Top 10 Disney World First-Timer Mistakes
We’ve all been there: that first trip to Walt Disney World and the inevitable “learning experience” that comes with discovering we’ve made a mistake. If you haven’t been there, it’s not because you’re perfect…it’s that you have been there and you just don’t recognize it. (Updated August 20, 2022.)
That, or because you literally haven’t been there, with there being Walt Disney World, and are planning your first visit. If that’s the case, take some solace in the fact that everyone makes some mistake their first trip. No amount of planning can prevent the inevitable error. On second thought, maybe that’s more disconcerting than it is reassuring. I guess just know that you’re in good company.
This post takes a look at what we feel are the “top” (and by top we don’t necessarily mean “best”…more like most common) mistakes first-timers to Walt Disney World make based on various blog post comments, social media feedback, and more. It’s hardly a scientific top 10 list, but hopefully it provides some good food for thought, nonetheless.
So what are the biggest mistakes first time Walt Disney World visitors make? The answers may SHOCK AND ASTOUND YOU. Well, probably not, but we have to trick you into reading this somehow… 😉
10. Excessive FOMO
Social media has ushered in an ugly new form of keeping up with the Joneses. Between your own friends and the army of wannabe Kardashians showing off their extravagant experiences, it’s easy to get caught up and envious of the fake version of the lives that people present.
In fairness, there’s also a less insidious version of this. Parents see what their friends are doing, all of the endless possibilities for add-ons at Walt Disney World, and want to ensure that their kids’ rite of passage vacation is as special as possible. It’s less jealousy and more a misguided attempt at manufacturing perfection.
When it comes to Walt Disney World, there are so many upcharge offerings to make a “magical” vacation. VIP tours, dessert parties, special events, behind the scenes experiences, private cabanas, photo shoots, floral and cake delivery, even Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. That’s just a partial list–the options are endless, the budgets are limitless.
While many of these can improve a vacation, absolutely none of them are necessary to have a great vacation at Walt Disney World. For one thing, savvy strategy can overcome a lot. For another, it’s important to remember why you’re there in the first place–to spend time with family and friends, and make magical memories that will last a lifetime.
Both of those goals can be accomplished for the base ticket price. It’s impossible to buy your way into a memorable vacation and, frankly, it often backfires. The expectation of perfection creates pressure and stress, which is often the undoing of Walt Disney World visitors.
9. Not Packing for Florida Weather
Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” but I think that is a huge misnomer. In fact, I don’t really know why people flock to the state for its weather. Yeah, it doesn’t snow there and it’s sunny much of the year, but the summers are miserable with humidity.
And, as we cover in our Winter Packing Tips for Walt Disney World, weather fluctuates dramatically in winter and humidity can make the feels like temperature much worse than the temperature readout suggests. Between that and single-day temperatures that can have a 30+ degree swing, the weather in Florida can be rough.
Okay, so the weather is still better than in the vast majority of states, but a common first-timer mistake is assuming Florida weather is perfect. You need to account for the reality of what you might encounter, rather than just assuming it’ll be all sunny days and puffy clouds. In the summer, you have to account for humidity and heat. In the early fall, it’s storm season at Walt Disney World. Late fall through winter and you have temperatures that range from freezing to the 80s, requiring that you pack for a variety of situations.
8. Going During Major Holidays
“Why was [insert holiday name] so crowded?! I heard before that [insert holiday name] usually isn’t busy because everyone is at home doing [insert activity].” We have received virtually this message from people pertaining to Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Super Bowl (not technically a holiday, but celebrated as such in many households).
If you’re wondering if the parks are busy during a particular holiday, don’t. They are. Some holidays are slightly less busy than others, but all holidays are busier than the norm. Granted, this doesn’t include the important holidays like Antzar Eguna, Namahage, or National Burger Day. However, it does include every single federal holiday (even ones like Veterans’ Day are shockingly busy) as well as school breaks in the South (like Mardi Gras).
Now, this isn’t to say that you will have an awful experience if you go during a holiday. To the contrary, we actually like visiting around certain holidays. Longer park hours and a certain ambiance to the parks can make for an enjoyable experience. With that said, there’s no way on earth I would ever have wanted to take my first trip during a major holiday. It would have been overwhelming, and the potential for it being my last trip would have been too great.
