We’ve shared tons of tips and tricks about how to make a Disney World trip as stress-free as possible.
We’ve shared ride hacks, packing tips, Park Hopping strategies, food reviews, and everything in between. There are a lot of factors that come into play when preparing for a Disney trip, which leaves room for mistakes that can negatively impact your trip. And today, we’re warning you about some of the EASIEST mistakes you can make — and how to avoid making them!
Not Being Strategic About Park Pass Reservations
Disney now uses a Park Pass Reservation System, requiring guests to select which park they’ll visit on a certain day ahead of time. You can choose when you’ll visit each park willy-nilly, but it definitely pays off to be strategic about it.
Before reserving your Park Passes, check out the listed park hours so you can choose to visit the park that’ll be open the longest. This will help you make the most of your day! (If you’re looking to Park Hop, maybe consider starting at a park that opens earlier to get the most out of it!) Plus, continue to check Park Pass availability regularly because Disney often replenishes passes once days have filled up! (But totally don’t rely on that happening and wait too long to book your passes!)
You’ll also want to consistently check park hours because sometimes those can change too! We’ve seen many instances where Disney extends park hours with little notice, which will give you a little extra time in the park (YAY!).
Planning out your Park Passes is especially important for anyone who absolutely MUST ride Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You MUST book a Park Pass for Hollywood Studios if you want to secure a Boarding Group, so plan accordingly.
So, if you feel your Disney World trip will be incomplete without this experience, reserve two days for Hollywood Studios (just in case!). Boarding Groups are released at 7AM and 1PM, meaning if you are Park Hopping to Hollywood Studios, you will NOT be able to ride Rise of the Resistance since you won’t be able to enter the park until 2PM. If you get on the ride n your first day, you should have time to change your Park Pass for the additional Hollywood Studios day (if you so desire). But since Hollywood Studios tends to book up first, we recommend planning around when you’ll visit this park.
Not Having a Park Hopping Plan
Park Hopping has returned and that’s something you’ll want to be strategic about too, as we mentioned above! Try choosing the park that’s open the latest (which we’ve found is usually EPCOT) to hop to in the afternoon.
Generally speaking, you’ll probably want to avoid Park Hopping to Disney’s Animal Kingdom because it typically closes early (around 5 or 6) which won’t give you very much time there. THAT SAID, you won’t get much time here if you hop over, BUT the lines typically get pretty short in the afternoon as guests leave. You can potentially do more in less time.
Another critical thing to remember when Park Hopping is that you MUST reserve a Park Pass for one park AND visit that park before you’re able to Park Hop in the afternoon. Also, it helps to keep an eye on park capacity when choosing where to go later in the day. You can call the Disney Park Capacity Hotline at (407) 560-5000 to learn which parks are still welcoming additional guests.
Staying at a Resort That Doesn’t Suit Your Family’s Needs
There are dozens of resorts to choose from for your Disney World stay. They each offer something different and you’ll want to take everything into consideration before making your pick! Research the various resort tiers (deluxe, moderate, and value) to see which best matches your family’s needs — and your budget.
After selecting a tier, explore the options within it. Do you want a resort with modern Spanish flair? Or are you looking to be transported to a Caribbean island filled with vibrant colors? If getting to and from the parks easily is your goal, picking a resort attached to transportation, like a Monorail Resort or Skyliner Resort, may be right for you. Be sure to weigh options like dining, proximity to parks, transportation, and pools!
By putting some time and thought into it, you can fit your family’s needs appropriately and avoid shelling out extra money when possible. In order to save you money, we recommend our personal go-to agents at Small World Vacations. Their services are totally FREE and they can keep an eye out for any discounts and apply them to your reservation so you know you’re getting the BEST deal.
There are plenty of essentials that can make a Disney trip easier. That said, make sure you only pack the absolute essentials to avoid lugging around stuff in your suitcase AND in the parks that you don’t need.
If you’re anything like us, you likely WILL have extra souvenirs and goodies to bring home, so pack leaving room to return with more than you brought! Plus, you can purchase essentials through delivery services and have them sent to your Disney resort where they’ll hold them for you prior to your arrival. You can have things like diapers, groceries, and other sundries sent directly to you at your resort, saving you from stress AND space! That sounds like a win to us!
Failing to Research Restaurants
Although many months have passed since Disney World reopened, not everything has entirely returned to normal, including restaurants. Many fan-favorite spots remain closed, like ‘Ohana in Dinsey’s Polynesian Village Resort and Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom. Even if your family’s fave spot to dine is open, it might not be operating in the way you expect.
Many locations are offering limited menus or hours, meaning that your absolute favorite, must-have meal might not be available. Plus, the Character Dining locations that have reopened won’t be working the way you’ve previously experienced. Spots like Garden Grill and Chef Mickey’s are offering a modified character experience, and sometimes you won’t be joined by characters at all, like at The Crystal Palace. Previously, you’d be dining with Winnie the Pooh and pals, but now it’s character-free for the time being.
Due to limited hours, reservations might be more difficult to obtain. Plus, you’ll want to make sure you have a Park Pass reservation to enter the park where the restaurant is located (unless planning to Park Hop there after 2PM). If you’re unable to get a reservation, some restaurants are using a Walk-Up Waitlist when availability allows.
Right now, guests can book dining reservations 60 days in advance. In order to maximize the chance of getting the reservation you want, set a reminder on your phone so you can book as soon as your window opens up!
Planning to Do TOO Many Things
It’s no surprise that there are LOTS of things to see and do at Disney World. Naturally, you want to make the most of your time and money by trying to fit in as many things as possible. And we totally get it, BUT we think you should reconsider (just a teeny bit)!
