A Dozen Common Mistakes Guests Make When Visiting Walt Disney World
Despite what many of us will lead you to believe, EVERY Disney insider was at one point a Disney newbie and believe me when I say that we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes! One of my favorite things about being a Disney blogger/travel agent is being able to share tips and tricks to make your Disney days a breeze! With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 12 common mistakes people make when visiting Walt Disney World. Believe me when I say I’ve made most of these myself so that you don’t have to!
1. Arriving at the Theme Parks Late Morning
I know you’re on holiday and the idea of sleeping in is more than a little enticing. However, any regular Disney-goer will tell you that the first few hours after a park opens is the BEST time to squeeze in a lot of your favorite attractions. It’s one of the only times where you can ride Splash Mountain, get off and ride again. However, as the morning wears on, the steady stream of visitors means that by noon the park is at it’s busiest. Arriving at this time (along with everyone else) means long lines and the heaviest crowds of the day!
2. Leaving the Park When it Rains
I’ll let you in on a little secret, Disney insiders love a good afternoon rain storm. When the rain starts to fall you can watch soaking wet guests leaving the park in droves and for those that choose to stay this means shorter wait times. Rain in Orlando can be heavy but often times it disappears as quickly as it arrives. Don’t let bad weather put a damper on your Disney days. Come prepared with some cheap rain ponchos from the dollar store and tough it out with your family. You’ll be amazed at how much you can squeeze in during a rain shower. For tips on Disney World rainy day activities check out this article.
3. Using FastPasses When Stand-By Lines are Low
The best use of a FastPass is tackling rides that have enormous wait times to cut down on the amount of time that you have to spend in line. Since you can only initially book 3 FastPasses a day, your selections are pretty important. However, many first time visitors don’t realize that you can change your FastPasses right up to the time that you check in for an attraction. This means there’s lots of flexibility on the day. If you have a FastPass for Splash Mountain at 10:00 am and you walk up and see that the Stand-By line is only 10 minutes long- don’t use your FastPass. Rather wait in the short standby line and reschedule your FastPass for another attraction with longer wait times. This means your FastPasses won’t go to waste! I also typically advise not to book FastPasses during the first two hours after the park opens. During this time, wait times are at their lowest. Save your selections for the afternoon when everything starts to get super busy!
4. Not Making Dining Reservations in Advance
The days of being able to walk up to your favorite Disney restaurant and get a table on the spur of the moment are long gone. In most instances guests will be faced with long stand-by waits or in some cases will be told there is no availability. Anyone planning a visit to Walt Disney World has the ability to make dining reservations 180 days in advance. It’s always advisable to make reservations before you arrive at Disney. Though availability at some of Disney’s most popular eateries fill up months in advance, even guests planning a last minute getaway can choose from a nice array of offerings when making advanced reservations and may even be surprised by that last minute opening at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table. When it comes to dining at Walt Disney World the more you organize in advance the easier your Disney days will be!
5. Not Scheduling In Some Down Time
One of the things that surprises a lot of first-time visitors is just how massive Walt Disney World really is. When visiting one of Disney’s theme parks, it’s not uncommon to walk 7 or 8 miles in a day. Now imagine doing that 4 days in a row. Believe me when I say that you’ll be a little worse for wear. If you have the time and flexibility, I always recommend scheduling in a day by the pool to relax, unwind and rest those weary feet. Each of Disney’s resorts also has a huge array of amenities and activities that you may otherwise miss if you’re at the parks each day!
6. Not Getting a Memory Maker Package
For many, a Walt Disney World getaway represents the vacation of a lifetime. I can’t think of a better way to preserve these memories than by taking out a PhotoPass package. For $169 if purchased in advance, you get unlimited downloads of photos taken by PhotoPass photographers during your trip. This can include ride photos and videos, dining experiences, character meet and greats, family portraits and awesome Magic Shots like the one above. Even if you consider yourself a bit of a photographer, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and fast pace of a trip to the theme parks. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t snapping photos as much as you’d like. With this in mind Memory Maker is always a great option!
Here’s more information on Disney’s Memory Maker package.