7. Eating Burgers, Hot Dogs, and Pizza
Theme park food has a reputation for being uninspired and overpriced. Like sporting events and other entertainment venues, parks often do the bare minimum, realizing they have a captive audience that will simply have to eat during their visit.
This is not necessarily the case at Walt Disney World. There are unquestionably some basic fast food places that phone it in as they feed the masses hot dogs and pizza both so suspect that I am hesitant to categorize them as “food.” Conversely, there are also some really intriguing and unique dining options at Walt Disney World that are quite good. Don’t go for the low-hanging, “safe” fruit.
Try the restaurants that look interesting, and be rewarded. This also helps from a planning perspective–the more ambitious the restaurant’s cuisine, the less popular or busy it tends to be. (In other words, popularity is a terrible barometer of food quality when it comes to Walt Disney World dining.)
6. Sleeping In
The first 2 hours the parks are open are going to be the most productive hours of your day. Getting up at the crack of dawn and being to the parks early doesn’t jive with the notion of relaxing and unwinding on vacation, but the simple reality is that you’d be better off showing up for the first 2 hours and last 2 hours and skipping the (roughly) 8 hours in between than you would by showing up 2 hours late, doing those 8 hours in the middle of the day, and leaving 2 hours before park closing.
If relaxation on your vacation is important, take a break in the middle of the day to go back to your hotel and nap or enjoy the pool. You really benefit greatly from being in the parks right at rope drop, though. Likewise, crowds are lightest again at the end of the night (and the atmosphere then is unbeatable).
Savvy standby strategy beats buying Genie+ and Lightning Lanes most of the time! From Early Entry to regular rope drop to Extended Evening Hours, you really come out ahead by arriving early or staying late. These are the simpler and straightforward ways to beat the crowd, requiring less (or no!) screen time and being infinitely less frustrating that Genie Plus.
This is Walt Disney World 101. Yet, it’s probably the most common mistake first-timers make.
5. Not Allowing Enough Time for Transit
Walt Disney World’s transportation system makes the metro Detroit bus system look like the pinnacle of efficiency. Buses take convoluted routes, make too many stops, and generally follow a perplexing “schedule”, all of which means it could take you up to an hour to get from your hotel room door to a park. Want to go from hotel to hotel? Good luck!
First-timers (or any logical human, for that matter) might assume that it would behoove Walt Disney World to have an incredibly efficient transportation system, as time lost in commute is time that is not spent in the parks. Instead of waiting for that bus, guests could be spending time–and money–in gift shops or restaurants. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this is not the case. Transportation–particularly the buses–is inefficient, and it’ll take you longer than you expect to get anywhere.
Fortunately, we have a resources that will help. Our Time Saving Walt Disney World Transportation Tips post has some “shortcuts” that can save time.
4. Buying the Wrong Tickets
Walt Disney World tickets are highly customizable, which is both a good and bad thing. On the downside, if you haven’t done your research and are prone to being upsold on things, you might end up purchasing more than you need. On the upside, if you have done your research, you can pay for only the options that you really need, passing on extras you likely won’t use.
For example, you might be able to use the Park Hopper Plus Option to extend your trip. You might be able to get away with no Park Hopper if you have small kids. You may find that one person in your party buying an Annual Pass is worth it for the discounts. There is a lot to consider, and no one size fits all solution. We cover the possibilities, pros and cons of each, and offer some recommendations in our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. That’s a great place to start before purchasing your park tickets.
If you’ve been a Disney fan long enough, you’ve invariably heard from a friend or colleague who returned from their first trip and had an awful time. Upon probing a bit, usually this is self-inflicted, and the result of under-planning. Did they make Advance Dining Reservations? Nope. Have a plan of attack? Nada. Get up early or stay out late? Nah. The questions and answers continue in that same fashion (with “what’s that?” often replacing the variants of “no”).
People lament the ‘death of spontaneity’ when it comes to a Walt Disney World vacation, and to some extent, I agree. There’s a lot that it’s imperative to know before you go, and that’s in large part why sites like this exist in the first place. However, I visit a lot of non-Disney destinations, and no matter where you go, you will always (ALWAYS!) come out ahead by planning. I can think of literally no location I have ever been that does not benefit greatly from research and planning.
When it comes to Walt Disney World, you need to know some basics about the place before you go to make the most of your time. You also need to make some plans and reservations prior to arrival. A good starting place for learning the basics is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide, which is comprehensive.
