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9 Walt Disney World Planning Mistakes That Families Make

Updated 4/2020

A Walt Disney World vacation is almost guaranteed to be a fantastic time. But with such a big vacation, and so many different components to a Disney vacation, there are definitely some Walt Disney World planning mistakes that some guests make when they plan. You’ll want to do some work in advance to make sure you are planning your trip the best way possible.

Over the years, I’ve seen families make a variety of Walt Disney World planning mistakes – some of which I’ve made myself in the beginning. Here are 9 mistakes that guests to Walt Disney World make – read them before planning a Disney trip.

Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own.

Mistakes People Make at Walt Disney World

9 Walt Disney World Planning Mistakes

Cinderella Castle at night

They didn’t plan ahead for their visit to Walt Disney World.

Planning ahead is easily the most important thing that you need to do before your family vacation. There are so many different terms and things to understand – cast members, extra magic hours, Advance Dining Reservations, Magical Express, FastPass, MagicBands, etc.

Many guests feel that they can just “wing it” when they arrive. They don’t want to feel tied down to specific plans but are then disappointed when they arrive and find out that they can’t do everything that they want to do.

If you don’t plan in advance, you may find that your top choices for dining are completely booked and that you’ve missed out on making FastPass reservations early. Be sure to at least plan some of your vacation. Don’t assume that you can just “walk-in”.

Kids with Phineas and Ferb

They didn’t include family members in planning

When you plan dining reservations 180 days in advance, and FastPass+ reservations 30 or 60 days in advance, it’s easy to just make the plans on your own. But when you arrive, you may find that your family members are disappointed that their favorite activity/restaurant isn’t included.

Ask everyone what their “must-dos” are before you make plans. If your Walt Disney World trip includes feedback from all family members, they’ll feel like they are part of the plan.

They didn’t plan in a break during their days at Walt Disney World

It’s so easy to go, go, go, but you need to plan in some breaks. When my kids were younger, we would leave the parks after lunch and head back around dinner. You’ll also want to take advantage of your resort’s pool, so be sure to relax at some point during the day.

You may also consider planning a day without going to the parks. You could instead choose to do something like visit Disney Springs, go to one of the water parks, play miniature golf, or spend the day at your hotel.

They carry too much during the day

Yes, you want to have everything you need for the day. But remember that unless you use a locker, you’ll need to carry everything for the whole day.

A moderately heavy bag in the morning feels like an unbearably heavy bag by the evening. So pack wisely. I also recommend bringing a bag that closes on the top so that you won’t worry about losing anything on the rides.

If some things are essential, consider renting a locker. Just keep in mind that this isn’t always the best strategy when park hopping.

They don’t arrive at the theme parks early enough

Kids at the Haunted Mansion

The parks are traditionally slower in the morning, and if you arrive early, you can take advantage of that. On our recent Thanksgiving weekend trip, we got 3 rides in on the Rock N Roller Coaster with no line at all, right at 8vam.

If you plan to ride Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge, this is especially important. You need to use the My Disney Experience App to get a boarding group for the attraction. You’ll have to enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios before trying for a boarding group, and they are typically gone within minutes of the park opening.

They keep young kids out too late

I know it’s tempting to see everything, especially the fireworks and evening shows. But young kids are often exhausted after a busy day, and start to meltdown if they are overtired. Skip the fireworks if your kids can’t stay up that late without consequences.

They didn’t drink enough water

I made this mistake on our last trip. You’ll be doing a LOT of walking, and the hot Florida sun can definitely dehydrate you. Whether you buy water there or fill up reusable bottles, be sure to drink enough.

Start out drinking water early, even if you aren’t yet thirsty. You can also get free cups of ice water at the various quick-service locations, so it’s pretty easy to stay hydrated.

They wore the wrong shoes

Again – you’ll be doing a lot of walking. On the slowest day of our recent trip, we walked 7 miles. So make sure that you are wearing comfortable shoes.

Don’t make the mistake of wearing new shoes, even if they are a comfortable brand. Be sure to wear them first so that they are broken in.

They didn’t do their Disney vacation planning research

Since you’ll be making your plans in advance, you’ll also want to do research on all of the attractions, restaurants, hotels, and shows that are available to you. Know before you go, so that you are happy with your plans once you arrive. I also recommend downloading the My Disney Experience app before you start planning.

For first time guests, you may consider working with a Disney travel agent. They can help you walk through the process and help you plan. You can choose to book everything through them, including your hotel room, Walt Disney World tickets, and the Disney Dining Plan (if you are staying on property).

Be sure to also check the calendar so that you know what special events are going on at the Walt Disney World resort. There are so many different events that can impact your vacation, including Epcot festivals and events.

You can also find some great Disney products for your vacation online at the Disney Store (I especially recommend buying the autograph books before you leave). 

Don't make these 9 Walt Disney World planning mistakes on your next family vacation.

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.

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