I can’t stress this one enough. I thought we planned quite well before we went, but I realised when we were there we could have done so much more. There are so many resources online such as My Disney Experience which will allow you to sync everything together before you go. If you are wanting to book a character meal, you MUST book this in advance otherwise you will be very disappointed when you arrive. The amount of people we saw trying to get a table without having pre booked at Cinderella’s Castle was unbelievable. We had a lovely lunch which we would have missed out on had we not have pre booked.
Use Your Fast Passes
Fastpass+ now allows you to pre book your rides and attractions 60 days in advance of your trip. There are rides that you really should Fast Pass to avoid waiting over 60 minutes for which may not be worth it for you or your family. Especially in hot weather. Fast Passes can be changed, cancelled and more added, but essentially you initially get three per person per day so look at all the rides and attractions and decide which you want to pre book. This goes for character appearances as well which may just make you the best parent in the world if you don’t have to stand in line to meet a favourite character.
This is quite an important piece of advice for a first timer going to Disney. You will be walking a LOT, and you WILL get tired. Do you know how many steps you might walk at Walt Disney World? Utilise the day to fit your family, but also to make sure you don’t burn out by day three and just can’t carry on. The majority of people told me to get out early to the parks, rest during the afternoon at your hotel, and then you are refreshed by the evening to go back out again to see the fireworks and parades.
Check The Information When You Enter The Park
Usually guest services or there are boards on display to tell you which characters are available at what times. This can save a lot of queueing for ages not to see anyone. Characters are only out for an hour before going in to either change over between staff members, or sometimes the character wont return for another couple of hours.
Think About What Is On Your Feet
With all the walking, you really need your feet to be comfortable. My best tip here is not to buy shoes just before you go unless you really want blisters. I took trainers, flip-flops and sandals, all of which I wear a lot of the time. My trainers were the most comfortable but my feet got too hot sometimes as we went during peak season. My sandals kept my feet cool but as they were flat my feet were aching sooner than when wearing the trainers. Flip flops were great when I knew I wouldn’t be walking for more than three hours at a time. I have since found these sandals and really recommend them for keeping feet cool and comfortable.
Use The Free Wifi
All the Disney parks, hotels and guest spaces have free wifi. Use it to look at your My Disney Experience App if you have it because it’s easy to get lost in the parks if it’s your first visit. The app has a GPS map, so you can use it to find where you want to be in the park. It’s also useful to be able to skype your family should you get separated. This saves you incurring high phone bills if you are travelling from outside the USA.
Buy Essentials At Home Before You Travel
I have compiled a separate list of what to buy before you travel to Walt Disney World, but perhaps my best essential to save you the most money would be ponchos. If you get caught in a storm in Disney, you’ll wish you had packed a poncho before you left. In Disney you will pay around $10 each for a Disney branded one. I bought a pack of five from Amazon (US link) (UK link) for around £6/$10. You will only wear it when it’s raining and they never go back in the packet properly, so there’s no point in wasting money for a short period of time.
It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re busy and walking around, but you’ll soon notice when someone is becoming dehydrated. It can spoil a lovely day so make sure you keep drinking. A bottle of water in the Disney parks will costs around $3 but you can take your own in from your hotel, or ask for a cup of iced water from any station selling snacks for free.
Arrive Early For A Good Spot For Fireworks Or Parades.
We watched people lining the pavements an hour before parades were due to start. The evening we went to Magic Kingdom to see the Electrical parade, it was packed 30 minutes before the parade was due to start and we were around six deep in the crowd. A top tip to watch the 2pm Festival Of Fantasy Parade in the shade is to sit on the left hand side of Main Street facing the castle. The right hand side has no shade cover at all.
You are only there for a short time and you wont see everything, so my biggest tip is to enjoy what you are doing and don’t worry about what you’re missing out on. Just remember to take your camera!
Any other Disney World tips for a first timer? More fab tips can be found here
If you planning your first holiday to Disney World then check out my list on what to buy before you go. We took advantage of Memory Maker for some magical photos and I’m so glad we did. If you’re not sure where to stay, read what we thought of staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Disclosure – contains affiliate links