16 WDW Vacation Mistakes to Avoid

Saturday, May 6, 2017

16 WDW Vacation Mistakes to Avoid

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You have probably been dreaming of and eagerly planning our first Disney World vacation. Although there are definitely ways to save money at Disney World, it is expensive and you want it to be a wonderful, magical trip with memories to last a life time. Here are some common first timer mistakes you will want to avoid.
16 Disney World Vacation Mistakes to Avoid - lots of great, practical tips for planning your WDW vacation




WDW Vacation

dressing for disney world florida cold snaps

Mistake #1 – Poor Packing

Florida’s weather is probably very different from your home towns weather.  For the most part, Florida is hot with high humidity. Passing rain storms are common, but they tend to leave as quickly as they come. Summer runs from April-October and you should wear breathable shorts, tank top, sunglasses and sunblock.  While flip flops are ideal for around the pool, you will want some comfortable, supportive walking shoes for the park. (How to beat the heat at Disney World)

If you visit Nov-Feb there could be an unexpected cold snap. One year we had actual snow flurries (not Disney created)! In those cases we were glad for jeans, jackets, hat and mittens! If you are traveling in these months make sure to check the extended forecast and pack accordingly.

Be sure to check out our FREE Printable Disney Vacation Packing List


Mistake #2 – Traveling with the Masses

Disney World is a popular travel! During spring breaks, holidays, and summer vacation the park is very crowded. While Disney does it’s best to add extra character interactions, entertainment,  and make the ques as fun as possible, you will wait longer and move with the masses if you travel at those times.

If at all possible you will want to visit in the fall (late August-mid Oct), first half of November, first half of December, first half of February, or first half of May. For a complete run down, see the BEST times of Year to got to Disney World


Mistake #3 – Sleeping in

Disney World is no ordinary sleep in and relax vacation – it you want to avoid long lines and crowds you will want to be strategic while at Disney World. First of all DO NOT SLEEP IN! The shortest waits and most mild weather you want to be at the park when it opens, then around lunch time feel free to head back to your hotel to take an afternoon nap or swim while the parks are the most crowded and unbearably hot.

Or plan to sleep in and go in late. Our favorite time at Disney World is at night using these tips for magical nights at Disney World.

HINT: If you head to Disney World during non-peak season the parks have shorter hours anyway so “when it opens” may be a very reasonable 9am!

disney world dining


Mistake #4 – Eating Boring Food

Disney has come a long way from the traditional amusement park burger, hot dogs and pizza. They have some AMAZING food and variety.

Make sure to check out our best quick serve meals, best character meals, best sit down restaurants, and best snacks, but to get your moth watering we love the BBQ ribs at Animal Kingdom's Flame Tree BBQ Grill, dole pineapple whip, churros,


Mistake #5 – Forgetting to Book Dining 180 days early

Whether you are going to get the free Disney dining plan or just want to enjoy some fantastic meals while at Disney World, you will need to plan ahead to get into the most popular restaurants. Take a peak at bestDisney world restaurants and then make sure you book 180 days in advance.
HINT: If you have a Disney World reservation you can start booking 180 days from your arrival date + up to 10 more days giving you the advavntage of actually booking 190 days in advance!!

Feeling overwhelmed with planing at trip to Disney World? Make sure to read our how to plan a trip to Disney World in 6 simple steps


Mistake #6 – Forgetting to Select Fastpass+ Ahead of Time

Magic Bands are Disney’s very convenient all-in-one travel accessory you are going to LOVE. As part of this new technology families get 3 Fastpass+  day which will allow your family to skip the lines and with a minimal wait go right on your chosen attraction. Here is how to set-up your Fastpass+.

Here’s the catch. The best locations will run out or fastpasses. You will want to pick your Fastpass+ 30 days in advance, 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney World resort (another amazing perk of staying at a Disney World resortI). Not sure which Fastpass+ are the best, here are the best rides to pick for Disney Fastpass+

staying on property at disney world is a MUST

Mistake #7- Not Staying on Property

I know some sites will advocate saving (a little) money by staying off site. I couldn’t disagree more! Being in the middle of the fun, surrounded by the magic makes for a much more magical vacation. Plus Disney World is always offering some sort of promotion making it incredibly affordable. You can stay at a budge hotel for about $112/night. Plus staying on property means:
  • Getting into the parks 1 hour early
  • Staying in the parks 3 hours late
  • Character Visits (seasonally)
  • Character Wake-up calls
  • Free transportation (Versus pay to park every day)
  • Disney themed resorts
  • Disney dining locations 
  • Budget costs same
  • You get to reserve dining 10 days earlier
  • Get to reserve fastpasses 30 days earlier
  • See fireworks from some resorts
  • Airport magical express (moves luggage for you)
  • Magic bands that link whole vacation
  • MORE Reasons to Stay at Disney World Hotel

Mistake #8 – Underestimating Transit Time

We are grateful for the Disney World Transportation that comfortably whisks you around the extensive property in air conditioning. But, it does take time.....

Plan on waiting at least 20 minutes for your bus to arrive and another 20 minutes to get to your destination. During peak times like park opening/closing make sure to add extra time in case the bus arrives full or there are no seats (if you must sit).

If you are going to another hotel, waterpark, or downtown Disney make sure to add even more time as you will need to go from hotel to park to hotel or hotel to park to waterpark. That extra transit time means 2 waiting times and 2 driving times – allow 90 minutes for those routes.


