Parents can spend years preparing for their first family vacation to a Disney park. Here’s four tips to ensure you have a blast and make lasting memories.

1. Tap trusted resources
Planning a trip to Disney can be overwhelming. How are you supposed to choose from all the parks, surrounding hotels and entertainment options? The Disney Parks Moms Panel is a trusted source offering parent-to-parent vacation advice. Tips are available in four different languages, and no question is too strange.

One of the most popular questions is, “where do I stay?” While there are plenty of non-Disney hotels around the Disney parks, staying at a Disney Resort has its benefits. There are more than 25 Resort hotels around Disney World and three around Disneyland. Some of the benefits include early access to FastPass+ planning, extra magic hours at the parks, complimentary MagicBands, free transportation to and from the airport and dining plans that may include special guests like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

With so many options, deal hunting is a must. offers free information about Disney discounts and theme park deals. Travel partners like Costco can be a great place to search for vacation packages.  

2. Accommodate the little ones
Notwithstanding a few excited adults, Disney was made for kids. The rides are tot-sized, you can have pancakes with Mickey Mouse and every night ends with fireworks. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and bring the kiddos’ finest princess and pirate attire. (Note: Kids 14 years and older must leave the costumes at home. Disney prohibits adults dressed in costume as it doesn’t want guests to be mistaken for official Disney characters.)

Disney also understands heat and long days can turn any kid into a villain. Baby Care Centers can serve as “cooldown” rooms where your family can take a break. Parks also offer built-in stress savers like Rider Switch Service, which allows guests to take turns if all in a party can’t or don’t want to board an attraction, and stroller rentals to save your vacation. Pro tip: Tie a ribbon to your stroller to make it stand out from the thousands of identical strollers in the park on any given day.

3. Collect freebies
If it’s your birthday, anniversary or first time visiting the park, stop by any merchandise location to get a celebration button. The buttons don’t guarantee freebies, but you may get a little extra attention from the mouse himself. Wear it proud. Just don’t abuse the button if there’s nothing to celebrate (half birthdays don’t count).

Other freebies from the parks can include park maps, stickers and drink refills at some restaurants. And, any food location with a soda fountain will give you free ice water. Check out a more comprehensive list of freebies from the Disney Tourist Blog.

4. Take advantage of technology
Disney’s FastPass+ ride reservation system, also known as the eighth wonder of the world, let’s you avoid spending all of your day in line. You can select up to three attractions and the time you want to arrive. It’s completely free and allows you to plan ahead to make the most of your time in the park. If you don’t plan to take advantage of FastPass+, arrive early and start at the back of the park, making your way around counterclockwise.

Use the My Disney Experience App to keep track of your dining reservations and FastPass+ selections; preview Disney PhotoPass; find character greetings; and learn attraction wait times. Another high-tech gizmo, the MagicBand, allows you to unlock your hotel room; buy food and merchandise; give you access to your FastPass+ account; and unlock magical surprises, personalized to your family.

Now all you need is a little pixie dust to have the best time at the most magical place on Earth. If you’re making family travel plans for spring break or the summer months – peak travel seasons – here’s one more tip: Make reservations to ensure your airport parking accommodations.