and “just because” was my normal.

One of my favorite parts of living in Orlando was the sheer number of tourists. Sharing this little corner of the globe with people from all over the world has been a special experience, and it has made the community warm and welcoming to strangers.

But there are a few things I would like tourists to know when planning their trip to Disney World.

There’s plenty to explore outside of the 4 main theme parks

I grew up 2 miles from Disney World.  Here are 8 things I wish tourists knew.

Dole Whip from the Polynesian Resort.Samantha Tetrault

I love spending a day at one of Disney World’s four theme parks, but there’s more to the property.

Getting to Disney Springs (the shopping, entertainment and dining district) and Disney Resorts is well worth your time. Moreover, they are free to visit.

Related video: These are the most expensive places in Disney parks

Pro Tip: You don’t have to be a guest to visit hotels. But you can’t park in the parking lots unless you have a confirmed restaurant reservation. Hop on Disney transportation (like buses, monorails, or the Skyliner) if you’re just looking to explore.

Although you must buy a ticket, the two Disney water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, are also must-sees.

An annual subscription is cheaper than you think

I’m a lifetime annual pass holder, and it’s really not that expensive if you visit the parks often, although you can’t get the Florida resident discounts.

If you don’t live in the state, a pass costs about $1,300 per year. But single-day tickets can cost upwards of $100, and single-day park tickets are closer to $200.

If you plan to take a few multi-day park vacations a year — especially during peak times like spring break and winter break when ticket prices peak — the annual pass will likely save you money. money.

Not to mention the added perks of the pass, like not having to pay for parking in the parks, having the option to park, and getting discounts throughout the property.

You can always upgrade your daily pass to an annual pass.

It’s nice to get away from the Disney bubble for a bit

I grew up 2 miles from Disney World.  Here are 8 things I wish tourists knew.

The Wheel at Icon Park in Orlando.Samantha Tetrault

There is so much to do in Central Florida, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to explore downtown Orlando, Winter Park, Winter Garden, and Celebration.

You will find incredible restaurants, shops and cultural sites. Or, better yet, drive to local natural springs, state parks, or one of the state beaches.

Expect rain even on the sunniest days

In Florida, you can almost always count on rain.

The tropical climate is unpredictable all year round. It can be sunny one minute and rain the next, especially in the warmer months or during hurricane season.

Even if you’re used to raining back home, it’s a whole different breed here. You can expect huge gusts of wind, thunder and lightning.

Bring your own rain ponchos and umbrellas and take them with you. If you see rain, go inside a bit. Chances are it’ll be over before you know it.

Always travel out of season if you can

I grew up 2 miles from Disney World.  Here are 8 things I wish tourists knew.

Epcot in the spring.Samantha Tetrault

As a Florida native, you couldn’t afford me to go to Disney World during school vacations.

Always do your best to travel out of season. This means skipping summer vacation, spring vacation, and winter vacation.

Although this may not always be possible depending on your family’s schedule, you will save some time and money by visiting in February, May, September and early October. In addition, the weather is beautiful at these times of the year.

I’m a big fan of taking an afternoon break

Naps aren’t just for the under-5s, especially when you’re on a Disney vacation.

The parks are overwhelming, the Florida weather can be brutal, and it’s hard on your body to walk all day. If you plan on “dropping out” of the parks (enter on the right when they open the gates), it’s a big ask to stay until closing time.

Feel free to return to your hotel and take a break around 3:00 p.m. Not only is it the hottest (and most miserable) part of the day, but it makes staying late so much more reasonable.

If you are traveling with children, this break is a must. But even if you don’t want to take a nap, it’s the perfect time to rest at the resort, jump in the pool, or just enjoy some much-needed air conditioning.

Arrive before the park opens if you want to take advantage of the “rope drop” benefits

I grew up 2 miles from Disney World.  Here are 8 things I wish tourists knew.

It is especially important to arrive early during busy periods, such as holidays.Samantha Tetrault

It might feel nice to laze around in the morning, slowly but surely heading to the Disney parks at opening time. But you’ll probably end up late.

There is an unspoken rule that the parks open a bit early. This is especially true when there are popular attractions, like Rise of the Resistance and Flight of Passage.

If possible, arrive at the park 30 minutes to an hour before opening. This will allow you to get the perfect spot in line for the jump rope.

The first hour after the park opens usually has the shortest wait times.

You can never do it all in one trip

With so much to do at Disney World, you have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t do it all. Even if you spend more than a day in each park, time slips away from you.

Instead of rushing from one activity to another, focus on being mindful of the moment. The magic of Disney really comes alive during downtime, so don’t be afraid to venture out mid-day or stop to catch a sudden show.

It’s better to go at a reasonable pace than to overwhelm yourself and your family trying to get it all done.

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