You’ve saved up and started making plans for your first trip to Walt Disney World. Congratulations! Maybe you’ve already educated yourself on Magic Bands and Fastpasses. I’m sure you’ve looked up the best rides and attractions for the age of the people in your party…
No matter how much you prepare, there are some realities about Disney World that are good to know before you set out on your vacation. You know… the “you have to be there” kind of things that only experiences teaches you… Well, it’s your lucky day because I’ll be your “experience”! While I can’t cover all of them, here are 5 big things you need to know before your first Disney World vacation.
Note: This blog post is going to come across as negative in spots. It shouldn’t be taken that way. These things are the answer to my own question: “What would I have wanted to know before our first Disney World trip?”
5. Bring Ponchos– It’s South Florida. It rains a lot. In fact, it’s a joke amongst Florida locals that you can set your clock by the afternoon thunderstorms that pop up and then vanish as quickly as they came. It’s really not a big deal as long as you are prepared for it. Always have a cover of some sort… Ponchos are a great choice because you can also choose to wear them on water rides if you wish. Also plan ahead for some indoor attractions where you can escape the weather.
One of the best things about being prepared for the rain in Disney World is that some other people aren’t. If you can weather or wait out a storm, the parks clear out a bit and leave you with the opportunity for shorter lines.
Embrace the rain… you won’t melt!
4. The Fatigue is Real– Let’s Face it: Most of us in the world today are not in the best shape. Desk jobs have replaced manual labor, it’s difficult and expensive to eat whole/organic/healthy foods, and we all just seem to be “too busy” for exercise. Even if you are ARE physically fit, Disney World is a workout that is going to challenge your stamina.
My point? You are going to get tired. What goes with getting tired? Just ask a toddler…. Tired=Cranky. Add hunger into the mix and your group will be snippy with each other before you make it to Main Street USA!
My advice? Take it slow. I have to tell myself this about every 3 seconds as our family is walking through Disney World parks. I am a FAST walker but if I just slow my steps it actually calms my mind as well. I even intentionally stop more often to look at a particularly pretty garden, or unique angle of viewing the castle… Trust me, it helps. Oh, and READ THIS.
3. You’ll Meet a lot of New Friends– News Flash: A TON of people go to Disney World each and every day. Sure there are some times of year that are more crowded than others… But it is a very rare day where any Disney World park will feel “empty”. I’m not sure anyone loves big crowds of people, but you just have to embrace that you are in a place so magical that tens of thousands of fellow homosapiens just had to crowd, I mean, ENJOY the day right beside you.
There are tactics to avoid the most crowded parts of each day: Early morning arrival (“rope drop”), the afternoon nap escape, enjoying the least crowded attractions (multiple times in a row, if necessary).
Also know, that like anywhere else in the world, there are rude people who only care about themselves and will literally do almost anything to get a good spot for the parade, cut in a line, or take a table you had claimed at a restaurant. Disney World is not the place to cause a fuss or get riled up. Take a deep breath and focus on what you can control.
2. If You Like Food, You’ll LOVE Disney World– I’ve said it a hundred times, I’ll say it a thousand more: Disney World is a dining destination. When you think of theme-parks, what food comes to mind? Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, funnel cakes, ice cream… right? While you can find those things in spots around Disney World, there is SO much more for the foodie in you. Disney World is filled with table-service and “Signature” restaurants that will please any food critic.
Many Disney World regulars have dining as a top priority for their trip itinerary. I’m guessing you’ve probably never heard names like Jiko, The California Grill, Narcoossee’s, Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, and the list goes on. If those names aren’t ringing a bell, start searching the Disney World website for them RIGHT after you read this blog post. One tip I can give: Disney Springs is becoming a destination for restaurants in and of itself!
If you are a “foodie” make sure to set aside some time and money to check out the dining side of Disney World. It does take some extra planning because, while the theme-parks (mainly Epcot) do house some great restaurants, many of the Signature establishments are located at Disney World resort hotels.
1. Disney World is BIG– I think when many first timers head down to Orlando, they probably picture Disney World as a tight cluster of theme parks and hotels. This is not really the case. DW is spread out over 40 square-miles and requires the transit system of a large city to move all of it’s guests around in boats and buses… You must read this
As you are planning ahead, understand that you’ll need to leave 15 minutes of bus riding time, in addition to at least 15 minutes to wait for the bus to even come. This is why Disney World charges such a premium for it’s Deluxe resorts as they are located just minutes from one of the theme parks by boat, monorail, or even foot.
As I stated before the start of the list, some of these things may sound like a knock on Disney World vacations and that is far from the truth. Knowing the information above will only help you to prepare for a more enjoyable vacation. Experiencing these things as a surprise could diminish your trip. Knowing them ahead of time can help make it eve more magical!
Do you have any tips to share for first time Disney World vacationers? Any questions? Comment below!