So you’re heading to Disney World. Even if you’re the most level-headed among us you are bound to make some mistakes, especially if this is your maiden voyage to the Mouse. We’ve all been there. Here at Disney Addicts we’d like to help you avoid making some of the most of the common no-no’s that can put a damper on your Disney days. Here’s our list of 9 Mistakes to Avoid Making at Disney World.
1. Sleeping In – I know its tempting, you’re on vacation after all. But if you are thinking about having a lie-in you can bet that so is everyone else vacationing at Disney World. Instead arrange for a character wake-up call at your resort and aim to be at your chosen theme park when they first open the gates. Wait times will be low in the early AM which means your family will be able to see and do more. Lines, tempers and temperatures will reach their peak when the massive throng of late sleepers descends upon the park (usually between 11:00 am – 12:00pm. ) For those finding themselves worn out by midday this is a great time to leave the park (when the crowds are at their heaviest) and head back to your resort for a rest or a dip in the pool. You can visit the parks again in the evening when crowds are lower.
2. Winging It When it Comes to Character Dining – Even if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of family, if dining with Mickey, princesses or any of your other favorite Disney pals ranks at the top of your Wish List, it pays to make your reservation as far out as you possibly can. Dining reservations are bookable 180 days before your vacation and many of the more popular character dining options will fill up months in advance. Even if you’ve booked a last minute holiday, it still pays to secure your dining reservations as far out as possible (even if it’s only a week or two). Walk-ups are a difficult business at Disney restaurants and by not having a reservation at all, you risk waiting in lengthy stand-by lines or being turned away. More time waiting in line means less time enjoying everything Disney has to offer. Click here for more details on securing last minute reservations.
3. Letting Your Temper Get the Best of You – We’ve all been there. The temperatures are hot, your feet are aching, your child is crying because they are tired. Even the best Disney days have their low points. But let’s keep it in perspective. Disney truly is the happiest place on Earth. That being said, I’ve visited the parks enough to see my fair share of families pushed to the brink. Whether it’s mothers going to war in the Winnie the Pooh line, a father reaching his limit while waiting for his buzzer to go off for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, or a guest teaching everyone just how many bad words are in his vocabulary during an elevator ride at the Polynesian, I’ve seen some pretty dreadful Disney moments. Take a breather and don’t take it out on a Cast Member, your family or random strangers. Have a strategy for what to do when tempers get high. After all you want your child’s Disney memories to be of Splash Mountain not of your mountainous temper.
4. Wearing Impractical Footwear. Walt Disney World Resort is massive and over the course of just one day at the parks you may walk a good 7 or 8 miles. I wouldn’t run a mile in heels, wedges or shoes I just bought but hadn’t broken in. This same rule should apply when touring the parks. It may mean sacrificing fashion for comfort but that’s a sacrifice worth making to avoid the sore feet and painful blisters that might result from the later. And parents, your little princess may have just had the most amazing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover and yes I think the mini plastic princess shoes with the little heels are amazing but imagine what they do to tiny feet that are probably walking more than they’ve ever walked in their lives. After the makeover switch to sneakers. It will be worth it in the long run.
5. Visiting the Parks Without A Park Bag – If you’re planning on spending a long day at the theme parks then consider yourself an intrepid adventurer. You wouldn’t go hiking, mountain climbing or even fishing without the proper gear. The same should apply to your days at the theme parks. Make a list of things to pack and try to cover every eventuality, from blisters, to downpours, to pounding headaches. And throw in some food and water for those “I’m about to lose it because I’m so hungry” moments. Pick stuff up at your local dollar store and bring it with you for your park bags each day. Disney charges high prices for common everyday items like ponchos, Aspirin, band-aids etc. Get them on the cheap at home and that will mean more money that you can spend on souvenirs.
6. Spending Your Snack Credits On an Apple or Bottle of Water – If you’re on one of Disney’s dining plans, you’re entitled to two snacks for each day that you’re staying at your resort. In order to truly get your money’s worth when it comes to these plans, it pays to maximize these credits. But, with the wide range of Snack options covered by the plans, exactly how to do this can be confusing. My general rule of thumb is not to spend it on a bottle of water or a banana. Not only are these low value items, but they’re also items that can be brought into the parks at a fraction of the cost. Instead, look out for items that are not only tasty but may also curb your appetite for a bit. For instance in Animal Kingdom, you could get an apple or you could get a helping of Chicken Fried Rice at Yak and Yeti and both cost the same- 1 Snack Credit. Don’t spend your credits on a Coke when you can get a Dole Whip. Do a bit of investigating for snack items while at Disney, you’ll be surprised by what’s included.
7. Heading to the Parks Without a Bit of Touring Plan – If heading to the parks for the first time, it pays to be prepared. Organize your Fastpasses ahead of time, make those advanced dining reservations, have a bit of a strategy of what parks you want to visit on each day and have a look at the park maps online to familiarize yourself with the layout of the parks. It pays to be in the know when it comes to the theme parks even if it’s just a little bit. Otherwise you may find yourself hot, lost, and frazzled with no sense of what to do or where to go- it happens to the best of us. Even if you consider yourself to be an “in the moment” non-planner, having a bit a plan of attack can only help not hinder.
8. Taking on Too Much. There are so many things to see and do at Walt Disney World that newcomers may feel the pressure to fit it all in. However there is too much of a good thing and during my time at the parks I’ve seen families run ragged, bustling rapidly to get from one attraction to the next because they’re trying to follow a touring plan down to the minute. I’ve also seen exhausted families on the resort buses forcing themselves to do more than one park each day. I hate to be the barer of bad news, but no matter how hard you try, you’ll never see everything there is to see at Disney World in one visit. Vacations are meant to be relaxing and this is an amazing experience that you and your family will remember forever – don’t succumb to the pressure of trying to get from Splash Mountain to Space Mountain in 10 minutes because a piece of paper tells you to. Be in the moment and give yourself some time to look around and take it all in.
9. High-tailing it Out of the Parks When it Rains – Rain showers can be a great thing at Disney. While unprepared visitors scurry for shelter or leave the parks in droves, its a great time to get in line for your favorite ride, or sit back and enjoy one of Disney’s amazing shows or animatronic attractions. If it’s raining outside, chances are you’ll find my family at Country Bear Jamboree. What a lot of guests don’t realize is that rain in Florida can be sporadic, and no sooner have the heavens opened then things are already starting to subside. Stock up on ponchos from the dollar store and include them in your park bag to keep you dry and enjoy walking around in the emptiest park you’ll see all day! A note of caution though, electrical storms in Florida can be nasty and are a definite exception to this rule.
When it comes to planning a Walt Disney vacation, everyone will have their own set of does and don’ts but hopefully our pointers of “what not to do” will help your Disney days run a bit more smoothly.
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