PlanningThe ParksTips

5 Top Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at Walt Disney World

There is so much to see and explore in Walt Disney World with four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and over two dozen resorts, Guests have so many ways to experience the magic that Walt Disney World has offered.

Even though we think all vacations to Walt Disney World are magical, there are some rookie mistakes that Guests make that can add to frustration during what should be a magical experience.  We want to run down the most common rookie mistakes so we can help you avoid them during your vacation.

Disney's Polynesian Resort
Credit: Disney

Choosing the Wrong Disney Resort

One of the first decisions that Guests make when it comes to their Walt Disney World vacation is choosing which Walt Disney World Resort hotel to stay at, but this also can be the first mistake that Guests make.

Walt Disney World had three main Resort categories:  value, moderate, and deluxe.  Each of them offers different amenities, transportation as well as experiences for Guests.  With so many Resorts to choose from, it can be a hard decision to make.

We suggest starting with your budget in mind.  By knowing what your budget is for your Resort, you will be able to narrow down your options into one of the three Resort categories.

Next, think about what your goal is for your Resort.  Is swimming extremely important?  Do you want a food court for the little ones?  Do the adults want to be able to grab a drink at a lounge in the evening?  By taking time to think about your goals for your Resort stay, you will be more likely to find a Resort that fits your needs.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of booking a Resort without doing some research.  Learn about what they have to offer to ensure that it is what you are looking for in your stay.  Check out our post HERE about big questions you should ask before booking your Resort.

Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom

Not Booking Your Park Passes

Since reopening, Walt Disney World is requiring Disney Guests to book Park Passes during their vacation.  After you have purchased your Disney tickets, you then will need to head to My Disney Experience to link those tickets and book your Park passes.

Guests will select which of the four Disney Parks (Disney’s Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios) they will be visiting each day of their vacation.  This is an extremely important step in the planning process as 1.  Guests aren’t allowed into the Parks without them and 2.  Parks are booking up meaning if you wait you might not get into the Park of your choice.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of putting this step off.  We highly recommend that you book your Park Passes as soon as you have purchased your tickets to ensure that you can get into the Park of your choice.

If you are doing a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World, check that Park Reservations calendar to ensure there are reservations opened before you purchase those tickets.

Disney Genie
Credit: Disney

Not Considering Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes

Two new features that are offered at Walt Disney World are Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.  These are the new ways that Guests are able to bypass the standby lines and save time in line.

A rookie mistake that we are seeing is that Guests aren’t doing their research to learn about these offerings or are just avoiding them because they cost money.

We highly recommend doing some research (we have lots of information on How to Disney) on these features to see if spending the additional money might be worth it for your family.

If your family really wants to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it might be worth the additional cost to ensure this happens during your vacation.

Don’t make the mistake of heading to Walt Disney World and not knowing anything about Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes.  This is a huge part of the Parks now and something everyone should have some understanding of.

Credit: Disney

Not Planning

We realize that a lot of people don’t want to have to plan for a family vacation, but Walt Disney World isn’t the vacation where that is a good idea.

If you make the rookie mistake of just showing up at Disney and hoping for the best, you will come across a lot of frustration and it won’t be as magical as you want it to be.

The first area you will want to make sure you have a plan for is dining.  If you are wanting to enjoy sit-down meals, you can make these reservations starting 60 days prior to check-in.  Those wanting to do more quick-service dining options, will want to know about mobile ordering and be prepared to do this throughout their vacation.

Next, when it comes to planning, we know not everyone is going to create a schedule for the day, but we highly recommend having at least a general plan.

Knowing what rides and experiences are available at each of the four Parks and then knowing your must-do rides will help you have a plan when you arrive at the Park.  You don’t want to waste precious time in the Parks trying to determine what you want to do.  Go in with an overall plan so you can experience as much of the magic as possible.

Port Orleans Riverside Pool
Credit: Disney


It is really easy on a Walt Disney World vacation to stay busy the whole time in the Parks; however, this is a rookie mistake.  Veteran Disney travelers know that scheduling relaxation is key to a magical time.

Take time to enjoy the Resort by swimming, taking naps, or enjoying the evening movie under the stars.  If you aren’t wanting to leave the Parks during the day, enjoy some of the hidden and quiet gems in the Parks.

If you don’t take time to slow down and relax during your Walt Disney World, you will become tired and cranky which isn’t fun for anyone.

Don’t make these rookie mistakes when you head to Walt Disney World.  Be prepared, have a plan and you will be ready for a magical vacation.

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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