I know the excitement that comes with planning a trip to Disney. I still get excited with every trip I plan, even if I am planning my one while I am there. Take some tips from the pro’s and you too, can avoid some of the following rookie mistakes.
17. Failure to plan – I cannot stress this enough. You MUST plan your trip. One cannot just “wing it” and expect to see everything they want to. Check out the My Disney Experience app which lets you see wait times, character greeting location and times, make dining reservations, a map of the park and so much more. You can also order a customized map from Disney with all the attractions you want to see.
16. Budget – Set a budget and stick to it. Park tickets cost a pretty penny, but are better if you buy the ‘Magic Your Way’ option. Just make sure you get enough days and options, but not too much. Don’t forget about accommodations, travel expenses, incidentals.
15. Weather – Even as a born and raised Floridian, there are still times of the year I don’t like the weather in Central Florida. Check the weather before you set your dates. Unless it is the middle of summer, nights can get chilly.
14. Character Meet and Greet – Plan ahead. Check out who’s available at character dining experiences and opt to visit your characters of choice there which allows you to avoid lines. Lines for characters in the parks can get very long so make sure you have something to keep your kids busy. Check the ‘Times Guides’ upon entering the park to make sure you know where and when your Disney friends will appear. Make sure you are prepared for the characters too. Keep your camera, autograph book and oversized pen in hand and ready when it’s your turn for some face time with your Disney pal.
13. Always be prepared – Rain ponchos, sunscreen, cameras, autograph books, pens, hand sanitizer and/or wipes, and the list goes on. Bring your own water and snacks, then you can save on that area of the budget. Ice water is also free at all restaurants. 🙂 Sandwich bags are a great way to keep important items dry.
12. Fast Pass+ – Use it! It can cut down on ride times and let you see more of the park.
11. MagicBands – If you are staying a Disney Resort hotel, you will get your MagicBand about 3 weeks before your trip. These bands can unlock your hotel door, let you charge food and drinks to your hotel, carry your Fastpass+ and ticket information… consider it a wallet on your wrist. Now, if you aren’t staying at one the resorts, have no fear. You still get a Card with your park admission, but you can purchase a MagicBand at the parks or Downtown Disney.
10. Walking – Do not underestimate the power of comfortable shoes. You will be walking all day or standing in line. Make sure you pack an already broken in pair and don’t forget to bring bandaids to treat possible blisters.
9. Dining – Make reservations. If there is some where you really want to eat, don’t just hope you can get in. Reservations can be made via the My Disney Experience app, online at Disney.com or on the phone 180 days before the date of your desired reservation. Character dining experiences are likely to book up first so make sure you reserve your table(s) ASAP.
8. Height requirements – Check ride height requirements before you go on Disney.com. You don’t want to get there only to find out your little one is a tad too short after they’ve had their heart set on a particular ride.
7. Souvenirs – Budget for this. Also, if you are staying on property, you can have your souvenirs sent right back to your hotel so you won’t have to tote them around all day. There are also a couple Disney product outlets in the Orlando area for discontinued and sale merchandise.
6. Skipping parades – Disney has some of the best parades and shows, plus it is a great way to take a break from walking and keep the kids entertained. It’s also one of the best ways to see all of your favorite Disney Characters!
5. PhotoPass – Disney Professional photographers are in many places around the parks and photos they take of your family are added to your PhotoPass. Your PhotoPass allows you to access photos for purchasing while you’re at the park or from home online. You can also ask these Disney pro’s to take a photo using your own camera/camera phone. If you have a MagicBand, you can connect your Photo pass photos to your account too.
4. Arriving at the park late – Just don’t do it! There is lots of entertainment and excitement before the rope even drops, plus you can get to all the hottest attractions before long lines form.
3. Forgetting your stroller – Like I mentioned, you will be walking TONS. Strollers for kids are great, even if they don’t usually use one. They get tired and cranky and having a stroller gives them a little respite of their own and also helps wrangle bags and stuff it it has ample storage. Check out: Should I Rent a Stroller At Disney Or Bring My Own?
2. Extras – Don’t forget to reserve space for princess makeovers at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, pirate makeovers at the Pirate’s League, golfing, parasailing, spa treatments, park tours, and special hard ticket events during certain holidays. If your kids want to do this, make sure you book it ahead of time.
1. Not staying long enough – I can never spend enough time at the parks, but really, if you plan your trip, you will have a good idea of how many days you need to accomplish everything on your list. Also try to leave a little time to relax so you don’t feel too pressured to overdue it at the parks.
If you keep these suggestions in mind, it will make your experience much more pleasant. I promise, there will always be something that you forget, and that is OKAY. Everyone gets excited about going to Disney!
I am a lifelong Disney fanatic and mother of a future Disney fan. I've run several of the RunDisney events, including hte Disney Princess Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Half Marathon. When I'm not planning my next vacation to WDW, I can be found online at http://www.amothersdesign.com