5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Disney Trip
Are you planning your first Walt Disney World vacation? You may feel overwhelmed and in need some information. Don’t worry! That’s exactly why MickeyBlog exists! We want to help Disney park fans have the best possible time, whether you’re grizzled veterans or first-time guests. Here are a few things I wish I knew before my first Disney trip and a few tips to avoid my mistakes.
Comfortable shoes are a big sticking point with me. I feel strongly about the subject because I’ve walked through Disney’s Animal Kingdom while I was wearing new tennis shoes. That park is 580 acres in size, and it’s not unusual for my party to walk 10 miles there during a single visit. Imagine how that feels in shoes that have no give to them. I got blisters and swollen ankles.
I also felt stupid because the fix is so simple. When you pack for your Disney vacation, focus on function over form. Don’t pick those stylish shoes that will match your outfit and bring out the sparkle in your eyes. Grab the ol’ reliable pair of beat up sneakers that you keep meaning to take to Goodwill. You won’t look fashion forward but nobody’s going to notice your shoes in your Disney photos anyway. What matters most is that you’re comfortable during your park days.
An unfortunate stereotype about theme parks is that the food is terrible. Guests expect burgers and chicken nuggets, and so they don’t do enough research about meals. At Walt Disney World, the cuisine is shockingly fantastic. In fact, one of the restaurants was recently named the second-best fine dining location in America!
Disney owns and operates more than 200 restaurants on their Orlando campus. These establishments run the gamut from quality counter service establishments like Columbia Harbour House to adorable character meals like Chef Mickey’s to Signature Dining experiences such as California Grill. Plus, the World Showcase at Epcot hosts international festivals on most dates. The menus for these exhibitions are incredible! You can spend your entire vacation eating at the pop-up restaurants aka food kiosks during these events.
I would also suggest that you join this informative Facebook group. Tasty Disney – Food, Drinks & More celebrates all of the delicacies available at Disney theme parks. You’ll learn about every new restaurant, entrée, and dessert offered at any Disney facility. Information is power, and reading this group regularly is guaranteed to enrich your theme park experience. Plus, your stomach will be grateful that you treated it to something better than a glorified ketchup delivery vehicle like nuggets or burgers.
FastPasses Are Crucial
Look, I’m not saying that you have to book FastPasses to have a great time at Walt Disney World. That’s crazy. Simply by entering a Disney theme park, you’re assuring yourself of the best possible vacation experience. This topic is more about maximizing bliss.
Disney park officials have determined that happy guests ride an average of nine attractions per theme park visit. During a 10-14 hour day, that may not sound like a lot, as it’s less than one ride an hour. What you must keep in mind is that you’ll eat, rest, answer the call of nature, and wander during your Disney day.
Sure, some people are obsessed with riding as many things as possible – I’m one of them – but park officials cater to everyone. They know from exhaustive research that most guests walk away satisfied when they experience nine attractions in a day.
FastPasses are the way that Disney ensures everyone of reaching this number. Disney will give anyone with an admission ticket up to three FastPasses. You should take all the FastPasses you can get, and there’s even a way to get more. You can book in-park FastPasses via the My Disney Experience app.
While you’re waiting in line for an attraction, load the app and check for other potential FastPasses. The reason that you should do this is the timing. A FastPass reduces your wait-time in line by at least 75 percent. With more FastPasses, you’ll get to experience more wonderful attractions without waiting in line as long. Before you depart for Walt Disney World, you should take some time to learn the FastPass system to reduce the stress of waiting in line excessively.
Pro tip: When you’re searching the app for new FastPasses, you have more options than you think. When you look at the available FastPasses and don’t see one that you like, back out of the current screen and start again. The system will reload a new list of FastPasses. The new listings might include a better attraction or something that fits your schedule better. You can reload the FastPass screen on My Disney Experience as much as needed. The lone caveat is that it’s something of a battery drain.
The World Showcase Is Spectacular
Part of the theme park mentality is that you must ride all of the best attractions. I’m really bad about this, as I try to “win Disney” by riding 12-15 different attractions per day. Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m cheating myself out of some of the best Disney features when I do this.
I’m referencing two parks in particular. The World Showcase at Epcot is home to 11 different pavilions, 10 of which reflect international cultures around the world. When you visit Epcot, you may feel goal-oriented, driven to ride Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After. While you’re at the park, however, take the time to visit at least a few of the pavilions.
You’ll discover fabulous foods that will thrill your taste buds. You’ll also visit shops with some of the most unusual merchandise at Walt Disney World. Also, the shows here are spectacular. The China Pavilion has tumblers and tightrope walkers, The Mexico Pavilion features a mariachi band, and a show at the United Kingdom Pavilion features a bunch of covers of hit songs by British Invasion bands.
More importantly, you’ll interact with cast members who are transplants from their homelands, hired by Disney to represent authentically their people. Nothing makes a Disney employee at a World Showcase pavilion happier than if you ask them for information about their home.
The same tip applies to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Pandora – The World of Avatar receives the lion’s share of the attention right now, but the place also hosts ACTUAL lions. Don’t ignore the core concept of the park as you race to Pandora or Expedition Everest. Take the time to learn about the animals who live there!
Treating the Disney Rash
Okay, I’m about to get a bit gross here, but it’s for a good reason. I once watched a YouTube video of a Disney influencer. He took his girlfriend to Walt Disney World for the first time, where she developed a condition colloquially known as the Disney Rash. My wife and I exchanged looks and exclaimed in stereo, “Oh!” We’d never heard the term before, but both of us have experienced this rash.
Technically named Exercise-Induced Vasculitis aka Golfer’s Vasculitis, this rash occurs when a person walks more than usual in a humid climate. The body isn’t used to the elements and a rash breaks out. A small amount of swelling might occur, too. All of this sounds scary, but it’s just a harmless rash.
The main reason why I’m telling you about it is because the cure is so easy. You simply rub an ointment on the impacted area. It takes 20 seconds, and you’ll experience immediate relief. Disney is so well-run that the medical facilities onsite give away this topical cream in little ketchup-sized packets. Should you suffer the Disney Rash, head over to the walkway right beside Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. They’ll get you fixed up right then and there!