A Disney vacation is a dream come true for many. However, that dream can quickly go south without proper planning and organizing. I’ve made it one of my goals to visit every Disney theme park in the world. This summer, after visiting Disneyland Paris, I knew my goal was that much more achievable. 

We sat down with Disney Creator Lab Influencer Portia Gorman to share all the ins and outs of planning the perfect Disney vacation. Gorman founded the Inspired Chick blog and brand, where she shares her family travels, local adventures, and food art on her social media channels. 

Check out her insights below. 

When was your first Disney trip?

My parents took us to Disneyland a few times as kids, but I can’t grasp those memories. When my second son Bryce turned 2, we decided to go for his birthday since both boys were still in strollers (kids in strollers get to go to Disneyland for FREE). That trip forever changed our lives. I vividly remember having an automatic response to the Peter Pan theme music playing as we walked in. I didn’t realize I was skipping until my husband teased me about it.

I remember being inspired by little girls dressed up as their favorite princesses, the variety of stylish Minnie Mouse Ears (who knew?), the nostalgia of all my favorite childhood Disney movies, a glorious castle, fireworks, and the pure joy in my children’s eyes as they were taking it all in. This was now home. When my mom asked what we wanted for Christmas that year, I begged for Disneyland passes for our family, and we’ve been faithful Disneyland-goers ever since.

What’s your favorite thing about Disney?

Outside of a powerful church service, there’s no place in the world where you can visit and know deep in your heart these two truths: anything is possible, and dreams come true. 

Another favorite thing about Disney is that it champions diversity. Disney gave my daughter a princess that looks like her. In Princess Tiana, we have the first African American Disney princess. We can’t wait to see the brown girl magic with the “Little Mermaid” remake next spring. Disney affirms that we belong too and that representation matters.  

How can families prepare for a smooth trip to Disney?

  • A smooth trip to Disney is all about preparation and managing expectations. You have to go into it knowing that it’s not humanly possible to do everything. To help with that, I’d recommend getting a hotel and going for at least three days (or more). There will be a million things to do, eat, and see, and you just can’t get it all in with one visit. A hotel stay allows families with small children to be shuttled back and forth to the hotel, where kids can nap, and parents can decompress before heading back at night for fireworks. And it means you can go back for a few days to get on more rides and experience more magic. 
  • Plan as much as you can in advance. I recommend booking your hotel, making park and dining reservations, and planning outfits at least 60 days in advance.
  • Download and familiarize yourself with the Disneyland or Disneyworld App, where you can see ride wait times and showtimes, find out where your favorite characters will be for meet & greet, make dining reservations, and mobile order meals. You can also purchase Genie Plus through the mobile app, which will allow you to book a slot of time to skip the wait for your favorite rides.

Is Disney just for kids? Or is it fun for adults also?

My husband teases me and says I love Disney even more than the kids. And just maybe he’s right- and if so that’s my business LOL. Disney is absolutely for adults. One of my most happy Valentine’s Days was when my husband surprised me with a hotel stay and tickets to Sweetheart’s Night, a separately ticketed event themed around your favorite Disney couples featuring a royal ball.

Another tradition is to leave the kids at home and attend Disneyland’s annual food & wine festival with girlfriends. There’s a whole adult culture of Disney-loving fans who cosplay and create fashion trends based on their favorite Disney characters. The Disney adult community is thriving and strong.

What has your experience been like in the Disney Creator Lab program?

Being a part of the Disney Creators Lab program is a dream come true for me.  The Disney Creators Lab program seeks out emerging content creators and provides us with a wide range of opportunities to grow as creators and sharpen our storytelling skills as we learn from industry professionals in courses curated just for developing content creators.

Being in the cohort means we will have the opportunity to go on some special Disney vacations as well. When I got the email asking me to participate, I couldn’t believe it and thought it had to be spam, but it turned out to be a dream come true. We were recently hosted at Disneyland, where we were invited to some special celebrations and learning experiences and had the opportunity to meet in person with our cohort to bond. Everyone in the cohort is talented, welcoming, and fun!

What’s your top tip/hack for visiting Disney?

Get there early. It’s worth the sacrifice. On our trip to Walt Disney World, we caught the earliest shuttle from our hotel to the parks and waited in line 20 minutes before the parks opened each day. That made ALL the difference. We walked on to rides with heavy wait times like Star Wars: Rise of The Resistance, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and It’s A Small World.

This also allowed us to take the most magical photos at the Castle before it got too crowded. We could use our Genie for the remaining rides on our bucket list. We didn’t wait in line. We got on just about every ride we wanted to. We also could leave the parks daily at 3 to rest because we’d already gotten on our top rides. We rested at the hotel and shuttled back for fireworks. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re reading this, it’s your sign to book the Disney trip. No matter where you find yourself in life, you deserve a day (or week) at the happiest place on earth. 

Related: I ‘Ate Around The World’ At Disney’s EPCOT And These Were My Favorite Eats