Alternatively or in addition to that, if you’re overwhelmed or simply don’t want to invest the time necessary to planning the trip, and would like the assistance from a professional, click here to get a quote from a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They get their commission from Disney, so there is no charge to you for them to book your trip, help you plan, etc.
As paradoxical as these last two entries might seem, the idea here is that you need to find the happy medium. Just as showing up without any plan can lead to a bad experience, so too can planning everything down to the minute or even hour. We cover our ‘planned spontaneity philosophy’ for visiting in our Being Spontaneous at Walt Disney World post.
The problem with a planning binder or minute by minute itinerary is that it sets unrealistic expectations, especially for first timers, and does not allow for spontaneity. If you plan a trip checklist style with 20 things to “accomplish” in a given day, that’s a recipe for disappointment. The practical realities of Florida heat, navigating crowds, or other unplanned variables mean you will almost always accomplish less than expected. And that’s okay–you’ll still have a lot of fun in the process!
It’s better to factor in these variables, be flexible, and lower your expectations. Likewise, if you don’t plan for some spontaneity (another contradiction in terms), you might be reluctant to avail yourself of an opportunity for unplanned fun because it doesn’t fit neatly into your schedule. Walt Disney World does require planning, but you should never become a slave to a checklist or plan. Sometimes we have the most fun when we toss aside our plans.
1. Skipping Country Bear Jamboree
This isn’t just here to underscore my love for Country Bear Jamboree. It’s also here to illustrate the point that tastes absolutely do vary, and you shouldn’t base your itinerary on the preferences of others. I know this advice is somewhat at odds with the premise of an opinion-heavy blog like this one, but the last thing you should do is trust my advice. (Except right now, when I’m telling you not to trust my other advice.)
If you spend enough time on any Disney forums, you will invariably encounter people who love and hate literally every attraction (yes, there are even fans of TriceraTop Spin–like the Great North American Snipe, they are a rare creature, but they do exist). I am a man with exquisite tastes in many things. You know that, I know that. But uh, not a lot a lot of things; a few things. Yet, I find I am sometimes in the minority when it comes to my opinions on certain Walt Disney World attractions.
There’s a good chance you might find yourself liking things others don’t–or disliking things others love. Walt Disney World Park Itineraries can be useful, to be sure, but you also have to account for your personal preferences or be quick to dismiss things out of hand on the basis of what random strangers think about them.
I think that about covers it for the “top” mistakes first timers make when visiting Walt Disney World. Now, there are no shortage of possible mistakes…this is really just the tip of the iceberg. So, if you don’t mind sharing some of the mistakes you or a “friend” have made when visiting Walt Disney World, please share them in the comments. Remember, your learning experience could help someone else avoid running into the same problem. Feel free to change the names to protect the innocent.
If you are planning a first trip to Walt Disney World, make sure to check out our Disney Tips & Tricks page for a lot of helpful tips to outsmart the masses. Also check out our dining reviews to find the best restaurants and our trip planning posts to figure out what to pack, where to buy Walt Disney World tickets to save money, which discounts to look for, and all the other ins and outs of a trip to Walt Disney World, all of which are covered extensively in our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
Did you make any mistakes before your first trip to Walt Disney World? Planning your first trip now and wondering how to avoid some specific common mistakes? Any tips of your own to add? Please share any of your own stories or questions you have in the comments below!
I am guilty of committing the following:
9- using DDP credits on rice treats (and candy). Well, we no longer use DDP as I learned after a few frantic last-minute treat shopping sessions at the resort gift shop that it’s not worth it for us… so problem solved!
6- sleeping in, especially after the Halloween party. I used to be able to bounce back from no sleep but I’m getting too old, unfortunately. What can you do… the mid-forties are rough 😉
2- I used to overplan! Especially at WDW… but my non-Disnerd husband wanted to divorce me multiple times a day during our week-long first trip, so that had to stop. Also, as the years go by (and I keep going back every few years), there’s much less pressure to see it all and do it all, cuz you can’t anyway 🙂 Other Disney parks allow for so much more spontaneity than WDW…
Tom, in this season of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to thank you for your terrific planning information. About thirty years ago we took our first trip to WDW with our daughter and we did absolutely no planning. I will always remember being so disappointed that we couldn’t eat a meal at the Crystal Palace since we had not planned ahead. Fast forward to four years ago, we began planning our first return trip with our two grandchildren. In my online search I fortunately found YOU and we had a terrific trip with our young grandchildren. Two years later, we returned and you helped again. Now we have reservations for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, crazy yes, but thanks to your advice, I’m sure we will enjoy a pre-planned, but flexible stay, for our now teenage grandchildren. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! PS. Country Bear is a must for us!
