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Before our first trip to Walt Disney World, I did a ton or research. And while it helped us have a great trip, we still made some pretty big rookie mistakes. The reality is that Disney World is huge. It can be easy to make mistakes when you’re not familiar with it all. Learn from us and don’t make these 7 rookie Disney World mistakes on your first trip.
- Rookie Mistake #1: Too short of a trip
- Rookie Mistake #2: Skipping a park
- Rookie Mistake #3: Trying to do it all
- Rookie Mistake #4: Not taking enough breaks
- Rookie Mistake #5: Not choosing restaurants wisely
- Rookie Mistake #6: Not using Park Hopper wisely
- Rookie Mistake #7: Not taking advantage of package shipping
Rookie Mistake #1: Too short of a trip
The biggest rookie mistake we made was not planning a long enough trip. Our first trip was only 3 days. This was entirely too short.
We erroneously believed that it would be more than enough time to do all the things we wanted to do. But, we couldn’t even scratch the surface in that short time frame. This led us to make several other mistakes.
What you should do instead: Stay a day or two longer than you think you should.
We really should have spent a little extra money and stayed longer. We would have been less tired and had more fun.
The longer you stay, the less rushed you will feel. If you have never been to Disney World before, I highly recommend staying a minimum of four days. Preferably, you should stay for a whole week, which will give you time to visit all four parks and then revisit some of your favorite attractions or those you missed the first time.
But, if your budget or time constraints will not allow you to stay for a whole week, stay at least four days.
Rookie Mistake #2: Skipping a park
Because we only had three days on our first trip, we decided to skip Epcot so we could spend one full day at each of the other parks. Looking back, it was a mistake to eliminate Epcot all together.
We discovered on later trips that Epcot has some great experiences and is a wonderful place to relax and take in the sights at night. It is my husband’s favorite park.
What you should do instsead: I suggest spending at least a little time in all the parks to get a taste of each one. They are all very different. You never know which one will capture your heart.
We should have cut our time in one of the other parks short and spent at least a few hours in Epcot.
Rookie Mistake #3: Trying to do it all
Another big mistake we made was to try to do it all. We ran ourselves into the ground trying to fit everything into three days. This led to us being tired, cranky, and not fully savoring the things that we did.
What you should do instead: Regardless of how long your trip will be, you can’t do it all in one trip. Pick out some things in each park that peak your interests and focus on those. Then save some new experiences for your next trip.
We should have realized that it is impossible to do everything (even in one park) in such a short time period. We should have focused on the highlights and taken the time to really enjoy those.
Rookie Mistake #4: Not taking enough breaks
Our next mistake, which went hand in hand with the last one, was to not take enough breaks. We only stopped for a midday break once. The other days, we went from opening to close. This made for one tired family.
At one point, my niece was begging for a nap. By the end, we were too tired to have any fun. Plus, we were at each other’s throats.
What you should do instead: Instead of going full speed all day, take time out for a daily nap. Or sleep in late or turn in early every couple of days. It doesn’t matter when or how you take your breaks, as long as you build in time to rest.
Since that first trip, we have adopted a rule of mandatory naps everyday for everyone in the family. We also take a day off from the parks in the middle of our trip and sleep in and then do something fun outside of the parks.
While it may seem like a waste of time, taking daily breaks will allow you to recharge your battery and have the energy to enjoy your time. Plus, it is key to avoiding your children from having epic meltdowns in the parks.
Rookie Mistake #5: Not choosing restaurants wisely
Before our first trip, I did a ton of research. However, when it came to choosing where we ate, I didn’t choose very wisely. I chose restaurants based more on the experience than the food.
In hindsight, this was a mistake. In later trips, I discovered much better restaurants.
What you should do instead: When planning your first trip, devote some time to choosing where you will eat. Read reviews. Look at photos. Check out all of the possibilities. Scan the menus online.
We should have looked at more restaurant reviews. We also should have picked our dining choices based more on the food than experience.
Dining has become my husband’s favorite part of Disney World, but that was definitely not the case on that first trip!
With a little research, you can find some fabulous restaurants to enjoy.
Rookie Mistake #6: Not using Park Hopper wisely
I think the Park Hopper is great. We get it on every trip. However, we didn’t use it very wisely on that first trip. In fact, we didn’t use it at all. So, it ended up being a waste of money.
What you should do instead: If your first trip to Disney World will be 4 days or less, I highly recommend skipping the Park Hopper. Just devote a day to each park.
If, however, you will be there for 5 days or longer on your first trip, get the Park Hopper. Spend a whole day at each of the four parks, and then use the Park Hopper on your remaining days to revisit your favorite attractions or to do things you didn’t get to in the first few days.
We should have either used the Park Hopper by spending a little time at Epcot or skipped it and used the money for a longer trip.
Rookie Mistake #7: Not taking advantage of package shipping
If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you can buy souvenirs in the park and have them shipped back to your hotel. This saves you from having to carry them around with you all day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know about this on our first trip. This is such a convenient perk of staying on property.
What you should do instead: Save yourself the hassle and take advantage of this!
It is a pain to carry your packages with you while riding rides. It is so nice to be able to buy something when you see it and have it sent back to the hotel.
This is especially helpful when you buy something fragile or bulky. All you have to do is ask the cashier about it when you make your purchase.
I wish I would have known about this, so I could have taken advantage of it on our first trip. I have definitely used this service many times since!
Disney World is a big place. It can be overwhelming, especially for a first timer. Even though I had done a lot of research, we still made the above rookie Disney World mistakes on our first trip.
In order to avoid making the same mistakes, book a longer trip than you think you should, research restaurants, visit all the parks, and take a daily break. With these tips, you are sure to have an amazing first trip.
P.S. Are you planning a trip to Disney World and not sure what you need to do or when? Do you feel completely overwhelmed by it all? My Disney World Trip Planning Checklist can help! It will guide you through every step of the planning process! And it’s FREE! Grab yours in the box below!