Once upon a time, each of us was a Disney World newbie. And we made rookie mistakes. Here, we share ours to help you avoid them:
1. Not checking the refurbishment schedule. Disney lets you know ahead of time if your favorite attraction, the pool at your hotel, or that restaurant you really want to go to won’t be available during your trip.
2. Thinking your hotel will cost the same any date. Holidays, summers, basically any time children aren’t in school will cost more matter where you stay. Compare several dates that you can travel to pick the best rate.
3. Not looking for hotel discounts. Disney will discount hotel rates from time to time, and you can rebook if a new, better one comes out.
4. Thinking you’ll buy your tickets when you arrive. The most expensive price you’ll pay for park tickets is at the ticket window in front of the theme park. Here’s some more information about Disney park tickets.
5. Not checking park hours. Park hours change every day, so check them ahead of time.
6. Thinking you can walk into a popular restaurant and get a table without a reservation. The most popular restaurants book up well ahead of time (months) and even those taking walk-ins may have a long wait.
7. Not looking at a map until you’re in the park. Park maps are available online and help you get an idea of the lay of the land before you’re being passed right and left by guests who do know where they’re going.
8. Thinking your resort is “just a place to sleep.” If you’re staying at a Disney resort, at any level, you’re paying a premium to be there. Take time to review your resort’s activities (often free!) and look around. After all, you’re paying for it.
9. Booking a hotel “in Orlando.” TouringPlans recommends staying in a Disney resort for your first trip. But if that’s not in the cards, and Walt Disney World is the main reason for your trip, check a map and Google traffic during rush hours. I4 can have back ups any time of day that say anything but “vacation.” And Orlando is a fairly large city. Stay as close as you can.
10. Thinking your off site hotel shuttle is an efficient way to travel back and forth between the parks and your hotel. Rent a car or use Uber/Lyft.
11. Not learning about MyDisneyExperience. No matter where you stay, MDE is the key to your trip. Create an account, download the app (you can use it on wi-fi in the parks to save cellular data charges), and use it.
12. Assuming FastPass+ is something you pay for. Unlike Universal Orlando, Disney does not charge for its ride reservation service. With park tickets, each person in your party can make 3 ride reservations per day in advance. Learn more about FastPass+.
13. Thinking the time posted at an attraction is the amount of time you’ll really wait. For the most part, Disney wants to under-promise and over-deliver on wait times. If you wait 15 minutes after thinking your wait will be half an hour, you’re going be pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, if that 15 minutes is 3 times longer that you thought it would be, you won’t be happy. Same wait, two difference reactions. You can guess which one Disney wants. Be especially skeptical of posted wait times near the end of the night. These are consistently inflated to discourage guests from getting in line (which delays closing the attraction after the park closes).
14. Believing everything you read on the internet about how to vacation at Disney World. Everyone has an opinion and many of them conflict. You can drive yourself crazy trying to have the vacation someone else thinks you should have (even the vacation TouringPlans thinks you should have).
Have fun and don’t worry. Even a trip with some “mistakes” is better than staying home.
OK, readers, what are your rookie mistakes? Share them here and help people out.