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Did You Make These Disney World Mistakes on Your First Visit?

Are you planning your first-ever family vacation to Walt Disney World Resort? Starting early, doing plenty of research, and asking questions is the key to planning a great Disney vacation. From packing and preparing to book Disney dining and theme Park strategizing, we have you covered at Disneydining.com. Follow our lead to ensure you don’t make these first-time visitor mistakes at Disney World.

Not Budgeting Appropriately

A common complaint about Disney vacations is about the mounting cost. True, the costs of a Walt Disney World vacation add up quickly. It is important to budget appropriately to build a vacation you can afford while also targeting those little luxuries on your trip to help you relax and make memories. I am all for saving a few dollars by sharing lunch in the Parks and drinking your own bottled water.

DOLE Whip

Credit: Disney

Still, it is important to feel like you can spring for a souvenir item or snack you want to sample. After all, have you had a Walt Disney World vacation if you have not enjoyed an iconic Dole Whip Bar in the shade of Adventureland? Be sure to research costs online to know how to accurately budget for all the costs on your Disney vacation.

Not Planning Ahead

Waiting to make a Park plan after arriving at Walt Disney World or worse, not having a plan at all is a sin at Walt Disney World. Take the time to scope out Park maps online and decide on your must-do attractions. Check the ride wait times for these attractions periodically so you can understand the length of ride wait times.

Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane on App

Credit: disneyparknerds.com

Decide if purchasing Disney Genie+ is a good idea for your family, and draft your Park arrival time and ride plan in your cellphone notes section. This will ensure a smoother and more worthwhile vacation and reduce delays and discussions about what ride is next and where to allocate Park time.

Related: First Disney Vacation Post-Pandemic? Here is What You Need to Know

Not Communicating With your Travel Gang

Planning and communicating with your travel gang is essential on a Disney World vacation. A lack of communication during the planning stages of your trip is a recipe for disaster. Chatting about vacation expectations lets you know who wants to rope drop Animal Kingdom and who expects to chow down at Disney Springs during vacation. Managing expectations to minimize surprises is the key to keeping peace in a travel group.

Guests in Raft

Credit: Disney

Remain flexible and open to the group splitting up to enjoy different attractions. Everyone in your gang is excited about the trip and is spending hard-earned money and vacation days, so they deserve to enjoy the attractions and have a hand in planning.

Not Staying at a Disney Resort

Avoiding staying on the Disney property during a Walt Disney World vacation is a significant mistake. First-time Disney World Guests will find Disney Resorts incredibly convenient, with built-in Disney transportation and helpful Cast Members on standby.

What you save in cash staying off the property, you lose time driving in Orlando traffic. In addition to the stress of driving to the Parks each day, Guests staying off the property do not enjoy the same effortless luxury of returning to their hotel room for a midday break. Extra magic hours are a huge perk of staying at a Disney Resort. Most days, Disney offers extra magic hours for Resort Guests at one of the Parks.

Disney bus stops Pop Century Resort Walt Disney World fb crop

Credit: Disney Dining

This means the Park is open exclusively for Disney Resort Guests earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Extra magic hours provide an incredible opportunity to enjoy high-traffic attractions with shorter wait times. My family saves high-traffic attractions for evening extra magic hours to avoid waiting in long lines for those attractions during regular Park hours.

When you consider excellent Disney customer service, extra magic hours, lack of traffic stress, and lost Park time- staying at a Walt Disney World Resort is a much better value for your vacation.

Not Taking Advantage of Resort Offerings

Taking advantage of Resort amenities and activities is key to having a great vacation at Walt Disney World. Familiarize yourself with activity schedules, so you never miss a morning at the pool or a slot in the Disney karaoke contest on the beach.

Port Orleans French Quarter Pool Entrance Alligator with Umbrella

Credit: Disney Dining

Consider taking a Resort day to enjoy resting, swimming, and touring other resorts. You will save money on a Park ticket for the day while recharging and scoping out potential activities for your next Walt Disney World vacation. Snack sampling at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, monorail riding at Grand Floridian, or sightseeing via the Skyliner at Caribbean Beach Resort are all fun ways to enjoy Disney World without the cost of a Park ticket!

Related: Disney Deluxe vs. Moderate Resorts: What You Need to Know

Not Booking Table Service Dining

While character meals and table-service dining can be pricey, you should not automatically assume it is out of the question for your budget. You can absolutely hack your dining plan to afford a cheaper character dining experience or a unique table service dining experience in your favorite Park. 

Exterior

Credit: wdwkingdom.com

If there are kids (or kids at heart) in your gang, character meals are a great option. Enjoy a delicious meal while Disney characters come to meet you at your table for autographs and photo opportunities.

You save time by cutting character meet times in the Park, and the kids can enjoy meeting their favorite Disney friends in the comfort of air conditioning with no long lines to wait in. Enjoying table service and character dining in EPCOT and at Walt Disney World Resorts are favorite activities for my family.  

Not Scheduling Downtime

A quick walk through any theme Park will reveal plenty of midday meltdowns between families. Know that you will not see it all. With 4 Disney Parks, 2 Disney Water Parks, shopping, dining, golfing, spas, entertainment, and more – how could you expect to do it all? Prioritize your must-see attraction plan but be sure to schedule downtime.

The Big Blue Pool

Credit: destinationsinflorida.com

Avoid bickering, exhaustion, and illness by scheduling time to rest during busy days in the Park. This could mean returning to your Resort room for a midday nap and swim or taking the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to relax and grab snacks. Spending an hour at the Contempo Café enjoying flatbreads in Disney’s Contemporary Resort or listening to the pianist at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort are some of my favorite ways to recharge during a long hot day.

Not Researching Park Attendance When Planning

A Disney World “rookie pet peeve” of mine is hearing how crowded Walt Disney World is and how ridiculous wait times are from disgruntled Park Guests that visit at the busiest time of year. When planning your vacation, take the time to research the usual Park attendance during that month.

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Five things we would never do again in Magic Kingdom. ✨ We are in the parks daily and this is the common mistakes we see being made. #disneyworld #magickingdom #disneyparks

♬ Tomorrow Land – The Disneylanders

The dead of summer and winter break are slammed with travelers away from work and school on vacation. If you can travel during slower seasons at Walt Disney World you can expect shorter wait times and sometimes lower Resort prices and table service dining prices.

Magic Kingdom Entrance with Crowd

Credit: Disney Dining

If you can only travel during peak times, keep realistic expectations about crowds and wait times. Enjoying Walt Disney World during peak times is possible through the proper utilization of extra magic hours and Genie+

Related: Don’t Rain On My Parade: Tips for Surviving a Rainy Day at Disney World

Not Adapting to Change

Rain Puddle at Walt Disney World

Credit: World of Disney

As in daily life, some situations arise at Walt Disney World that are beyond your control. Keeping realistic expectations and remaining calm and courteous are crucial to enjoying your vacation.

While weather, ride closures, and illness are out of your control, you can control how you react to the situations. Keeping an upbeat attitude and being ready to adapt to conditions will prevent a rainy day in the Park from ruining your family’s Walt Disney World vacation

You won’t make Disney World rookie mistakes with these tips in your back pocket. Have a wonderful vacation!

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.