Mistake #9 – Under Planning

Like I’ve already mentioned your entire trip can be adversely impacted if you forget to make dining reservation or select Fastpass+ in time. (Here is how to plan a trip to Disney World step by step) But, let's be honest, there is a LOT do to at Disney World. You can’t possibly do it all on your first trip. 

Knowing as much as possible will help you choose the activities that are the best for your particular group. Make sure to take a peak at our park guides: Magic Kingdom Park Guide, Epcot Park Guide, Hollywood Studios Park Guide, and Animal Kingdom Park Guide.

disney world planning tips

Mistake #10 –Forgetting to bring Princesses dresses, Autograph books, and/or Pins

Many 3-8 year old girls will wear a princess dress during their trip. Disney cast members (including bus drivers) will make a big fuss over these little princesses and they will feel like royalty. I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve seen, in an attempt to calm a child upset that they don’t have a princess dress like the other girls, buy an over priced princess dress at the parks. In stead of buying a 100 dress, get a $19 dress from Walmart or a $5 garage sale princess dress.

Many children like to bring autograph books to get character signatures. It is not only fun to do, but makes a great souvenir. Here is one we’ve made, or buy this one for $8, and when you get home put a picture of your child with that character opposite the signature. (DIY Disney Autograph Book)

Disney pins are fun to trade. I highly suggest getting a large bundle on Ebay before you go (spending about $1/pin versus %5-10 a pin in park). Kids can then trade them with employees all throughout the park with pins. The green lanyards are only for kids to trade. This helps keep kids happily moving in the hot afternoon walking, is like a fun scavenger hunt, and makes a fun souvenir.  HINT: Managers have the BEST pins.

Mistake #11 – Over Planning

While not planning carefully can really limit your options on your vacation, over planning can make your trip STRESSFUL!! 

My advice is to plan ahead; before you go. Print out one of our free park specific touring plans. Then when you get to Disney – STOP PLANNING! Once on vacation just follow the plan you made, but make sure to take time to enjoy the moment, laugh, stop to look at the neat things all around Disney World, make an impromptu visit to you child’s favorite character that made a surprise appearance. Remember – this is your vacation – enjoy it!


Mistake #12 - Thinking a Disney World trip will be relaxing

A trip to Disney World is fun, exciting, and magical but NOT relaxing. You will be waiting in lines, fighting crowds, and walking A LOT! That doesn’t mean it is isn’t fun and wonderful, but don’t expect to go back rested like going on a Disney Cruise!


bringing a stroller to Disney World

Mistake #13 – Not Bringing a Stroller

You might assume just because your 5 year old doesn’t use a stroller at home that you wont need one at Disney World, but you would be wrong. Disney is HUGE and your child will be standing waiting in lines and then walking all over the park. Bringing an easy-to-push stroller will make you both happier.
  • a stroller allows you to store bags, sunscreen, etc. under the stroller
  • your child to take a cat nap during the day or evening
  • seat for parades/fireworks
  • space where they won’t get pushed for parades/fireworks
  • a stroller will save your back!!

I do NOT recommend renting a Disney stroller if you will be there more than 1 day because they have no storage and do not recline. I also do NOT recommend double wide strollers as they are super cumbersome to store & haul on the bus, get through crowds of people plus other guests will give you the stink eye ;)


Mistake #14 - Rushing

As much as you might be inclined to rush from ride-to-ride or keep your kids moving I urge you, implore you - STOP RUSHING!!

The most magical days at Disney are led by your family. Stop to look at Disney's creative theming, giggle at your last character interaction, buy everyone an unexpected (and much needed) cold treat, and stop to smell those proverbial roses. 

Enjoy the amazing shows at Animal Kingdom (they are worth the wait and the time to see) and wander through the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail for some amazing up close animal encounters, take time to watch the AMAZING Chinese Acrobats at Epcot, take time to enjoy an amazing meal at SciFi Diner at Hollywood Studios, and don't rush right onto Dumbo, but allow kids to play in the air conditioned Dumbo themed playground before rushing on.

Trust me, those are the moments you will remember, treasure!

Mistake #15 - Pictures

There are two possibilities with picture mistakes:
  1. You take too many picture and don't enjoy the moment! Don't be the Mom who is always behind the camera snapping away, but forget to just have fun and PLAY! My advice it to take pictures and capture the moment, but make sure you are spending at least 75% of your time just enjoying the moment. Plus kids are more likely to smile for pictures when their are fewer of them! 
  2. You forget to capture the moment to relive it later! Make sure you take pictures you can look back through and relive the moments; remind kids how much fun they had! But unless you are putting together you own brochures, you don't need pictures of every ride, restaurant, and parade. Take pictures of your kids with Disney World as a backdrop.

Disney World secret tips for family vacation

Mistake #16 - Not staying longer

Sometimes we just don’t have any more PTO so we can’t stay longer, but if you can - I recommend you stay as long as possible to be able to relax during your vacation and enjoy things like your resort pool, movies by the pool, water parks, amazingly themed mini golf, and sleeping in.


Plus the longer you stay (up to 10 days) the tickets get cheaper and cheaper per day. Adding a day to 7 day tickets is only $10 per person more!!! CHA-CHING!



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