I was literally just looking at this again yesterday on the day you updated it haha! Very accurate list by the way!
My wife and I have had the conversation about over/under planning many times. She is a fly by the seat of her pants girl and I am a like to have the day planned out kind of guy. For me, planning is a requirement for WDW. Maybe not my kind of planning, but planning nonetheless. We have two teen daughters who love to sleep AND love to ride things. Our compromise is that I am going to be at the park well before rope drop and mom is going to sleep in and meet there later. The kids can get up early and go with me or they can sleep in and come with mom later. The youngest usually goes with me. That is what works for us. You have to be willing to adapt the trip to your situation.
my first trip to wdw/MK as an adult was a random add on to a Disney cruise. We got our 1 day park pass from the concierge counter in our hotel, the ticket was added to our magic band… but it did not come with fast pass or fastpass+ or anyting for skipping lines. No matter how hard I tried to link my hotel stay with my band with my ticket it didn’t work… WHY because my hotel was linked to my Cruise and my band was not. that did NOT affect my park time in any way… the park was just like when I was 8. Burgers are a FUN way to eat at Disney. Please don’t diss them. Not everybody likes fine dining nor do the like to take 2 hours away from the park to eat, or longer if the meal is located in a resort. Yes we had burgers in Disney Springs, and yes we ate Breakfast at the hotel, and YES we had burgers again at the food joint across from Pirates and Jungle Cruise… and you know what? those were some of the BEST burgers we ate…. and WHY you ask???? Because my DAUGHTER picked them out. We got family time and family memories and family happiness out of Burgers. You can diss that all you want, but my family memory on a 1 day trip is MORE important than some fancy meal that I should have scheduled 30 days before my trip when I didn’t even KNOW I was going to go to the park!
You don’t have to spend time and money on a table service meal to eat something other than burgers. Quite a few of the counter service locations offer more ambitious menus–Satu’li Canteen and Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom spring to mind, and even in the Magic Kingdom you’ll find options like Be Our Guest and Columbia Harbor House offering alternatives.
If you enjoy eating burgers on your vacation, that’s legit. I agree with Tom that you shouldn’t blindly trust his or any other stranger’s opinion. It’s just misleading to imply that the non-burger options he suggested are only available at time-consuming fancy restaurants.
Love this blog’s commitment to all things County Bear Jamboree, but ranking it #1 here takes the cake. Great post!
*Country Bear Jamboree.
To add to your Country Bear Jamboree comment, I whole-heartedly agree. Being a native Southern-Californian and a pass holder for Disneyland since it’s inception. My husband and I were really miffed when they got rid of Country Bear Jamboree in favor of adding Winnie the Pooh, which I might add my daughter loves the Pooh ride. However, she never got a chance to experience Country Bear Jamboree in all it’s furry and musical glory! It’s a Disneyland classic and I am happy to say at least she will get to FINALLY experience it for the first time this October during our trip to WDW!
I just have to say that my mother LOVES the Mickey Mouse Rice Krispie treats (the giant kind in the shape of Mickey’s head). She buys one at the end of every trip to take home. We’ve never done DDP because we don’t consider it a good value for our dining style, but I’m sure she wouldn’t hesitate to spend a credit on a Rice Krispie treat. She would probably be very excited about it!
So do I my favorite is the rice krispy treat with chocolate and M&Ms. Just thinking about one right now makes me wish I was there.
Hi. We are visiting WDW end of July (I know the worst possible time but unavoidable!) and staying in AKL. I’ve begun to get anxious at the length of time the bus service takes to get to parks and know that my 7 year old and 9 year old will find it agony. We were also hoping to follow Tom’s advice to quit the parks and go back to the resort in the afternoon before returning to parks in evening. However, I can’t see is doing that if the travel takes literally hours out of our day! What would you all advise (we don’t have a car) and have you got any tips or tricks to get from AKL to park quicker by swooping transport or hopping off stops early? Any advice would be gratefully received as this will be a once in a life time holiday for us from the UK. Thanks x
We feel that it just takes too much time to go back to the hotel. Instead of doing that plan a relaxing lunch, a quiet place to rest and put your feet up, takin in a show you might not normally do just for the rest and quiet and some attractions the air conditioning! Don’t waste your time going back and forth to the hotel. Your kids will,hate it. Guaranteed! Or they will decide they just want to stay at the resort and pool which isn’t a bad influence but a lot of time, money and planning go into a trip and you want to enjoy the parks in the evening when it is all lit up, when the fireworks and parades and things happen.
