So you are planning your first ever vacation to Walt Disney World, Congratulations! I’m sure the excitement and anticipation is almost too much to contain. You know, Walt Disney World isn’t any ordinary theme park –in fact, it’s so much more than just theme parks. The Walt Disney World Resort offers so many experiences. Without the advice of a Disney pro you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed. Worse, you could make critical mistakes that just might dampen the pixie dust. To secure your magical trip, be sure to avoid these 10 first timer mistakes.
10. Got Strollers?, Skip the Walt Disney World Transportation System
Although the Walt Disney World Resort Transportation System is a wonderful perk that I often encourage everyone to take advantage of; the one time I go against that rule is when talking to families with small children in strollers. Opening and close of parks is when the buses to the resorts are the most crowded. It might not appear so bad in morning hours but trust me, after a long day in the parks the last thing you want to do is to wait 30+ minutes for a bus with a worn out little one. Worst, in order to board the bus, you’ll have to take your sleeping beauty (or prince) out of the stroller, fold it up and lug it along with all your essentials. We all know that strollers equal more storage which equals more stuff. Can you imagine trying to juggle all of that just to get on a bus? Do yourself a favor, when traveling with strollers, drive and park. Your transportation to and from will be much quicker — and a lot less stressful.
9. Wearing Improper Shoes and Clothing
You wouldn’t participate in a decathlon without the proper fitting shoes. Have you ever seen anyone running a marathon in a suit and tie? When planing your days at Walt Disney World, one should approach with this exact mindset. Park attire should be free flowing and loose fitting. Workout gear like yoga pants and tank tops are perfect. Avoid heavy cotton items like denim that trap in heat and take longer to dry. The parks are enormous and all of that walking requires serious cooperation from your feet. You want to make sure you wear shoes that offer good support and allow air to flow freely. Socks can be good but be sure to remove them prior to boarding water rides. Flat flip flops are an absolute “no-no”. They may be cute, but after walking 12+ hours equivalent to the stretch of 20 miles you will feel as if you are walking bare foot on hardened lava rock. Give your feet proper support, don’t ruin your day because you literally can’t take another step.
8. Using Fast Pass on Wrong Attractions
Although you can find fast pass kiosks at the most popular Disney World rides, that does not mean they are necessarily required. Depending on when you visit a fast pass might not even be needed to experience the attraction. A key to this is checking wait times. The Disney World Wait Times App lets you see real time wait times of all the rides throughout the resort. If you are reserving ahead of time with the My Disney Experience App, then its a good idea to keep an eye on the ride wait times and carefully pick your Fast Passes for those attractions with the longest wait times. Using Fast Passes on rides with little to no wait is a waste. You only get to lock in so many fast passes per day, so be sure to pick them wisely. Check out “3 Major FastPass+ Tips & Over a Dozen Attractions You Should Never Waste a FastPass+ On.”
7. Not Making Dining Reservations
Walt Disney World offers a plethora of dining options. Many of those offerings can’t be found anywhere else in the world, so visitors are clamoring for the chance to eat at the numerous restaurants or experience the characters (where applicable) that go along with them. With the introduction of the My Disney Experience App, guest are now able to make reservations 180 days in advance and even up to the day of. Gone are the days of waiting on the phone for a representative to confirm your reservation so seating times are a treasured commodity. That being said, walking up to the podium and expecting to get a seat is simply not recommended. Castmembers will never turn you away if they have openings available, but you might find yourself waiting upwards of 60 to 90 minutes before your name is called. Table service offerings are as popular as they are many so be wise and reserve ahead of time. Check out “10 Most Difficult Dining Reservations to Make at Walt Disney World And How To Get Them.”
6. Not visiting Animal Kingdom Park
I’ll admit, when Animal Kingdom Park first opened I wasn’t so sure it would fit in well with my idea of a Walt Disney World vacation. This is a common misconception for many first timers. Sure, Animal Kingdom offers interactions and exhibits to see wildlife, but it also hosts a variety of thrilling rides and Broadway style shows. Conquer the Yetti on Expedition Everest, travel back in time and scream on Dinosaur before getting soaked on Kali River Rapids. Little ones will delight as they take flight on Tricera Top Spin. The whole family will love Finding Nemo – The Musical, a spectacular theatrical production based on the movie using life sized puppetry. Animal Kindgom is so much more than animals. Don’t make the mistake of skipping it — it’s Naht-A-Zu! (Not A Zoo)
5. Park Hopping
Amatuers to the Walt Disney World Resort often buy park tickets for less days while adding the park hopper options. This is a mistake! If you have time in your vacation to visit each park individually then I highly recommend you do so. Dedicate an entire day to each park. If you have a short visit, make the most of your trip. Select the parks you really want to visit and spend an entire day. Park hopping sounds fun, but it requires packing up to transfer from one location to the next and can add more exhaustion to an already tiring, even if fun day.
4. Not Taking Rest Days
The one common denominator among first timers is wanting to do everything, all the time, everyday of their vacation. If you do that, you’ll end up needing a vacation from your vacation. Make sure you take time and build in relaxation days during your stay. Plan a day to lounge by the pool or play a round of golf. Take a boat ride to Disney Springs to do some shopping before feasting on one of many culinary delights. The Walt Disney World Resort is so much more than rides and fireworks. So don’t forget to take a time out and explore the happenings outside the parks.
3. Carrying Around Souvenirs
Of course you’ll want to purchase Disney memorabilia to commemorate your trip. Go ahead and shop, but make sure to take advantage of the resort delivery service. Assuming you are a guest staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, items purchased throughout the resort can be delivered to your resort, free of charge. Don’t be that guy or girl that leaves Mickey on the sidelines while riding Tower of Terror. That’s not cool. Love Mickey, ask a Castmember to escort him to your resort.
2. Not Using the Parent-Swap (Rider Swap) Options
Traveling with youngsters or guest with disabilities can be a challenge for first timers. Newbies often make the mistake of bypassing attractions because members of their party don’t want or are unable to ride. Skipping over rides isn’t necessary with the usage of the Rider Swap system. Members of the group will wait in line while others can stay back with the non-riders. Then the riders can swap, allowing the waiting chaperon to ride with little to no wait.
1. Carrying Cash – Instead of Magic Band
Once upon a time, you had to have your admission ticket in hand to gain entry into the park. After entering the park, you would have to use that same admission ticket and slide it into the fast pass kiosks in order to reserve your fast pass selections. If you were staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, your “Key To The World” card was also needed to pay with your dining plan or you would have to pay out of pocket with cash or credit. While magical, guest of Walt Disney World were tied down to this card that they had to ensure they had with them at all times. What happens if it got lost or dropped in the park???? Thankfully, it has never happened to me and with the introduction of The Magic Band it never will. Since you can use the Magic Band to effortlessly reserve Fast Pass selections, pay for souvenirs and dining there is no longer a need to carry cash or credit cards with you. The Magic Band not only replaces your need for a paper ticket and cash, but it also acts as your room key and gives you access to your dining plan allotments. Not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel isn’t an excuse to bypass usage of the Magic Band. As long as you have valid theme park admission you can link all of your tickets to any Magic Band — and they can be purchased from Disney stores and online.
These rookie mistakes happen all the time. You may be a newbie but you are reading this article, so that means you won’t make the same mistakes.
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