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Credit: Matthew Cooper (www.thetimethespace.com)

Do’s and Don’t’s for Your First Walt Disney World Trip

Walt Disney World is always changing, and now more than ever, it’s helpful to have a few pointers if it’s your first trip to WDW. Here are a few basic do’s and don’ts that will help Guests enjoy a magical vacation.

Do Plan Ahead

While it used to be possible to have a spontaneous trip to Walt Disney World that didn’t plan every single day out, those days are all but gone now. A little planning goes a long way to making your WDW vacation memorable, and in many instances, planning is essential.  

You’ll now need to book a Park reservation for each day you plan to be in a specific Park (in addition to purchasing Park tickets). Park Passes fill up quickly, so the sooner you can reserve them, the better.

Booking your Disney Resort Hotel far in advance will improve your chances of staying where you want to when you want to. The same goes for dining – while you can eat at quick service spots on the spur of the moment, for most table service restaurants, you’ll want to make an advanced dining reservation as early as 60 days in advance to ensure you get a table. 

Don’t Try to See and Do Everything

One of the biggest mistakes Guests make at Walt Disney World is trying to see and do everything in one trip. Spoiler: you can’t. It’s just not possible.

WDW is massive, and I still haven’t seen everything even after dozens of visits over almost 30 years. So to avoid exhaustion and heartache, accept that from the get-go, so you can prioritize!

Spend your time on the attractions and experiences that appeal most to you and your family, rather than rushing around trying to cram in every single ride you can, which – take it from someone who knows – will only make everyone in your party miserable.

Do Stay on Property

Staying on site at a Disney Resort Hotel is a great idea, especially for your first visit to Walt Disney World. Free transportation, excellent service, fabulous dining options, and benefits that can only be enjoyed by Guests staying on property are just a few reasons you might want to choose a Disney Value ResortModerate Resort, Deluxe Resort, or Deluxe Villa Resort for your stay.

The Disney Bubble also refers to the total immersion in all things Disney that you will experience in WDW. If you stay on property, you remain in the Disney Bubble, even while you’re chilling at your Resort pool or relaxing in your room. This is a huge plus, especially for first-time Guests – it makes your WDW vacation even more magical!

Don’t Spend All Your Time in the Parks 

It’s tempting, especially for new Guests, to want to spend all of your time in Walt Disney World Theme Parks during your vacation. And this is understandable – Park tickets aren’t cheap, and you have a limited time to enjoy what each Park has to offer.

But there are experiences beyond Disney Theme Parks that also deserve your attention, that may surprise you by creating some of your favorite vacation memories! Visit Disney Springs, WDW’s shopping, entertainment, and dining hotspot, at least once.

And ask about the activities, many complimentary, that are offered by your Resort Hotel if you’re staying on property – they could include Disney movies under the stars, campfires, poolside games, art classes, horseback riding, archery, carriage rides, and more!

Do Take a Break

Whether it takes the form of a mid-day nap or swim, an early night after a hectic day in the Theme Parks, or a morning where you don’t rush to make it to the Parks by rope drop (gasp), making time for rest is one of the best tips we can offer to Walt Disney World newbies!

Yes, it seems counterintuitive at best, sacrilegious at worst – who wants to REST in the most magical place on Earth? Short answer: you will, and should if you’re going to make the most of your WDW vacation!

Not only will strategic breaks prevent Disney’s youngest Guests from having meltdowns, but they’ll also be a welcome way for Guests of all ages to recharge their batteries. It’s amazing how exhausting vacationing at WDW can be, especially if it’s a hot or humid day in Orlando.

Don’t Forget to Make a Budget

A vacation at Walt Disney World can wreak havoc on a Guest’s wallet if you’re not careful. But it IS possible to visit WDW on a budget. You can find discounted Resort rooms at various times of the year, save money by eating at quick service locations more often than table service restaurants, and ensure you bring all the essentials so you don’t have to pay inflated prices for a rain poncho or sunscreen in the Parks, for starters.

Along with making smart decisions about where to stay and eat, it’s a good idea to set a budget for souvenirs. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Disney superfan, you WILL be drawn in by the myriad magic mementos offered in every Disney Theme Park, Disney Resort Hotels, and Disney Springs. Unless you want to come home to a very unpleasant credit card bill, it’s a good idea to figure out how much you’re comfortable spending on extras during your trip – and stick to that number!

Bottom Line

If you’re about to be a first-time Guest at Walt Disney World, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed right about now. But keeping a few simple tips in mind will help to ensure you make the most of your magical WDW vacation!

About Stacy Milford

Stacy has lived in 4 countries on 3 continents, and travels whenever humanly possible. Passionate about music theatre, dessert, and adventure in the great wide somewhere, she visits Walt Disney World every year, usually during Halloween! Stacy currently divides her time between writing and teaching English as a second language to children in China, and is pretty sure growing up is over-rated.