So have you been on your Disney vacation and felt like things didn’t go as expected? Have you felt that maybe it wasn’t quite as you hoped it would go? Before you give up on Disney or wonder what keeps all of the rest of us going back time and time again for more, give this list a review and see if you maybe did a few of these things that could have severe impacts to the enjoyment of your vacation. Here are 5 ways you might be doing Disney wrong, along with recommendations for how you can fix it:
1. Resort Choice
Sure you may be able to find a deal off of Disney property that might save you a little money, and I understand where that may be necessary with certain budgets, but is the savings worth missing out on a bunch more Disney magic? Disney resorts are a huge part of the magical experience of a Disney vacation. The resorts have many perks and benefits that make them an excellent choice for lodging during your trip, and make up for any added cost. When selecting a Disney resort, there are many factors to consider, and for most of us I am sure price is toward the top of that list. The good news is that Disney has numerous resorts and all in varying price points to accommodate all budgets. There are also various resort experiences and themes so that families can choose the resort that best suits their interests. If you like animals, Animal Kingdom lodge may be your best bet. If you like splendor and amenities, then Grand Floridian may be your pick. If you want to be immersed in Disney movies and a whimsical use of the characters, Art of Animation or Pop Century may be your choice. Your resort choice plays a big part into the satisfaction of your trip, so you want to make sure you choose the resort that is right for your family. If you haven’t stayed on property at least once, give it a try. I have a feeling you are likely to love it like so many of the rest of us!
2. FastPass+ Choices
You want to get the most out of your FastPass+ selections so that they help make sure you get to experience everything that you want out of a day in the parks. There are a few recommended tips to help make sure that you get the most out of your FastPass+ selections. The first is to reserve them as soon as the dates open up for you (this will be 60 days from the first date of arrival for resort guests and 30 days for all other guests). Popular selections are gone quickly (think Slinky Dog Dash, Avatar Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin’), and these are also the attractions with historically the longest lines! The next tip is to make selections for times in the early afternoon. The mornings and late in the evening tend to be the least crowded times are the parks, so lines are naturally shorter. You are less likely to need FastPasses during those times, so make them for the popular times of day, which is also the hotter part of the day when waiting in lone lines would be the most tiring. Finally, make your selections for the attractions that typically have the longest lines. We touched on that a bit. You’ll want to know which attractions will be the longest lines for you so that you get the most benefit and save the most time. This is a great value-added service that can provide a lot of benefit if you are using it to your benefit and putting thought into your choices.
3. Failure to Plan
I’m going to guess that most of us have to save up funds and at least plan, financially, to be able to make a Disney trip. There are many people who either don’t have an interest in planning or they don’t realize how crazy other guests can get with planning their Disney days. It would be a mistake not to do any playing. I understand where those of you come from that don’t want to lose the spontaneity of your vacation (I am an over-planner, so I don’t live it, but I understand it!). At least take the time to try to predict what days you would want to go to each park and at least make a dinner reservation or one dining reservation for the day (if table-service is your thing). If your kids are into the characters, make your character dining reservations early since they book up. Guests can begin making dining reservations 180 days in advance (and for those with resort reservations, you can make the reservations for your whole trip, for up to 10 days, on 180 days from the first day of your stay), and believe me when I tell you that they do. There are lots of crazy people like me up early in the morning waiting for the dates to flip over to get the edge on getting the highly desired dining and times. The same goes for recreational activities and other events and happenings. You can reserve FastPass+ 60 days in advance (if you have a resort reservation, otherwise it is 30 days in advance), and the most popular attractions with the longest lines are always the first to be gone. I’m not saying you have to plan every detail or necessary plan all of these things for every day, but if you have entertainment or dining that you or your family will be upset if you miss, it is better not to wait until the last minute when you may not be able to get in. You’ll feel more relaxed on your vacation knowing that at least the basics are taken care of.
4. Planning Too Much
So we just talked about how failing to plan is a problem, well the other side of that is planning too much. As I mentioned, I am an overplanner, and have fallen victim to this and it took fun out of the trip. You don’t want to plan every minute of your vacation. You want to leave opportunity for your family to go with the flow and enjoy the moment without always feel like you are watching the clock or glued to your My Disney Experience app. It is definitely a good idea to map out your dining, FastPass+ and any other activities that are must-do’s for your family so that you have a general plan and know that you will get in the things that are important to you. It’s probably too much to plan exactly what times you are going to go into a particular store, or exactly what order you are going to check out attractions for each day months in advance. You want to leave yourself room to adapt to the happenings of the trip. There are other fun experiences that will come up and you will find yourself chasing your schedule for the rest of the day if you set those expectations. You don’t want to miss a chance to catch the Dapper Dans as you are walking past, interacting with streetmosphere, the chance to chat with an engaging cast member, etc. If you keep your family feeling rushed, they miss out on the magic that is a Disney vacation from the small details. I’m a recovering over-planner and I do enjoy life more on the other side, and so does my family!
5. Not In The Moment
Do you find yourself worrying too much about what others around you think? Are you still stuck in your professional, office environment and worrying about making a good impression? As Elsa would say, “Let it go!” This is the time and place where you can have fun and act like a kid with your kids! I have to remind my husband of that sometimes. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t dance your heart out to the amazing band in Africa at Animal Kingdom or wear Mickey ears and matching family t-shirts. I have witnessed many reserved individuals at Disney, and believe me, you would have so much more fun if you just give into the magic and the moment. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks and just have a good time. You don’t want to miss out on any of the extra magic and memories to be made with your family, and your kids will love this new side of you. You can go back to your suits and ties when you get back home and no one will be the wiser!
Don’t feel bad, we all had to learn some of these tips the hard way, through trial and error. Disney is an amazing vacation with a lot of value and magic packed into the short stay, so hopefully these tips will help you get the most of our next stay. Don’t forget the most important tip, which is to have a MAGICAL time!