Walt Disney World

I was a Disney World cast member for over a decade. This is my ultimate guide to planning a Walt Disney World vacation.

The statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World, Florida
Cinderella Castle and the Partners statue at Walt Disney World

Why I Love Walt Disney World: Walt Disney World is the ultimate family vacation destination, but thankfully it’s not just for families! With your favorite characters, endless entertainment options, and hundreds of eateries, you can plan and personalize the perfect Disney vacation. For over 50 years, Walt Disney World has been bringing people together with one goal in mind – creating joyous memories in a magical place. 

Best of Walt Disney World

Things to Do

View of the tourists riding on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the Magic Kingdom
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is one of Magic Kingdom’s famous “mountains”

The theme parks and attractions are the main draws at Disney, but there are plenty of activities at the resorts and Disney Springs:

  • Ride the Mountains – Splash, Space, and Big Thunder Mountains are Magic Kingdom’s most thrilling rides
  • Stay at a Disney Hotel – Be fully immersed in the Disney experience by sleeping next door to the parks
  • Splash at the Water Parks – It’s (almost) always hot in Orlando, so cool off in the most magical way
  • Experience the Holidays – Disney World is always enchanting, but nothing beats the ambiance around Christmas
  • Disney Springs – This entertainment and shopping district has tons of restaurants

👉 Explore all the things to do at Disney World.

🗺️ Where to Stay

If you are staying at the Walt Disney World Resort, there is no wrong place to stay. It is just a matter of choosing the area that offers what is most important to you:

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Area – Enjoy views of nightly fireworks while taking advantage of the monorail and boats
  • Epcot Resort Area – These centrally located hotels connect to Epcot and Hollywood Studios
  • Lake Buena Vista – Stay at your favorite hotel brand while still staying on Disney property

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay at Disney World.

View of the people enjoying the lawn area at the Polynesian Village Resort in Disney
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has beautiful theming and an excellent location

🛎️ Best Hotels

View of the Stormalong Bay pool area at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club
Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club is the best pool at Disney World

Some people spend all their time at the theme parks and don’t care about where they sleep. However, Disney World hotels are perfect for staycations and resort days:

  • Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club – Enjoy access to a huge pool, Disney’s Boardwalk, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village – You can’t beat the fireworks viewing, monorail access, and delicious restaurants
  • Four Seasons Resort – The most luxurious hotel in Orlando comes with all the perks of a Disney hotel and more

👉 Read our breakdown of all the Disney World hotels.

🍽️ Best Restaurants

View of the people dining inside the Sebastian’s Bistro
Sebastian’s Bistro offers family-style Caribbean cuisine

Walt Disney World is a foodie’s paradise. From imaginative snacks to elegant multi-course meals, there is something for every taste bud:

  • Tiffins (Animal Kingdom) – Enjoy a menu just as adventurous as the park around it
  • Capa (Four Seasons Orlando) – Watch the fireworks from this top-floor Michelin star restaurant
  • Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) – Taste the flavors of Asia from a menu created by the Iron Chef
  • Victoria & Albert’s (Grand Floridian) – The most luxurious restaurant at Disney World
  • Sebastian’s Bistro (Caribbean Beach) – This newer favorite beats out the other family-style eateries

🚗 Best Day Trips

The NASA globe outside the Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is only one hour from Disney World

Looking for some adventure outside of Disney World to mix up your trip? Here are some excellent attractions within an easy day trip:

  • Kennedy Space Center – See real spacecraft and learn about the history of space travel
  • Universal Orlando Resort – Just a short drive from Disney, visit another Orlando favorite
  • St Augustine – Add a bit of history to your trip with a visit to the country’s oldest city
  • Blue Spring State Park – Visit in summer for a cooling swim and in winter to see hundreds of manatees
  • Daytona Beach – Don’t miss the world-famous beach, especially in the heat of summer

👉 Read the full list of Best Orlando Day Trips.

🍸 Best Bars

The author's husband and toddler in front of the bar counter at Raglan Road
My husband and I never miss a stop at Raglan Road (even with a toddler in tow)

Adults can have fun at Disney World too! Here are some of my favorite Disney World bars:

  • Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village) – The drinks, room, and bartenders all play along
  • Raglan Road (Disney Springs) – An Irish pub featuring live music, dancing, and an extensive drink menu
  • Oga’s Cantina (Hollywood Studios) – Step into one of the Star Wars movies with out-of-this-world drinks
  • Wine Bar George (Disney Springs) – There is no better place for a glass of wine and appetizers
  • La Cava del Tequila (Epcot) – Grab delicious margaritas from this “cave” inside the Mexican pyramid

Walt Disney World Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The shoulder seasons (spring and fall) are the best times to visit Walt Disney World for shorter wait times and more affordable prices.

