6 Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Errors

Each Walt Disney World vacation should be special. There is so much to see and do that every visit can be like it’s the first one; even if you’re a Disney veteran. Proper planning is essential for a Disney trip. The errors listed here are often made by rookies, but people who know the parks well should also avoid them.


6) Not Learning the Basic Layouts of the Parks

The best way to know how to get from one ride to another is to learn the layouts of the parks. If your FastPass+ window for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is quickly approaching you don’t want to be wandering around Tomorrowland, trying to figure out how to get there. People will sometimes miss entire lands because they didn’t know that they were there. Look at each park map ahead of time and learn how to get from one place to the next. A basic idea will save you time once you arrive.

5) Not Checking for Discounts

A Walt Disney World vacation is expensive, but there are ways to save. Don’t assume that there are no discounts to be found. The more days you buy on your ticket, the less it will cost per day. There are often discounts for rooms, you just need to ask. If you travel at the right time you might be eligible for free dining. A travel agent who specializes in Disney can help you to find other ways to save. You shouldn’t pay full price for everything on your vacation.

4) Booking too Short a Trip and Assuming You Can Do It All

These are sometimes two separate errors but they are similar so they’re listed together. Too often people think that there are four theme parks so Walt Disney World would make a great four day vacation. Friends will tell them that Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom only need a half day each, so they cut the trip down even further. Once they are there they will try to ride everything. Three days like that will be three days of misery. There’s a reason why many families will take a week for a Walt Disney World vacation, and that’s because you can hit all the major attractions in a week without reaching burnout. It’s never a bad idea to plan one day away from the parks in the middle of a vacation so that you and your family will have a chance to sleep in and recharge. Also, decide which rides, attractions, and restaurants are most important, and focus on getting those done. Don’t try to ride everything, allow for some downtime. You’ll have a more enjoyable vacation if you don’t spend it exhausted.

3) Not Checking the Forecast

Florida is the Sunshine State, so you don’t need to bring an umbrella, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Florida is also the lightning capital of the United States, and Orlando sits right in the middle of what is known as “Lightning Alley”. During the summer there are severe storms almost daily, but they pass quickly. It’s also too often assumed that the winters are warm, so T-shirts, shorts, and flip flops will be perfect January attire. While it rarely snows in Florida, it still can get cold. Check the weather forecast before you leave home and pack accordingly. That will save you from having to buy the proper gear in Florida when you should instead be enjoying the parks.

2) Not Making Dining Reservations

Dining reservations for most full service restaurants can be made 180 days in advance. Who wants to think about where they’re going to eat six months out? The problem is that some of the restaurants will fill up that early. If you want to try a special experience like Be Our Guest Restaurant or Cinderella’s Royal Table you need to make them as soon as possible. Most restaurants don’t fill up quite that quickly, but if there is a place that you really want to try you don’t want to take any chances. If you can’t get the desired reservation keep trying, there might be a cancellation. If you still can’t get on the list ask at the check in desk when you arrive at the restaurant in question. Chances are it won’t do any good, but it can’t hurt to ask. Also, if you make dining reservations that you aren’t going to use, don’t forget to cancel them. A credit card is now required to hold your spot, and you’ll be charged per person if you don’t show up. Canceling will also allow someone else to have your coveted spot.

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1) Not Using FastPass+

Who wants to wait in long lines? FastPass+ gives you a chance to cut down on your wait for three attractions per day. All three need to be in the same park, and at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom the attractions are divided into two tiers. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort you can make your FP+ selections 60 days in advance, all others have 30 days. Since that is three less lines you’ll have to wait in each day you might as well take advantage of the system. You can make your reservations online, through the My Disney Experience app, or at a kiosk once you’re in a park. There is no penalty for not using a reservation, so all you have to lose by using the system is a wait in a longer line.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.