You can plan and be SUPER prepared for your first trip to Disney World, but there are just some things that you don’t learn until you get there or until you visit 100 times!
What are some lessons we’ve learned from our 100+ trips to Disney World that you should know ahead of your next trip? We’re breaking that all down for you here.
1. You Can’t Get It All Done in One Trip
One of the biggest things you learn after going to Disney World 100 times is that you just can’t get it all done in one trip. This is a lesson you might learn after your first trip, or one that might take a few trips to really sink in.
Between the theme parks, water parks, hotels, Disney Springs, golfing, mini golf, etc. there are just way too many things to squeeze into one trip (unless your trip is a month long)!
And there will almost always be something new coming next month, next year, a few years from now, etc. So even if you get to ride the super popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance today, you won’t be able to check out the Star Wars Hotel experience since that won’t open until next year.
Instead of trying to fit 100 things into your 5 (or more or less) day trip, the best strategy is just to focus on what’s most important to you and your family and what you can (realistically) accomplish during your trip.
Try not to set expectations too high. We think it’s better to have a smaller list of must-see items that you can feasibly accomplish and then potentially have time left over for other items, rather than have a GIANT list of things to do that you won’t be able to finish, leaving you feeling disappointed.
2. The Hotels Are Where It’s AT
Disney World’s theme parks are fantastic. And during your first trip, and even your first 10, 20, or 30 trips to Disney World, the parks might be your #1 priority.
But, after 100 trips to Disney World you might find that really, the hotels are where it’s at!
Once you’ve been to Disney World 100+ times and feel like you’ve ridden all you need to ride multiple times, you might not be worried about having to ride Space Mountain 4 times. Instead, you might find your priorities shifting to things like out-of-park experiences or unique dining opportunities. The hotels are a fantastic spot for all that and more.
Each Disney-owned hotel is uniquely themed. You’ll find special dining opportunities and snacks at them, some of which are exclusive to specific hotels. There are sometimes activities available to participate in (like hotel tours or scavenger hunts), and there’s lots to just explore and take in.
There are even some secrets at the hotels that you can discover while you’re there. Check out our video below to see 20 hidden secrets in the Disney World hotels.
3. All the Transportation Tips and Tricks
After visiting Disney World 100+ times, you start to really learn what types of transportation are best for you and what are the best/secret ways to get around property. This can take some time to realize and it can change depending on your trip and what your goals are for that trip. But after many vacations to Disney World you’ll have a general sense of what works for you.
And by the time you’ve been to Disney World 100+ times, you’ll know about all the fastest or most convenient ways to get around property. For example, you’ll probably be well aware that bus transportation is sometimes offered from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Magic Kingdom and typically doesn’t have a long line like we do (seriously, you’ll probably get to Magic Kingdom before people waiting for the Monorail even board!), or you’ll know that you can walk from the EPCOT area hotels to Disney’s Hollywood Studios if you want to. It all just comes with time!
Click here to see a bus seating arrangement we’ve seen in Disney World meant to accommodate more small groups.
4. Cast Members ARE the Magic
Hopefully it doesn’t take 100 trips, but certainly after 100 trips to Disney World you’ll learn that Cast Members are really what make the magic.
Your first few trips, you might be so focused on rides, food, etc. that you won’t really have the time to stop and realize all of the work the Cast Members are doing and the magic they’re creating.
But, after many trips you’ll start to realize that the Cast Members really are the stars here. You could spend an entire day just chatting with them, seeing the work they do, and admiring the way they create special memories for others.
5. What to Pack and What NOT to Pack
After 100+ trips to Disney World, you’ll start to realize that you probably don’t need all 5,000 things you packed in your park bag, but you do need some essentials!
It’s hard to know exactly what to pack for Disney World sometimes. And particularly if your Disney trips are spread out and you sort-of forget what you packed last time, you may be tempted to bring everything (including the kitchen sink) into the parks every time just in case (p.s. don’t bring the kitchen sink, you can just buy one of those in Disney World! 😜).
After visiting Disney World over 100 times you’ll realize you probably don’t need everything you’ve packed. But you do need some essentials. We recommend a reusable water bottle, sunscreen, a phone charger, your MagicBand or phone if you’ll be using MagicMobile, and some other items.
We’ve got quite a few packing posts and videos to help you get planning. Check out our video below for a list of 13 things even the pros forget to bring to Disney World.
6. Traditional Table Service and Even Quick Service Restaurants/Meals Can Be Overrated
Now, this one might seem controversial but hear us out! While there are LOTS of fantastic table service and quick service restaurants in Disney World, after visiting the parks and resorts many times you might just realize, having a traditional meal sometimes can be overrated.