  • 🍂 Fall – Fall brings cooler temperatures and shorter wait times with kids back in school
  • 🌞 Summer – Be prepared for the heat, lots of sunshine, and generally heavier crowds
  • ❄️ Winter – Enjoy the holiday season mixed with Disney magic and cooler weather
  • 🌼 Spring – Flowers are blooming and the weather is nice for strolling around the parks

👉 Read the complete guide to when to visit Disney World.

🚌 Getting Around

Disney has complimentary transportation around the resort connecting Disney Springs, the hotels, and the parks.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Some of the resorts and theme parks are connected by walkways
  • 🚗 Driving – There is plenty of signage, but you will pay for parking at the parks
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Disney offers complimentary buses between parks and hotels
  • 📲 Ride Share – Minnie Vans is a Disney/Lyft partnership for getting around Disney World
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Biking is not permitted on the roads throughout the resort
  • 🚡 Gondolas – The Skyliner connects Hollywood Studios and Epcot to several resorts
  • ⛴️ Boats – Multiple resorts and parks are connected by waterways
  • 🚝 Monorail – Magic Kingdom and Epcot connect to three resorts

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 📱 – Get familiar with the My Disney Experience App – The app holds all your reservations, show times, wait times, and more. 
  • ☂️ – Be prepared for the weather – Orlando is generally warm and the sun is strong, but don’t forget about those summer showers.
  • 🚝 – Use Disney transportation – Complimentary Disney buses, monorails, boats, and gondolas operate between all locations.
  • 🖊️ – Bring a unique item for autographs– Instead of a traditional autograph book, bring a picture frame, backpack, or other fun item.
  • 🍽️ – Check for last-minute dining reservations – Check 24-48 hours before a preferred dining time to find last-minute cancellations.

👉 Read our full list of Walt Disney World Tips.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🎒 – Backpack – A lightweight backpack is the best option to carry your belongings around the parks. 
  • 🧴 – Sun Protection – Florida is the Sunshine State for a reason – pack hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses for protection. 
  • 📱 – Portable Phone Charger – Using the My Disney Experience app and capturing memories will drain your battery. 
  • 🚰 – Water Bottle – Stay hydrated with a reusable bottle that can be refilled at restaurants or water fountains. 
  • 👟 – Comfortable Shoes – You will definitely be getting your steps in, so wear sensible socks and shoes for comfort.

👉 Read the complete Disney World Packing List.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) <100 permanent residents, 62 million annual visitors
  • Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 407
  • Airports – Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB)
  • Nickname – “Most Magical Place on Earth”
  • StateFlorida
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3-Star Hotel Room – $150-200/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $75-150/night
  • Rental Car – $40/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2 ($4 to airport from center)
  • Ride Share from Disney World to Airport – $60
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $80-140
  • Draft Beer – $8-13

💵 See my full Disney World budget guide.

FAQs About Visiting Walt Disney World

Is Walt Disney World safe for tourists?

Walt Disney World has generally low crime rates, but the greater Orlando area has higher crime rates than the national average. Exercise normal precautions (stay aware of surroundings and do not leave valuables out). For more information, read our full guide to safety in Orlando.

How much does it cost to go to Disney World for one day?

Standard one-day tickets to a Walt Disney World theme park cost $109 – $189 depending on the season and park. Multi-day tickets offer cheaper prices per day.

What are the cheapest months to go to Disney World?

Late January and February are the cheapest times to visit Disney World. Generally, you can find good prices on hotels and vacation packages.

How many days in Disney World is enough?

Most people like to spend at least 4 days at Walt Disney World. A week-long vacation is preferred to be able to visit all the theme parks and enjoy all parts of the Disney World resort. For specific day-by-day planning advice, see my 6 day Disney World itinerary.

Meet Our Walt Disney World Travel Expert

Katie Neufeld, a Travel Lemming author

Katie Neufeld

Katie Neufeld grew up in the Florida sunshine and currently lives in the Orlando area. Now Katie is on a mission to explore the state with her husband and infant son. Katie loves finding farm-to-table food and exploring an area through local cuisine and the great outdoors.

👉 Read Katie’s Articles

📰 Walt Disney World Travel Guides

Walt Disney World is just one of the many attractions and fabulous destinations to visit in Florida. Check out our other Florida guides from passionate local writers:

🗺️ Walt Disney World Map