Trying to squeeze everything into your first trip to Walt Disney World can be overwhelming. Having visited WDW many times, I know how tempting it is to just show up and go, but take it from, these simple guidelines will electrify the magic and put you in the crosshairs of the full Walt Disney World experience!
5. Stay on property at a Disney Resort Hotel
Many first time visitors don’t realize the incredible value you get when staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort. By far, the number one misconception of new Disney guests is that staying on property at Disney World is just way too expensive. Hogwash! If you are concerned with cost, as most of us are, Disney offers 3 levels of resort accommodations that can range from $75 per night to upwards of $500, depending on what your budget is. One great thing is that no matter how much or how little you pay, you will always be privy to the legendary and award winning Disney service. You don’t pay for great service at Disney, that’s just what they do and do it better than anyone else. As a Disney resort guest you will be able to take advantage of some really sweet perks like Extra Magic Hours. Each day, Disney has 1 park each day that opens an hour early and 1 park that stays open up to 3 hours late exclusively for guests staying on Disney property. This means shorter lines for attractions or NO LINES AT ALL! This by itself is reason enough to stay on property. Another great perk of being a Walt Disney World resort guest is being able to take advantage of the Disney dining plan, exclusively offered for Disney resort guests.
4. Get on the Disney Dining Plan
Another big mistake new visitors make when staying at a Walt Disney World resort is not taking advantage of the Disney Dining Plan. This is one of the best values you will get anywhere at Walt Disney World. Depending on what your needs are, Disney offers a few options for dining plans. Quick Service Dining, PLUS Dining, Deluxe, Premium and Platinum. The most popular dining plans are the quick service, plus and deluxe. The quick service plan is great if you really like to eat on the go and don’t plan on dining at a table service restaurant. The two I would highly recommend are the plus and the deluxe plans. The Disney Plus Dining Plan, gives you 1 quick service meal, one table service meal and one snack per person, per overnight stay. (Around $60 per person, per day.) The Disney Deluxe Dining Plan gives you 3 table service meals and 2 snacks per person per day. (Around $110 per person, per day.) Now I know right away this sounds like allot of money but consider this. Table service meals include unlimited soft drinks and desert. Deluxe also includes 1 appetizer per person. You can order anything off the menu, regardless of price, so if you order the $50 Oak Grilled filet at California Grill and one of their sumptuous deserts, it’s all covered under your dining plan and you still have 1 quick service meal and snack for that day. You can roll over your meals or snacks but take they note, they expire at midnight of your last day. One additional note you should be aware of is that some Signature restaurants like California Grill, Artist Point or Le Cellier’ require 2 table service meals. If yo plan on eating at signature restaurants, you might want to consider getting the deluxe plan. Either way, there is a plan for everyone and if you like to eat, it will save you money!
3. Make Dinner Reservations
The day’s of winging it at WDW are over. Unless you really don’t care what or where your eating for dinner, you will inevitably be turned away if you think you are going to just be able to walk up to a restaurant in Epcot or the Magic Kingdom during dinner hours and be seated. Resort guests make their dining reservations up to 180 days in advance at some of the most popular restaurants and if you wait till the last minute, you may be left eating a hot dog for dinner. People take this stuff seriously. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but take it from me, make the reservations and plan your days or be left hungry and agitated.
2. Make FastPass+ Reservations in Advance
For those guests who love planning in advance, FastPass+ is a blessing. For those who like to wing it, it’s a curse. Personally, I love the idea that I can secure my Fast Passes well in advance and you should too, else find yourself waiting in long lines. You still can secure FastPass times on the day of your visit, but you risk not having availability at some of the more popular attractions. Once you have booked your WDW vacation, be sure to visit MyDisneyExperience.com and get those selections made. If you feel overwhelmed on figuring out which attractions on which day at which park you should choose, here is a tip; Make your breakfast or dinner reservations first, then book your Fast Passes based on which park you will be closest to after your meal. No sense in booking breakfast at Epcot, only to choose your morning Fast Passes at Magic Kingdom. Think smart and efficiently an your vacation will flow more smoothly.
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1. Don’t take pictures of the fireworks or parade
If it’s your very first time watching one of Disney’s spectacular nighttime shows like Wishes, Illuminations or one the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime parades, put your camera away and actually WATCH THE SHOW! One of the biggest mistakes first time visitors do is try to capture the shows on video and completely miss the real, live, personal experience a show like Wishes or Illuminations delivers. There is a feeling you get, when you’re actually paying attention to the story, an emotion that cannot be reproduced through your cameras viewfinder when you have your full undivided attention focused on the spectacular production at hand. You miss the real experience when you are watching this through your camera’s viewfinder. Take pictures the 2nd time you see the show. If you’re only going to see it once, leave the camera in your bag. The pictures are not going to produce anything compare to what you experience through your own eyes anyway. What you will remember is how you felt as the story and visuals unfold before your eyes and the emotion you will walk away with.
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Photo courtesy of Silver Pin Studios