Disney is the Most Magical Place on Earth, but things can still go wrong. You plan and plan to make sure everything is perfect, but you might miss some details.
Let’s take a look at the top ten mistakes you might be making that could ruin your Disney vacation! Fortunately, most of these things are completely avoidable!
1. Going during peak season
Disney World has worked hard over the years to reduce the slow times by adding festivals throughout the year at Epcot and offering special events at the other parks. That means now there are no slow times – just busy times and busier times.
It’s safe to assume that any time kids are off school will be busy. This includes especially summer vacation, with the July 4th weekend being arguably one of the busiest, and long weekends for Labor Day and Memorial Day.
Smaller crowds amass during times that school is typically in session including January through February and August through September. If you can go during these times instead of during the busiest times, you can save time waiting in lines and money at the resorts!
2. Skipping the shows
Disney puts on a great show. That’s no secret – they are awesome. Most people focus on the attractions, but you really should see the shows at least once.
There are also indoor shows that provide some welcomed air-conditioning especially in the hot afternoon hours. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has several that are worth checking out, including Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical.
We all know that calories don’t count in Disney World, so indulge a little bit!
That said, overindulging can make you feel pretty bad.
Allow yourself to enjoy the Mickey Waffles for breakfast and a Mickey Ice Cream Bar in the afternoon, but beware of sugar crashes. While Disney offers a ton of sugary snacks, they also provide healthy snacks just as readily. Even out your diet by choosing a piece of fruit or a veggie cup at some point in your day, and be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of water, which is free at any counter-service restaurant.
4. Ignoring the weather
Florida is notorious for afternoon rain showers. They’re usually short, but they can be very hard downpours even for a brief time. Pack a poncho and a small umbrella in your Disney day bag, and don’t let it rain on your parade. Some attractions will be shut down during lightening, but several attractions will remain operational.
It’s also a good time to duck into a restaurant for a quick snack or meal. Monitor the radar and your weather app because everyone else will have this idea too! Plan ahead and arrive before the rain does to snag a table.
5. Skipping rope drop
“Rope drop” is an actual event and not just when the park opens. The early morning ceremony welcomes guests to the park in a very special way. If you’ve never seen it, I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice it to say that it’s a good time.
It’s pretty much the same every day, so you don’t need to see it more than once. However, getting to the park when it opens can mean much shorter wait times for even the most popular attractions.
6. Wearing the wrong shoes
The average Disney World guest walks between 10 and 13 miles per day and sometimes more depending on how ambitious you are. Consider your foot wear and make sure to wear something comfortable.
The best shoes are those that are broken it but not worn out. You don’t want to wear brand new shoes that might rub you the wrong way, literally, but you don’t want to wear your old faithfuls that provide little support because they’re so worn out. Also avoid sandals or flip-flops with little support. Your ultimate goal should be comfort not style.
7. Not making ADRs
ADRs or Advanced Dining Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance for Disney Resort Hotel guests. They are only available at table-service restaurants, but they allow for some really fun and exciting experiences.
Many people ignore making dining reservations for a couple reasons. It’s hard to decide where you want to eat six months in advance, and it’s hard to know where you’ll be and what time you’ll want to eat. What’s more, many people think it’s unnecessary to make ADRs either because they don’t realize how busy restaurants can get or they think they will only eat quick-service meals.
There’s nothing wrong with quick-service meals, but table-service meals provide some unique opportunities. For kids and kids at heart, the character meals are invaluable. You’ll get to spend much more time with characters than you do during regular in-park meet and greets, and the interaction during these experiences are much different from meet and greets. Everyone will appreciate the elaborate theming of most of the table-service restaurants.
8. Spending all your time in the parks
The theme parks in Disney World are truly magical. In Magic Kingdom alone, you can go from Main Street USA to Frontierland America to a land of the future in Tomorrowland. World Showcase takes you to eleven different countries in the span of just over a mile. Disney’s Animal Kingdom allows us to see dozens of different animal species, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios puts us in the movies.
There’s a lot to see in the parks, but there’s so much more outside of the parks. Disney Springs offers a ton of shopping, dining, and entertainment. There are also more than 20 Disney resort hotels each with a unique theme. Some resorts have special events like dinner shows and viewing of fireworks or even the Electrical Water Pageant. In addition, there are two water parks, two miniature golf courses, and a professional golf course.
9. Scheduling the wrong FastPasses
Disney World has completely switched over to digital FastPasses. Instead of visiting each attraction and pulling a ticket, you now make your FP+ reservations on your MyDisneyExperience app or web site at up to 60 days in advance of your vacation. At this time, you can schedule three FastPasses. Once you use up these FastPasses, you can schedule another one and another one until the end of the day or no more are available.
Unfortunately, too many people space out their FastPasses throughout the day meaning they never get the opportunity to schedule more. Instead, plan to arrive at rope drop, do a couple things in the first few hours because lines will be very short, then start your FastPasses mid-morning. Get a couple in before lunch, one after lunch, then book more after the third one is used. You might be surprised at what you can get after you use the first three!
Also consider other plans and schedule accordingly. For example, if you have a lunch reservation at noon, allow yourself enough time enjoy your meal before your next FP+ window is up.
Finally, try to choose FP+ reservations for long wait attractions. If you can’t because they’re full, choose something anyways. Waiting in line for an attraction you don’t really want to visit is worse than standing in line for one that you really do, take what you can get even if it’s not your first choice, and wait for the others.
10. Not visiting every park
I can’t imagine that anyone would skip Magic Kingdom or even Epcot since they have a great reputation, but lots of people think Animal Kingdom is just a glorified zoo and Hollywood Studios isn’t worth their time if they don’t love Star Wars or Toy Story.
Every one of Disney’s parks are unique, and each one has something for everyone. Even Hollywood Studios, which is widely considered most appropriate for adults, has one of the best attractions for little kids: Disney Jr. Live on Stage! If you don’t think a park will take a whole day, spring for a Park Hopper ticket, which will allow you to visit more than one park in a day checking out what you want in one park then heading to another park.
Similarly, too many guests don’t allow enough time for some activities especially Epcot, which is actually like two parks in one. Future World is dedicated to innovations in technology and space, and there are opportunities to learn a variety of things here including a post-ride attraction at Test Track where you can test your sim car and see how well it performs in a variety of tests. World Showcase, as I mentioned above, has eleven different country pavilions each with unique shopping, dining, and activities. You could easily spend a whole day in each of these two areas.
What is the biggest Disney vacation mistake you’ve seen?