Walt Disney World Orlando Guide for Canadians
Magic Kingdom Disney World Orlando-49

What Canadians need to know before visiting Walt Disney World – Orlando

To the point Any visit to the Disney World parks in Orlando, requires preparation. Don't leave without reading this article!

A trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) is something to prepare for! Here’s a collection of tips for visiting the Orlando parks: the best attractions in each park or to avoid for the little ones, our review of the Genie+ option and Lightning Lane and how to save money on travel, food and hotels.

Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary

Beginning in October 2021, the event will be celebrated for 18 months and throughout the Disney parks. #DisneyWorld50!

You will be able to attend the new night show “Disney Enchantment” which illuminates the castle of Cinderella every night with projection and fireworks. Harmonious at Epcot Park is another fireworks show not to be missed.

A brand new attraction “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure,” open since October 2021, is to be seen at Epcot. And finally, the magic is everywhere with details in every park, and our favorite characters with their best costume.

Preparing for a trip to WDW

Tickets for WDW

When purchasing your Disney World tickets, try to book outside of school vacations and visit during the week. No children? Choose August, September. Less people and less money. For more info, check out our article on the Undercover Tourist service.

Also, be sure to check, the hours of operation differ by day and by park.

Each person, each family will have its own objectives. Your visit time will differ, depending on whether you are visiting 1, 2, 3 or all 4 parks, the duration of your visit, the number of people in your group, with or without children, the hotel you have chosen, the attractions you like to do, whether you prefer to see as much as possible or just stroll around, the traffic in the parks, etc.

For us, a family of 2 adults and 2 children ages 4 and 6, we chose to do 4 full days of parks (9am-10pm) with Hopper, Genie+ and Lightning Laneand we stayed at the hotel Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings Town Center ideally located about 10 minutes from the parks, at a cost of US$99 per night. For comparison, others will do this over 8 days at a Disney hotel.

In any case, credit cards, points or gift cards can help you save big at Walt Disney World. See our other articles on the subject:

Hopper Magic Kingdom Disney World Orlando-14

When you purchase your tickets, reserve your spot in the parks. Essential and download the Disney World application.

To enter the park, you will be able to scan your e-tickets on the Disney World app on your phone, synced with your account or wristband (to be ordered).

Individual wristbands replace the phone. Convenient to scan at the entrance of each attraction. Linked with your credit card like the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® (so you don’t pay any foreign currency conversion fees), or even your gift cards, you can pay for everything with your wristband.

We can no longer receive them in Canada but you can have them delivered to your hotel.

Credit cards

Credit cards can help you save money, whether it’s on conversion fees, getting free hotel nights (or accommodations on Airbnb), restaurants, or booking your airline ticket.

Here is our selection of credit cards to have when you travel:

Genie+ / Lightning Lane (LL) Options

When you only have a few days to visit all the parks, the Genie option can be a winner, especially for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, which are often very crowded (that was the case for us).

Beware, during high traffic periods, the Genie+ is very popular and can become less profitable.

The Genie+ option can be taken for one or more parks. We reserve at 7 am the 1st attraction in the reserved park. This is going fast, you don’t want to miss the booking window! The next one can be booked 2 hours after the opening of the park.

Once at the entrance of the attraction to be scanned, you can book another one again. On average, we had to use it for 4 attraction reservations each.

Tip: Always set an alarm and use both phones to give yourself more chances!

Individual LL gives access to certain attractions. This is an additional fee to pay of $7-$15 per person per attraction when the opportunity arises on the app. You choose the time you want to do the attraction next.

At the end of the day, the amount of attractions paid with the LL can be high but it is a personal choice.

Visitors staying at a Disney or partner hotel are lucky enough to be able to reserve their 1st LL at 7:00 am while others must wait for the park to open.

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to do the Rise to resistance attraction from Star Wars for example (not available with the Genie+). Arriving early does not guarantee that you will be able to make it. The wait was already about 110 minutes when we entered the park and never went below that.

To have a chance to do it, you have to take an LL as early as 7 am.

If you are outside of a Disney hotel, plan on 2 days for Magic Kingdom or 1 day with the Genie+ and LL. The same goes for Hollywood Studios.

