For some families, every summer includes a week at Walt Disney World. For even luckier families, WDW is a place they can visit on the weekends or during the evenings. This is not the case for most. Many guests are newcomers who have never graced the hallowed gates of the Magic Kingdom. If you are one of those folks, you should be incredibly excited. There is nothing more thrilling than your first trip. However, successful WDW vacations cannot be executed on a whim. If you’re a Disney newbie, here are just a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning and enjoying your Orlando adventure.
1. You Will Need to Plan Ahead
Disney vets will offer this advice ad nauseam … and for good reason. While you could technically visit WDW with little to no plans – if you stay for a week, travel with other people, and have a list of things to see, that could make your trip difficult. Instead, any seasoned visitor will recommend you start making plans at least six months (ideally a year) in advance. At this time, you’ll want to confirm trip dates and your mode of transportation. From there, you’ll pick your accommodations. (We strongly suggest you pick on-property Disney accommodations for convenience and added perks.)
After the preliminary arrangements, you’ll need to make dining reservations for WDW restaurants and make FastPass+ reservations to reduce wait times at various attractions, shows, and character meet and greets. If this sounds overwhelming, you can consult Disney travel agents or a third-party travel agency for free! These travel agents can advise you during every step of the planning process at no additional cost. (May we suggest our very own Mickey Travels?) Trust us. While the legwork may seem extensive, it will pay off.
2. You Will Need to Do Some Research
Along with making reservations, you’ll want to glean advice beyond a travel agent. Several fan sites (like this one!), travel blogs, and Disney-loving acquaintances can give you countless insider tips. For example, are you looking for advice when traveling with small children? Are you wondering when Space Mountain has the shortest stand-by line? Do you want to know where you can find the tastiest burger on property?
All of these answers and more can be found through the wonderful world of online forums. Be warned though, conducting too much research can be overwhelming. (And everyone has a strong opinion on the internet!) We’d suggest that you pick 2-3 favorite sites or blogs and occasionally check in for tips. Great advice here or there can make a magical difference!
3. You Will Need to Pack Smart
Packing for vacation always requires a little extra brain power and WDW trips are no exception. Florida weather is temperamental and packing the wrong wardrobe and supplies could seriously impact your experience. Be a step ahead of the game and check out the weather conditions online. Bring rain gear. Bring hoodies if necessary. (Florida definitely cools down in the winter and early spring!) And definitely pack a steady supply of breathable clothing and sturdy walking shoes.
Regarding other “must bring” items, no Orlando-bound suitcase should be packed without sunscreen, hats, refillable water bottles, and anything else that combats humidity! Nothing takes the “magic” out of the Magic Kingdom like a nasty sunburn, so slather on sunscreen before you let that happen! Remember this nugget of truth. When it comes to packing for Disney, always pick function over fashion.