Survival Tips for Your First Disney World Visit

We’ve always talked about going to Disney World. But, we (really me) were always a bit skittish. Toting around two kids to all the parks all the day long was at the bottom of my list of things I really wanted to do. Despite this, I knew it was an experience that my kids should have before they got too old to think some of the characters weren’t cool.

So, we bit the bullet this summer and “did Disney”. Guess what? We all survived and had a load of fun in the process. I guess it really is the happiest place on earth! But it can quickly turn into hell on earth if you don’t follow some tips.

Do Your Homework

disney first visit

The worst thing you can do is jump into a Disney trip. You need to do your homework. Go through a travel agent. I can’t imagine coordinating everything on my own. So, I went to three different travel agencies, making my favorite one the last stop because I had a feeling she would be the best. I was right. Once you decide what you want (type of resort, meal plan, park passes, etc.) you need to compare apples and apples. Prices differed by a few hundred dollars for the exact same package! In the end, we actually got a little more for a little less. I know some people start their planning as far as a year in advance. I started about five months ahead and was still okay.

Realize This is a Trip, Not a Vacation

If you’re in it for true Disney experience you need to realize this is a trip, not a vacation. You won’t be sleeping in and reading novels on the beach. That is, unless you carve out a day or two for that. For many, myself included, this didn’t happen. During a trip like this you will be on the go. Realize it. Accept it. Love it.

Make the Most of Your Meal Plan

If you decide to do a Disney meal plan (which you should), use it to your advantage. Our plan included one table service, one quick service, and one snack daily. The best part is that you can choose how you want to use these. If you want to use more than one table service daily, you can. You have control over your plan for the duration of your visit. My tip is to use your table services for all those special meals like character breakfasts, lunches and dinners. For example, we used two table services for our two character breakfasts and got dinner on our own for those days. This worked out because breakfast would have cost us nearly $100! Theoretically we pre-paid for these meals. But, it felt better just swiping our bands instead of shelling out $100 for eggs and pancakes. The good part is that we paid for a less-expensive dinner on our own.

Fast Pass Early

disney first visit

Fast passes are great. They cut down your wait time for some of the most popular rides by more than half. The trick is to reserve these early. By early I mean months in advance. Even then you may be out of luck. I fast passed the new Elsa and Anna ride at Epcot. We got on in thirty minutes versus the three hour wait! I can’t even imagine. Unfortunately, I didn’t fast pass enough of the “good rides”…a downfall from being a Disney newbie. By the time I realized how cool some of the rides were, there were no more fast passes left. Now I already have a list for my next visit!

Make the Disney App your BFF

When people first told me to become one with the Disney app, I thought they were exaggerating. They weren’t. This app is everything. It not only maps out the parks so that you know where everything is, but it also provides you with real-time wait times for the attractions. This way you’re not walking to another side of the park only to realize there is an hour wait for the ride you want to go on. You can also search for restaurants and stores. The app also keeps track of your fast passes and dining reservations.

Remember to Have Fun

With all the planning and activities it’s easy to lose sight of why you came…to have fun with your family. You will make memories to last a lifetime and will want to start planning your next visit before your current one is over!


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