It’s been a while since I’ve written a Top 10 post and since we are mid-pandemic and not much travel is taking place, I decided now is the time to get this one out of my notebook and onto the blog. I have been visiting Walt Disney World since 1972 and the parks have changed a lot over the years. If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World in the last 5-6 years then this post is for you. I want to help you avoid the Top 10 Mistakes Disney Rookies Make.
10. Not Allowing Themselves to Truly Experience the Magic
So many guests are so busy rushing from attraction to attraction they miss the magic around them. Others are nose stuck in their phones and missing the beautiful details on every building and attraction. Vacations are supposed to be enjoyable. Stop, take a deep breath, and look around. Take pictures of the shows and parades but take more pictures of your people, your family and friends, whoever you are traveling with. Make sure you are in the pictures too!
It’s 2020 every Disney show, parade, and most attractions are available on YouTube, put your phone down and enjoy the show in person. Don’t spend your vacation watching everything on the screen of your iPhone, experience it.
9. Lugging Too Much Stuff Around the Parks
As an empty nester, my favorite Disney days are no bag days. All I need is my phone in my Keebos case, my ID, debit card, passholder card, and my Magic Band. I love getting to skip the bag check line and walk right into the park. Some days just aren’t no bag days, for me most of those days are days with a higher than 20% chance of rain. I still just carry a small bag with no more than 2 zippers. My bag will include my rain poncho, small pill holder for Tylenol, and a large zippy bag to hold a wet rain poncho, and our reusable straws.
I have visited the parks with kids ranging from 4mos on up. My best advice is only carry what you need. Food, bottles, formula, wipes, pacifier, change of clothes etc. Don’t lug toys that can get lost, a million snacks, refillable cups etc. You don’t want to be a pack mule your entire vacation.
8. Not Getting to Know the My Disney Experience App Before You Leave Home
The My Disney Experience App is a vital part of any Walt Disney World trip. You can use it for:
- Fastpass+ selections
- Dining Reservations
- Checking Wait Times
- Mobile Ordering at Quick Service Restaurants
- Maps-great way to locate the closest restroom
This app can be somewhat clunky and overwhelming if you are trying to figure it out in the heat of the day in a crowded theme park. Play with it at home so that you know where to look for the most important features.
7. Not Checking the Weather
In case you didn’t know, Florida isn’t always sunny. We have a lot of sun and heat but it rains a lot and it even gets cold. On my last 2 multi-day trips, December 5-8, 2019 and February 28-March 2, 2020 we had the exact same weather! Day 1 was cold, in the 40s-50s. I wore a coat and boots. Each day it warmed up Day 2 required leggings, a top, and a sweater, adding a coat at night. Day 3 I ditched the sweater except at night. Day 4 we were in the mid 70s and I wore capris and a top.
April-October is the rainy season, June-August you can expect rain just about every day. Wear water resistant shoes, I love my Tevas and my Crocs Reviva for running around the parks.
6. Not Using FastPass+
I’ve written several posts about how to use FastPass+ so I’m not going to go into detail here. In a nutshell 60 days before you arrive at your Walt Disney World Resort, or 30 days before if you are staying off property, You can select 3 attractions to FastPass+, this allows you to enter a shorter line within a set time window. Once you have used all 3 FastPasses on a given day, you can try can get additional FastPasses, one at a time for the rest of the day if they are available.
I can’t tell you how many times I have struck up conversations with people while standing in a stand-by line and they didn’t even know about FastPass+ or they thought you had to pay for it! FastPass+ is free for all Disney guests!
5. Thinking They Can Do it All
I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World my entire life and I still haven’t done it all or seen it all! Many of the things I have done are because they are cost prohibitive, but still…You cannot and will not see and ride everything in all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs on your Walt Disney World vacation…and that’s OK.
Yes, there is THAT much to see, do, ride, eat, and experience that you can’t do it all, even on a luxury 2 week Disney vacation. Two of my planning tips are:
- Know your limitations and the limitations of your family/touring party. Most people can’t handle being in the parks from pre-rope drop to park close for several consecutive days. Young children surely can’t and please don’t expect them to. Take an afternoon pool/nap break, it’s your vacation-relax a little. Plan a no park day, spend time in the pool, at Disney Springs, and playing mini-golf.
- When you are planning your trip have a family meeting and decide your three must-dos and 3 would really like to-dos for each park. Anything you accomplish above those are the cherry on top of a wonderful busy day.
4. Not Planning Dining in Advance
Advance Dining Reservations for Table Service restaurants open up 180 days before you arrive at Walt Disney World. Yes, six months before your vacation, or as soon as the trip is booked if it is less than 6 months, you should book your table service dining. You do not have to do any table service dining, but if you enjoy great food, Disney is a foodie paradise. we typically do 1 table service meal on each 4-5 day vacation. If you get the Disney Dining Plan you are going to be eating a lot of food and spending lots of time in restaurants, choose your dining carefully.
Unfortunately, long gone are the days of being able to walk up to a Disney restaurant and be seated for a meal. That used to be the norm, unfortunately not any more.
3. Not Choosing the Correct Ticket Type
Disney has several different kinds of tickets base, park hopper, water park and sports, and park hopper plus. Before buying your tickets, learn about them so that you get what you need. There is no use paying for features you don’t want or need.
How many ticketed days do you really need? What time are you arriving? Is it worth it to visit a park on day 1? What time do you leave on your last day? Again, is a park ticket necessary? Are you attending a hard ticket event in the evening? If you are do you want to use a day ticket as well? These are all important questions to ask before you book your Walt Disney World vacation package.
2. Not Setting a Budget
A Walt Disney World vacation is not cheap, a 5 day park hopper ticket for those ages 10+ currently ranges from $554.09-721.38 depending on travel dates. So a family of 4 with 3 adults and one under age 10 will easily spend between $2196.21-2865.37 on tickets alone. Add to this flights, accommodations, food, and souvenirs and you can see why the average Disney trip runs $5000 and up.
Setting a reasonable budget up front will help guide your choice of ticket, resort, dining plan, and yes, even souvenirs. You want to enjoy your vacation and not stress over money so plan ahead and stick to your budget.
1. Not Using a Certified Disney Vacation Planner from an Earmarked Travel Agency
Yes, I am a Certified Disney Vacation Planner with an Earmarked Travel Agency but even if I wasn’t, I would recommend one for so many reasons. A Disney vacation is unlike any other vacation you may take. What other vacation has you make dining plans 6 month in advance, or choose attractions you want to experience 2 months in advance? That is a lot of planning.
Choosing between all of the Disney Resorts and restaurants is enough to drive most people crazy. Add to that creating a flexible touring plan that maximizes fun and minimizes wait times and needless walking back and forth across the park and you see why you need me to take all that stress off of you.
You are already paying for a travel agents services whether you use one or not. Our commission is built into every Disney vacation, if you don’t use a travel agent Disney just pockets the money, don’t you want to get everything you are paying for?
Using a travel agent gives you an expert on speed dial. In case of emergency, hurricane, pandemic etc your travel agent is the one on hold with Disney for hours on end working on your behalf to reschedule your magical vacation. Costco and other “discount” travel sites aren’t there for you in your time of need. You are left to advocate for yourself and that’s not fun.
I hope you have found this post helpful. When you are ready to plan your magical Walt Disney World vacation I am here and ready to help, just Email me and we will start planning your amazing trip.