Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida is my absolute favorite place to be on the planet Earth. At one time it was very hard for me to understand how some people could “hate” Disney. But over the years I have witnessed guests doing things that might just cause them to dislike “the happiest place on Earth”. Here’s our list of common Disney touring errors. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be certain to have a truly magical time.
7. DON’T force your kids to do things they don’t want to do
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this backfire on well-meaning parents. They believe that if they can just get a child onto a ride, they will see that there is nothing to fear. And sometimes this may be the case. However, if you do force a child to experience something they aren’t quite ready to do, you may find yourself hard-pressed to get them on anything else for the rest of that day (or possibly your entire vacation). If a child is expressing in a queue that they are afraid to ride a particular ride or visit with a particular character, it may be best to offer another option.
6. DON’T assume you can “wing it”
While Disney certainly has “peak” and “off-peak” times of the year, there is never going to be a time when you will wander around a “virtually empty” Disney theme park and simply waltz onto attractions and into restaurants on a whim with no waiting. The success of a Disney vacation depends largely on the amount of research and planning done beforehand. Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) and Fastpasses ARE A MUST. For more information on either of these topics, please refer to “Disney Dining Reservations 101: 8 Things You Need to Know!” and Disney’s FastPass+ 101 – Everything You Need To Know
5. DON’T make promises you can’t keep
“Don’t worry, sweetie. We don’t need to wait in this long line! We can see Anna and Elsa back at the hotel tonight!” I cringe whenever I hear parents effectively lying to their children at Disney. Sometimes the lies aren’t intentional; people just don’t understand the ins and outs of Disney. And sometimes this is due to lack of proper planning. If you don’t plan to do something or if you don’t know if it’s actually possible (ie, Anna and Elsa DO NOT appear in any resort hotels at this time), PLEASE don’t tell your children you can or will do that thing. I have witnessed COUNTLESS tantrums occurring as a result of this tactic.
4. DON’T completely abandon your usual schedule
As parents, we work very hard to establish a routine with our children. We have bedtimes, mealtimes, bath times well-established in their normal everyday lives. And in fact, our children begin to like these schedules and routines because they are dependable. But for some reason when people go on vacation, some parents erroneously believe that it is ok to COMPLETELY ignore their usual routines. Of course, being in Disney does warrant some alterations to your schedule. But if your kids usually eat around noon but your lunch reservation isn’t until 2, it is logical to expect that your kids are still going to be hungry at noon. If your normal routine is disrupted, have a plan in place (like a special snack to tide your kids over until that very late lunch).
3. DON’T sleep in every day of your vacation
I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of arriving at the theme parks BEFORE the scheduled opening time each morning. If you only follow one insider tip, please make it this one. You cannot expect to tour efficiently if you’re arriving at the parks many hours after they open. Pick one of your “non-park” days to hit the snooze button. For more information on this tip, please read “You Snooze, You LOSE! – 6 Things You’ll Miss If You Sleep In at Walt Disney World”
2. DON’T neglect to set a budget
I highly encourage all visitors to Walt Disney World to do their research and set a realistic budget prior to arriving at the resort. Obviously certain costs have already been covered, such as the cost of your hotel room and transportation to the Orlando area. There should also be a food budget, a souvenir budget, and a budget for any “incidentals” that may crop up. Ideally, children ages 5 and up should have their own budgets set for snacks and souvenirs. This is easily accomplished by means of providing each child in your party with a Disney gift card. Once the money on the card is gone, they know there is no more to be spent.
1. DON’T try to “do it all” in one trip
Walt Disney World Resort includes 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 29 official Disney hotels and campgrounds, and a sprawling shopping area which includes countless restaurants, shops, a luxury bowling alley and movie theater, as well as DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil. There is just so much to do that the average length of stay (5-7 days) just simply isn’t enough time to see everything there is to see. Attempting to do so will inevitably lead to cranky, exhausted visitors who are just dying for a break. Prioritize your activities on each trip based on what the members of your touring party want to do most. Fill in the extra time with some down time by the pool. You’ll be glad you did!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper