In January of 2017, we published our “Top 5 Walt Disney World Rookie Mistakes”! When revisiting this topic, I found that we had actually offered our top 6 rookie mistakes. Nevertheless, I wanted to round out the top 10. If you haven’t seen or don’t remember our six rookie mistakes to avoid, I highly recommend watching the video, but for reference I’ve listed the six mistakes below.
1) Doing too Much and Over Planning
2) Not Utilizing FastPass
3) Not Getting to the Parks Early
4) Forgetting to Book Dining Reservation Early
5) Not Having a Plan with Contingencies
6) Forgetting to Plan for the Florida Weather
It has been one year, and I still think that this list is spot-on, but here are four more that I’d like to add:
7) Not Budgeting According
Having a budget and sticking to it is important. Disney vacations are expensive as it is, but if you don’t stick to a budget that your family can afford then you’ll quickly forget how magical your vacation was when you return home to an enormous credit card bill or an empty bank account. Disney will entice you to spend as much money as possible on souvenirs, snacks, and special experiences. All of these goodies should be a constant reminder that you have a budget in place for a reason. There are plenty of ways to get the full Disney experience without breaking the bank, and it will all come down to your ability to resist Disney’s temptations.
Before I lived in Florida, the way I kept myself from overspending was by simply reminding myself that the more I went above my budget on that particular vacation the longer it would be before I could afford to return to Walt Disney World again.
8) Not Learning How to Use the MyDisneyExperience App
Easily the most essential tool you’ll use on a Walt Disney World vacation is the My Disney Experience app. You’ll need it for scheduling your FastPass and dining reservations, viewing the attractions wait times, and so much more. You really can maximize your vacation if you understand how to use this app. Especially if you are not technologically savvy, it is important that you download the app long before your vacation; this way you can begin familiarizing yourself with it. I use this app a couple times a week, and it isn’t the most user-friendly experience, so the more time you give yourself to learning how it works the better off you’ll be when it comes time to use it in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. The My Disney Experience app is available for free on the iTunes and Google Play app stores.
9) Mom and Dad Missing Out on the Family Photo
Disney vacations are supposed to create memories that last a lifetime, and one of the best ways to capture those memories is by taking family pictures. One thing I see all the time is one member of the family not making it in the picture because they are, unfortunately, the one having to take it. There is really no reason for this to happen. One solution is purchasing Disney’s Memory Maker package, in which for $169 a Disney PhotoPass cast member will take pictures of everyone in the family in all the iconic picture and character meet-and-greet locations. If this option is a little too pricey, then you can also opt to just politely asking the PhotoPass cast members to take your picture with your personal camera or phone, which they will do for free.
I also encourage that you make yourself a citizen of the park, in the sense that if you see a mother or father taking a picture, politely ask if they’d like you to take the picture for them. People really do appreciate a kind stranger in the parks — selfishly, this is a great strategy if you need them to take your picture as they will almost always reciprocate the offer.
The picture above features everyone but my dad because, you guessed it, he was the one taking the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this photo, but it is a shame that he couldn’t be in it.
10) Park Crisscrossing
While I consider this a rookie mistake, it is something I still am not very good at myself. What do I mean by park crisscrossing? Park crisscrossing is having to keep walking back and forth from one side of the park to the other due to your FastPass selections, your dining reservations, and other plans you’ve made that force you to walk from opposite sides of the park and then back again. You have a limited amount of time in the parks, and using that time by walking back a forth inefficiently is a good way to waste it. Ideally, you’d want to conquer each land as you’re in them. According to Google Maps, walking the most efficient route in the Magic Kingdom from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to Space Mountain takes about 10 minutes; if you are park crisscrossing like this throughout the day you can easily waste an hour or more because of inefficient planning.