I’m planning my first Walt Disney World vacation. Where do I begin? As the resident “Disney Nut” in my circle of family and friends, I am asked these questions a lot!Whether you are staying a day or a week, planning a vacation to Walt Disney World can be overwhelming! Take a deep breath, and know that no matter what, you can’t mess up, but you can make your vacation a bit more magical. Here are my top 5 tips for planning your first trip to the “Most Magical Place on Earth!”
1 – Do Your Research!
Walt Disney World is massive! With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, dozens of hotels, multiple golf courses (mini and regulation), shopping districts, waterways, transportation systems, and more, beginning to plan your trip can be overwhelming. Spending a bit of time researching your destination will help calm your nerves and make your vacation a bit smoother! Where can you find information?
- Go online! Whether you stay right here at MagicalDIStractions.com, or search other great online resources, you can find a virtual library of information for you to research! Online trip reports are a great way of researching what a day-to-day Disney vacation can really look like!
- Get a book! There are so many to choose from! I don’t care how long I have been visiting Walt Disney World, or how much I think I know, I pick up the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World each year. This book is PACKED with great information and is set up in a way that is great for first-time visitors!
- Facebook! Facebook is the mecca for Disney vacationers. A quick group search will yield hundreds of groups devoted to helping you plan your next Disney vacation, including one hosted by MagicalDIStractions! Try adding your vacation month, and you can find groups visiting around the same time!
2 – Accept that you Can Not Do it or Know it all!
With all that research you are bound to want to do and see it all! Remember, you are heading to a 40 square mile adventure fest; there is no way you can do it all, and survive to tell the tale. Believe me, I’ve tried! It really is fantastic that Walt Disney World has something for everyone in your family, but on the flip side it means there is just way too much to do in one trip! Or even 10! And to make matters even more confusing, Disney is always adding and evolving!
When doing your research, take the time to make notes on attractions that catch your eye. Are they musts? Write them down! With so much information coming at you, you are bound to lose track of some things, and missing out on something you really want to do is always a bummer. Make a list of a few “Must Do” attractions or activities so you won’t forget them, then schedule your day around those activities! You and your family will feel better knowing you accomplished what you really wanted to do!
3- Take Advantage of FastPass+!
FastPass+ is Disney’s FREE attraction reservation program. Many people assume that like various other theme parks, the FastPass+ feature is available to Guests at an additional cost, or possibly only available to Guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts, but that is not the case.
FastPass+ allows you to reserve your family’s spot on 3 attractions each day, with the possibility of adding more after you have experienced those first 3. That’s at least 3 long lines you won’t have to wait in during your trip. If you are staying on Disney property, your FastPass+ reservations can be made 60 days prior to your check-in date! If you are staying off-property you can still make your reservations ahead of time starting at 30 days before your visit. Make your FastPass+ reservations on your My Disney Experience account. (Note: You must have pre-purchased your tickets and linked them to your My Disney Experience account, in order to reserve your FastPass+ selections.)
4 – Make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)!
Dining at Walt Disney World is incredibly popular and it is almost impossible to get seating at popular restaurants without making your reservations well in advance. Nearly all table service (or sit down) restaurants require advance dining reservations, so if your family enjoys sitting down for relaxing meals, this is an important tip for you.
Whether you are staying on Walt Disney World property or not, you can begin making your dining reservations 180 days out. If you are staying on property, you get a bonus of booking an additional 10 days forward! Some venues, such as Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and nearly all character meals, can be very difficult to procure. Make sure you use your My Disney Experience or call 1-407-WDW-DINE right at your 180 days, or as close as possible.
DIStracted Tip: If you find yourself at Walt Disney World in need of a dining reservation, always try the My Disney Experience app to check for available reservations the same day! You may not find exactly what you are looking for, but it is probably better than potentially waiting over an hour, or not getting in at all, at another restaurant.
5 – Have Fun!
With all the planning, budgeting, waiting, and worrying, it is easy to forget that Walt Disney World is “The Most Magical Place on Earth!” Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your vacation. Let the magic come to you and take each moment as it comes. Believe me, at Walt Disney World magical moments happen when you least expect them! When you are looking back on your first Walt Disney World vacation, I hope you remember the laughs and the magic in your child’s eye, instead of long lines or missed attractions. Yes, a Disney vacation can be a lot of work, but the magic it can bring will make it all worth it!!