When my family and friends reach out to me for help in planning a trip to Walt Disney World, I want to ensure they have the best experience possible, whether it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a more regular vacation. Here are a few of the common misconceptions and errors that I try to help people avoid making.
7. Not Staying Onsite
I’m frequently asked if there is any advantage to staying onsite, and my answer is always Yes! The benefits start the minute you arrive in Orlando. If you’re flying, onsite resort guests can elect to take a relaxing and stress free ride aboard Disney’s Magical Express to and from the airport, with Disney taking care of your luggage. When I’m on a Disney vacation, the last thing I want to worry about is driving, and convenient transportation is also available free of charge between the parks as well. Staying onsite also gives you the opportunity to reserve FastPasses 60 days in advance, as opposed to 30 days for those staying offsite. Onsite guests get to increase park time with Extra Magic Hours and using the package delivery service to transport souvenirs directly to your resort’s gift shop. I personally love how staying onsite keeps you immersed in Disney magic 24 hours a day.
6. Underestimating The Amount of Walking
First time or infrequent visitors don’t realize how much walking is involved, even if you’re not spending all day at the parks. My family walks an average of 5-7 miles a day, and that even takes into account a mid-day break at our resort. It’s really important to leave the fancy sandals at home and take a good pair of sneakers or walking sandals instead. If your group involves small children, don’t forget to bring along or rent a stroller, even if the child doesn’t use one at home. Using a stroller, even just occasionally during the day, gives little legs a break from the extra walking and keeps everyone happy. We found that a stroller also let my son take a small nap and recharge his batteries for the rest of the day.
The parks are going to be crowded during certain times of the year, like holidays, the summer, school breaks, and special events. It’s still possible to have a fantastic trip, keeping in mind that restaurants will be booked months in advance and it will take longer to accomplish everything that you want to do. Get ahead of the crowds by making any dining reservations several months in advance, taking advantage of the FastPass + system, making it a priority to get to the park at rope drop, and remembering to pack your patience.
4. Not Making FastPass+ Reservations
The most important thing to understand about FastPass+ is that it’s completely free. Everyone wants to make the most out of their vacation time, and FastPass+ is the best way to do it. You can make three FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance for each park’s most popular attractions, certain character meet-and-greets, and shows. Once you use those three FastPass+ selections, you can go ahead and make another using a kiosk in the park. If you change your mind about what attraction you want to use a FastPass+ for, it’s very easy to switch your selection.
3. Not Making Advance Dining Reservations
Taking a break from our day in the parks is important to my family, and securing a dining reservation is a great way to sit down, cool off, and enjoy one of Disney’s excellent restaurants. I’ve found that a lot of guests don’t realize how popular Disney’s restaurants are, even during off peak times of the year. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a restaurant will take walk-up guests without a reservation; I’ve learned that this usually is an exception and not the norm. Guests can make a reservation up to six months in advance either online or via the telephone. It’s secured with a credit card, so if you change your mind and want to cancel, it’s important to do it 24 hours in advance.
2. Not planning break time
Everyone needs break time from a busy day in the parks, not just the kids. My family typically will travel back to our resort to rest or cool off in the pool and recharge our batteries. If you don’t want to leave a park, it’s still a good idea to take a break in the shade with a refreshing drink or snack. Each trip we discover a new little nook or shady out of-the- way spot in the parks to sit down and relax. Taking breaks is crucial for keeping your Disney Day magical.
1. Not doing some basic research
A visit to Disney doesn’t come cheap, so it makes sense to get the most out of your vacation and do a little bit of prep work in advance. Look at park maps online and get an idea of where everything is and the transportation methods available. Understand the different ticket options and make sure you picked the most appropriate one for your touring plan. Decide what your budget is beforehand and that all of the essentials have been considered (meals, tips, souvenirs, any offsite transportation needed, and money allocated for an emergency). Take a look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly – you don’t want to have a day planned at a waterpark if the forecast is calling for rain all day.