Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to planning that PERFECT Disney vacation. And while we know that our friends and relatives have best of intentions, they could actually be passing along tips that are not only unhelpful, but simply WRONG.
Today, we’re sharing eight tips that we hare ALL. THE. TIME. that are flat out wrong! There is certainly a reason why some of this advice is given, but we’re going to break each one down and explain why you should throw these tips out the window — or at least think long and hard before following them — when you’re planning your next Disney World vacation!
“You HAVE to do X, Y, or Z.”
You may hear your enthusiastic neighbor or aunt tell you ALL about the absolute best ride, resort, or restaurant that you MUST do in order to have a perfect vacation. Simply put, no one HAS to do the same exact things on their trip as someone else! Vacations should be a personalized adventure that works for THAT vacationer and their party.
Can’t afford to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for an entire week, but Aunt Suzie is insisting it’s the ONLY hotel worth staying at? Don’t try to stretch your personal budget to make it work, and don’t beat yourself up over it if the numbers just don’t add up.
You can have a WONDERFUL vacation at any resort, plus you can still visit the Polynesian (or any resort for that matter) for a meal or just to walk around and explore!
The same philosophy applies to rides. Do you absolutely despise roller coasters? Then don’t force yourself to ride them! One bad ride experience can really bring down your whole day.
Same thing goes with kiddos — if they’re too scared to ride, don’t force them to ride! Finding what works for YOUR family — not your neighbor, cousin, or mailman’s family — is going to be the best bet.
FYI — that’s why we’re here. We’ve done it ALL…and our team has over 20 people on it who have been to Disney World in hundreds of circumstances. Keep an eye on the DFB YouTube channel and here on the blog. We won’t tell you what you HAVE to do. We’ll share our experiences with you so that you can figure out what you WANT to do with your family.
“Kids don’t like Epcot — just skip that park.”
Epcot is often INCORRECTLY touted as the “adult park” with nothing to offer little kids. Epcot is really no different than any of the other parks in that there is something to do for EVERYONE. In fact, some kids enjoy Epcot more than any other park! (80’s Epcot Kids Stand UP!)
Many of the popular attractions in Epcot DO have a height requirement, like Soarin’ Over the World or Test Track, but we find most kids love these attractions when they’re tall enough to ride (which may be younger than you think!).
Elsewhere in the park, kids can meet Nemo, Crush, and the gang over at the Seas with Nemo and Friends, go on a fun boat ride through the Land Pavilion on Living with the Land, and more.
And we can’t forget Frozen Ever After is located in the Norway Pavilion in World Showcase and is still INCREDIBLY popular with kids — plus it has no height requirement!
Epcot is also a great park to do some character meet and greets. In World Showcase, you can meet LOADS of characters in their native countries, including Mulan, Belle, and Snow White.
If character dining is more your jam, Epcot has two excellent options: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion for those looking to meet the princesses, and Garden Grill in The Land Pavilion, where you’ll meet Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale!
“You can’t do a spontaneous trip anymore.”
We think half of the fun of any Disney World vacation is the planning! People love to start planning their Disney trips as early as possible, sometimes before their current trip is even over! This can lead many to believe that a spontaneous, last-minute trip is impossible to achieve.
Between making advance dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, and making sure you get the best resort hotel room possible, there’s certainly a lot to think about before you ever make it to the Most Magical Place on Earth!
But the idea that you can’t do a GREAT spontaneous trip is just not true! You can get really good last-minute dining and same-day FastPass+ reservations if you’re willing to hunt for them!
We don’t recommend you solely rely on booking everything day-of as this doesn’t necessarily work out every time, but you don’t have to have everything planned 180 days out if you don’t want to!
If you missed that hard-to-get dining reservation, keep checking! Often, a dining reservation will pop up last minute as folks are always changing and adjusting their plans. That means if you’re refreshing the My Disney Experience app throughout the day, you could possibly snag a great table! There are also some great restaurants where you can usually get a table without a reservation.
Same applies to FastPasses. Keep checking the My Disney Experience app for last-minute awesome FastPasses — you never know what you’ll find! Even if you can’t manage to snag those popular FastPass+ reservations, it doesn’t mean you can’t ride!
You can always strategize to get a shorter standby experience, whether that’s by riding first thing in the morning or last thing at night, waiting in a Single Rider queue if that’s available, or even looking into the possibility of a ticketed after-hour event where the crowds are typically lower.
“Don’t go during the busy season or the holidays!”
One of the most popular WRONG pieces of advice we hear is to never go during the holiday season, or to never go when the parks are “crowded.” For starters, some people simply CAN’T go any other time of the year due to school or work schedules, hence the crowds! If that’s the only time your family can find to visit, you can still have a great time!
The important thing here is to manage your expectations and plan ahead. Setting your priorities for what is MOST important to get done will make all the difference on your trip. We aren’t saying it won’t be crowded — it WILL likely be crowded, and depending on when you visit, you may not be able to do EVERYTHING on your wish list…
…but there ARE some unique pros of going specifically during the holiday season. If you go in November and December, the weather will be much less rainy and hot than in the summer months, and the decorations are beautiful! There are a lot of limited-time events and happenings throughout Walt Disney World at this time of year, like the Gingerbread displays at many resorts, that are truly special to witness.
