Planning your first trip to Walt Disney World in Florida? Feeling overwhelmed? That’s understandable. Disney World is massive, with more things to do than can be done in one vacation. Never fear! If you can avoid these common rookie mistakes, you’ll be on your way to the vacation of a lifetime!
1. Failing to plan
“This is my vacation-I want to relax!” That kind of thinking may be fine for the beach, but at Disney, you’ll be stuck in long lines in the heat of the day. We live in the information age. There are literally dozens of websites, guidebooks, apps, etc. that will give you ample information about Disney World. Browse this website for tips and tricks, buy a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and download the ‘My Disney Experience’ app for your electronic device. A basic understanding of the parks and attractions will go a long way to ensuring a smooth visit.
2. Not considering the cost
A Disney World vacation can be expensive. You’ll need to think about accommodations, travel expenses, park tickets, food costs, parking, souvenirs, and incidentals. No need to break the bank, but having a general figure in mind for each part of your vacation can ease your stress level. To make sure you’re getting the best possible price on your vacation, work with a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner Like MickeyTravels. They’ll answer all your Disney questions, book your trip and keep checking to make sure your getting the lowest rate even after your trip has been finalized. Best of all – this service is totally FREE to you!
3. Underestimating central Florida weather
If you have school-age children, summer may be your only time to go to Disney. Beware! The heat and humidity can be taxing at best, from April-October. Plus, it rains almost every day in the summer. Consider taking an afternoon break back at your hotel or at a table-service restaurant, to recharge. In the winter, the weather is usually mild, but occasionally very cold. Check the forecast before you go and pack accordingly.
4. Purchasing the wrong admission tickets
Disney’s possible options for park tickets are myriad. Don’t buy more ticket than you need. You can customize your tickets to fit your desires and plans. A Disney trip planner can help you sort out the differences.
If your budget can afford it, stay on-site at a Disney hotel. The benefits you receive in quality and transportation are worth the extra money. Disney has several different levels of resort hotels. Do your homework on cost, room size, amenities, restaurants, pools, and transportation. Not every hotel is located next to the Magic Kingdom!
6. Character dining
Does your little one want to see Disney characters, such as Mickey and Minnie, the princesses, or Stitch? You can wait in long, hot lines, or you can schedule a character meal. There are many to choose from, some in the parks, some in the hotels. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Enjoy a great meal with your favorite characters! Reservations are essential and can be made as much as 180 days in advance of your trip.
Do not fail to take advantage of this opportunity to “skip” the long lines at Disney’s most popular attractions. Guests staying at a Disney resort can book ride times as early as 60 days out from your vacation. Use the time you save to enjoy other activities. Learn more about FastPass+.
8. Underestimating the walking
The Disney theme parks are huge! The average guest walks 9 miles/day! Wear the proper shoes, bring or rent a stroller for your young children, and plan breaks during the day. Your feet will thank you!
9. Eating burgers and hot dogs for every meal
Disney dining is a step above most theme parks. You can eat healthy, you can be adventurous, or just enjoy something you can’t get at home. Consider making a reservation or two at one of the many table-service restaurants at Disney. You can find current menus online to every Disney World restaurant.
10. Being unprepared for meeting characters
Prepare to see characters every day, everywhere. Get your child an autograph book, an over-sized pen (the characters can grip it easier), and have your camera ready! Snap multiple pictures during each character visit for a delightfully candid moment!
11. Height requirements
Junior may want to ride Space Mountain, but if he’s not tall enough, disappointment can ruin his (and your) day. Know which attractions are suitable for your party. Also, consider “switching off”, where the adults can take turns riding an attraction that’s inappropriate for your child.
It is said that at Disney, everything begins with a line and ends with a gift shop. Funny but true. Don’t underestimate Disney’s ability to draw you in either, as an adult. Everyone will want something. Budget some souvenir money for each person. Tell your child up front how much they have to spend. To give you an idea of costs, a Disney t-shirt will cost ~$30, a coffee mug ~$15, and a stuffed character will be ~$25.
13. Skipping the parades/shows
Disney excels at parades and fireworks shows. Don’t miss ‘Wishes’, the ‘Main Street Electrical Parade’, ‘Illuminations’, and ‘Fantasmic’. These could very well be the highlight of your vacation. Grab a spot early!
14. Be a good Boy Scout
Always be prepared! At least one member of your party should carry a backpack with essentials. Consider bringing sunscreen, diapers, medicines, camera supplies, etc.
15. Leaving mom or dad out of the picture
Someone’s got to take the picture, right? Use Disney’s Photopass system and let a cast member take your pictures. That way, the whole family can be in the picture.