After helping my family-in-law (Joe’s mom and sister) plan what was essentially their first trip to Disney World (they hadn’t been for about 10 years, and were taking our niece for the first time,) it got me thinking about all sorts of things that first-timers should probably know about going to Disney. Sure these things can be found scattered throughout the internet, but I’m going to try to compile some of the biggies in this post, woo!
- Get active! A normal day in Disney for my family/me and Joe adds up to usually at least 12 miles of walking. Yep, 12 miles a day. The walking doesn’t even phase me; if anything I’ve gotten to the point of “Oh man, we only walked 12 miles today? Let’s aim for 15 tomorrow!” I’m weird. Really though, if your body isn’t used to that much activity, it may hit you like a freight train after your first day…so just prepare! Whatever that means for you 🙂
- Make lists. I’m an overplanner when it comes to trips, but there’s only so much planning you can do for a Disney Vacation. My dad always used to have us name the top 3-5 things we wanted to do or places we wanted to eat, and we would get fastpasses/make reservations based on how all of our choices matched up. Since you can’t guarantee how long lines will be for different attractions, making a list of ‘must dos’ for each park gives everyone a general idea of your plan of attack, filtering in ‘would like to dos’ as the day goes on. I’ve begun doing this when planning trips with my friends and Joe, and it works out quite nicely.
- Splurge for the ParkHopper ticket. When Joe and I did our whirlwind 2 day Disney weekend back in December we started Sunday morning in Magic Kingdom for breakfast, then went to Epcot and Hollywood Studios before ending our night (and trip!) back in MK, since it didn’t close til midnight. We were able to fit in everything we wanted to do, despite only having 2 days in the park. Totally worth it.
- Take advantage of Disney Transportation…but make sure you leave ample time for travel. In this case, ample means at least an hour. You might see 3 Animal Kingdom buses, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and another Epcot bus before seeing one for MK – and when you’ve got reservations for Cinderella’s Castle, you don’t want to chance missing them! Leave lots of time – and worst case scenario? You get to your location early. Quelle horreur! (This happened to us, and we had enough time to ride the carousel AND meet Anna and Elsa before breakfast at Be Our Guest.)
- No naps! I suppose this depends on a lot of different things, but I am a huge proponent of going 110% when in Disney. Everyone I’ve gone with can attest to this…and they may hate me a little because of it. Something I’m definitely going to have to work on once Joe and I bring our future children. Anyway. If you’re only in Disney for a short amount of time, make the most of it! If you need a break, hit up one of the dark, air conditioned shows throughout the parks.
- Magic Kingdom: Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, or the Laugh Floor
- Hollywood Studios: the Little Mermaid Show or Great Movie Ride
- Epcot: Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival, Club Cool, O Canada, or Living with the Land
- Animal Kingdom: the Nemo show, Lion King show, or It’s Tough to be a Bug.
- Buttons! Whether it’s your first visit, your birthday, or you’re celebrating an anniversary/marriage – make sure you ask for the corresponding button when you’re checking in! It may provide you with a ‘magical moment’ or two (free dessert or fastpasses – not guaranteed, but it’s been known to happen!) Even if you don’t get anything for free, you’ll constantly be congratulated or told ‘happy birthday’ by both Cast Members and guests alike! If you didn’t already have the warm fuzzies from being in Disney World – this’ll do it 😉
- Rides can, and probably will break down. It happens, but it’s no ones fault, sooo don’t let it ruin your trip! Do I need to say ‘don’t take it out on the Cast Members’ ? I’d hope that’s an obvious suggestion, but there are plenty of people that could use that reminder.
- As nice as sleeping in or enjoying a late breakfast is while you’re on vacation…getting to the parks at rope drop (opening) is totally worth it. Lines are either non-existent or much, much shorter, allowing you to get a few of those ‘must dos’ with longer wait times in before the park fills up. Plus, pro-tip: the animals on Kilamanjaro Safari are much more active first thing in the morning, before it gets too hot! 🙂
- Speaking of the heat. Florida gets hot in the summer. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, put on sunscreen religiously. Take advantage of those cool-down spots I mentioned. If you’re in MK – get a Dole Whip and/or Le Fou’s Brew! Yum-o.
- Don’t let others ruin your trip. You’ll see families fighting, and encounter more than your fair share of rude, grumpy people that think since they paid a lot of money, they’re entitled to everything and anything their hearts desire. Don’t let these things take away from the Disney Magic! To make up for these people, try to say please and thank you to the Cast Members – they’ll appreciate it! Oh also…promise me you’ll look out for strollers and scooters. Your toes will thank you.
Other important things if you’re staying on property: you can start making dining reservations 90 days out. So if you neeeeeed to eat dinner at Be Our Guest (which is highly, highly recommended over breakfast) do yourself a favor and jump on the Disney app at midnight to get that taken care of. Similarly, Fastpass selection opens up 60 days in advance. The earlier you can make your choices, the more likely it’ll be that you get fastpasses for the rides you want. And it should go without saying, but yes – fastpasses are free. Oh, and did I mention Dole Whips? Get one – you won’t regret it.
Holy moley I could go on and on and on about planning a Disney trip, so real talk: if you have questions, hit me up!
Did I miss anything major? Let me know in the comments!