The Genie+ saved us a lot of time in our case. Often avoiding queues of 70 to 150 minutes! We waited at most 45 minutes without the Genie+ and about 20 minutes with the Genie+: a time saving for more fun (especially with children aged 4 and 6) but more walking!

The Disney World application

Log in to your account, all your information will appear there. You will be able to bookmark attractions, see park opening hours, show times, or even find your way around on the map in real time.

Reservations/purchases for Genie+ or Lightning Lane are also done on the app.

The app is most convenient also to make a reservation at the restaurant but also mobile orders of food to go at some restaurants in the park. You avoid a long wait with the children.

All the photos taken by the park photographers or during the attractions will also be available in the application. It’s up to you if you want to buy the package.

You can also switch parks during the day on the app, starting at 2pm if you’ve completed the first one and taken the Hopper option.

Finally, you will have to orient yourself quickly in each park, so the application will be your ally throughout your visit! However, don’t forget to bring a battery to recharge your phone: the use of the Disney application is intensive and by early afternoon your phone will need to be recharged!

My Disney Experience – application

Accommodation

Staying at a Disney or partner hotel gives you several advantages, one of which is that you can enter the park 30 minutes before the other visitors. This is ideal for the most popular attractions and to avoid paying the Genie+ option!

For a Disney hotel, count from 200 $CAD for a Value category to 600 $CAD for a Deluxe category hotel (ex: Animal Kingdom Lodge).

Some will rent Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points in order to afford a Deluxe Disney room at a lower rate. This can be done through a DVC member or through the Canadian company DVCrequest.com.

Are you a Marriott hotel fan? If you stay 5 consecutive nights using Marriott Bonvoy points, remember: the 5th night is free!

Finally, why not rent a villa on VRBO if you are a lot in your party? You can find it for less than $1,000 a week.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at FLAMINGO CROSSINGS<sup>®</sup> Town Center-32

Transport

You’ll have your choice. Car rental, Taxi, Uber, Lyft, or shuttle, bus to Disney hotels. Some will even arrive from Canada with their car (about 2 days drive).

With your car, you will have to think about parking fees: US$25 per day in the parks (or $45 for access to the preferential parking lots that are closer to the entrances).

Those with an annual Disney World pass or Disney World hotel guests will be able to park for free.

Parking at Disney hotels can cost $15 to $25 for the hotel. Unless you are a DVC member?

In particular, electric cars will be given strategic locations in the theme park parking lots, as well as handicapped spaces. This avoids the wait for a shuttle bus to get to the transportation center at Magic Kingdom for example.

Some park at Disney Springs where parking is free, then take a bus to the parks.

I read a tip from someone, with a reservation at a Disney hotel. She would rent a car at the airport, run errands, drop them off at the hotel, and then return her car to Disney’s Car Care Center and use only public transportation afterwards. Clever!

The Disney Center offers car rentals from Enterprise, Alamo and National.

For Uber/Lyft, count $40 USD from the Orlando airport to a Disney hotel. Also, prices rise quickly in the evening when the park closes. It is best to wait 20 minutes for the price to drop.

Finally, a tip: if you have children aged 4+ and need to rent a booster seat. We tested the Mifold product for our two children. Convenient to put in the suitcases, this allowed us to avoid the rental fees on site, often expensive in the United States!

The food

Marriott hotels are interesting here. If you have a Platinum status and above, you will benefit from free breakfasts.

Without status? Choose a Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn or TownePlace: they offer free breakfast for all.

In the parks, food is expensive, not to mention sit-down meals at restaurants (with an 18% tip to pay). Use the Disney World app and order with your phone at one of the restaurants. It’s quick and easy. Otherwise, bring your own water bottles, snacks and lunch boxes (and cooler!): it’s allowed.

Shop online before you arrive, and have it delivered to your hotel. Check out these sites:

  • Amazon fresh,
  • Instacart, serving several major U.S. cities
  • Garden Grocer, serves Florida including several Disney resorts

Foreign currencies

Consider getting a credit card with no foreign currency conversion fees before your visit to Walt Disney World. The three best credit cards in Canada with no conversion fees are :

Gift cards

Do you know the Costco Landry’s restaurants gift card?

On the US Costco site, for $80, you get $100 USD (2 x $50) in gift cards, received by email and to print. They can be used at many of the restaurants near the Disney Orlando locations. And yes, you can buy while being Canadian.

