Disney World, Planning

Top 10 Rookie Mistakes When Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation


When you start telling your friends and family that you want to start planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you are going to get advice coming at you from all directions.  Maybe it’s been a while since you have been, or maybe it’s your first visit, either way, you are bound to make at least one of these mistakes along the way.  Here is a quick list of 10 things I believe to be rookie mistakes when planning a vacation to Walt Disney World.

1.  Consider the Cost

Anyone will tell you that Disney World can be far from an economical vacation. Of course, it would be fabulous is everyone could afford one of the new bungalows at the Polynesian, but that’s not possible for a majority of guests traveling there.  You may get sticker shock when you price out your ideal vacation.  If you want to do Disney on a budget, there are ways to make that happen.

2.  Understand Ticket Options

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation might prompt you to sign up for a few popular message boards and fan sites to get advice from people who travel there frequently.  Some advice you read there is legitimate advice, and some of it is not.  One of the things I hear people confuse so many times are the different ticket options and how they can be used.  Base tickets, park hoppers, water park option, multi day tickets, and expiration dates are all important things to learn about and consider when making your ticket purchase.

3.  Know the Height Requirements

If you have small children who you know are going to want to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on your trip (40″), you had better know how tall they need to be to ride it.  You don’t want to get their hopes up if there’s a chance they might not make the cut.  Prepare your child for the possibility of being turned away if they are close and have a contingency plan in case that happens.  Nothing can bum a child out more than not getting to ride the “big rides” like older siblings and parents.

4.  Not Getting the Whole Family in the Picture

You’re at Disney and you bought a brand new camera to capture you family’s reactions to the magic…but where are you?  Oh, yeah…you’re the one taking the picture.  Many people see the PhotoPass Photographers stationed around the parks and think that you have to have Memory Maker or purchase the photos they take in order to use them.  Nope.  Feel free to hand them your camera so you can get in the picture, too.

5.  Not Wearing Comfortable Shoes

When people think of the word “vacation,” they generally think they will be relaxed when they come home.  Not always true for a Disney vacation.  There is a lot of walking around during a trip to Disney World.  My FitBit averages between 25,000-30,000 steps per day, or about 8-9 miles when I am there.  PER DAY.  Maybe those cute new heels you bought for your trip might be better suited for dinner and not in the parks all day.  If you do insist on fashion over comfort, then don’t forget to pack a first aid kit!

6.  Think Your Children Don’t Need Strollers

If you think your 5 year old is too old for a stroller, you may want to reconsider it at Disney. They may start out each day full of energy and ready to take on the world, but before you know it, they will want you to carry them.  Check #5 right above:  8-9 miles per day.  And chances are, it’s pretty hot.  Kids can get tuckered out really quickly when doing that much walking in the heat.  Let them take it easy in a stroller so they can save their energy and keep having a good time.  You’ll be glad they are in a stroller and you don’t have to carry them when you’re tired, too.

7.  Skip the Parades and Shows

Disney is known for many things, and entertaining is one of them.  Don’t pass up a chance to see one of their parades or a classic fireworks show.  There’s a reason why they do them every day.  Plus, (see #5 & #6 above), if your feed are tired, it might be nice to sit for a while and enjoy a parade or sit inside an air conditioned theater and see a show.

8.  Book Last Minute

These last three are going to be tied together.  First, you want to try to book your Disney World vacation as far in advance as possible.  Booking in advance will guarantee you a room at the resort of your choice.  You can also have the option of taking advantage of promotions as they are released.  If you are thinking about going to Disney next month, you’ll be paying the full price for your resort stay.  There are no last minute deals at Disney.

9.  Make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)

One of the things that shocks people the most when they start planning their Disney World vacation is how early in advance they need to book dining reservations.  180 days is when the dining window opens for resort guests, and the popular restaurants at the popular times are always gone in a matter of hours.  If you think you can walk up to Cinderella’s Royal Table at 6PM for dinner, think again.  It can be hard to think about where you want to eat 6 months in advance, but it’s almost a necessity if you are trying to get into the popular restaurants.

10.  Booking FastPass+ Reservations

Now that the Legacy FastPasses (paper FastPasses) are no more, you need to make your reservations 60 days in advance for resort guests, and 30 days in advance for off site and local guests. Gone are the days when you walk into a park and say, “I think I want to ride Splash Mountain today” and go to the FastPass kiosk to see when your return time is.  Now, you must decide 2 months in advance if you think you may want to ride that day or not.  If you want to ride the new Mine Train ride at the Magic Kingdom, you better be logging into you My Disney Experience account 60 days prior to your arrival to make sure you can get it.  Otherwise, you might be waiting for 2 or more hours in a standby line.

The easiest thing you can do when beginning the planning process is contact an Authorized Disney Travel Planner to help you take care of all the details.  Click on the “Free Quote” tab above to get started today!

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