7. Lugging Souvenirs Around With You
I always feel bad when I see parents at the theme parks dragging around bags filled to the brim with Disney souvenirs! One of the best perks about staying onsite at Walt Disney World is that you have the option of having any purchases you make while at the parks delivered to your resort for you to pick up for FREE! And even if you aren’t staying onsite, you can still have your purchases delivered to the front of the park for you to pick up on your way out! Just talk to the cast member at the shop where you make your purchases and they’ll walk you through the process. This definitely makes for a kinder, gentler less cumbersome theme park visit!
8. Not Using at Stroller for Small Kids
Confession. I rented a stroller at Walt Disney World right up until my daughter turned 7 and I don’t regret a moment of it! I mentioned above that during one day at the theme parks it’s not uncommon to walk 7 miles. Now imagine what it does to tiny toes! Strollers are an awesome way to go for little ones as it lessens the chance of hearing them complain about being too tired, having achy feet or the sun getting in their eyes. Disney can be a wonderful but overwhelming experience for little kids. My child is incredibly active and always on the go. But during our visits to Disney, she would actually fall asleep in the stroller! Pampering kids a little bit with a stroller means you can stretch out your days, make sure they’re comfortable and just generally make things easier on the whole family!
9. Not Taking Advantage of Rider Switch
Many grown-ups automatically assume that by visiting the parks with tiny tots you have to forgo riding any of Disney World’s larger thrill rides. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Disney’s Rider Switch program is a neat slightly under-the-radar offering that allows one adult family member to ride an attraction while the other family members stay with the small kids. When the first parent is done, the parent that stayed behind can hop right on the ride (without having to wait in line again.) Trust me when I say that it’s revolutionary and if travelling with a mix of younger and older kids is an awesome perk!
For more information on Rider Switch check out this article.
10. Skipping Animal Kingdom
For years now there’s been this misconception going around the internet that Animal Kingdom is the one park you can give a miss during your Walt Disney World visit. I am always baffled by this because, in my opinion, it couldn’t be further from the truth! I’m not alone when I say that Animal Kingdom is my favorite Walt Disney World theme park. Where else can you take a trek through an African Savanna, scale the Himalayas on Disney’s biggest coaster, fly on the back of a banshee, meet Pocahontas, journey back in time to the age of the dinosaurs and catch an amazing stage show all before lunch? If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World before, make up your own mind, and definitely try to give all four theme parks a try!
11. Not Dressing for the Parks
Trust me when I say that there’s nothing worse than getting horrible blisters on day 1 of your Disney getaway and having to suffer through them for the rest of your trip. A Disney visit is not the time to sport those killer heels or break in those brand new sandals. Instead, bring along the most comfortable shoes you can find even it if means compromising your look! Its also always a good idea to bring along some blister band-aids in your park bag! And parents, if you’ve booked your little ones for a princess makeover including an adorable pair of mini heels, don’t make your child walk around on them all day! I’ve seen many teary-eyed princesses. I also always recommend bringing a change of clothes along with you to the theme parks. Whether it’s sweat, the remnants of a Mickey ice cream bar or a run through one of the Water Play areas you’ll find at the parks to keep kids cool, your wardrobe can get messy pretty quickly! It’s nice to be able to swap clothes without having to make a trip back to the resort!
12. Leaving With Dining Credits Left Over
Even if you plan out all your meals and snacks with military-like precision, those on the Disney Dining Plan may find that you have meal or snack credits left over at the end of your stay. Don’t let them go to waste. Quick Service dining credits can actually be converted into snack credits. Snack credits can not only be used for awesome items like Dole Whips at the theme parks but your resort gift shops will also have non-perishable items that can be purchased with these credits. On my check-out day, I usually stock up on bags of candy, savory treats, lollipops etc. I like to bring them home with me and surprise my family with an occasional Disney treat!
For more information on how swapping credits works check out this article.
I hope by brushing up on these 12 common Walt Disney World mistakes you’re on your way to an awesome trip where you get to enjoy all of Disney’s amazing treats, perks and more without the blood, sweat and tears!
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