There are 288 things to do in Disney Parks. Way more than anyone could do in one day or one trip. Knowing what you can skip makes it easier to work out how to maximize your time and budget. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning one, here are 11 things to skip without any guilt.
Disney parks have a photo service called PhotoPass, which is controversially loved or hated depending on who you ask. Disney’s PhotoPass is an added perk where you can get professional photographs taken of you and your family by photographers around the park and by the cameras on rides.
The process of taking the photos is free, but actually getting them isn’t. To download or get print versions of your pictures, purchase them individually or with a photo package.
What’s Memory Maker?
The most popular photo package, Memory Maker, includes all your photos and videos from either one day or your whole visit. The price ranges from $75 for one day to $210 for an entire vacation. That’s a lot to pay just for photos when most smartphones can take professional-quality shots.
Also, some have had problems accessing the services through the My Disney Experience app. However, the cost may be worth it if you’re here for a special occasion or traveling with little ones that are hard to photograph.
For small children, characters are the heartbeat of Disney World. Although they’re all around the parks, paying for character meet-and-greets is largely unnecessary. The parks have multiple options, like the Garden Grill, where you can dine with the characters. As you might expect, it costs quite a pretty penny.
On a similar note, you should skip the Official Autograph Book on sale in the park. The characters will sign any book or paper — it doesn’t have to be the “official” one.
Far Away Off-Property Disney Hotels
Staying at a Disney hotel gives you one of the best possible perks: early park entry and late VIP hours. Plus, you get the first crack at booking special Disney World-themed events like Disney’s Very Merry Christmas, and Mickey’s Not So Scary on Halloween. They offer substantial time savings and convenience with quick entry into the parks. But you no doubt pay for the convenience.
Don’t Buy Genie+ When You Don’t Actually Need It
Genie+ typically costs $15–25 per ticket (which is per day). It’s a reasonable price to skip the line for an attraction you’re excited about. You don’t necessarily skip the line altogether, but you miss the bigger line for a much shorter one.
When Should You Get It?
Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios tend to have the biggest lines and crowds in Disney World. In these two Disney parks, you’ll usually benefit from buying Genie+, especially during peak times. Just make sure you purchase it early; if you wait until late morning or afternoon, you’ll run into most time slots being fully booked or late night time slots.
EPCOT and Animal Kingdom tend to have shorter wait times, so if you can prioritize your schedule for the more popular rides first thing in the morning, This is especially true if you’re staying at Disney Resort hotels where you can take advantage of 30-minute early access into the theme parks. If you strategize your schedule, you can usually complete two or more popular rides before the gates even open.
There are souvenirs at every corner of Disney World. Some are more appealing than others, but few — if any — are worth the price. The most egregious cases of overpriced souvenirs are balloons. They cost $15-20, and you’ll likely get annoyed carrying them around all day. Even if you do get through the day with it, it will be deflated within a week.
You should also skip things like novelty packaged snacks sold in gift shops. They’re simply not worth the price. As a general rule of thumb, think twice before buying a souvenir that you’ll only get one or a handful of uses out of.
You shouldn’t buy overpriced souvenirs because they’re unnecessary, but the “necessities” are also unnecessary to buy at Disney. Certain necessities and nice-to-haves like umbrellas, ponchos, misting fans, and bottled water are ridiculously overpriced in the Disney parks.
Pack your own umbrella and poncho, just in case. Additionally, though misting fans and cooling rags come in handy in the Florida heat, you can buy them at much more affordable prices outside the parks. The same goes for sunscreen.
As for bottled water, it’s simply unnecessary. Most, if not all, quick-service and sit-down restaurants offer free ice water. There are also water fountains all around the parks. Bring your own reusable bottle and refill it as you go.
Some of the best non-ride entertainment, like Festival of the Lion King and Fantasmic!, is free. However, some paid experiences may leave you scratching your head at the extra cost. For example, your kid can get pampered and dressed up as a princess or knight at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. For $70–200, you’ll be painfully aware that you could have done just as much with a quick visit to an off-property store and getting dolled up in the hotel room. Still, it’s good to do something other than rides during a bustling trip.
Consider going somewhere like Disney Springs, which has plenty of free or reasonably-priced entertainment. Disney Springs is an entertainment, shopping, and dining complex at Walt Disney World. Here, you’ll find lots of free live entertainment, from live music performances to princess parades.
Pricey Sit-Down Meals
For some, sitting down to enjoy a meal at a fantastic restaurant is the highlight of a trip to Disney World, and they take the opportunity to do it whenever they can. However, many parkgoers generally find it to have a low time (and price) to value ratio considering the cost of Disney tickets.
Unless you have time to kill, a sit-down restaurant meal is a low priority on your Disney to-do list. There are plenty of good quick-service eateries around the parks. Some are even better than the sit-down restaurants! Also, since you have to make reservations for the sit-down restaurants, choosing to forgo them allows you to have a freer schedule.
Buying a Dining Plan
In a similar vein, it’s worth considering skipping the dining plan. It was discontinued for a while but is returning in January 2024. With the dining plan, you’re pre-paying a flat rate for your meals. However, unless you always eat at sit-down restaurants and choose the most expensive items on the menu, it’s unlikely that the dining plan will save you any money.
The dining plan is more about convenience; it’s one less thing to think about in your budget. If savings are what you’re after, you’re probably better off skipping it.
Midday Popular Rides
Late morning to early afternoon is the busiest (and hottest) time of day at Disney World. Avoid the worst of the crowds and the heat by skipping popular Disney rides at midday. This is an incredibly viable option if you get to the parks for rope drop or have early entry.
Start your day early and hit your top ride(s). Afterward, take a break at midday to have lunch, go for a swim, or even take a nap. Head back to the park as the midday heat and crowds begin to thin out a little bit, and enjoy Disney World later in the afternoon and at night. Besides, the nighttime spectaculars and fireworks at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom are worth returning for.
While these water rides are a thrilling way to cool off, they’re notorious for soaking riders. Unless you’ve brought an entire change of clothes and shoes for your group, you should skip these types of rides.
Prioritize What’s Important For Your Family
For others, seeing beloved Disney characters is what they’re most looking forward to, so character meet, and greets and dining experiences are no-brainers. When deciding what things to skip at Disney World, consider what your priorities are for your trip.
What are you most excited about? What can you really do without? These questions are worth asking yourself to ensure you have the best time you can on your trip to Disney.
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