When it comes to planning a vacation at Disney Parks, there is so much to do! From picking your lodging, deciding which parks you want to visit on which days, and what packages might be best for your vacation…you don’t want to sell yourself short.
With so much to do, it is easy to get caught up in planning and make rookie mistakes that can cost you some big bucks.
Today we are going to be sharing some of the rookie mistakes we made so that you can avoid them on your next trip to Disney Parks!
This post is part of our Disney family travel advice series
1. Not Using a Disney Travel Planner
When it comes to planning your Disney trip, hiring a Disney planner is the best way to go! A Disney planner is no ordinary travel agent; they know all the ins and outs of Disney specifically and will plan as much or as little of your trip that you would like.
They can simply find you great deals on tickets and lodging or go as far as planning your daily itinerary. A Disney travel planner is a service offered to you at no additional cost, so you might as well take full advantage of the opportunity!
2. Visiting During the Holiday Season
Visiting Disney Parks during the various holiday seasons is very popular, and don’t get me wrong, it is a great time, but not only will you spend more money visiting during these peak seasons you will also experience longer wait times and more crowding within the park.
If you can, try to visit during the off-season for a more enjoyable experience – especially if you’re visiting Disney with toddlers and are not tied to school semester timings.
We’ve always found WDW Prep School has an excellent and accurate crowds calendar published every year to help plan your Disney trip away from peak seasons.
3. Buying Tickets Last Minute
Buying tickets at the gates for Disney Parks is always a few dollars more expensive. When you are paying that difference per ticket, it can add up quickly. Buying tickets online ahead of time is a great way to plan ahead and save money; a lot of times, buying this way will allow you to find ticket packages and deals that you may not find in person.
4. Staying Off Site
When it comes to booking a Disney trip, I always recommend staying on-site. At first glance, it may appear that Disney resorts are more expensive, but with the added perks and savings packages available, it is almost always cheaper to stay on-site – plus, it offers an extra something special to your experience!
Got a larger family? We’ve picked out the best WDW Resorts for Larger Groups
If you still want to stay off-site, look for resorts that provide a shuttle service to save on car parking and transfer fees – if you’ve seen how much it costs to park at Disney, you’ll see exactly what I mean!
5. Not Dressing Appropriately
While you may want to dress cute and fashionable, having functional and comfortable attire is more important when visiting a theme park. There are great fashion choices out there that will allow you to have both, be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing paired with comfortable shoes that you can walk all day in.
6. Not Making Dining Reservations
When dining at Disney, if you want to visit one of the table service restaurants, I always recommend making a dining reservation. The Disney Dining experiences are one of a kind and can be rather difficult to secure without a reservation; most restaurants do offer some walk-up seating as well but wait times can become rather lengthy.
If you plan to dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest, I recommend making a reservation as far in advance as possible – these restaurants can be difficult to reserve a prime-time spot for.
7. Park Hopping
With there being four parks and two waterparks to visit within Walt Disney World, visitors, particularly first-timers, tend to think it’s necessary to buy park hopper passes. In my opinion, it is never worth it to purchase park hopper tickets.
Not only are they more expensive, but each of the Disney parks at WDW is so involved that you truly don’t get the full experience unless you dedicate an entire day to each park. With Park Hopping, you are spending time traveling that you could be using to have a more fulfilling experience.
If you are short on time, you are better off planning complete days at only a selection of the parks and saving the other parks for a return trip.
8. Not Using Disney Mobile Apps
Disney offers a variety of useful apps that can make your experience more enjoyable and organized. Apps to download include:
The My Disney Experience App – Here, you can manage your entire trip, including park tickets, hotel reservations, Fastpass bookings, seeing attraction wait times and more.
Disney Parks Play App – This app offers fun games to enjoy during your vacation. They are great for passing the time in long wait lines or a great way to have fun at the hotel during your off time from the parks.
9. Not Planning for Weather
Orlando weather can be quite unpredictable, so it is best to be prepared for whatever may come. Most times, the temperatures are high, and the sun is shining, but Orlando is known for surprise rain showers, and sometimes temperatures can drop out of the ordinary at night.
I always recommend keeping a light jacket, a small umbrella and a rain poncho in your park bag at all times to ensure you are prepared and don’t need to purchase expensive apparel at Disney parks.
10. Carrying Around Your Souvenirs
A lot of visitors don’t know that when you stay at a Disney Resort, you have the added benefit of having your purchases sent to your room. Instead of carrying around souvenir purchases that you have made within the parks, you can elect for them to be sent to your hotel, and they will have them at your room ready for pickup when you return from the parks, making your load a lot lighter.
If you are planning a trip to Disney, don’t make these rookie mistakes! As someone who is a seasoned visitor to Disney Parks and has made these mistakes in the past, trust me, you will not believe how much time and money you will save by avoiding these mistakes.
I hope that this has provided you with some insight and useful advice to ensure that you get the most out of your vacation. Take these tips and go into your Disney vacation like a pro!
More Disney & Florida vacation planning tips
Are you planning to extend your time in Florida beyond just the theme parks? You may also want to check out our guides to:
- The best non-theme park day trip ideas near Orlando
- Where to find the closest beaches to Disney World
- Fabulous Family Things to Do in Florida
- 12 Best family activities to enjoy in Clearwater
- Florida’s most beautiful islands and keys
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