10 Disney World Tips For First Timers
It’s your very first trip to Disney World. How exciting! You’re joining the ranks of millions of people who choose to visit Disney World each year. Disney is one of the top vacation destinations for a reason. With first-class accommodations, world-class entertainment, and so much more, Disney is the place to be! As an Orlando local and annual passholder, I’ve been to Disney a lot. Here are my 10 Disney World tips for first timers visiting the parks and resorts.
1. Disney World is Huge
With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and nearly 30 resorts, it’s fair to say that Disney is pretty big. There’s lots to explore, and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to check it all out. Make sure to plan your trip with this in mind. A couple of days might seem like a lot of time, but with everything to see and do, it will go by quickly. For first time visitors, consider planning at least a week for your first visit. This will give you plenty of time to see the parks. Plus, you’ll probably want to visit the parks more than once to get all of your new favorite attractions in.
2. Prepare to Walk a Lot
Because Disney is so large, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. In fact, on the Disney Parks Mom’s Panel, they said that on average that you’ll walk 10 miles per day! With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure you have some good walking shoes or sandals. Bring a few pairs, just in case too. If you’re worried about possible blisters or sore feet, don’t forget to pack Band-Aids, mole-skin, and extra socks. Not sure what kind of shoes to bring with you? We cover some of the best shoes for Disney World right here on the Mouse’s House.
With all of this walking, don’t forget to take lots of breaks. Sit, rest, and enjoy the sights and sounds. I personally love taking mid-day breaks in the park or at my resort in between all the ride-hopping. It’s also important to hydrate, so make sure you’re drinking lots of liquid throughout the day.
If you’re looking to experience some spa time, why not get a pedicure while you’re at Disney too? Disney’s Grand Floridian offers full pedicures to rest your weary feet.
3. Plan in Advance
If you’re feeling overwhelmed already, don’t be. A trip to Disney might seem like a lot, but with some pre-trip planning your vacation will be as easy as 1-2-3. Wondering where to start? Here on the Mouse’s House, we have tons of great info for you to check out. Want even more info straight from Mickey himself? Go to Disney’s official website for information to get you started. There you can make Advanced Dining Reservations, look at restaurant menus, choose your Fastpass+ reservations, and even book your resort. Planning ahead can be a great family activity too. Get everyone involved! Make countdown calendars, and choose your meal options together. It will help make the wait for your vacation go even quicker.
4. Make Advanced Dining Reservations
Disney might be home to some of the best attractions in the world, but it also includes delicious dining options too. From character meals, where you’ll meet your favorite Disney characters, to fine dining, Disney has food options for everyone. Many of the restaurants are extremely popular. This means that you’ll want to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for table service restaurants before you visit Disney.
ADRs can be made 180 days in advance, which might seem early if you’re a first time visitor. But, if you really want to eat at a certain restaurant making your reservations super early will be the only way you’ll get a reservation. Character meals book up extremely fast. Most book fully at 180 days out. But don’t worry. Even if you don’t get every reservation you wanted, you’ll still have plenty of amazing places to dine while you visit. So go ahead. Channel your inner White Rabbit and don’t be late for your very important dining date!
5. Make Fastpass+ in advance
Like dining reservations, you’ll want to make Fastpass+ reservations before your trip. What is Fastpass+? It’s Disney’s newest answer to skipping the line waits in the parks. Dying to go on the Haunted Mansion? Ready to blast off with Buzz Lightyear? With Fastpass+ you can skip the regular wait line. Choose up to 3 attractions per day along with your time to visit the attraction. Then get on the ride with little to no wait. Sounds great, right? Like ADRs, popular rides book up fast, so make sure to book your Fastpass+ early. If you’re staying at a resort, you’ll be able to book Fastpass+ 60 days before you arrive. Non-resort guests can book Fastpass+ 30 days in advance.
6. There’s an App for That
Between making ADRs, booking Fastpass+, and planning resort reservations, there’s a lot to do before your trip. Disney makes it easy to keep track and book all of these in one place with the My Disney Experience app. It’s free to download and is available for most Smartphone devices. With My Disney Experience, you’ll be able to connect with your family and friends and share your travel information. I love being able to use it to check my Fastpass+ times and dining reservations when I’m in the park. It’s super handy, and you’ll want to download it before you go on vacation. There’s also an online version of the My Disney Experience through Disney’s website if you don’t want to use the app.
7. Disney Has Its Own Language
As you plan for your first Disney trip, you may have noticed some interesting phrases and words on the official Disney site. Although not an official language, Disney has unofficial “Disney Speak” that make take some getting used to. The first thing you’ll notice is that Disney employees are called Cast Members. And those visiting Disney are called guests. Rides are called Attractions. And, lines for attractions are called queues. Still with me? It make take some getting used to, but you’ll soon be speaking Disney like a pro.
8. Staying on Property Has Its Perks
There are some definite perks to staying at a Disney resort, or “on property,” as they call it. If you’re a first time Disney visitor, staying on property is the best way to experience all Disney has to offer. You’re in the heart of the magic. Plus, you get some pretty good perks too. First, you’ll be able to enjoy complimentary Disney transportation to and from your resort to the parks. So you can travel by bus or monorail to most anywhere in Disney World.
If you’re looking to get the most out of the theme parks, you’ll love that Disney resort guests get Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours offers early or late entry into the parks and is exclusive to resort guests only. This means you can spend time in the parks with fewer people. And that means, less wait times for attractions. Finally, resort guests can book Fastpass+ 60 days in advance, a full 30 days earlier than non-resort guests. These are just a few of the perks of staying at a Disney resort.
9. Disney Can Be Budget-Friendly
I often hear that Disney is really expensive to visit. And that can definitely be the case. You can make your Disney vacation as extravagant or budget-friendly as you want it to be. The great news is that Disney offers promotions and discounts year-round. You can also score great deals like Free Dining too. In addition, Disney has created 3 different kinds of resorts: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Each of these varies in price, but offers cost-effective options no matter what your budget. The same goes for the time of year you visit. Disney offers discounts based on season. These include: Value, Fall Season, Regular Season, Summer Season, Peak Season, and Holiday Season.
Looking for budget-friendly food while you’re on vacation? There are plenty of options and price points throughout the park. Quick service restaurants (aka fast food) includes affordable options. There are also some reasonably priced table service (aka sit down) restaurants too. Doing some pre-trip planning will help you experience Disney in the best way possible and save money too!
10. PhotoPass will take photos for you
Speaking of budget-friendly. Did you know that Disney’s PhotoPass photographers will take photos for you on your camera or Smartphone at no charge? PhotoPass is Disney’s official photo service. You’ll find PhotoPass photographers throughout the Disney Parks. They take high-quality professional photos, but they are pretty pricey. You can, of course, purchase photo packages. But, I prefer the free method. Simply ask the PhotoPass photographer to take a photo with your camera or Smartphone for the perfect vacation photo.
Bonus: Make Magic
There are so many great tips and tricks about Disney World. I hope that these 10 Disney World Tips For First Timers will you help you on your way to the most amazing trip. If you need more tips, check out the reviews and articles on Mouse’s House. Have a magical vacation!
For even more tips, make sure to read our 10 Best Walt Disney World Secrets Only the Pros Know!