Whether you haven’t yet been to Disney World or you have been a hundred times, there is something all Disney fans do have, or will have, in common: their first trip to Walt Disney World.

Disney is a big place – bigger than Manhattan. With hundreds of different shows, restaurants, and attractions from which to choose, Disney can be a complicated place.  Also, Disney is definitely an expensive place.

Add all these up, and it means you need to be prepared.

That’s not the same thing as being a super-planner complete with minute-by-minute spreadsheets for the full duration of your vacation.

Being prepared means knowing what you are getting into. Sometimes it is planning, but sometimes it is just having the information you need.

Since information is power, let’s look the top four mistakes that folks make on their first trip to Disney World then you can be sure you don’t repeat these mistakes, whether it is your first trip or you one hundred and first trip.

Avoid these Disney vacation mistakes.  Be prepared!

Avoid these Disney vacation mistakes.  Be prepared!

Disney World tickets come in many different varieties – single day, multi-day, park-hopper, water park and more, annual pass, etc. I personally think it is best to purchase your tickets before you show up so that you can skip the ticket line, but at a minimum you should know what tickets and what options you want to buy. Otherwise, you may waste too much time in line, too much time deciding, and too much money on options you don’t need.

2 – Not Staying At A Disney Resort Hotel

This one may cause a bit of controversy. I will be the first to admit that Disney resort hotels are expensive. However, a Disney hotel stay can give you many things that no other hotel stay can: early or late access to the parks through Extra Magic Hours, free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport, and free transportation or parking around the resort. Those are pretty nice bonuses. When you consider the costs of renting a car and paying $15 to park each day, the benefits of a Disney resort help to offset the savings you might get when you stay off-site.

3 – Not Preparing For The Weather

The weather in Florida is generally nice. Except when it isn’t. In the summer the sun is blazing hot, and everyone needs to take precautions so they don’t get burned and ruin their entire vacation. In the winter, it can actually get cold sometimes, especially early and late in the day. Don’t assume that since Florida is a sub-tropical paradise that you don’t have to be ready for the weather. Check the forecasts, bring layers of clothes in the winter, and pack plenty of sun screen.

4 – Not Doing At Least A Bit Of Planning

As I mentioned above, preparation (knowledge) is as important as planning (schedule, reservations), but sometimes knowledge alone, without combining it with action, doesn’t provide the best outcome. Yes, you can certainly do everything on your Disney vacation on-the-fly – no reservations, no plan – but if you do, you definitely won’t get as much out of your vacation as you could. So take a bit of time to make an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) or two so that you can secure your place at a special meal. Learn how to take advantage of Disney’s FastPass and FastPass+ programs and have some idea of the things you would like to see and do, whether it is visiting with some Disney characters, taking in a special attraction, or watching an evening spectacular like Wishes!

Which first-time mistake do you think is the biggest?