Everyone remembers his or her first trip to Walt Disney World. From seeing the Castle for the first time to finally hugging your favorite character, there is nothing quite like it. However, if you have never visited before, planning can be quite stressful. To help you out I have compiled a list of 10 rookie mistakes that you can avoid to have the best trip ever!
1 – Not looking at a map before your arrival
Before you even step foot in the parks you should be sure to look at the map of each park you plan on attending. A simple Google search will reveal thousands of map pictures or you can use the My Disney Experience app. By looking at park maps, you can get an idea of what attractions you would like to experience. This also helps you determine what attractions you should get FastPasses for. Maps also help you determine how far apart attractions are so you do not schedule FastPasses and reservations back to back when they are on opposite sides of the park.
2 – Not utilizing the FastPass+ System
Disney’s new FastPass+ System helps you get on your favorite ride faster, by giving you a return time to wait in a shorter queue. Your return time will be an hour long and you can ride once, anytime during that hour. Each park ticket comes with three complimentary FastPass, which you can book sixty days out if staying at a Disney Resort and thirty days out if staying off property. After you use those three you can return to any park FastPass+ kiosk for more FastPasses, one at a time.
3 – Not accounting for travel time
With four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and twenty-five Disney owned resorts it is no wonder Disney World is huge. However, if you have never been to Disney World before it is hard to imagine how massive it is. That is why it is extremely important to calculate travel time when choosing to leave for reservations and FastPasses. If using Disney transportation I like to leave at least an hour before my reservation to account for waiting for the bus and riding the bus. During peak times, with heavy traffic, such as the holidays, I suggest leaving even more time to ensure you make your reservation.
4 – Not utilizing extra magic hours if staying onsite
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort you are eligible to attend Extra Magic Hours. Each day one park (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios) will either open earlier than normal or close later than normal only for resort guests. While not all attractions will be open this is a great way to experience popular attractions with shortened wait times.
5 – Carrying merchandise around the park
With the wide selection of merchandise available its hard to resist taking home some souvenirs. If you choose to buy souvenirs be sure to take part in the complimentary shipping. For free, you can have your purchase shipped to the front of the park for pick-up or to your resort gift shop if staying in a Disney resort. This saves you from having to carrying it around all day and ensures you will not lose your purchase.
6 – Not using the My Disney Experience app
If you have a smartphone, the My Disney Experience app is a must. This app provides you with ride descriptions, wait times, and park maps. You can also use this app to make FastPasses and dining reservations. I cannot stress enough how helpful this app is, especially for first timers.
7-Not asking a cast member for help
Your first time in a new place is bound to leave you with some confusion and questions. If you find yourself wondering where to meet a character, where to grab a meal, or directions do not hesitate to find a cast member and ask them. There is almost always a cast member around to help answer any questions you have and offer advice – all you have to do is ask!
8 – Not having backup battery power
If you have a smartphone it is good to bring backup battery power. Between taking pictures, using the My Disney Experience app, and locating your travel party, having a working phone is very important. Power sticks that will charge your phone can be found for as low as $10 and can give your phone a quick charge on the go. If you do not have backup battery power, guest relations at any park will allow you to leave your phone to charge it, then pick it up once its fully charged.
9 – Not checking height requirements
If you are traveling with young children be sure to check the height requirements for certain attractions. Measure your child before the trip to figure out their height but do not promise that they can ride. If a cast member deems them to be too short, do not try to fight with them, they just want to ensure your child is safe!
10 – Not having a plan in case separated
With the massive size of Disney and the amount of people in the parks at any given time it is easy to get lost in the crowd. This is why it’s best to have a plan in case you or any member of your party get separated. Make sure you have a meeting spot, a place everyone will go if separated that is easily located. If traveling with children be sure they know to find a cast member if they are lost and to stay in the same spot. If they are very young you may want to consider writing contact information on a bracelet so you can be contacted if your child is lost.
By avoiding these rookie mistakes you will be doing Disney like a pro in no time. Happy travels!
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