It’s often said that planning a Disney World vacation is just as much fun as the vacation itself. While that might be the case for some, there are plenty of opportunities for stress to creep into both the planning of the vacation, and the actual Disney World vacation.
Trust us, it does NOT have to be this way! While there are a few key things that you should always keep in mind when planning and executing your Disney World vacation, there are MANY things that you have no reason to worry about! Today, we’re going to discuss seven things you should absolutely not be scared of, and three things that you probably should be scared of (or at least mindful of).
Seven Things You Should NOT Be Scared Of
1. The Rides and Attractions
If you have anyone in your travel party you might be afraid of the rides, we have some good news: most of the rides at Disney World are pretty tame — many of which have no height requirements whatsoever!
In fact, some of the rides like Barnstormer and Slinky Dog Dash are great ways to introduce your little one to roller coasters. From there, they could perhaps “graduate” to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
While there are many rides that are fun for the entire family, there are a few rides that might not be for everyone. Some rides are simulators that could cause issues with tight spaces, and there are loud, jerky rides like Dinosaur and spinning rides like Mad Tea Party. While some rides might not be “scary,” they could cause discomfort for some.
A lot of the rides are outdoors so you can see the ride itself before jumping in line. That way, you can assess if you think it’ll be too scary for little ones, or too intense for anyone in your group. You can also chat with one of the ride’s Cast Members for a detailed description of what the attraction is like.
2. The Characters
Just like the rides in Disney World, the characters are around the parks and resorts with families in mind — meaning, they aren’t there to scare anyone! However, we know there are plenty of kiddos who may feel otherwise (it CAN be unsettling to see a larger-than-life mouse walk towards you), so here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, familiarize yourself with where the characters are throughout the day. Most can be found in designated areas, so you can determine which ones are worth visiting and which ones may be worth skipping for now. These days, the character interactions are socially distanced, meaning there are no autographs, no close photos, and no hugs. This may be the perfect time to show your kid to the characters from afar.
The same concept goes for character dining. As of this writing, the characters are not approaching individual tables, so this may be a good opportunity to introduce kids to the characters since they’ll only see them from across the room, or at least from a safe distance.
3. The Weather
The weather in Central Florida can be surprising (it still surprises us from time to time), but as long as you’re prepared it shouldn’t be an issue!
The biggest weather-related worry guests seem to have is hurricane season. This takes place every year from June through November, so if your Disney World vacation falls within that time frame, just be sure to keep an eye on any developing storms that could be approaching the resort during your stay. Disney is excellent at handling hurricanes, so check in on your hotel’s calendar of activities in the event of inclement weather.
Even outside of hurricane season, there’s always the chance for rain. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with the proper equipment like ponchos and umbrellas, or at the very least aware of the fact that you’ll likely get rained on once or twice.
Then there’s that Florida heat. Staying hydrated is key, so bring a refillable water bottle and ask for free cups of ice water at various counter service dining locations. For the sun, bring and reapply sunscreen. If you’re comfortable dining indoors, a sit-down lunch can be a great way to sneak in an hour or two of air conditioning.
But Florida isn’t hot all year round — in fact, it can get chilly in the winter months! If you’re traveling around the holidays, don’t pack for summer weather. Bring sweatshirts, hats, and plenty of socks to stay warm. Even in the summer, packing layers is always smart. It can get cooler in the evenings, and if you’re wet from the rain or from a water ride, that air conditioning can feel downright frigid.
The weather in Florida is more than just the heat, so read up on what the average temperatures are like and triple check the forecast just before your trip. It can have a big impact on what you pack and wear to the parks, which in turn can have a huge impact on your overall comfort.
4. Not Finding Food that Suits Your Diet or Allergy Needs
If you have any food allergies or dietary needs, know ahead of time that Disney does an excellent job accommodating guests’ dining requests. Contact Disney directly ahead of your trip to discuss your needs, and be sure to specify those needs when making your Advance Dining Reservations and when checking in to the restaurant.
Allergen menus are available at each restaurant, and Cast Members can pull up ingredients at quick service and snack locations around the parks and resorts. Disney has also recently expanded their Plant-Based cuisine guide, so be sure to be on the lookout for those dishes at each restaurant!
5. Modifying Your Plans Last-Minute
No matter how carefully you plan your Disney World vacation, things are bound to come up! Your family may need to head back to the room for planned (or unplanned) naps, someone could become ill, you might miss a dining reservation...we’ve seen it ALL!
If something comes up that forces you to change your plans last-minute such as a dining reservation, speak with guest services or your hotel’s concierge to see what they can do when it comes to making any sort of accommodations. Just know that these Cast Members are not miracle workers, but they will try their best — be sure to be kind to them!
You can also change many of your plans on your own through My Disney Experience. Keep in mind your Dining Reservations’ cancelation windows, and try to change those reservations to a later time or a later date to avoid any fees (typically $10 per person for a no-show).
6. Getting Around with Disney’s Transportation System
Disney World is, in a word, massive. The sheer size of Disney World can feel intimidating, whether it’s your first vacation or your twentieth! Be sure to do plenty of research ahead of time so you know what your transportation options are.
The way guests get to Disney World from the airport will soon change. Disney’s Magical Express service is scheduled to end in January of 2022, and will be replaced by the Brightline train connecting Orlando International Airport to Disney Springs. An opening timeline for that train has yet to be announced, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for the latest news!
