Walt Disney World vacation planning can be time consuming and overwhelming, especially for a first visit. While you may think you have everything figured out, you may have actually missed a step or even overplanned. Here are the seven beginner mistakes that are common for first-time WDW trip planners. Avoid them, and your vacation will be even more magical!
Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation
With over 40 Walt Disney World vacations under my belt, I know a thing or two about planning a trip to the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” A trip to Disney World, especially your first – heck, even second – visit, requires planning ahead. However, you can over plan which can throw off your entire vacation. How can you make sure you covered everything, without overdoing?
Don’t get stressed out! Disney vacation planning is serious business, but it’s also serious fun. Research is definitely important before your first trip (or a Disney travel agent), but research will not really prepare some for that first visit no matter how thorough.
I have found in talking to people who plan for Disney vacations that they all seem to make the same mistakes. It’s easy to do. The sheer size of Disney World is overwhelming. How can you plan for it all? I mean, how would someone who has never been to Disney know the difference between a fast pass and a magic band? Don’t worry, I will help you avoid these mistakes, and hopefully you will have a stress free and fun Walt Disney World vacation.
Seven Common Walt Disney World Vacation Mistakes
1. Missing the 180 Dining Reservation Window
This may sound ridiculous, but in order to get the premium dining reservations you desire, you must book them six months in advance. It is extremely rare that you will be able to show up to a restaurant in Disney and find availability for walk up options. If you want to book character meals you MUST book them once the 180 window opens. And preferably as early in the morning as possible!
Traveling Mom Tip: Make a list of your family’s preferred reservations as well as second choices. If you cannot get the first choice you can book the second choice and not walk away empty handed.
2. Not Planning a Resort Day
A vacation in Disney is exhausting, plain and simple. The parks are huge and you need time to recharge. The resorts are an experience to be enjoyed at Walt Disney World, from great dining to fun pools and activities all day. Take a break from the parks and enjoy your resort, after all the time spent planning the perfect resort for your family vacation you should enjoy every minute of it.
3. Making Too Many Dining Reservations
Do you want to spend your entire time on vacation eating? Unless this is a foodie fest, I assume the answer is no. A sit down meal at Disney can take up to two hours, which is valuable park time. Even more, as you have to arrive 15 minutes early and take the time to get to the restaurant from your location. A dining reservation can easily take up three hours of your day with transportation and eating. Who wants to miss that much time in the parks? You don’t need to have a full dining experience for every meal. The quick service options are fantastic and not only save time but money.
4. Not Using Fast Pass +
Many people have no idea that you can reserve attractions in advance at Disney. But it’s true! Anyone can reserve attractions 30 days in advance of their arrival. Even better, if you are staying on site, you can reserve them 60 days in advance of check-in!
Having fast passes scheduled allows for less time in line and more time having fun. This not only makes the kids happy but mom and dad as well.
TravelingMom Tip: Skip making fast pass selections for fireworks and parades. You can find good viewing if you show up 30 minutes prior to the event. You only get three fast passes initially, so use them on your must-see attractions!
5. Eating Quick Service During Peak Hours
Plan your meals during “off” peak hours and save yourself time waiting in long lines and searching for seating. While you may want to eat lunch at 12:30 like the rest of the park does, you may want to reconsider. Pack a few snacks to beat the post-breakfast craving and have lunch after 2 p.m. The restaurants are less crowded and provide a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Plus the attraction lines are shorter when everyone else is eating!
6. Not Staying On-Site
If you want to be in the middle of the magic with extra park hours, free transportation and more, stay in a Walt Disney World resort. They offer lodging for every family and budget, from Value Resorts to Deluxe Villas. You will often find that the perks being onsite are a great investment of your travel dollars!
7. Not Using Disney Transportation
When you stay onsite at Disney, you have access to free transportation to the parks and Disney Springs. Be it monorail, boat or bus, you won’t have to hassle with crowded parking lots and trams to the entrance. The bus will often drop you almost to the front entrance. This will save you valuable time and hassles as well.
In a nutshell, when planning your first or even second Disney World vacation, you want to be onsite, have dining planned in advance and make fast pass selections before arrival. While many of these mistakes may seem trivial, they are made more frequently than you think.
What mistakes would you tell a first time visitor to avoid when planning a trip Disney World?