Hear us out, besties; Walt Disney World is ever-changing. Even Disney pros like the Perfecting the Magic crew run into snags. Without the proper intel, it’s easy to make mistakes at WDW, especially for first-timers. Whether you’re used to visiting Disneyland, or this is your first Disney park experience, we’ve got your back with seven first-timer mistakes to avoid at Walt Disney World!
Mistake 1: Making Too Many Dining Reservations
Steakhouse 71, Jiko, Sanaa, Topolino’s Terrace, Ohana—Walt Disney World is an expansive foodie paradise. While it’s tempting to book your schedule solid with hard-to-find dining reservations the moment the window opens, overbooking yourself isn’t exactly a magical experience. Sure, dining at Disney is a major part of the fun, but you have to trust us on this: dragging your aching body into a dinner reservation when you want to spend a little time back at your resort isn’t exactly ‘it’.
If you’re constantly racing to dining reservations you’ll likely find yourself feeling overstuffed and overextended. The intensity of the Orlando heat can’t be overstated, and it can really zap your hunger. While dining in A/C with ample water at your disposal has its place, sometimes you just want to grab a Ronto Wrap and spend more time in the parks.
It’s best to avoid the pitfalls of too much dining and instead plan a couple of can’t-miss reservations during your stay. You’ll be glad you did.
Mistake 2: Hopping Between Resorts and Parks Too Often
We highly recommend taking advantage of the Park Hopper Option at Walt Disney World—it’s a great way to manage crowds and build in some flexibility. While we understand the appeal of switching resorts mid-trip. Especially if your party has different vibes, we draw the line at wasting time.
The fact is, hopping around parks and resorts takes time, and sometimes you don’t have time to waste. If you’d like to hop between parks, we recommend waiting until after 3:30 pm when the hopping rush has died down and if you’re changing resorts, be sure to make a dining reservation for the time between checking-out and checking-in.
It’s a solid use of time that won’t leave you feeling like you’re waiting around the lobby killing time. If you’re headed into the parks, check in with your hotel to see if you can drop off your bags and check-in when you’ve returned from your park day. This is another useful tip if you’re looking to mitigate time wastage.
Mistake 3: Not Spending Enough Time at Your Resort
We get it. Park tickets are expensive and you came to Walt Disney World for the theme parks, right? It’s easy to get sucked into that line of thinking, especially during your first trip. But, Walt Disney World is an ecosystem. What makes it special is the entire package, and that includes your resort stay.
Every Walt Disney World resort has its own vibe, and let’s be honest, you’re paying a considerable amount to stay there, so you should get your money’s worth. Be sure to take the time to enjoy your resort. Check out their dining and snack options, lounge by the pool, walk the grounds, or even schedule a rest day.
WDW is truly a world all its own—leave yourself time to enjoy it. You’ll have a much more balanced vacation, and leave wanting to return.
Mistake 4: Not Selecting Your Genie+ Bookings as Early as Possible
Disney fans often make mistakes when using Genie+ for the first time. Did you know that you can make your first Genie+ selection at 7 am from the comfort of your hotel room? You can and should!
No matter where you’re staying, you should make your first selection as close to 7am as possible. Since you can make your next selection 120 minutes after your last, it’s important to consider the timing when using the Genie+ service. Otherwise, you risk losing time and leaving frustrated.
By understanding the basics of Genie+, you’ll save time and can spend your day doing more of what you enjoy!
Mistake 5: Being Unprepared for Walking in the Orlando Heat
Orlando is hot and humid most of the time. Even if you’re from a warm climate, first-timers often find themselves knocked over by the heat. On the most sweltering days, the air feels thick and wet, seeming to have a gravity all its own. If you’re hoping to look cute, trust us that 1 pm is not the vibe for photos unless they’re indoors or in the shade. It’s a lot.
It’s essential to prepare yourself for Orlando weather so you don’t spend your days feeling stickier than the food at Karamell Küche.
We recommend you consider these shoppable options to offset the heat and humidity:
- Wear natural fiber clothing like cotton whenever possible
- Consider bike shorts under your dresses or skirts to prevent chaffing
- Take a swim at your resort during peak crowds and sun.
- Invest in a mini fan
- Consider a cooling towel
- Rehydrate constantly with a flexible water bottle
- Reapply your SPF diligently
- Baby powder and anti-friction gel on areas that rub (thighs and feet)
- Buy a facial sprayer/water mister
- At least two pair of comfortable walking shoes and/or sandals
Mistake 6: Skipping the Shows and Parades for Rides
Walt Disney World offers so much more than rides. What makes Disney so special is that it’s unlike any other theme park, and the shows and parades are a major part of that magic. It can be easy to make the mistake of focusing on your ride strategy and fitting every ride in, but if you skip the parades and shows, you’re missing out.
From the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom to EPCOT’s Harmonious and Magic Kingdom’s Disney Enchantment, you have a ton of popular entertainment options available every day. Still, we find shows are often the most neglected offerings at Disney, and some of them are really great!
You can find a list of offerings here, and we recommend you check out at least a couple of them during your visit! Rides are amazing, but there’s something special about those ‘extras’ that make Walt Disney World unique. Give yourself time to see something great; we think it will improve your experience!
Mistake 7: Not Using Mobile Order
Mobile Ordering is a life-saver, but WDW first-timers often overlook or don’t understand how to use it. As with everything at Walt Disney World, there’s a strategy to it, and it’s imperative that you know it. Mobile order waits can be long depending on demand, which is why PTM recommends you schedule your pickup window as soon as you know what you’d like to eat. It might feel a bit crazy to book your lunch in the morning, but trust us, it’s worth it!
It doesn’t matter if it’s 9:30 am, you can schedule a Mobile Order for lunch later that day without issue and it will be made fresh. Don’t waste time standing in lines confused about what to order or hoping to peer around a crowd to see the menu for a Dole Whip. Instead, log into the app, order, pay, schedule, and finally let them know when you’ve arrived so they can prepare it for you. It’s as easy as that, and it will save you time and frustration.
Did You Know Everything on This List?
Did you know about these Walt Disney World first-timer mistakes? Do you have any tips you’d like to share in the comments? We’re proud to be a growing community, and your opinions make everything we do better.