First-Timer Walt Disney World Mistakes to Avoid
The online Walt Disney World fandom has grown immensely. Everywhere you turn on the internet, an expert telling you how to maximize park time, where to eat the best meals, and how to score coveted lightning lanes.
But many Disney visitors have never tapped into these resources. They’re taking their first trip because the kids are finally tall enough to ride Space Mountain.
If this applies to you, heed my advice. I’ve seen many people (including friends and family) make rookie errors on their Disney World trips.
They still have a great time, but hearing these tips after the fact are mini revelations.
Today, let me share some major mistakes you can avoid. Whether you’re a newbie or a Disney veteran, this advice will make your trip more magical.
Forgetting to Pack Essentials
Packing smart for a vacation takes finesse. It’s fine to bring Minnie ears and Disney t-shirts, but it’s more important to remember gear/gadgets for comfort.
When it comes to “wise” Disney packing, your suitcase must have the following:
- Multiple pairs of comfortable, walking shoes
- Ponchos/lightweight rain jacket
- Sweatshirts/zip-up jackets if applicable (It can get chilly in Orlando!)
- Crossbody bag/fanny pack/small backpack for the parks
- Portable phone charger
- Reusable straws
- Hand sanitizer
- Reusable water bottle
- Small, portable umbrella
This seems like a lot but trust this frequent visitor. Orlando weather can be volatile, and the amount of walking rivals a European tour.
All of these items will make your life easier, and they will be much cheaper if you buy them at home.
Eating Exclusively at Character Dining Restaurants
For newcomers, Character Dining meals are sit-down meals that include characters stopping by your table for autographs and pictures. They’re expensive, but they’re an efficient way to meet several characters with no lines.
Not all Character Dining is created equally though. While some excel at theming and food, others solely rely on Mickey Mouse wearing a fun outfit to fill reservations.
My advice? Don’t make every meal character-centric.
As I just mentioned, the food isn’t always stellar. And secondly, too many character meals in one week will dilute the magic for your kids.
Consider planning one or two character meals during your trip. It’ll make Mickey’s appearance much more special.
Check out this list for some beloved character meals.
Buying the First Souvenir You See
(This tip is especially important for parents teaching kids the value of money.)
Disney World has a huge number of shops, varying in specialties. But honestly? A lot of these stores have repeat merchandise.
Unless you find an exceptional purchase, you’re better off waiting to spend precious gift card funds. If you spend too quickly, you may miss out on a truly unique and special buy later.
So, try to hold off impulse-purchasing gifts and give yourself at least a couple of hours to mull it over. (If you’re still stuck on it, that’s a good sign!)
Many vacation souvenirs end up collecting dust or joining garage sales. If you take your time to pick out items that are useful/meaningful, you’ll bring home a beautiful memory.
Despite what Disney promo videos may say, every splurge isn’t going to be right for your family and budget.
Is the luxurious Grand Floridian Resort gorgeous? Yes! But can you still have a magical week at value-tier Pop Century? Absolutely.
Would you feel like royalty attending a special dessert/firework viewing party in the Magic Kingdom? Probably, but this will also double your park admission cost.
Occasional Disney splurges can be fun for special occasions, but they are not must-do things.
Even seemingly normal ticket add-ons like the Park Hopper option and the Disney Dining Plan can be rather pricey. In those instances, I’d encourage you to price these out in advance.
Some vacation package features may be priceless, and others may be skippable. Just don’t fall into the trap that your vacation will be ruined if you go a budget-friendly route.
Maximizing Every Day
The Disney World property is the size of San Francisco. It’s massive.
Dozens of hotels and restaurants accompany a huge shopping area and (technically) six parks. (The water parks count.)
For first-time visitors, especially once-in-a-lifetime visitors, it’s tempting to fill your days from sun up to midnight. Resist this.
I can’t tell you how many families I see dragging and bickering by day three of their trip. That’s because everyone (not just kids) needs time to rest and recuperate.
If you’re a planner, plan for downtime in addition to park time. This could mean sleeping in one day, cutting out early another day, spending time at the pool, or exploring different resorts.
I started planning at least one rest day in my trips years ago and I’ve never looked back.
They are life and sanity savers. I promise.
With these tips, you’re equipped to plan your trip like a Disney veteran! I wish you happy travels.
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Featured Image: Disney