Also, know that you can pay for everything with Disney gift cards: Hotels, restaurants, admission tickets, gifts, etc. Finally, the conversion to US dollars is free of charge.

Cartes cadeaux Disney
Cartes cadeaux Disney

Disney Memories

Disney madness is everywhere. Hard to get away with a souvenir for less than $20 – $30 USD at Disney! So take advantage of deals at stores like Target, Walmart or even place an order before you arrive at the hotel.

Also, be aware that your purchases in the parks can be picked up at the end of the day at the exit.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando at FLAMINGO CROSSINGS<sup>®</sup> Town Center-29

Sites to know

Other tips

Pick up brochures and booklets available at the hotels. Coupons are available for discounts on local restaurants and activities, including “Enjoy Florida” magazine. The offers are also available online, take a look!

In order not to lose your children (yes, it is possible), hang an Apple Airtag or put on a bracelet with their identification and the hotel where you are staying.

Take a rechargeable battery for your cell phone and a poncho in your backpack: it doesn’t take up much space and it will be practical in case of rain, wind or wet attractions…!

Finally, take a picture of your car’s location at the theme park parking lots. It will be less stressful to find her at night.

Disney's theme parks

Magic Kingdom (MK)

Unlike other parks where you can easily access the park entrances, there will be different ways to get to MK:

By car, we park at the parking lot, we take a shuttle if available to get to the transportation service where you will have the choice between the monorail and the ferry. Either way, it will take 15 minutes to reach the park’s front door.

By bus, cab, same system, we arrive at the transportation system where we have to choose between the boat and the monorail.

The boat is more scenic and calm in our opinion. Be aware that in both cases, breakdowns can occur. We had the inconvenience of being stuck in the monorail for 45 minutes on the way back, with the kids asleep in our arms at 10pm!

If you are a guest at a nearby Disney hotel, you can have direct access to boat transportation or be only one MK monorail station away (example with the Disney Contemporary Resort) instead of 2.

For those who want to maximize their time, it’s time saved on the attractions to be next to and before everyone else in the park!

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Magic Kingdom-12

The MK park has 6 zones and we visited it in 1 and a half days thanks to the Hopper. We were able to see the fireworks twice.

Here are our top 5 attractions to do:

  • Jungle Cruise for a fun boat ride.
  • Splash Mountain
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Space Mountain (caution: may scare the little ones)

When we came, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was unfortunately closed.

Animal Kingdom (AK)

The park consists of 6 areas and can be visited in less than a day. It is a walk in the middle of nature that is proposed to you to discover animals and fantastic worlds.

Take the train to the conservation center, and have your children collect badges, solving puzzles and exercises around the theme of nature.

Our top 5 attractions in AK:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage (beware of the size limit): just WoW!
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Expedition Everest
  • Dinosaur and It’s tough to be a bug: beware, these attractions can scare the little ones!

Hollywood Studios (HS)

Hollywood Studios is divided into 7 areas and can be visited in one day. This park is often very busy.

Here are the top 5 attractions:

  • Rise of the Resistance – Galaxy’s edge neighborhood
  • Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run – Galaxy’s edge neighborhood
  • Slinky Dog DashToy Story Land area
  • Rock’n Roller Coaster Starring AerosmithSunset Boulevard area.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Sunset Boulevard area

EPCOT

Do you like to travel? You’ll love Epcot. Mix of culture, gastronomy. This park is very pleasant, full of surprises and we go there for its festival of flowers and gardens! These 4 districts can be visited in less than a day.

For your information in 2022 and 2023, there is a lot of construction.

Here are our Top 5 attractions:

  • Remy’s ratatouille adventure: an immersion in the kitchens of the Gusteau restaurant in Paris!
  • Test Track: you design your car and try one that goes fast.
  • Mission Space: a crazy experience (beware of the little ones, the orange mission shakes hard)!
  • Soarin’ : a flight through the countries of the world thanks to its 180 degree screen and its recreated atmospheres (scents, winds).
  • Spaceship Earth for a journey through time and space, right into the giant sphere of Epcot.

Bottom line

Ready for Disney? Come and discuss it with the community in our Facebook group and share your good deeds! We wish you a ton of fun at Disney!

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Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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