Rookie Mistake #6 – Not doing your research
Disney World is a city unto itself being twice the size of the island of Manhattan and literally brimming with options for dining, attractions, sight-seeing, rides and more! Upon arrival, Disney can quickly become overwhelming unless you’re armed with some research about the places you want to experience. We’ve done a lot of the work for you with top ten lists for each parks plus dining, packing and budget tips that will help you to squeeze every last delicious drop out of your Disney experience. I’ve curated a list of articles below that will acquaint you with our top picks of things to do at each park.
Rookie Mistake #5: Not booking dining reservations far in advance
We just booked a trip to Disney a little under 3 months from now and I excitedly got on the phone to schedule character dining at some of our favorite restaurants but they were all booked except one. Dining is one of the most magical experiences at Disney and definitely the thing I most anticipate when we visit. The only catch is visitors can reserve tables at Disney restaurants up to 180 days in advance of their trip which leaves the rest of us out in the cold, or at least having to settle for the quick service dining and less-than-desirable restaurant choices out there. Planning ahead – at least 180 days before your trip will allow you to snatch up those winning dining experiences like Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Princess Castle, Ohana’s at The Polynesian, or many other choices where Disney characters stroll by your table for a visit. Below is a list of 6 restaurants that we recommend for “first-timers.”
Rookie Mistake #4 – Arriving at the park too late in the day
Instead of sleeping in on your vacation, Disney experts recommend getting to your park of choice at “rope drop” or, in other words, when it opens. Your crew will literally have the park to yourselves for at least the first 2 hours of the day. You’ll be amazed how many rides you can take in without standing in long lines! Then after lunch, head back to your resort for a siesta by the pool or naps for little ones during the hottest and busiest times of the day in the parks! You can head back into the park rested and refreshed for the evening. Genius huh? Disney is so big that trying to cram in every single attraction in a single visit is literally impossible so Disney insiders recommend pacing yourself. It is after all your vacation and you don’t want to go home more exhausted and stressed-out than when you came. You guessed it!
Rookie Mistake #3: Not bringing strollers for little ones
My daughter is 6 years old and quite independent but after a few hours in the park, she begins to wilt and wine that her feet are tired. By that time, I start to whine myself about having to carry the backpack I’ve brought into the park or wish I had a drink holder to stash my lemonade slushy. Even if your kid is older and can run laps around the soccer field, you may want to bring or rent a stroller for your visit to Disney. It gives your kids a place to retreat from the crush of crowds, store a drink or snacks and even grab a short nap if they’re that young. My favorite reason to have a stroller – it makes corralling your kid(s) around the parks a lot easier when you don’t have to wonder if they’re keeping up or wandering off. Make sure your stroller folds easily as most Disney attractions won’t allow strollers inside or will require you to fold and stow them. I recommend stroller rental companies that carry “Baby Jogger” strollers that are super easy to fold.
Rookie Mistake #2: Not having a plan for your week
You don’t necessarily want to become a drill sergeant in your approach to doing Disney, but at the very least, it’s helpful to know what park you wish to visit on which day. This will help you narrow down the top 5-10 attractions you want to take in plus allow you to schedule FastPass+ appointments for these cutting down on wait times. We recommend keeping your afternoons free of appointments so that you can lolligag around the parks or go back to your resort to relax. Disney is gorgeous and it’s nice to be able to take in that beauty at a relaxing pace. Having a plan also helps you make dining reservations for restaurants in the parks and at resorts. In fact, I usually make my dining reservations first then allow those appointments to frame-up which parks I go to on which days.
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Rookie Mistake #1 – Not staying long enough
When you visit Disney, stay a couple days longer than it takes to visit each park. If you’re staying on property at Disney, your resort will be enough of a playground destination that you won’t want to miss the amenities and attractions there. Why not schedule your vacation for a few days longer and spend entire days at the resort lounging by the pool? Friends of ours have their Disney trips down to a science. They’ll visit a park every other day and spend the off days hanging out at their resort. So, consider adding a few days to your trip to make time for relaxation. You may have heard people say “I need a vacation now that I’m back from Disney.” Don’t let this be you!
We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful to you! If you have any other ideas or questions, we welcome your response in the comments below:
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