Skip to Content

8 Essential Disney World Tips for First Timers

A Disney vacation is often a splurge, and if you are planning a family vacation to Walt Disney World, there are some things you need to know. While I have lots of in-depth tips on this site, it can be overwhelming to Disney World first-timers. To make it easier for first-time visitors to Walt Disney World, I created this post with tips for first-time Disney guests as a starting point – although these Disney tips are great for any guest.

We received complimentary/discounted admission but also have paid our own way on many other visits. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.

You Can’t Just Wing It

Signs for Chef Mickey and Contempo Cafe
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

You can try to go with no plans (or last-minute plans), but you’ll probably be disappointed, especially for a first trip. To best enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation, I’d recommend doing some research well in advance (at least 6 months in advance). Read websites, ask some questions of friends, and study blogs (like mine).

Staying on Walt Disney World Property is Usually the Easiest

View of Contemporary grounds from the footbridge connecting to Bay Lake Tower.
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

There are lots of hotels, guest homes, motels, and resorts in the greater Orlando area. But it’s often much easier to stay on Disney property, especially for a first-time visit. Convenience is one of the big benefits, but there are others. In addition, it’s easy to use Disney transportation to get around (this is free transportation, so you won’t have to rent a car until you want to). The Disney Resorts are heavily themed, so staying there adds to your vacation. Disney hotel guests also can take advantage of early theme park entry.

Make Advance Dining Reservations Well in Advance

Chef Mickey's figure with sign and Mickey statue
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

Did you know that you can (and should) make advance dining reservations for Disney table service restaurants in advance? While it can be difficult to think about when and where you want to eat well before your vacation, it’s important if you have specific places you want to go to. Reservations for the most popular places do book up VERY early.

Make a Plan for Your Days

Tower of Terror from a distance
Image Credit: Image credit goes to.

You’ll need to establish a plan for your days. Genie+, the replacement for FastPass+, is a paid program that you can purchase. On July 24, Genie+ will become Lightning Lane Multi Pass and you’ll be able to make your selections in advance. Once those changes happen, you’ll have even more of a need to prepare in advance.

All 4 Walt Disney World Theme Parks Are Worth a Visit With Kids

France pavilion in EPCOT with statue, Eiffel Tower and buildings
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

Often first-timers to Walt Disney World think it’s not worth going to all of the parks. EPCOT, especially, has a reputation as being a more “adult” themed park. But my kids love all four parks and we always try to visit all of them. The best way to visit all four of the theme parks is to purchase the park hopper option on your Disney park tickets. That way, you’ll be able to visit more than one park per day

You Will Be Doing a LOT of Walking

The Magic Kingdom from a distance, view from the Contemporary
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

For instance, it’s 1.2 miles from one end of the World Showcase in EPCOT to the other side. Bring comfortable walking shoes and wear them. Make sure that you’ve already broken into these shoes before your vacation. You won’t want to be breaking them in during your vacation. If you are visiting with young kids, you may find that you’ll need a stroller, even if your kids don’t usually use one. Luckily, rentals are available at the parks if you don’t bring yours along.

There Are Lots of Character Experiences at the Disney Parks

Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore, and Piglet in Halloween costumes
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

But, like with everything else, you’ll need to be prepared. The characters have standard meet-and-greet spots and times, and you’ll need to wait in line. If your kids want autographs, you can buy them in advance or purchase them at the parks/hotels.

You Can’t Do It All at Walt Disney World

Colorful birds on a rock near the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
Image Credit: Jodi Grundig/Family Travel Magazine

You can try, but it’s nearly impossible to do everything in one five trips, or even ten trips. Do your research, make your reservations, and then have fun! I always recommend that you save some time to spend at your Disney hotel and at Disney Springs. You don’t always have to be running around the theme parks to have fun. Read more tips here.

Save money on your Disney vacation by booking through Get Away Today.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.