Happy Sunday! Before starting this post, I want to apologize that I’ve been gone for so long! I had my bachelorette party, then I was sick with walking pnemonia, then I was too busy getting things ready for the wedding, then it was wedding weekend! I have some exciting posts coming up to talk all about our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge and our Disney Fairytale Wedding! Be sure to stay tuned 🙂
There is so much that goes into planning a Disney vacation – from dates and airfare to dining reservations and Fastpass+, the list goes on and on. These days it’s really hard to just head to your vacation without all of the preplanning and details. However, there are some important details that people won’t tell you while you’re planning that might really come in handy! Here are seven things that I think you must know before heading to your WDW vacation:
- You now have to pay for parking at your Disney resort. Back in early 2018, WDW announced that guests would now be charged a nightly fee for overnight parking at resorts. The prices vary based on which category resort you are staying ($13/night for Value, $19/night Moderate, and $24/night Deluxe) and will be charged at the end of your stay. Prior to this, parking at a Disney resort overnight was included in your stay. So, if you’re renting a car or driving to the resort for your stay, be prepared to pay those fees when checking out!
- The Disney rash is a real thing! Disney World in it’s entirety is about twice the size of Manhattan, or 40 square miles. On an average park day, you can expect to walk anywhere from 10-15 miles! This type of exercise probably isn’t worked into your daily life, which can lead to the dreaded Disney rash. Also known as “golfer’s rash”, the Disney rash causes irritation to the blood vessels in your lower leg. This is caused by walking an extended period of time in heat and humidity. To avoid this, make sure you’re getting those steps in and getting your body ready before you head to your vacation!
- Everything will be a line. Literally, everything. From waiting for busses, to baggage check and security, to scanning your tickets to get in the park and everything after that – there will always be a line. You might get lucky and be able to walk right on an attraction, but those experiences are few and far in between. Be prepared for the lines and you will be a lot less frustrated!
- Not everyone is in a happy and magical mood. You’ll see kids crying, parents arguing, elders annoyed – you’ll probably even bicker with your loved ones yourself. The extreme temperatures, long park days, and crowds of people are enough to put anyone on edge. To avoid arguments work resort breaks into the hot days, expect that things won’t always go to plan, and understand that you will have to wait 10 minutes to get your Dole Whip.
- Your vacation will not be perfect, no matter how much you plan! Things happen, and things will go wrong. Make the best of anything that is thrown your way on your vacation and it will be much more enjoyable! Remember, over planning is your enemy! Make. Time. For. Mid. Day. Breaks!
- Being late doesn’t always mean you’re “late”. Your Fastpass+ might only be an hour window, but you will have a grace period of about 15 minutes after the window closes to still make that reservation! Same goes for dining reservations – there is usually about a half hour grace period. Be sure to ask cast members nicely and don’t go in expecting anything, but they will usually work with you happily!
- It’s going to be hot. Pretty much no matter when you come to WDW – it will be hot. You might be lucky and find yourself here during the whole two weeks of “winter” temperatures [mid 50’s-60’s], but chances are – it’ll be hot. Bring layers, a ton of water, sunscreen, fans, even an umbrella. Be prepared!
I cannot stress enough that your magical Disney vacation will not go to plan. Things will go wrong, but what’s most important is being able to run with those challenges! Keep these seven tips in mind, though, and it’ll make for a much smoother vacation 🙂
Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. We have some super exciting wedding content coming up that you won’t want to miss! See ya real soon 🙂
Planning a WDW vacation can be stressful, especially if you’ve never been to the resort/parks and don’t know exactly what to plan for. I thought I was completely ready for our first trip – I had our park backpacks packed and ready, I chose weather appropriate clothing, I made sure we had sunscreen and bandaids – but there were some things I had no idea about that I should have been prepared for.
Although my fiancé and I had the best time on our first WDW vacation (you can read all about it here: OUR FIRST DISNEY TRIP AS A COUPLE!), there are some things that I wish I had known before our trip! Had I known these things, it would have went for a much smoother vacation. So, here are 8 things that I wish I had known before our first trip that would have made for an even more magical vacation!
- The My Disney Experience app is a necessity. From booking Fastpass+ and ADR’s to checking wait times for rides, navigating your way around the park, finding out showtimes for parades and fireworks – the list goes on and on. I made the mistake of not having this app during my first visit to the park and found myself asking cast members question after question that could have easily been answered in the app! The app can be downloaded on all smartphones and is free, making it an absolute necessity!
- Take advantage of the Fastpass+ booking window. The wait times are very long – especially in peak seasons (which is basically all the time now). Guests staying on property can book their Fastpass+ reservations 60 days in advance, while other guests with tickets-only [and Passholders] can book up to 30 days in advance. Use those windows to your advantage and be sure to score your must-have rides! Some Fastpass+ reservation ideas can be found here: BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!.
- Making Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s) is necessary to get into a good table service restaurant for dinner. If you read all about our first Disney trip, you’ll know that we had a very hard time finding any table service restaurant to eat dinner at. Your family, your feet, and your body will thank you if you score reservations at an indoor, air conditioned “sit down” restaurant. Guests staying on property can book ADR’s up to 180 days in advance!
- Make sure you pack comfortable, supportive shoes. Our first trip, I made the mistake of wearing sandals to Magic Kingdom and ended the night with blisters covering my feet. Be sure that the shoes you pack for the park are comfortable, supportive, and broken in! Once again, your feet will thank you!
- Adding the Park Hopper option to your ticket isn’t really worth it. I’ve mentioned this time and time again in my blog and when giving advice to people heading to WDW for their magical vacations – the park hopper, in my opinion, is not worth it. If you’re staying on property for enough time that you can visit all four parks in four separate days, make it a point to do that. If you’re not staying long enough to visit all of the parks, find out which parks are your priority. It takes so much time out of your day to go from park to park, and it hinders your overall experience.
- Dining plans are totally worth it. For my fiancé and I, the DDP completely makes sense. We eat three meals a day, we tend to order the more expensive things on the menu, and it is very convenient for us. Had I known how much we would enjoy and appreciate the DDP, I would have added it on to every one of our WDW vacations! I made an entire blog about DDP’s (A BREAK DOWN OF WDW DINING PLANS!) which will break down into great detail what plan is best for you, if any at all!
- Be prepared to wait in line – for everything. Seriously – everything. From the monorails and busses, to baggage check and getting into the gates, to getting your photo’s taken by a Photopass member and more you will constantly be in a line. The more prepared you are for it, the less stressed out you will be! As I mentioned above, you can cut down the wait times for these lines by doing things such as heading to the parks at rope drop, making ADR’s, booking Fastpass+ reservations, and having a strategy.
- Amazon can ship things to your resort. This is something that I recently found out and never had the chance to take advantage of when I visited the WDW resort for vacations! You can have Amazon ship packages to your resort, and the resort will hold them until checking in. Then, they will bring the packages right to your room! This can come in handy if you forget a necessity at home, but a good friend recently used it to order an inexpensive stroller for her child! This way, she didn’t have to pack her bulky stroller, and planned to donate it to a charity before she left. The possibilities are endless!
As you can see, there are still useful tips and tricks that even I am learning about as time goes on. There will never be a straightforward way to book the perfect vacation, but knowing some of these things ahead of time will only help you in the end!
There you have it! 8 things I wish I knew before my first trip to WDW! Leave a comment below telling me something you wish you’d have known before your first visit that would have made things a little smoother! Also, be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified of any new posts. Thanks for reading, see ya real soon 🙂