Expert Advice

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member Reveals Her 5 Tips To Plan The Ultimate Walt Disney World® Getaway

Make the most of the magic

Raeanne V
A young family of three at a theme park in Orlando

Calling all fellow magic seekers. Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World® but don’t know how to make the most of your limited time? In the wise words of Walt Disney himself, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member posing in front of Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando 

There are always ways to save time to make time for more memories, whether you want to embrace your inner child or witness the sparkle in your family member’s eyes when they spot their favorite character.

Here are five tips to maximize your time at Walt Disney World®. Fasten your seatbelts, grab your Mickey ears and get ready for a trip to one of Orlando’s top theme parks, aka the happiest place in the world.

1. Pick Your Dates

First things first — plan your trip during the off-season.

Because Walt Disney World® is a family-friendly destination, school schedules usually dictate peak times. The park will be less crowded, and hotel prices and park tickets tend to be cheaper.

Head to Orlando after the holiday season, from mid-January to mid-February, to avoid Florida’s notorious heat and humidity. If you can tolerate the weather, kids start going back to school in late August to mid-September, so park attendance tends to decrease. Early to mid-November adds a little extra magic since crowds are smaller and Disney decorates for the holidays.

Bonus tip: Weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends.

2. Decide Where To Stay

Choose accommodations near Walt Disney World® to spend less time traveling and more time at the park.

A colorful view from a Suite's balcony at Las Palmeras, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club 

Las Palmeras, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club is my go-to property when I visit Orlando. It’s a 13-minute drive to Walt Disney World® and Universal Orlando® Resort.

Tuscany Village, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, also in Orlando, is a family-friendly resort with spacious Suites, a resort-style pool and plenty of things for kids to do. Plus, it’s only a seven-minute drive away from Walt Disney World®.

3. Arrive At Rope Drop

Plan to arrive at rope drop, especially if you stay close to Orlando’s theme parks. Rope drop refers to Walt Disney World’s® official opening time. Historically, the park used actual ropes to control and guide crowds until opening.

Not only does arriving at rope drop help maximize your time by starting early, but many popular theme park rides have shorter wait times, so you can enjoy them with minimal queues.

Here are some of the rides with high wait times and worth the rush at rope drop:

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Slinky Dog Dash
  • Magic Kingdom Park: Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight
  • EPCOT : Test Track, Soarin’ Over California and Frozen Ever After
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
A Hilton Grand Vacations Member at Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando 

4. Download My Disney Experience®

My Disney Experience® is an app that offers a seamless park day at your fingertips. There’s a lot to explore within the app, but here are my highlights.

My Disney Experience® provides an accessible wait time map of the different parks and allows you to check waits in real time. If you’re near the end of the queue for one attraction, waste no time and plan out your next ride — pick your next ride based on their wait times.

Make reservations for virtual queues and secure your spot for high-demand attractions without spending time in physical lines. Once it’s your turn, the app will notify you. Note that these virtual queues are free but subject to availability. If you can’t make your reservations, you’ll have to wait for the next time slot to try again.

Purchase Genie+ to forgo standby lines and reserve Lightning Lane queues for certain popular attractions. Genie+ is a paid add-on to your pass, but totally worth it if you have limited time at the parks. Alternatively, individual lightning lanes are available a la carte for specific attractions not offered through Genie+.

Bypass traditional lines at Disney stores and restaurants, too. Scan your items with your phone and pay through the merchandise mobile checkout feature on the app. Or preorder meals for pickup and make reservations at restaurants. Stay energized and fuel up with themed dishes like Batuu Bits or Blue Milk at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Avoid restaurant wait times and use the app for sit-down reservations or convenient mobile food orders.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Member with friends at Walt Disney World® in Orlando 

Bonus tip: Grab your dinner an hour before the Magic Kingdom fireworks show and snag your seat so you can sit back and relax away from the traffic jam.

5. Stay Until Closing

Fireworks are one of my favorite Disney experiences and always give me chills of nostalgia. However, don’t let the magic end there. The parks are still open to explore. Staying after the final fireworks is just as magical as the park empties. Once again, this means shorter wait times.

Immediately after the fireworks, I rush to Space Mountain right by Cinderella Castle, notorious for lengthy wait times. Sometimes, if no one else is in line but the park is still open, some ride operators let you ride the attraction back-to-back without having to disembark — talk about a dream come true.

Finally, many people fail to realize that not all parks have the same closing times. If you still have energy, check the schedule and head to a park with a later closing time to really maximize your day.

Read “A Guide To Beating The Crowds At Orlando Theme Parks” and check out “Venture Outdoors in Orlando: Where to Scout for Flora, Fauna and Fun Things To Do” for more ways to explore the City Beautiful. 

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Hilton Grand Vacations Owner Raeanne surfing while on vacation in Hawaii

Raeanne V

Raeanne’s been an Owner since 2019. One of her highlights of ownership was using her ClubPoints to WFH (work from Hawaii) for three nonconsecutive months. Follow Raeanne to satiate your travel bug for adventurous vacations.

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