I think you will be happily surprised with the efficiency of Disney transportation. Although it will take SOME time from your day, our family still feels that the benefit of having our son nap in the heat of the afternoon back in our cozy hotel room, is SO worth the time away from the parks. I would estimate that it will be about 45 mins of total travel time to and then again back to the parks. In our opinion a quick 2 hour nap, for a total of about 3.5 hours away from your day is WORTH it once your little one or ones are refreshed for the remainder of the touring day, ready to see the fireworks, nighttime parades, etc. One way we have saved time in the past is to have lunch in the room (grab something to go from your hotel restaurant or Quick Service on your way back). Killing two birds with one stone also translates into a better use of the time, and makes it feel more worthwhile to have had the break. Lastly, I might suggest trying it out for one day and if all else fails and it does not seem worth it for your family then change the plan of attack for the next day out at the parks with a different “rest/break” strategy.
I also liked the transportation. It was quick for me but I’m used to Lima, PerÃº traffic and traveling a couple hours per day to go to work and return back home. But really, we were always on time and I loved it because she I was free to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted,on contrary with the time we went woth a rental car and if most wanted to go back to the hotel, we all had to. A total bummer.
We usually don’t go back to the hotel room but we also don’t go in July so it may be worth it with the heat. We like to take a break by riding the monorail loop! The kids like it (when they can stay awake) because it’s like a ride. We like it because it’s air conditioned and we get to sit down :). We also take a break, as someone else said, on Tom Sawyer’s Island, when it’s not too hot. When it’s hot we go on the people mover, COP, and Hall of presidents. Cool relaxing places to sit. Getting all our gear together and the kids to go back and forth to the hotel room is sometime just too much trouble for us. The kids always want to swim when we get back and we want a nap lol!
100% agree with Susie M! Transportation to and fro AKL wasn’t that bad at all the 3 times I stayed there. And in July, you’ll definitely want a break from the heat (and no, a monorail ride in the AC is not enough for me, LOL!). And you always have Uber for those days where you may need to get somewhere much quicker. Give it a try and adjust as needed. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic trip!
I’m sorry but travelling by Disney bus is not that bad, we go Disney every year and use the bus and stayed in a lot of different hotels ( value and deluxe) and the longest we ever sat on a bus was 40 mins and that was only one time
Bus transportation from AKL isn’t bad at all. I’m fact it might be the best of the deluxe resorts as it doesn’t share with other resorts. DH and I stayed there in May and did the parks in the morning, pool in the afternoon and parks at night almost every one of our 8 days. It was painless.
We’ve even taken the bus to AKL between park hopping just to get Zebra domes!
hello! love your blog – sarcastic humor is missing from much of the online-disney-advice world 🙂
I was wondering if there is a place you could direct me to, that lists what is going on each month at Disney. Such as Pop Warner competitions, marathons, dance competitions (not just the Disney World events like the Food & Wine festival or Mickey’s VM Christmas Party), etc.? I would love to schedule trip that avoids a major convention, if at all possible – any notes on the 2nd weekend in December?
Thanks so much for all the great tips!
I found Tom’s post to be informative, realistic, and thoughtful. I for one enjoy Country Bear Jamboree. I can pretty much say I enjoy all of Disney’s attractions minus one, and it’s that Lilo and Stitch attraction. I can’t even remember the name of it for how ghetto-ridiculous it was, but anyone and everyone can skip it-lol.
I’ve been to WDW several times, and I never get tired of any of the rides, except for that one I mentioned earlier. I don’t know if Tom has brought this up on his other posts for this blog, but if you want some down time, go to Tom Sawyer’s Island. I’m a rides enthusiast, but I’m also a nostalgic sentimentalist. Every time my family goes we always visit the fort, as well as the caves; and I also never fail to scare my parent’s, siblings, and nephews, and nieces when hiding in the cave at this attraction-lol!
