Disney In A Day: Tips when you only have 1 day at Disney

August 23, 2018

Sometimes Disney is a spur of the moment kind of thing. There have been so many times when my family & I have been in FL visiting grandparents or doing a beach vacation when we decide at the last minute to just breeze through Orlando & do Disney for a day (usually it's my idea, but my parents would never object. Disney blood runs in the fam). No planning, no advance reservations, nothing. You can totally stay on property last minute, too, and not break the bank.

If you've seen my previous posts, you know I've been flitting around Florida recently. On our last beach day, we decided to stop through Orlando & do Disney on our way out (it wasn't really on our way home, but best detour ever, right?).

I have a few traditions for every trip to Florida/Disney (really they are one in the same. There's rarely a trip made that doesn't somehow involve a little bit of Disney). One is stopping at the welcome center to take a photo with the big "Florida Welcomes You" sign - no matter what time it is when we finally cross state lines. Usually it's somewhere in the realm of the ungodly hours of 2-4am. We always drive through the night because those daytime hours are precious and could be spent sipping Starbucks on the hub grass or riding Space Mountain 3 times in a row. It's a long, long drive through the night, but the coffee-filled IV with a one-way ticket to my bloodstream keeps me going (kidding. Mostly.)

Once safely inside state lines, it was just a couple of hours until we saw those magical Disney gates. We checked in to our resort first, dropped our luggage in our room (approximately 150 pounds worth of baby gear), and hopped on the next bus bound for Magic Kingdom. One guess what I did first once I arrived (hint: it wasn't coffee - hubs is NOT a fan of waiting 50 minutes for Starbucks. Where's the fastpass!?)

Yuuuuuup. I had to check this out for myself :) I wasn't a fan at first when I saw it on Instagram, but now I kind of love it. The OG purple wall is still there - this one is just like it's cooler, trendier cousin. If you're looking for some other great photo spots in WDW, check out my previous post here!

Since this was such a short trip & 1 day at Disney is just not enough, we had to really focus our efforts. It was also super last minute, so I didn't come armed with a backpack full of outfit changes & ears. We had Lilly with us, so that never would've flown anyway. Doing Disney with a baby is a very different kind of trip, but still so enjoyable, especially seeing her smile & giggle at all of her new surroundings. If you're traveling to Disney with an infant, just be prepared to take it slow. We didn't expect to ride more than maybe 2 or 3 rides, but by making full use of fastpasses and being strategic in choosing attractions with short wait times, we managed to ride way more than what we had initially thought! Fan favorites for Lil were Dumbo & It's a Small World. Pirates, however, was a major FAIL. We'll try again next time!

At one point, we had a little snafu where both our room reservation & tickets got completely deleted by a CM that had absolutely no idea what they were doing. Luckily, we were still in the park and guest relations was able to quickly restore everything. Had we left the park, we would have been in for a nasty surprise when we tried to re-enter that evening! They gave us fastpasses good for any ride in the park to make up for it at least, and we used them on Peter Pan's Flight for Lilly - which she slept through anyway :) We tried....

Lilly was not amused while we waited for Gaston.
One of my other traditions for Disney trips has become eating breakfast at Grand Floridian Cafe (or Kona) one the morning that we leave. I just can't get enough of these Mickey waffles! Grand Floridian Cafe offers "enhancements" with the waffles, and you can get banana/pecan/caramel, strawberry/sugar cookie/strawberry sauce, or blueberry/granola/lemon curd varieties. I've tried both the banana and the blueberry, and both are amazing. The lemon curd is absolutely delicious with the tart blueberry, but these banana caramel ones definitely made my taste buds dance!

After breakfast, we briefly stopped over at Disney Springs. I like to purchase art print postcards on every trip, and the WonderGround store always has some amazing new art. It's a super affordable way to take home a piece of the magic. The postcards & Lilly's "My First Visit" button were really the only souveniers I picked up on this day trip - besides the classic Minnie ears. When you don't prep for a Disney tirp & pack ears, you end up buying new ears when you arrive, but that's OK with me!  :)

If you're heading to Disney just for the day, here are some of my top tips for making the most of your quick last-minute overnight stay.

Tip 1: For last minute reservations, compare prices online. Often, the WDW website will show no availability for the value or moderate resorts (or they will be so exorbitantly expensive that you'll have to take out a second mortgage to afford it). My first stop is always Hotwire.com - we've booked multiple stays on Disney property by using Hotwire. Just be sure you're searching "Walt Disney world resort" & then click the "standard rate hotels" tab so you can actually see the names of the hotels. If that doesn't work, you can always chance it & walk right up to the front desk of your chosen resort. It's a bit pricier this way, but we've always gotten lucky by doing this when the websites show everything is "sold out."

Tip 2: Strategically plan your park time. If you're staying on property, check & see which parks offer extra magic hour that day. Often there is an early morning hour at one park & an evening hour at another. This way, you can maximize your park time - while hopefully minimizing your wait times!

Tip 3: Decide what's important. With only 1 day at Disney, you have to choose what you want to do the most. Is it meeting characters? Riding space mountain 5 times in a row? Stuffing your face with Casey's corn dog nuggets & chasing it with dolewhips? Coming up with a game plan before you hit the parks will help you be armed & ready to tackle the day - strategically.

Happy day-tripping!

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