Maybe you just don’t need those larger portions or you’re looking for something the more traditional restaurants just don’t offer. Or maybe you’re more of a snacker. For some, snacking your way around the parks and making meals out of the things you find along the way can be FANTASTIC!
Snacking through the parks instead of having a traditional meal is a particularly good plan when there’s a festival going on in EPCOT.
AND don’t forget about those Disney World lounges — places like Nomad Lounge and others. These typically lesser-known spots may fly under the radar for most, but if you order a few dishes here (even if they are smaller in terms of size) you could fashion one delicious meal for yourself (and don’t feel like you’ve got to buy an alcoholic beverage at the lounge — you can always just stop by and munch on some the food they serve there).
7. Breeze Through Security
While Disney World has updated their security process to be easier for guests to go through now, during your first few times in the parks you may struggle with having certain things in your bags set the sensors off.
After 100+ trips to Disney World, you’ll know how to navigate your way through security like a pro and you’ll probably have a much better idea of what types of things in your bag typically set the sensors off so you can take them out ahead of time.
With Disney World’s updated security system, guests are instructed to keep all of their items inside of their bags and simply carry their bags with them through the screening point. But, you may want to take out umbrellas, metal water bottles, larger chargers, and other bigger items as those can sometimes trigger the sensors, and it can be best to hold those outside of your bag so that they’re easily accessible to be checked.
Nothing screams “I’ve been to Disney World 100+ times” like not even slowing down as you breeze up to security whipping out your items you know you need to remove without skipping a beat! It pays to know what to do to get through security quickly and efficiently.
8. The BEST Restrooms
Okay, getting through security efficiently might show your Disney knowledge, but really one of the easiest ways to identify a Disney expert is based on their knowledge of Disney’s BEST restrooms. This is possibly one of the most important lessons you’ll learn as a Disney pro.
Whether you’re looking for great theming, bathrooms that are SUPER clean, ones with lots of stalls, spots that are less crowded, or something else, after going to Disney World so much, you’ll know exactly where to go when you “gotta go.”
9. Look Closely!
100+ trips to Disney World will also teach you that you’ve got to look really closely at everything in the parks and hotels because (for the most part) nothing has been put there by accident.
10. The Underrated Spots Are Where You Want to Go
During your first 10, 20, 30, etc. trips to Disney World you’ll probably be focused on the big rides, big parks, big hotels, etc. — and rightfully so. Those big/popular things attract lots of guests for a reason — they’re typically the most themed, thrilling, newest, etc. places to be.
BUT once you’ve seen and done all of that, you can hit up the underrated restaurants, hotels, and spots. And when you do, you’ll probably fall in love with a lot of them and visit them over and over again!
After 100+ Disney World trips, you’ll realize that a quiet corner in Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, a ride through Living with the Land in EPCOT, or a seat in the shade with a coffee and treat from Le Petit Cafe in Disney’s Riviera Resort might be how you actually want to spend your time in Disney World.
Click here to see whether some restaurants in Disney World are overrated or underrated according to thousands of our DFB readers!
11. You Don’t Fall for Disney’s Tricks!
Disney World can sometimes trick you into spending more money. But after 100+ trips, you won’t fall for those anymore, and you’ll probably know lots of secrets for saving money at Disney World.
Your first few trips, you may fall for the “gift shop after every ride trick,” you might book an expensive hotel thinking that it’s the best only to find out a cheaper option would have worked out just fine, or you may book a package that actually doesn’t give you the best deal.
Click here to see some of the discounts and deals you could take advantage of for your Disney World summer trips!
12. There is No “Right” or “Perfect” Way to Do Disney World
And finally, after 100+ trips to Disney World you’re sure to learn that there is no “right” or “perfect” way to arrange a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Everyone has their own style. Some people wake up at the crack of dawn to enter the parks before they even officially open. Others will sleep in but take advantage of lower crowds in the evenings.
Some people have to ride every single ride, others are just there to eat. No way is right or wrong — you’ve just got to do what’s best for you and your family. What’s best for you might be totally different than what some people recommend or what your friends do and that’s okay!! You’ve got to plan your trip to Disney World in a way that works for you and makes you happiest.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you create lasting memories and have a good time (and eat some delicious food too. You’ve gotta throw that in there).
And that’s our list of the things you only learn after you’ve visited Disney World 100 times! We’ll keep working on all kinds of tips and tricks for you to help you as you plan your upcoming Disney vacations, and we’ll be sure to share them with you. So stay tuned for more from us here at DFB!