Planning is definitely an important component of a Disney trip, but over-planning might put you at a disadvantage! Unexpected issues often come up that you just can’t control, like inclement weather or prolonged ride closures.
Being flexible will give you the opportunity to take your time, relax, and enjoy your trip. This will especially be helpful if you’re traveling with little kiddos. You’ll be able to go back and revisit things you loved, or take an extra afternoon to relax by the pool.
Prior to your trip, try to make a short(ish) list of your absolute must-do things! That way, everyone will do their most important experiences, and you’ll have flexibility in your day.
Spending on Souvenirs You’ll Regret Buying
Bright colors and Mickey-shaped things may seem enticing and like total MUST BUY items as you pass them in the gift shops. There are some souvenirs that seem like a great purchase (or a way to entertain your kid) in the moment, but once you return home they’ll likely live at the bottom of your closet.
Items like Bubble Wands and Glow Spinners often turn out to be a big ol’ waste of money once you leave the parks. They can be cute and fun for kids to play with during your park days (or, in our kids’ cases, like…10 minutes), but you may find yourself losing patience after being hit with a stream of bubbles every five minutes.
Also, adorable souvenirs like Mickey Balloons and Snow Globes can be especially difficult to bring home if you’re flying. You can get select purchases (no balloons, sorry) shipped home by Disney, but at an extra cost. Make sure you have a way to get your purchases home safely, like extra space in your suitcase, before buying.
Underpacking the Important Things
Okay, okay — we know we just told you to avoid overpacking, and we still stand by that advice. However, there are things that you CAN and WILL possibly under pack! Now, especially, you’ll want to make sure you have enough masks with you. You’ll want to pack a couple of masks for each person per day in case they get dirty or wet throughout the day. Trust us, you’ll want. adry one once your mask gets sweaty or wet from rain, especially! Excitingly, you can even find some DFB masks in our store!
Comfortable shoes are essential when going to Disney. We’ve told you time and time again to bring your tried and true, broken-in shoes (yet we still see people with achy feet and brand new kicks in the parks!). And now we’re telling ya to bring more than one pair, just in case! If your sneaks get wet or continuously irritate an uncomfortable spot, you’ll still be able to do ALL the walking comfortably. Remember, just because your shoes are comfy and broken in and you can walk all around the mall or neighborhood in them DOESN’T necessarily mean the same will be true at Disney World. Have a backup plan.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to make sure you have layers with you. During the colder months (yes, it can get chilly in Florida), pack some lightweight jackets, sweatshirts, and other pieces you can use to easily layer and keep warm throughout the day and night.
Rain is pretty consistent throughout the year in Florida, and it’s basically unavoidable during the summer. Although the storms don’t typically last long, you’ll still want protection in the form of ponchos and umbrellas when it does rain. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself shelling out $10+ on each poncho which can really add up! Squeeze some in your suitcase before you travel and you’ll be set.
Another thing you’ll want to make sure you have enough of is phone chargers! Our phones have become a true lifeline in Disney World these days and we use the My Disney Experience app for pretty much EVERYTHING. After repeatedly using the app, snapping photos, and doing everything else we all use our phones for, its battery will drain pretty quickly!
Even when we’re not rushing around the parks covering it for all you guys, we find our battery is still hurtin’ by mid-day. Be prepared for the inevitable by bringing portable phone chargers or by finding a nearby FuelRod station in one of the parks. These kiosks allow you to buy a starter pack with a charged battery and exchange them at any kiosk as you go around the parks and resorts.
Not Getting to Know the Disney World App BEFORE Your Trip
As we just mentioned, the My Disney Experience App is essential. You’ll use the app to see wait times, park hours, place Mobile Orders for food, use Mobile Check-out at select shops, and more. And because the app has so many functions, it can be kinda (a LOTTA) confusing.
Download the app and make sure you have the most updated version on your phone BEFORE your trip. Explore and get to know the app a little bit, this way you’ll be more familiar with it and will feel less overwhelmed when trying to use it in the middle of a busy park.
Also, make sure your entire party has accounts that are linked together before you go. This will make things like reservations and FastPass+ bookings (when they return) easier. It’s especially important to do this when trying to secure a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance. You’ll be prompted to choose those joining you, and not having everyone linked to your account may entirely ruin your chance of getting a Boarding Group.
Learn the ins and outs of the app before your trip for a more seamless experience!
Failing to Prepare Before Mealtimes
Planning meals has become a little more difficult in Disney World since its reopening. Many quick-service dining locations are all but requiring the use of Mobile Order, which allows you to order your food from the My Disney Experience App and select a window of time to pick it up.
Normally, this service would save time. When the long snakey lines of guests waiting to order would form, we’d pop open the app and place our orders. Minutes later, we’d be enjoying our food while the line had hardly moved! However, now that most people are using it, you may not be able to retrieve your order as quickly as you once could, especially on busy days. Pick-up windows may fill up in advance, notably during peak dining times.
We’ve seen this happen recently at Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land, where the wait time for retrieving an order was 100 minutes! Decide when and where you want to eat in advance to avoid long waits and hangry family members. If you are dead-set on eating at a particular spot at a peak time, order your food EARLY so it’ll be ready in the window you’d like.
And those are some of the easiest mistakes to make in Disney World and the best ways to avoid them! Hopefully, with these tips in mind, you’ll be able to ace your Disney trip like a pro. Check back with us for more ways to WIN Disney World!