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First Timer at Walt Disney World? Here Are The Basics

Walt Disney World is a destination that many people dream of going to their entire lives. It is truly a magical place. You can escape reality, dive right into some of your favorite Disney films, and truly become a part of the story. For those who have never been it can be a little overwhelming to try to plan the entire vacation. Here are some tips for first time Walt Disney World travelers.

1. Reservations 

For the time being you are required to have a Disney Park Pass Reservation to enter one of the four theme parks. This is only after reopening since the COVID-19 pandemic. Although capacity has been raised you are still required to have a reservation to enter. All you need to do is go on the Walt Disney World website, look at the availability calendar, and book your space. It is that simple. Make sure everyone in your party has a reservation because Walt Disney World is strict on this. If you don’t have a reservation you cannot enter a park.

2. Currently No FastPass+ 

If you’ve done some research you’ve probably seen many things about FastPass+. It is helpful to get past the long lines for some of your favorite attractions. Currently Disney is not using the FastPass+ system. There’s no word on when it will be returning, so make sure you download the My Disney Experience App. That way you can see current wait times and plan out which rides and attractions you would like to do.

3. Mobile Ordering 

Another thing Walt Disney World has used to try to keep as much distance as possible between parties is Mobile Ordering. It is quite simple, just go on the My Disney Experience App and select which quick service dining option you would like. You will order your food and pay right through the app. Select a time frame, and once you arrive hit the “I’m here” option. Your food will soon be ready. A Disney cast member will be standing outside to answer any questions you may have. It is a quick and easy system.

4. Full Service Dining 

If you are looking for a full service restaurant make sure you get a reservation. You’re able to book dining reservations up to 60 days in advance, and some will be gone that quickly. This can be done through the My Disney Experience App or online. It is very unlikely that you’ll be able to walk up to a full service restaurant and be able to grab a table, so book as early as possible.

5. Dog Friendly Hotels

For quite some time all Walt Disney World resort hotels except for Fort Wilderness Campground were not pet friendly. Disney listened to some of the concerns of guests who didn’t want to leave their little best friend at home. Now there are a few resorts where you can bring your dog for an extra fee. Currently only Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are dog friendly. The rooms have easy access to outdoor areas where you can walk your dog and let them do their business. Upon arrival you’ll receive Pluto’s Welcome Kit. All dogs must be up on all vaccines, be friendly, and be on the leash at all times in public areas. They are not allowed in the theme parks, restaurants, or pool areas. Service dogs are in a different category.

6. Park Hopper 

For a while after reopening you were only allowed to be in one Walt Disney World theme park a day with the new COVID-19 restrictions. At the beginning of 2021 Disney brought back Park Hopper. You are required to have a reservation for one of the theme parks but then after 2:00 PM you can Park Hop to another one. You have to enter the park of your reservation before you can enter a different park. Park Hopper is an additional cost on your ticket. It’s a great way to make sure you can get all of your favorite attractions in.

7. Check the Forecast

The weather in Central Florida is often unpredictable. In the summer one moment it’s bright and sunny with blue skies and the next moment it’s high winds and thunderstorms. It is not a bad idea to bring a poncho and an extra pair of socks in case you get caught in the rain. In the winter some people don’t realize it actually can get quite chilly, so if you’re traveling at that time make sure to bring long pants and a coat. Don’t allow the weather to ruin your fun. There are plenty of things to do that are indoors, and you will have a great time no matter what it looks like outside.

8. Comfortable Shoes 

Some people don’t realize just how much walking you really do when you’re at the Walt Disney World theme parks. On average people walk ten to 12 miles a day! Make sure you have comfy shoes, your feet will thank you. At the end of the day you can tell which guests regret their shoe choice; don’t be one of them.

9. Stay Hydrated

It can get ridiculously hot outside in Florida. It is important to make sure that you stay hydrated. You don’t want to pass out during your Walt Disney World vacation. The quick service restaurants offer free cups of water. Just ask, even if you aren’t getting anything to eat. Your body will thank you.

10. Dress the Part

At Walt Disney World you’re allowed to be a kid at any age. If you’re at home you may look a little strange walking around in Mickey Ears, but it is totally normal at Walt Disney World at any age. Get fun outfits and cute ears, and have a great time.

11. Speak Like You’re From Batuu

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge needs to be part of your visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you learn some simple phrases you will sound like a local and fit in perfectly with the crowd. Here are a few that you may want to know. “Bright Suns” is good morning. “Rising Moons” is good evening. “Ignite the Spark” is a greeting for the Resistance. “Light the Fire” is a Resistance comeback to “Ignite the Spark”. “May the Spires Keep You” is a formal goodbye.

Credit: Disney

12. Don’t Stress and Have Fun

The final piece of advice is don’t stress and have a great time. You’re on vacation at the most magical place on Earth! You deserve to escape reality and have a wonderful time with your friends and family. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and want things to go perfectly, but just go with the flow and enjoy your special time. Take lots of photos and make memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t expect to do everything on your first visit. You’ll want to be back soon.

About Tricia Kennedy

Tricia Kennedy lives in Orlando and loves having Walt Disney World pretty much in her backyard. She can be found at Disney several times a week. She will often stop by a park for an hour or two, but she also enjoys spending a whole day there with her friends. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Tricia especially enjoys Star Wars Weekends and has ridden Star Tours over 200 times. Tricia's other favorite thing is Disney's BoardWalk, where she can often be found taking a walk or watching the nightly street performers.