Another perk of visiting in the “busy season” — there’s MORE time to do it all. The parks can often stay open till 11PM or later (Magic Kingdom often stays open till 1AM or later many nights during the summer!) so you’ll have more time to check off your to-do list!
Even with heavier crowds, if you don’t mind a late evening you can cover a ton of ground.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t assume that if you DON’T go during those “busy seasons” that you’ll avoid crowds altogether. There can be crowds almost year-round these days, so don’t stress on finding that ‘magic’ low-crowd week. Pick what time works for your family and plan accordingly.
“You HAVE to get the Disney Dining Plan; it’s a great value!”
Harkening back to our first incorrect yet often heard tip, lots of folks insist everyone should get the Disney Dining Plan. While the Dining Plan is right for some people, it can be very wrong for others.
When you crunch the numbers you might find that it is actually harder than you think to save money on the Dining Plan unless you’re maxing it out everywhere you go.
Back in the day, it may have been easier to score a great deal with the Dining Plan, but now you can only really save money if you dine at the most expensive restaurants, AND order the most expensive meals on the menu, AND take advantage of the one alcoholic beverage that comes with your meal, AND get the most expensive snacks you can.
This can be extra problematic if you have a kiddo that’s old enough to be considered an “adult” by Disney’s pricing standards but isn’t quite big enough to scoff down an adult-sized meal. It also is hard to get the best value if you have a picky eater in your party or a vegan or vegetarian diner — simple entrees like chicken nuggets or meat-free options are typically some of the cheaper items in restaurants.
One big benefit of the Disney Dining Plan is the added convenience of essentially “pre-paying” for all of your meals. However, keep in mind that you will still need to take care of tips out-of-pocket, as this does NOT come included on the Dining Plan.
Now, we’ve got you covered here, too! Our DFB Guide has TONS of additional information on the Disney Dining Plan, including the pros and cons in determining whether or not it’s right for your family! We break down the numbers FOR you, so you can figure out easily whether the dining plan is the right choice for you.
“Stuff your kid’s shoes to make them taller so they can get on a ride.”
You may be surprised at how often we hear this next tip in passing (even celebrities are guilty of doing it!). The height requirements for each attraction are there for your child’s safety. Stuffing their shoes to give them that extra inch so they can ride could put them in harm’s way, as the seating restraints are not designed for people under that height.
We shouldn’t have to explain this much further — please keep your child safe! Cast Members will measure how tall your kiddo is, but if they aren’t tall enough, the Cast Member will put safety first and won’t allow them to ride.
Keep in mind that if you run into this issue, you can take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch program so everyone else in your party can still experience the attraction while one adult waits outside with the child(then they get a chance to ride without waiting in the full line!).
FYI, let us suggest from experience a very GOOD piece of advice — check out the ride height requirements BEFORE you go to Disney World. That way, nobody ends up waiting hours for a ride just to find out they’re too small to experience it. Many tears could ensue… .
“[Fill in the blank] restaurant is a must-do or a must-skip.”
Those well-meaning friends and relatives really want to make sure you have the best Disney World vacation possible (or is it THEIR best Disney vacation possible? 😉). Unfortunately, that could result in some unhelpful advice like this gem we hear alllll the time!
If your Uncle Mike HATES Mexican food, chances are he’s gonna tell you to avoid La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot at all costs. But what if you LOVE Mexican food (like SO MANY of our readers who almost crowned this spot their favorite fast food spot in Disney World!)? Who do you trust?
Ultimately, no one can determine what restaurant is a must-do for your family EXCEPT FOR YOU! Experience the restaurant for yourself and give a try before you pass judgment! There’s so much more that goes into picking the perfect restaurant besides just the menu!
Everyone’s tastes and preferences are different (that’s why Disney has such a wide variety of options to choose from!). Here at DFB, it is our goal to share what the restaurant is like instead of whether it’s “good” or “bad.” So, read our reviews to get a good understanding of what’s available at each restaurant and what the atmosphere is like. Then decide for YOURSELF if your family might like to try it.
“Wait until your kids are X years old or they won’t enjoy it.”
Some folks may recommend you wait until your kids reach a certain age or a certain height to even bother considering a trip to Disney World. But we all know that every family is different and every kid ‘ages’ differently! There are pros and cons for just about every age, so consider when YOU want your kids to visit, and don’t worry about what others say! Only you can know what’s best for your family.
Even if they won’t remember it as clearly as you will, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go! If you want to (and are able to) go — GO! You can make some incredible memories with your littlest ones if you take them early (plus, under three, they get in for FREE!).
At the end of the day, you might have to crunch numbers, talk to your family, or do some research when you get advice on how to best plan your Disney World vacation! We have tons of additional articles and videos all about making sure your next Disney trip is the best for YOU! To learn more about how to work around bad advice (and what to do instead!), check out our video below!
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What is the most overheard bit of Disney World advice that you don’t follow because you know it’s not true for your family? Share with us in the comments!