Once you’re on property, the Disney Buses can get you pretty much everywhere. Just keep in mind that as of this writing, bus service between the four theme parks and Disney Springs is unavailable. So you will need to take a bus from the theme park to a resort, and then from that resort to Disney Springs.
In addition to the buses, there’s the Monorail, the Disney Skyliner, and even boat transportation to the various destinations around property. These are available to all guests at no additional fee. If you wish to take a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft to get around, those are available as well (just remember that you’ll need to pay for those services).
7. Forgetting to Bring…Well, Anything!
The last thing you should NOT be afraid of is the fear of forgetting to pack those vacation essentials. Yes, your trip will be much more hassle-free if you remember to pack everything, but if something slips through the cracks, there are several options available to you.
You can easily hail an Uber or Lyft and head to Target or Walmart, located just off of Disney World property. You can also look into grocery delivery services if you want to have snack or breakfast food options in your hotel room each day.
Remember that you don’t HAVE to bring everything with you to the parks. Each of the four theme parks has FirstAid and Baby Care Centers which carry many of those essentials.
These days, face masks are the new park day essential. You can bring all of your reusable face masks with you, but remember that Disney sells disposable face masks if you need to purchase more (and don’t want to shell out a ton of money for Disney-branded cloth face masks).
Three Things You SHOULD Be Scared Of
Alright, now that we’ve covered the things you SHOULDN’T be scared of, let’s touch on a few things that you should absolutely keep in mind. The first (and perhaps most important) thing you SHOULD worry about is the amount of stress you allow to creep into your vacation.
Anticipation of your Disney World vacation can certainly lead to stress! Disney vacations come with a lot of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), and you may worry that you won’t be able to get to everything on your to-do list.
Well, allow us to be the FIRST ones to say: you won’t be able to do everything, so make peace with that as soon as you can. Don’t forget to have FUN on your vacation (you are, after all, in Disney World!). Like we mentioned earlier, your plans will likely change in the middle of your vacation, so roll with the punches and be patient with everybody — including yourself, and including Cast Members!
2. Blowing Your Budget
You may be surprised at how easy it is to completely throw your spending budget out the window when you’re in Disney World. Those Minnie ears look mighty cute, and of COURSE, you need to try every snack you come across. Disney World is expensive, but we all know this! It’s easy to spend your money if you don’t set a budget or pay attention to what you’re buying.
Put some thought into each and every purchase you make while on vacation. Remember that many of the souvenirs available in the parks are also available online, and often at a discount. You can buy the same exact item ahead of your vacation, or after you return home!
For those big-ticket items in your vacation budget, check ahead of time for special offers. Disney almost always has some sort of room or package discount available. You can also consider staying off-property at a local hotel or at a vacation rental.
Remember those grocery delivery services we mentioned earlier? Those are a great way to shave off a few bucks on breakfast and snacks every single day (trust us, those snack expenses add up FAST). Other ways to save on dining include loyalty programs like Landry’s, of which a couple of their restaurants can be found in Disney World!
Finally, consider purchasing an Annual Pass (when they become available again) for one member of your party. Crunch the numbers and see if you’re visiting Disney World enough times during the year to justify the price. That way, you can take advantage of the dining and shopping discounts (and often hotel discounts) made available exclusively to Annual Passholders (and only ONE person in your party needs a Pass in order for the entire party to save!).
Disney World trips can be confusing! Planning ahead is the key to having a smooth vacation.
First, let’s talk about those Park Pass Reservations. As more and more folks return to traveling, those Park Pass Reservations are selling out quicker and quicker. Make the Park Pass Reservation booking experience one of your earliest vacation planning steps. As SOON as you purchase your park tickets, book those Park Pass Reservations — you can change them if something comes up, but at least you know you’ll be able to get into a park!
If you’ve been following along for the last year, you may have noticed that things are changing rapidly right now. It’s more important than ever to keep up with those changes, so join our newsletter to stay in the know on Disney World’s latest policies, park hours, and more. The list of what’s open and what’s closed is in a constant state of flux, as well as the latest COVID requirements. It often feels like these changes happen on a daily basis!
Beyond the daily changes in 2021, there are the constant planning must-dos to keep in mind. Be sure you know when your Advance Dining Reservation window opens up (as of this writing, it is 60 days prior to arrival). Currently, FastPass+ is still unavailable, but once it returns, you’ll want to be ready to book those 60 days out as well, if you are staying on Disney World property.
Once you arrive on property, you don’t have to worry about Disney World transportation if you don’t want to. You can look into renting a car if you prefer, but just keep in mind that you’ll be subject to parking fees, not to mention the added cost of renting a car. Otherwise, there are a number of complimentary transportation options at your disposal, including buses, the Monorail, the Disney Skyliner, boats, and even your own two feet!
If you plan ahead of time and do your research, you may find that a Disney World vacation doesn’t have to involve any stress whatsoever! Of course, for the price you’re paying, you’ll want to make sure that things (relatively) go off without a hitch. Don’t sweat the small stuff, remember to plan breaks and time to kick back and relax, and be flexible to your plans changing. In the end, you’ll have a MUCH more enjoyable time and you’ll be ready to plan your next Disney World vacation before your current one even ends!