When it’s your first time planning a Walt Disney World trip it can seem overwhelming. Knowing where to start, what to plan versus what to wing, what to bring with you, it can be so much to do. There are definitely a lot of things to keep in mind when planning your first Disney vacation. Lets talk about some tips and tricks to make planning easier.
What to do before your vacation begins:
- Book all of your travel reservations – obviously you will need to book your hotel and flights before hand, but there are other things to consider as well. Are you renting a car? Are you using Disney’s Magical Express? Do you need to rent a stroller or scooter? These are things that need to be decided and booked ahead of your trip. You can book strollers and scooters day of but it is first come first serve so you aren’t guaranteed.
- Make FastPass+ and Advance Dining Reservations. At Walt Disney World it is really important to plan your fast passes and sit down dining ahead of time. If you are on Disney property you can book your fast passes 60 days outs and 30 if you are not on property. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance (180 plus 10 days if you are staying on property). If you have must do dining or attractions, planning these reservations are very important.
What to pack for your trip:
- Comfortable/broken in shoes – this is SO important. On a Disney vacation you are walking miles and miles a day. Nothing can ruin a trip like a pair of uncomfortable shoes. My very first trip ended in me buying a pair of Minnie Mouse slip on shoes because I only brought uncomfortable strappy sandals. While this worked out for me because I ended up loving (and still having) my Minnie shoes, most people wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money on Disney shoes they will only wear once.
- Extra clothes – make sure to pack extra changes of clothes – WDW gets a lot of rain, extremely hot and humid weather, or you may just hit a water ride. Either way you definitely want to have extra clothes so you aren’t stuck in wet clothing all day.
- Sunscreen – you definitely want to pack a ton of sunscreen. Florida gets extremely hot and sunny and you do not want get a bad burn on your trip. Reapplying is key! You also do not want to wait until you get to the parks to buy sunscreen. It is available, but you will end up spending way more at the parks or resorts than if you bring it from home.
- Ponchos – WDW is known for its quick storms during the day. Depending on the time of year you go it would be a surprise if it didn’t rain everyday. Bringing $1 ponchos from home will save you a ton of money compared to buying them in the parks.
- Swimsuits – Don’t forget your bathing suits! The resorts have beautifully themed pools and it is a great way to get in a midday break and get out of the Florida heat.
- Snacks – Disney can be expensive. Did you know that they allow you to bring food into the parks? You will also have a refrigerator in your room. Bringing granola bars, cereal, and easy on the go snacks are a great way to save some money and keep hunger at bay during your park days. Disney food is great and you should definitely splurge and try new things but this is a great way to cut back, especially for families.
- Layers – For the most part Disney is known for its extreme heat. But depending on the time of year it can get chilly! I have been multiple times in winter and early spring where I needed a sweater and even a light coat. If you are going in the summer you can skip this tip, but it does not hurt to bring a jacket or sweater just in case.
- Refillable water bottles – One thing that you must do in the parks is stay hydrated. But it can cost $5+ per bottle in the parks. A great tip is that you can go up to any quick service restaurant and get free cups of filtered ice water. If you bring your own refillable water bottle you can fill it with the free waters throughout the trip. It not only saves money, but also is environmentally friendly!
Other tips and tricks for your first Disney trip:
- Do not try to do it all – there is so much to do in WDW even if you go for two straight weeks you will not see it all. Take your time and appreciate what you do get to and don’t focus on what you didn’t.
- Take breaks – this is not going to be a super relaxing trip. You are constantly going, going, going. Remember to take breaks! Go take a nap at your hotel, sit by the pool, or take a long leisurely sit down lunch in the middle of the day. However it is that you choose to take a break, make sure you do it. If you don’t take breaks the heat, crowds, and walking can get exhausting and you will burn out quickly.
- Have non-park days – If you are going to be at Disney for more than a weekend I think it is really important to have off days. Explore your resort or other resorts on property, visit Disney Springs, have a pool day. There is so much to see and do outside of the parks. It can recharge you and introduce you to parts of the resort area that you didn’t realize were there like the boardwalk behind Epcot for example.
- Check out resort restaurants – The parks have great food options, but the resorts on property have some of the BEST restaurants. Don’t limit yourself to just the parks! Some of my favorites are Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Ohana and the Polynesian, and California Grill at The Contemporary.
- If you miss out on a dining reservation or a fast pass selection keep checking the site/app! People cancel reservations all of the time. If you keep checking you may be able to snag a last-minute reservation or fast pass.
Lastly, just remember to have fun! It is so easy to get caught up in trying to do everything and overexerting yourself on your first Disney vacation. But remember, you are in the most magical place on earth, no matter what you do you will have a great time. Do not get stuck on the little things and enjoy every moment! What are you tips for first timers? Let me know if the comments.