So – you’ve done it – you’ve finally gone ahead and booked your first Walt Disney World vacation. Let me be the first to CONGRATULATE you and say – job well done! You’ve just made the first step towards the best vacation ever – where you will make many memories you and your family will cherish for years to come. Now if you aren’t sure what those next steps should be, fear not! As we Disney Addicts are here to help with some friendly pre-Disney World trip advice for first-timers:
1. Know What To Expect: Do Your Research! Walt Disney World is a big place – and even if you went when you were a kid, taking your family there now will certainly be a MUCH different experience. You will want to start by making a budget for your trip – not the most exciting task, but certainly a necessary one! When budgeting you will want to include costs such as: Transportation, food/drinks, souvenirs, and incidentals – check out some Disney Budgeting Tips Here. Once you have an idea of budget, you will want to do some general research – places like Disney Addicts and Chip and Co are great places to start, and you might also want to invest in a Disney World Guidebook to help you get the “lay of the land” as far as what to expect for rides/food/shows and general locations/things to do.
2. Map Out Your Days: Once you’ve done some research and have some basic Disney World knowledge under your belt, you’re ready for the next step – planning out your trip Itinerary. Which is another critical part of pre-Disney planning. I recommend you figure out which park you are going to hit each day (you can base this on where you want to eat – since you can make your dining reservations for sit down meals 180 days in advance – read more about that here), and then from there pick some “must do” attractions and book Fastpasses for them, and then plug in other things you might want to do in between – shows, parades, fireworks, etc. Even for those that like to wing-it, I do encourage you to still flesh out a basic plan – at least plan which parks you are going to on which days, and utilize the FastPass option so you don’t spend your whole day waiting in line.
3. Mark Your Calendars: When it comes to Disney World vacations, there are some days that you will want to make note of on your calendar and plan for before trip time. I mentioned ADR’s (Advance dining reservations) briefly above – those can be made 180 days prior to your trip, and then there are other dates to note in regards to Magic Band customization/shipping, FastPass reservations etc – read more on all of that here, and I recommend you add the important planning items on your phone’s calendar or home calendar – so you don’t forget!
4. Prepare The Little Ones: If you are traveling with children who will also be experiencing Disney World for the first time, you will want to prepare them for what to expect too. Even if they have been to amusement/theme parks before, Disney is on a whole other level – it’s bigger, louder, and there’s much more going on – so you may want to show them some pictures/videos on YouTube of what the Parks actually look like, to help them picture it and know what to expect. Check out more tips on getting them ready for the trip here
Speaking of the little ones…Once you break the news that you are headed to Disney World, they will be so excited they won’t be able to contain themselves! So give them something to do to occupy their hands/minds: make a Disney Vacation Fund Jar for everyone’s loose change. The kids will love the craft, and they will love helping save and count the money, too!
5. Packing: A few weeks before you head to Disney World you will want to start the packing process – I like to start with lists – lots of them (necessary since I am packing not only myself but my son and all his stuff!). Making lists early ensures I have time to shop for needed items – snacks, new bathing suits, sunscreen, etc – and also ensures I am not rushing around and shoving things in suitcases at the last-minute. There are also some more “Disney specific” items you will want to make sure you are bringing along – like ponchos, Ziploc baggies, refillable water bottles, etc. Check out Disney World Packing Guide for First Timers for more tips on what to pack
Once you’re planned, packed, and prepared – then it’s time to finally head to Walt Disney World (yay!). Stay tuned right here on Disney Addicts for tips on what to do when you arrive at Disney World for the first time
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