Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can feel overwhelming. There are so many FOMO-inducing lists and social media posts about things to do at the Florida resort. And for what it costs, it's only natural to want to make the most of every minute and dollar.
Here's the secret: Whether you're a planner who creates spreadsheets or you prefer to go with the flow, the trip will be as stressful or magical as you make it.
Regardless of what others say you can't miss or must do, there's really only one thing you need besides tickets, but these other tips can make your Disney World vacation more enjoyable for everyone involved.
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1. Make your park reservation
This is the big one. Both Disney World and Disneyland began requiring park reservations during the pandemic. You can't get into Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios without one, even if you purchased tickets. You don't want to get all the way to a park only to be turned away because there are no reservations left.
Make your reservations as soon as you buy your tickets. You can check availability online and adjust your plans later, but don't delay.
If the park you want to visit isn't available, you have two options: You can check back to see whether spots open, or you can upgrade to a park hopper ticket. The park hopper option costs $65 on top of ticket prices, and park hopping isn't allowed until 2 p.m., but if your time is limited and you have your heart set on a specific park, it's an option.
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2. Don't despair over dining
Reservations are also required for many of the most popular restaurants across Disney World. Spots fill up quickly, even if you try to book the moment reservations open 60 days in advance.
If you strike out, there are third-party services like MouseWatchers that can alert you if something becomes available, for a fee. Otherwise, you can try your luck and check Disney's website from time to time, especially for last-minute cancellations closer to your trip. You can also walk up to restaurants during your trip, to see whether they have any openings, though chances vary widely depending on the restaurant.
Landry's Select Club members can often get into Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe at Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs without reservations, but may have to wait.
Even without reservations, there are plenty of quick-service eateries with "Instagrammable" meals and snacks to try all around the resort.
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3. It's OK to sleep in
The early bird catches the worm at Disney World, arriving at parks before opening to get through security and be among the first guests in line for rides. But early birds also tire out and may leave midday or call it an early night.
If you're not a morning person, don't make yourself miserable. Wake up when you wake up and know that the same rides will be there. There's plenty to do any time of day.
If you're OK with skipping nighttime spectaculars, that can be a great time to squeeze in extra rides. It's also a prime time to leave the park, to avoid the crush of crowds staying for fireworks.
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4. Set priorities
You aren't going to be able to do everything at every park. That would be exhausting and expensive.
Setting realistic expectations can avoid disappointment.
Pick a few top priorities before you go using interactive park maps on Disney World's website. Everything after that can be gravy.
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5. Take a break
If you're visiting for multiple days, you may be inclined to pack your schedule with a different park each day, but building a rest day into your trip will allow you to recharge and rest your feet.
Spend a day at the pool, or if you want a low-key Disney experience, you can grab a meal at a Disney resort, play mini-golf on the property or explore Disney Springs.
On park days, take a break in longer, air-conditioned attractions like the Carousel of Progress and The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom, The American Adventure at EPCOT, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration at Hollywood Studios, and The Animation Experience at Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom.
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6. Savor every sip
Many drinks are served without lids at the parks, and open containers aren't allowed on rides. Bring a reusable tumbler or wide-mouth water bottle so you don't have to chug your Blue Milk or LeFou's Brew when it's time to board. Just know transferring slushy drinks can get messy.
If you're a straw user and don't like paper straws, which is what the parks use, bring a reusable straw for drinks, too.
7. Bring backup
Taking photos, mobile ordering meals, booking Genie+ and simply playing on your phone will drain your battery. Bring a portable power bank.
There are some free charging stations and outlets in the parks, but there aren't many. There are also kiosks that sell portable chargers, but they cost $30 before tax.
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8. Plan for rain
Chances of rain are likely at some point on your trip. Whether it's a quick sun shower or severe thunderstorm, you don't have to let it get in your way.
Pack a cheap, lightweight poncho into the parks. Also, bring an extra pair of comfy shoes to keep at the hotel just in case your other shoes get soaked or your feet need a break. If you forget, you can buy Crocs and some other types of shoes on property.
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9. Avoid nonbuyer's remorse
If you see a souvenir you really, really want, get it right away. Some souvenirs sell out quickly. Others are sold only at specific locations.
Just because you see something at Magic Kingdom's Emporium or EPCOT's Creations Shop in the morning, it doesn't mean it'll still be there by afternoon or available at World of Disney in Disney Springs or online at Shop Disney.
If it's bulky or fragile and you don't want to lug it around all day, there are lockers for rent at each park.
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10. Just chill
Hiccups happen on vacation. There are Guest Experience Teams all around the parks to help. Keep your cool and remember that a little kindness goes a long way. A cast member may even sprinkle some pixie dust on your day.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 10 Disney World expert tips to make your vacation less stressful