Planning your first trip to Walt Disney World can be overwhelming. I remember feeling that way when we decided to take our family for the first time. I had been there before, but so much had changed and bringing my kids would make it a whole new experience. Here are 10 tips that will help when you begin planning and ensure you will get the most out of your first vacation.
- Stay in a Disney Resort Hotel. When it’s your first time at Walt Disney World, staying on Disney property adds an extra element of magic and convenience to your vacation. Each resort has it’s own theming. You can choose from those with a more “Disney” feel like Art of Animation or Southern Louisiana charm such as Port Orleans Riverside or Victorian style at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, just to name a few. Disney offers Value, Moderate and Deluxe resorts to meet anyone’s budget, so don’t feel like staying on property is out of reach. There are perks too! Extra Magic Hours, free transportation to and from the airport, transportation to and from the theme parks, Magic Bands included with your package, and earlier access to FastPass selections. Staying in a Disney resort will make you will feel completely immersed in the magic of Disney and away from the cares of the world.
- Dining Plans – When staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you have the option to add on a Dining Plan to your vacation package. I love the Disney Dining Plan and recommend it! It’s easy to use and it’s accepted at most Disney restaurants in the parks, at the resorts and at Disney Springs. Dining Plans are paid in advance with your vacation package and include most items on the menu. So, you can try restaurants and dishes that are more expensive without worrying about the cost. Dining credits are loaded onto your magic band at check in and can be used anytime during your stay. To “pay” for your meal on the dining plan, one member of your dining party simply scans their Magic Band and the credits are subtracted. It’s just that easy! With three options to choose from, Quick Service Dining, Disney Dining and Deluxe Dining, there’s sure to be one that fits your dining style.
- Memory Maker, in one word…priceless! No need to stress about capturing every moment on your own. PhotoPass Photographers take your pictures at many locations. They scan your Magic Band or PhotoPass card and your pictures are linked to your Disney account. Memory Maker includes: unlimited digital downloads of all your photos and videos, select attraction photos and videos, select character dining photos, Magic Shots and digital borders and stickers to personalize your photos. Added bonus, you are actually in your vacation photos and not the one always missing because you were behind the camera. Below is an adorable Magic Shot of my friend and her boys.
- Disney’s Magical Express – Take advantage of free transportation from the airport to your Disney resort and returning to the airport when it’s time to head home. If you’re flying and choose to use the Disney’s Magical Express, make sure to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO). It is the only airport that offers this service. When you are returning to the airport, to ensure you don’t miss your flight, you will be picked up approximately 3 hours before your flight departure time. I highly recommend you do not schedule an early morning flight unless you don’t mind getting up in the wee hours of the morning.
- Packing Tips – Bring a drawstring bag or backpack that can hold items you may need during the day. Some of my top things to pack in my park bag are a portable charger, ponchos, chapstick, dramamine, ibuprofen, bandaids, sunscreen and gum. Did you know gum isn’t sold at Walt Disney World? Make sure to bring your own if you’re a gum chewer.
- Magic Kingdom is the best park to start your vacation, in my opinion. You will never forget the first time you see the castle! Take a stroll down Main Street, enjoy the smells and feel the magic! Magic Kingdom has so many attractions and great experiences. It’s worth your time to spend a second day, if you can.
- Make sure to arrive early for the Welcome Show at Magic Kingdom. Mickey and the gang welcome you to the Magic Kingdom approximately 20 minutes before Rope Drop. Allow yourself extra travel time for the best view. Make time to see the parades and nighttime shows. Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, Celebrate the Magic and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular are all worth planning for in your itinerary. Pick up a Times Guide when you enter the park to confirm parade and fireworks showtimes. Magic Kingdom fireworks are like no other and are not to be missed. Don’t forget to watch for Tinker Bell as she flies over the park from Cinderella Castle.
- Utilize your FastPasses, that’s what they’re there for! Guests staying onsite can reserve 3 FastPass selections per day, 60 days in advance. Once you have used the 3rd, go into your My Disney Experience App on your smartphone and make another selection from available attractions. FastPasses will save you precious time not having to wait in long lines for rides.
- Collecting character autographs is fun! Purchase an autograph book at the parks or your resort. If you want to save a little money, you can bring one from home. Get creative and choose something different like a white frame mat, pillowcase or backpack. Meeting characters and getting photos and autographs can use up valuable park time. A great way to get several all at once is choosing a character dining experience. Meet a few of your Disney pals, grab some autographs and photos all during your planned eating time.
- Use a Travel Planner that Specializes in Disney Vacations. Before I became a travel planner, I used Travel with the Magic agents to help plan my Disney vacations. There was a peace of mind knowing that I had someone knowledgeable and up to date on all things Disney. There is so much value in using a travel planner to assist when planning your first vacation. There are so many details and Disney is always changing. Even if you enjoy being in on all the planning, using an agent doesn’t take that away from you. I can help with as much or as little as you want in the process. Did I mention it costs you nothing extra to use me as your travel planner? I love my job and would love to share my knowledge and experience with you, so you can get the most out of your vacation!
These are only a few of the tips that are helpful in planning your first Walt Disney World vacation. I have many more to share with you! If you are thinking it’s time to start planning your first or next Disney vacation, I would love to help! Contact me today for your free, no obligation quote! Melanie@travelwiththemagic.com Find me on Facebook for more Disney tips.