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 first-time Disney travelers.
Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®. I am a past member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. All opinions are my own.
8 Things that First-Time Visitors to Walt Disney World Need to Know
You can’t just wing it
You can, but you’ll probably be disappointed. To best enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation, I’d definitely recommend doing some research. Pick up a guidebook, ask some questions of friends, study blogs (like this one), and ask questions on the Disney Parks Moms Panel (where I was a panelist).
Staying on property is usually easiest
There are lots of hotels, guest homes, motels, and resorts in the greater Orlando area. But it’s often much easier to stay on property. Now, with the FastPass+ system, you’ll be able to make your reservations earlier if staying on property.
Make Advanced Dining Reservations well in advance
Did you know that you can make advanced dining reservations 180 days in advance? While it can be difficult to think about when and where you want to eat a full half-year before your vacation, it’s important if you have specific places you want to go to. Reservations for the most popular places (especially the princess character meals and Be Our Guest) do book up VERY early. If you are traveling over a busy time, it’s especially important.
With the new FastPass+ system, you can make reservations for attractions in advance. Right now they are allowing you to make three reservations per day, 60 days in advance (if you are staying on property) and 30 days in advance (if staying off property).
All 4 parks are worth a visit with kids
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.
You will be doing a LOT of walking
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.
There are lots of character experiences
You can make advanced dining reservations for character meals and FastPass+ reservations for character experiences, but you’ll also find characters throughout the parks. Check your Times Guide each day for specifics.
You can’t do it all
You can try, but it’s nearly impossible to do everything in one trip, five trips, or even ten trips. Do your research, make your reservations, and then have fun!
Looking for more specific tips? Here’s a collection of all of my Disney tips.
If you are going to Walt Disney World, I recommend the following hotels. Note that I have stayed in some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own. You can also save up to 28% on Disney Resort hotels here, and see various discounts on Walt Disney World tickets here.
- Disney’s Beach Club
- Disney Swan and Dolphin
- Disney’s Art of Animation
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Gaylord Palms
- JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
- World Center Marriott