Something else to note, there’s a bridge at Tom Sawyer’s Island that half-floats above the water. I always get a kick out of watching everyone cross that bridge, plus it’s fun to do it yourself! Anyway, you can get a good view of it in when your in line at the Haunted Mansion. Another thing to remember, at the top of the island there’s a look out point with picnic tables. My family likes to watch all the parades during the day, from on top of the island. It’s a great view of everything, plus you don’t have to deal with the crowds when it’s over. Tom Sawyer will always be my favorite. It was also an original attraction to when it opened up first at Disneyland, when Walt Disney was still alive.*
I liked Stitch’s Great Escape
I have a phone number to a good psychiatrist. Lol
Take this from someone who’s actually lived in Orlando for years – the NUMBER ONE mistake people make at Disney World, especially when their time is so precious, is spend their limited time and Fast Passes either hopping on basic carny-style rides at Disney (however jazzed up they might be) that they could access any time some traveling carnival comes to town, or allowing themselves to get side-tracked by Disney’s numerous time-wasting efforts designed to keep them in the park as long as possible for the purpose of spending more money. Make no mistake, from the moment you walk in Disney is conducting a major psychological campaign against you, from the way they block direct access to exits through the obligatory gift shops, making you wind round and round one merchandise display after another, right through meet-and-greet photo opportunities (ok, I know, the little ones love them) , parades, etc. Seriously, if you want to get the best out of the parks ride-wise it’s an absolute must that you avoid all the distractions and lesser rides and strategist your way round the park from the moment it opens. We know just about every trick in the book, and none that involving ‘cheating’ by jumping lines, being pushy, and so on – it just comes from years and years of going to the parks and experimenting with different approaches.
To give an example, a relative of mine recently flew in during the last moderate week prior to Christmas, and I set aside one day to lead her and her friends round EPCOT while leaving them to their own devices for the rest of their time at the parks. Well EPCOT day started out chaotically when they arrived late (a BIG no no) yet despite that I led them from one ride to another, ignored all but one of the FP’s they’d arranged for themselves, and had not only cleared out most of the best rides in the front section of the park before the International Showcase opened at 11, but even got them on Test Track twice, which they loved. By early afternoon we’d done everything they wanted to see at the IS, lunched at Morocco (still fairly good value, especially if you have vegetarians in your party) and finished up back in the main area where they finished off rides like Spaceship Earth, Nemo, and Universe of Energy that we’d bypassed in the morning. Yet in the subsequent days, on their own yet armed with a bunch of notes I left with my cousin, they only managed 4 – 6 rides each day at the other parks even with the FP’s they’d obtained beforehand! It left me feeling frustrated on their behalf because they’d spent so much money coming here only to get so little out of their experience other than an interesting and long walk through each park. I think their whole day at MK yielded Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Haunted mansion, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and the Speedway of all things! A typical day there with our kids and we’d have nailed all that by midday or thereabouts – it just comes from experience and how to approach the parks, yet there’s plenty of resources online that can help guide you along, this site being one of them.
Finally, there’s one other major mistake people make, and that’s misuse of the FP system. It almost makes you cry to go to one of the parks and see people using one of their precious FP’s to access a ride you can practically walk straight on via the normal standby line or at worst just wait 5 – 10 minutes. The FP’s are like gold, and you really need to husband them for use on the absolute premium rides that are entirely unique to Disney and must-do’s.
Oh, and while I’m at it, even if it’s not advertised most of the cafeteria-style places offering burgers will make a vege-burger for vegetarians even if it’s not on the menu.
Great post on nothing. No tips. Just tooting your horn without saying anything.
The first mistake of our family’s inagural Disney vacation in October 2014 was showing up at the wrong airport at 5AM in the morning – Cleveland instead of Columbus. Southwest made everything right and got us into Orlando only 1 hour later than originally expected – no charge. Could’t blame that huge mistake on anyone but myself. From there – any issues we may have had on the trip were considered small and inconsequential. We fell into the #2 bucket of over planning but remained flexible with the fast passes. If we could not make one, we could simply cancel it on the iPhone app and reschedule it for later.
Tom – thanks for all your advice as it contributed to a great first trip. That trip was supposed to be the only family trip to Disney – but we find ourselves planning our second trip for next fall because this one was so great!
