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Our family visited for the first time to the Happiest Place on Earth in September 2017. After months of rigorous, obsessive planning (I bet you are too), there are still plenty of things that I wish I knew to do or not to do when in Disney World. If you’re planning to visit Walt Disney World in Florida, you better pick up a thing or two before you head off and learn from the rookie mistakes that we did.
Buying TONS of Disney-themed shirts.
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Shopping for shirts with Mom @aayabes to bring to our @waltdisneyworld trip. I usually don’t shop at @walmart but who’s saying no to LESS THAN $5.00 shirts for @disney and @universalorlando themed shirts? I even got $1.00 shirts too. #family #travel #shirts #sale #walmart #disney #universalstudios
If it’s going to be your first time going to Disney, chances are, you are planning to buy (if you haven’t already) character shirts…for everyone…in matching designs…for every single day…and evening…of your existence in Disney World.
As much as I still like my extra Disney shirts *cough* wardrobe *cough* that I get to wear every day, they were not the most comfortable things to wear under the Florida sun. My husband, who refused and denied me the right to dress him in Star Wars or Mickey Mouse shirts (primarily because they’re mostly in black in the Men section and he prefers Donald Duck), was very happy and feeling fresh with his breathable activewear dri-fit shirts.
Failing to factor travel time from park to park.
Take into account how long it takes to get from one end of Disney World to another. Staying at a hotel within Disney grounds does not necessarily mean you are right next to things. Disney World is a huge property.
If you have a dining reservation for Be Our Guest at 07:30 AM and you’re staying at Coronado Springs, allow at least 30 minutes to get to the Transportation Center (by driving your rental car or by riding a bus), go through security, arrive at Magic Kingdom via monorail or ferry, and walk to the restaurant.
Sleeping in instead of getting to the parks earlier.
A Disney vacation is expensive. You didn’t just pay all that moolah to sleep on a bed.
Getting up earlier allows you more time in the parks especially if you are staying in one of Disney’s resorts. Resort guests get extra magic hour ahead of other guests giving them less queue lines to wait on. You can even watch the rope drop show.
But then again…
Stressing out when you miss your reservations.
This is for the family’s planner.
Have a schedule printed out? Burn it. That early morning rope drop? Forget it. The whole family was sleeping in. You miss it? On to the next attraction.
No matter how many months it took you to work on your perfect Disney itinerary that made the most sense, you just have to treat it like a guide or suggestion of what you could do. All the more if you would be traveling with a large group. Coordinating everyone will just give you a stroke. Wing it a little.
Is it really worth the stress to argue about it and kill everyone’s vacation spirits?
Thinking you would have the park for yourselves on a GREEN day.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, you probably have encountered crowd scores. It’s data on how crowded a theme park would be based on historically collected information. Green is optimal, not busy, yellow is so-so, while red is peak crowd numbers. You should check the crowd scores for your park days to save time and plan which park to be in.
Nevertheless, you will be in Walt Disney World, Where Dreams Come True. The biggest of them all. There will always be a queue. There will always be another family’s stroller where you want to park your stroller.
We went during a “green” crowd day and I still felt it was crowded. Makes me not even want to think about how “red” days look like.
Hitting everything in one trip without taking a break.
While there are others who have gone the lengths to ride every attraction in the parks, you just have to accept that this is a feat to do. This is a common rookie mistake by first timers. Trying to condense everything into how long their trip is.
Disney costs a lot. Most families take a while to save and go back to Disney. However, do not be tempted to overachieve. Enjoy and relax. Don’t drive yourself nuts like I did. Have time for rest and cool spots.
Here’s a great example of a park plan to space your activities out.
I wish the FastPass+ strategies helped me more during our visit. However, it just felt like we were running appointment after appointment across the parks. Again, this is from my rookie mistake of wanting to experience all the park favorites in one trip.
We were also treated as a priority group in some rides because of having a senior or elderly in our party. So, it’s almost we didn’t need the FastPass+.
Best way to deal with this is to space them out. Account for the distance in between the attractions. I underestimated how much walking needed to be done with a whole family in tow.
And for that…
Wearing uncomfortable footwear without realizing how much walking is needed.
It’s a theme park. You don’t need to be sporting heels or your new Disney themed shoes. I know they are cool but make sure you have broken them in. You really don’t want to take home blisters from your trip. Yikes!
Disney World is massive. You will be walking a ton. Make sure you wear comfortable sneakers or shoes.
Booking too many dining reservations.
The problem we had was we didn’t account for how long or slow the Table Service could be. I planned for meals to be around 1 to 1.5 hours but it lasted up to 3 hours sometimes. It resulted to us having to eat again just right after the other meal like driving from our lunch at Disney Springs to our dinner reservation at the Polynesian Resort.
Sometimes, we look back and almost thought that doing Quick Service might have given us more freedom.
Saving the snack credits for more valued items.
One of the most popular tips with getting the most buck out of your Disney dining plan is to not spend it snack items such as bottled water or potato chips. The plan was to spend our snack credits during the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival as giving us the most value. Guess what, everyone is just not feeling like a glutton that day.
I say, go for whatever you felt like drinking or eating at the moment. We ended up having too much snack credits left by our last day, we had to make space to pack snacks home.
Bringing bulky camera gear.
As much as I loved how many pictures and videos we have from our trip, there were days that I wished I wasn’t tagging my whole photography gear along. I had a DSLR which is bulky and heavy. My sister’s more compact mirrorless camera is a much sensible choice as well as Mom’s action camera for videos. We also had our smart phones with us.
One of the best purchases I did for this trip was having the Disney Memory Maker or Photopass service. It was cheaper than buying it on-site and was also convenient for those who does not want to lug around cameras.