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Walt Disney World is huge and has tons of things to do. It is easy for first-timers to become overwhelmed and make some big mistakes. If you aren’t careful, your dream trip can quickly turn into a nightmare. Here are 7 rookie Disney World mistakes that my family made on our first trip. Avoid these missteps to create happy memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Trip was too short.
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. This led us to make several other mistakes.
What we should have done: We really should have spent a little extra money and stayed longer. The longer you stay, the less rushed you will feel. So, if you have never been to Disney World before, I highly recommend staying a minimum of four days. This will give you a full day in each of the four parks. Preferably, you should stay for a whole week, which would give you time to revisit some of your favorite attractions.
2. We skipped Epcot.
Because we only had three days on our first trip, I 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.
What we should have done: We should have cut our time in one of the other parks short and spent at least a few hours in Epcot. 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.
3. We tried 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 we should have done: 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. 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.
4. We didn’t take 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.
What we should have done: Instead of going full speed all day, we should have taken time out for a daily nap. Since then, we have adopted a rule of mandatory family naps everyday. 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.
5. We didn’t choose 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 we should have done: We should have looked at more restaurant reviews. We also should have picked our dining choices based more on the food. 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. With a little research, you can find some fabulous restaurants to enjoy.
6. We didn’t use 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 we should have done: 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. 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.
7. We didn’t take 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 we should have done: I wish I would have known about this, so I could have taken advantage of it. It is a pain to carry your packages with you while riding rides. It is so nice to be able to buy something 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.
Disney World is a big place. It can be overwhelming, especially for a first timer. We made the above rookie Disney World mistakes on our first trip. In order to avoid these 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. For help planning your trip, see my step-by-step guide, quick tips, and best resources. Happy travels!