Disney World. I get all tingly and happy just thinking it. Growing up in Florida allowed my family the unique ability to go to Disney World almost whenever we wanted to go. Many years later, I marvel at the sight of people my age wearing the big button that says “First Visit” and wonder if they are having fun, in shock, or stressed out. I decided to think back to my days when Disney was new to me and think about what 10 things I would recommend for a first time visitor.
10. Eat something Mickey (or character) shaped
Whether it be a waffle, ice cream bar, crispy marshmallow treat, cookie, or dipped apple, there are some things that you will only be able to try at Disney. I remember my Grandpa telling us over and over again how a regular chocolate dipped bar bought locally was at least half the price, but he couldn’t resist the look on our faces when we opened our Mickey bars. He’s been gone over 10 years now and I still enjoy one in his honor every time I go to Magic Kingdom.
9. Visit a “classic” attraction
Walt Disney is famous for saying , “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing-that it was all started with a mouse.” It is also important to remember that it was all started by Walt! Check out It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, the Carousel of Progress or the Enchanted Tiki Room. Main Street USA is designed after Walt’s childhood home of Marceline, Missouri. Take the time to visit the classics!
8. Stay on Property!
There is nothing quite like staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. The cast members work hard to make sure the magic surrounds you wherever you go on property! Activities for the kids like pool dance parties, crafts, and movies under the stars. In select resorts, adults also can engage in activities like wine tastings, night vision animal viewing, and spa treatments. Don’t forget, you are also allowed to enter the parks for the Extra Magic Hours.
7. Engage in “Disney Only” behavior
There are not too many places in the world that you can wear Mickey Ears and have your face painted and not get strange looks from the locals. But, let your inner child have some fun! For my best friend’s daughter 6th birthday, we decided to bring her to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and glam her out as Cinderella. Not only did other families “oh” and “ah” at her, but the cast members went above and beyond to make her feel special. To this day, she still asks me if I remember the day that her mom and I “made her a princess.” When in Disney, act like you are!
6. Check out Disney Springs
A Disney trip is not complete until you have stopped by Disney Springs for a while. I love to visit on my last day of vacation so I can grab my souvenirs without having to carry them around all day. As much as I love shopping in the parks, my mind is usually more focused on getting in as many rides as I can. Disney Springs is the perfect place to get in some serious shopping, and get a delicious meal before you head home.
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5. Spend the time and money on a Disney Table Service meal
I would suggest taking the time for at least one table service meal. I have some friends who disagree with with me, telling me that eating at a full service restaurant takes away too much ride time. Walt Disney World has some world class eateries that can also help create great vacation memories. Take the time, and the money to enjoy at least one of them.
4. Visit all four them parks
The thrill rides in Hollywood Studios are not to be missed. Epcot’s World Showcase is stunning. Animal Kingdom will make you feel like you have been transported to Asia, Africa, and even Pandora. The Magic Kingdom is, well, The Magic Kingdom! There is so much to do in all 4 parks and new things are coming each and every year.
3. Get to a live show
While the rides are usually the stars, please see a live stage show. My suggestions are The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo at Animal Kingdom, and Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios.
2. See the fireworks
Unless you are in NYC on the 4th of July, there are no better fireworks displays than those you will find at Disney! Make sure you see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, and Fantasmic! or Star Wars: A Galatic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios. It is hard to describe the wonder and amazement of these phenomenal displays!
1. Have Fun!
While planning your Disney vacation is extremely important, remember that you will not be able to plan or do it ALL! Keep in mind that you are there to have fun and be on vacation. Often, we see people arguing at Disney World with their families. Take a deep breath and remember at the end of it all, you are on vacation at the Most Magical Place in the World!