Do’s and Don’ts of Walt Disney World
A trip to Walt Disney World can be just as magical as “the happiest place on earth” but sometimes expectations can exceed reality. A trip to Disney does require a bit of planning to ensure you have the trip that you imagine and there are definitely a few do’s and don’t’s to help you along the way.
DO enjoy the resort
- While it is easy to spend 100% of your time in the theme parks, do not forget to take advantage of the resort you are staying at. You are paying money to stay at these lovely resorts, make sure to allocate time to enjoy them.
- Pools at some of the resorts are quite unique with character voices being heard underwater, sand bottoms, or fun water slides. There are typically many activities offered at the resorts such as movies at night with smores. Some resorts feature larger than life decor, water activities such as boat rentals or fishing, and surrey bike rentals. Fireworks can even be enjoyed from certain resorts as well. There is even Disney vacations that focus on resort only stays and do not even go into the theme parks!
- For more on which resort to stay at, check out this post on where to stay.
DON’T eat every meal out
- Vising Disney World is not a cheap vacation. Eating all meals at the resort and park can be very expensive especially if you are trying to budget for a Disney trip. Breakfast food is often over priced, over sugared, and fairly basic in what you are paying for. Eating breakfast in the room in the morning does a number of things:
- Saves money
- Saves time in the parks – those morning hours in the park are valuable ride time due to low crowds and needing to eat will take time away from that
- Great breakfast ideas: cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, toaster pastries, bagels
- You are permitted to bring food into the theme parks so if you wanted to pack lunch or snacks for the day, you are able to do so.
- While non-perishable foods can be packed in your luggage, there are options if you are a light packer with no additional room for food or want to obtain perishables.
- Resorts typically have a small convenience stores that is good for one or two items but they can be quite pricey
- There are resort grocery delivery services that you can take advantage of as well (Amazon Prime, Instacart, Garden Grocer, etc)
- Dinner is a great time for eating out and there are a variety of options from quick service / take out to family style buffets, and sit down full service restaurants.
DO take breaks during the day
- Afternoon can be hot and crowded in the theme parks which makes a great opportunity to take a break – those park days can be very long especially if you are taking advantage of low crowds during opening and closing hours.
- Our best times in the parks at first thing in the morning and late at night – take the break in the middle of the day to relax. Enjoy the resort, jump in the pool, take a nap!
DON’T overbook your trip
- This is the biggest mistake I see people make when planning their Disney trip and often causes a negative impact on the trip- it takes away from the magic. Time moves faster in Disney World, I wish it didn’t but you are so busy running from one thing to the next the days just move by quickly.
- Remember, you have to get from your resort to the theme parks and that takes time out of the day. Even getting from one side of the park to another side of the park can take a considerable amount of time. Jam packing the day with plans may not be practical with those logistics.
DO account for travel time in your day
- When traveling around Disney World property, it does take a long time to get from place to place. Even if the distance is not far, there are crowds, waiting for the buses or other modes of transportation. And when you get on that transportation, you may not be the first or second stop on the route.
- Transportation on property starts usually a half hour to an hour before park opening time. Disney recommends giving yourself at least an hour or more to get to the place you are trying to get to, especially if it is for a dining reservation or activity.
DO take time to learn the new system
- This one is pretty important for Disney trips post pandemic – at least for now. It’s a doozy and someone in your party really needs to know how to work the new tech. I have an entire blog post outlining using the My Disney Experience App as well as Genie, Genie Plus, Lightening Lane and Individual Lightening Lane. If those terms do not mean anything to you now, they will soon.
DON’T assume Genie + is the best option
- If you are willing to do the parks when they open and later towards closing, I do not think you need to purchase either Genie + or Individual Lightning Lanes to ride attractions on your Disney trip. If you are able to be flexible, you do not need to buy your way through Disney.
- Wait times were generally more elevated than they actually were – speculation is this is being done on purpose by Disney to drive people to purchasing Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane.
- I have an entire blog post outlining using Genie, Genie Plus, Lightening Lane and Individual Lightening Lane.
DO explore outside the parks
- There is so much to do on Disney property besides the theme parks! So much that I have an entire post on how to spend a Park Free Day at Disney World.
DON’T assume all theme park food is equal
- There is basic theme park food of burgers and fries and then there is a new wave of theme park food with grain bowls, egg rolls, waffle sandwiches, wraps, and more.
- The resorts have some of our favorite meals so do no just look at the theme parks if you are looking for a good meal. Resort restaurants are overall much better than the theme park options, especially for a sit down meal.
DO be prepared to walk … a lot
- You are going to do a lot of walking in Disney World. It is mostly passive and not noticeable but if you not used to it, after day 1 in the theme park your feet are going to be sore and it is going to make the rest of the trip uncomfortable.
- It is so critical to pack good walking shoes that are tried and true, and broken in. It is not uncommon to walk 10 miles plus a day – we have done over 15 miles in one day!
DO take advantage if you have small kids
- If your child is under 3 years old, they get into the parks for FREE! Why not take advantage of that money saving tip? They even eat for free at buffet style restaurants. The “they won’t remember it” excuse is so silly!
- What about rides for the adults? Take advantage of the rider switch service. This service allows for you to wait in the line once – adult #1 rides the attraction while adult #2 is with the child, then adult #2 can go straight onto the ride without waiting in the line while adult #1 stays with child. Just ask the cast member at the attraction in order to activate the rider switch service.
- Nervous traveling with small kids? Check out Where Is Briggs travel tips!
DON’T overlook single rider options on select attractions
- One way to cut down on wait times to is take advantage of a single rider line offered on select attractions. As long as you are ok riding solo, this is a great trick. Our family often did this – we would wait in line together, ride the attraction separately, and enjoy the fact that we got to experience the ride with a shorter wait time.
- As of this post there are four attractions that offer single rider line: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios), Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run (Hollywood Studios), Test Track (Epcot), and Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom).
DO adults only Disney
- Been doing it for years! There is something about the Disney magical that is extra special as an adults only trip. You get to do what you want when you want to do it. If you are staying on property, there
- From Disney Springs to EPCOT festivals to Trader Sam’s to some of our best and favorite dining experiences, there is so much for adult Disney-goer’s to enjoy.
DO know who you are traveling with
- This may sound silly but stick with me on this one. Everyone is going to want do to do something different and the bigger your group gets, the more complicated it can be to have a magical experience. Someone’s perfect Disney trip may look very different than yours – there are many different Disney trips that Disney World offers.
- Establish a list of top things each person wants to do to help prioritize attractions, dining, and experiences.
- Set expectations ahead of time to ensure everyone understands and is in agreement over the Disney plans.