I have a few questions for the veterans what is adr?? Are there parks that are better in the day than in the night?? And which parks are quick stops so I can use a park hopper?? I plan on surprising my girl with a Disney trip maybe in early January and this article is making those are just the few of the questions I would like to be answered thank you everyone.
ADR is the advance dining reservation. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can start booking them 180 days in advance (and you should for popular restaurants). If you are focused on covering as much park as possible, you should avoid table service restaurants and won’t need reservations. We took that approach on our first trip. Now, we’re on less of “cover everything” approach and do make reservations–but sitting down for a full meal does eat into your day–and we often realize after eating that we’re tired and throw in the towel . .. I’m more of a morning person so we typically start early, go all day and leave before it closes. I found Magic Kingdom to be surprisingly dark at night and some attractions are closed. It is magical, though, walking down Main Street at night. Hollywood Studios has lots of items closed now, so we used park hoppers on days where did some HS stuff and then went to Epcot. We don’t hop on Magic Kingdom days because there is so much to do. You can find a lot more of your questions answered in detailed in this blog–it’s one of the best ones. Good luck on your trip.
The biggest mistake we made the first time my family and I visited Disney World was choosing the worst spot possible to see Wishes: right in front of the castle. We heard many fireworks bursting but we couldn’t see many of them. We loved the half that we got to see anyway..
It’s probabbly one of the easiest mistakes to make as a first timer, thinking that being as close as possible guarantees a better experience. Also, cast members actually allow people to be there… I think they should push the people further from the castle so first timers and people who don’t research enough don’t feel disappointed or confused (as it happened to us). After all, it’s an AMAZING show!!
I’m a Disneyland veteran and made a big mistake on my first trip to WDW earlier this year. It was planned rather last minute and I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to devour every detail of information ahead of time. I confess, I got wrapped up in the magic and didn’t think about how we were getting back to the airport at the end of the vacation. We showed up for the Magical Express Bus, expecting to hop aboard just like the other transit buses and were told we were a “flight risk” and had to take a taxi! Ugh, $80 later… Always do your research! Apparently we were supposed to receive a notice on the resort room door with reservation instructions for the bus and if I’d done my research I would have known this. Live and learn, there is always next time 🙂
OH MY GOSH!! I’m so so glad I’m not the only person that hates Stitch’s Great Escape!!! I’d never noticed it before and while on honeymoon we tried it and I have never wanted to leave a ride so badly.
Also, I’ve been several times as an adult and have totally made the rice-crispy mistake. We also made the mistake of getting the full-service for all 3 meals meal plan. Way, way, way too much food. We got the free champagne for our honeymoon… didn’t want it. I’m still pissed that we didn’t finish our meal at Fulton’s because it was SO good but we were soooo full. That’s a mistake I’d almost add to this list.
I agree with the planning/not planning. I purposely left some spots very open on our honeymoon so we could do “whatever”. We ended up finding a couple of overlooked restaurants (like the Liberty Tree Tavern) and farting around checking out different resorts just for fun.
Thank you for this wonderful blog Tom! I am always intrigued by the reviews, discussions, etc.
I am definitely a planner and GUILTY – admittedly over-planned our first trip to WDW. Maximize the fun right? Make every magical moment count right? WRONG! After delays and kinks…stress and disappoint set in.
The last two trips we have made to WDW as a fabulous fam of four was fantastic! I planned out our park for the day (using those awesome crowd calendars), made fastpasses for our top favs in the morning, decided on a spot for lunch and then….let it go. It is so much more enjoyable for us this way.
My kids turning to me to say “thank you mom for planning all of this” was wonderful…and yet me turning to them to say “What’s next?” was great!
Heading back to WDW in Nov 2016! *o*
PS we visited Country Bear Jamboree every time we were at the Kingdom – we laughed aloud and sitting in that nice, cool, uncrowded theater on a hot day is heavenly!
I greatly enjoyed reading this and it made me think back to my own “lesson-learned” as a First Timer. Never under-estimate GOOD footwear. I had purchased name-brand shoes for my 1st visit, believing they were good enough. So not true! On the 4th day of the 2-week vacation, I was crying and ready to admit I had not done my homework when choosing those shoes. A very kind Tomorrowland CM guided me towards a pair of Crocs and saved my vacation from disaster.
Hey, us country bear jamboree worth it for someone who doesn’t know what it is nor speaks english?