Disney World Rookie Mistakes to Avoid
We've all seen it or experienced it; that glazed, dazed look when you realize that Disney World is the size of small country. You've given yourself three days to explore 47 square miles.
Relax, it's not as overwhelming as it seems. With a few pointers, you'll be prepared and well on your way to being a Disney pro.
- Plan ahead - Ever visit the travel section of Barnes & Noble? There's a reason the shelves are lined with Walt Disney World guidebooks. Take the time to do some research. The DIS is a great resource for trip planning.
- Budget - There's more than one reason why Mickey is smiling. He knows that a pretzel costs a few bucks. Want a Coke to wash it down? That's another couple of bucks. Take a look at the menus to get a realistic idea of the prices.
- Admission Ticket - The Magic Your Way ticket can be customized. Don't make the mistake of getting the basic ticket without looking at the options. You'll only end up wasting valuable time getting your tickets upgraded after the fact.
- Resort - If at all possible, staying at a Disney Resort should be your first choice. The services they offer are well worth the price. If you do select an offsite hotel, keep your transportation to the parks in mind. Ask about the hotel's shuttle service so you know what to expect.
- "Stuff" - Sunscreen, diapers, contact lens solution, over the counter medicines, camera supplies, etc. can be purchased at the resorts/theme parks, but do you want to pay a premium price? Bring your own and save yourself some $$$.
- Dining - If your little princess has her heart set on dining with Cinderella in the Castle, you'd better be dialing the reservation line at your first opportunity to do so.
- Extra Magic Hours - You show up at the park at 9:00 am and wonder where all of these people came from. It's because this was the EMH park for that morning. Make yourself aware of the EMH schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly.
- Strollers - Junior may have abandoned the stroller quite some time ago, but you never expected him to walk this far in a day. Disney World is big. Think about renting or bringing a stroller even if your kid's outgrown it. (9 miles per day is the average walked by most guests.)
- Breaks - Commando Disney is not for amateurs. While the temptation is to spend every waking minute in the parks, you're better off planning some breaks. Head back to the resort for a swim or nap, or reserve a nice meal and relax.
- FASTPASS - This is the best thing that happened to Disney since Mickey, yet it's surprising how many people still don't know how it works. Get familiar with it, know the rides that offer it and you'll be FASTPASS'ing yourself to the front of the line.
- Parks - The theme parks are big enough without running from one section to another and back again. Look at a map and try to focus on one area at a time.
- Weather - While completely unpredictable, you should expect the unexpected. Before you go, pick up some cheap plastic ponchos at the dollar store. Think it never gets cold in Florida? Guess again. Throw a couple of pairs of slacks into the suitcase "just in case."
- Characters - THERE'S MICKEY, DONALD, GOOFY AND MINNIE!!! Quick, get the camera, autograph book and pen out. What? You don't have them yet? By the time you scramble to the closest shop and back, Mickey could be on his cheese break. Be ready for action the moment you arrive at a park. Photo ops come and go quickly.
- Height Requirements - "Hey kids, we're going to go on Space Mountain, Test Track and Tower of Terror!!!" "YAY DAD!! I CAN'T WAIT!! Only thing is, Junior isn't tall enough for any of them. Before you hype an attraction, know the height limits.
- Sun - Think you can only get a sunburn while wearing a bathing suit? Guess again. Slather on the sunscreen at the theme parks too.
- Parades/Shows - You check your watch, there's five minutes before the parade/show, no problem finding a prime spot, right? If you don't want to hear "I can't see, I can't see, I can't see!" stake out a spot early.
- Baby Care Center - You don't have to be perched on the end of a bench full of people trying to nurse or calm down a cranky baby. Each theme park has Baby Care Centers for your use.
- Backpacks - Oh boy, you found the perfect bag with zippered compartments for everything. Guess what, they inspect all of the bags before you enter the parks. That's right, every nook and cranny every time you enter a park. Bring a bag that's easy for them to look through.
- Animal Kingdom Theme Park - Keep in mind that this park is primarily meant to be enjoyed outdoors. If the weather during your stay is iffy, pick the day that's best suited for outside touring because this park has very little shade.
- Just have fun!!! - That's what Disney World is meant for. If you can't "do it all", don't lament what you missed. Be flexible, enjoy what you can and start planning for the next trip.