The Disney Blog Readers Offer Their Top Ten Disney Newbie Tips.

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Think back to your first trip: What do you wish you’d known?  Was there a moment where you thought to yourself “I could have saved myself a lot of time (or money) if only I’d known that!” In my case, my first “real” trip came when I’d moved from Florida and was no longer taking quick day trips. There were so many things I didn’t think about when Disney World was just a few hours drive away.  John was wondering that too, so he put out a question on the Facebook page and here are some of your answers. I hope you find something you can use –or even pass on to a Disney newbie:

This isn't looking good, is it?

This isn’t looking good, is it?

10.   Suzanne G. is a girl after my own heart. She advises to take a jacket (or a sweater), even if it’s supposed to be warm.  While you’re at it, bring a poncho too.  It’s probably going to rain at least once on your trip.

9.  Get to the Magic Kingdom at opening and make a beeline toward Fantasyland.  Sometimes you buck conventional wisdom; this is not one of those times. If you have little kids, you want to knock out Pooh and Peter Pan first since these rides are some of the most popular in all of the parks. After that you can take on the mountains.

The New Rooms at the Polynesian are Gorgeous.

The New Rooms at the Polynesian are Gorgeous.

8.  Stay on property.  I’ve found it’s hard to sell someone on Disney property if he or she is looking at the bottom line. If you’re purely interested in saving money, you can usually stay cheaper off site, but if you think that time is money, you might find quite the opposite:  That you actually save money by staying on property. So do the math, but always remember the convenience factor. It’s huge.

7.  Pace yourself: You can’t do it all in one trip.  Going completely “theme park commando” for days at a time is overrated.  Take in the little details, people watch, eat some good meals. It’s all part of the experience.

Oh sure he has a lot of Mickey stickers, but does he have a spread sheet?

Oh sure he has a lot of Mickey stickers, but does he have a spreadsheet?

6.  Many of you had this advice: Plan, and then plan some more.  The average vacation package costs around $2200. When you think about it, that’s a lot of money!  You don’t have to be “that guy” with the multi-page spreadsheet, but even just a little bit of planning can give you a substantial return on your investment.

5.  Sandi B. had a great piece of advice: “Plan, but be prepared to chuck the plan for magic moments.” When I think about my trips these days, it’s often the things we didn’t plan that stand out.

4.  Use the free fast pass system. It really does save time!

3. Don’t spend money on a room if you’re not going to spend much time at the resort. Instead, save your money for food and souvenirs.   You can always have dinner or resort hop to experience other resorts.  Just remember: No pool hopping.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. And make sure those shoes are broken in. It’s usually a good idea to bring a backup pair (or two) as well.

1. Make dining reservations.  Perhaps the easiest thing you can do when planning a Disney vacation but one that yields the most results.  If you’re on the dining plan, it’s a given: You want those reservations made as far in advance as possible so you can get the most value out of the dining plan. Even if you’re not on the plan, making just a couple reservations makes life easier.

So what’s your advice for Disney newbies? Which piece of advice do you find people are the most resistant to take? We’d love to read about your experiences in the comments.

13 thoughts on “The Disney Blog Readers Offer Their Top Ten Disney Newbie Tips.”

  1. Expect to pay more than you expect. Uh, you know what I mean. Disney isn’t cheap, by any stretch of the imagination and if you know that going in – and plan to alleviate the cost by using water fountains to refill water bottles and packing your own snacks instead of always coughing over the bucks for one – you’ll all be a lot happier. Yes, you can bring food into the parks. Do it.

    And for parents of young children: Plan to use a stroller. I don’t care if your 3-year-old hasn’t used one for MONTHS, he probably doesn’t regularly walk 3+ miles in one day, either! People might judge. Let them. They don’t have to deal with the consequences! And if you’re one of those who judge? Stop it RIGHT NOW!

    Also? Don’t be surprised when your children are more excited about the hotel pool and the ducks that are everywhere than just about anything else. Consider yourself warned! ;)

  2. Don’t just plan on using fastpass before you arrive. UNDERSTAND fastpass before you arrive. Understand that you can (AND SHOULD) get a new one every two hours.

  3. I’m so “that guy” (or girl in my case) with the multi page spreadsheets. But I always come home with extra $.

  4. Well I don’t have any for Disney World since I’ve never been, but I have plenty for Disneyland.

    If your staying close to the resort, take food to make lunch and eat it in your hotel room. Not only will it save you money, but it also gives you a chance to rest away from the crowds.

    Make sure everyone has a sweatshirt, even in the summertime. If your there for just the day you can leave them in the car, or rent one of the lockers.

    Unless a big bag is really necessary, bring a little purse that can hold just the essentials (ID,money,cards,chap stick…etc). You won’t have to worry about where to place the bag while your on rides that way.

    Take advantage of the Fastpass for World of Color. You will end up with some of the best seats.

    Bring extra socks in case they get wet on Splash or Grizzly River. You don’t want to walk around in wet socks (believe me).

    Take advantage of character dinning, like Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. It might cost a bit more, but the kids won’t have to wait in lines to meet and take pictures with their favorite characters…instead they come to you while you eat.

    Don’t do your shopping when the park closes because that’s when everyone does it. Take a break in the middle of your day and do it then. Also go and “window shop” throughout your trip and remember where the items are that you want to buy, that way you can get your shopping done and enjoy the rest of your time in the parks.

  5. Bring one of those new-fangled collapsible plastic BPA-free water bottles. Since it rolls up, it takes up zero space in your luggage, and it shrinks as you drink. If it’s the summer, freeze one overnight in your room before going out the next day and you will enjoy cool water all morning long. Just wrap it in a towel so the condensation doesn’t wet the other things in your bag; or use a caribiner to attach it to your belt.

  6. This is a random one, but something that we’ve used plenty of times. Disney World can get incredibly crowded, and we’ve actually developed shorthand when we start to get separated from each other in the throngs of crowd. For instance, when things get busy, we simply say the word “Goat”, which stands for GO Around Them. This lets us know we’re going to get separated, and we’re going to meet up where we go. It’s not to be rude but efficient.

    It might be fun for kids, and it also saves hurt feelings.

    And a final trip…take advantage of having items shipped back to your room. You can buy, and if you’re staying on resort at Disney World, make sure the items are delivered in your hotel room. You won’t have to worry about it, and there’s a bit of magic waiting for you when you get back.

    I also might be a spreadsheet kind of guy, with closing times, reservations mapped out…but I have to say, I saved over $1,000 on my last trip by taking advantage and doing my research.

  7. This isn’t just for newbies, but for the repeat visitors as well. Don’t dismiss the Disney Vacation Club kiosks that are in every park and have a stand in every resort, especially if you’re planning on returning to Disney World or going to Disneyland. It really saves money in the long run and you not only get to go to any of the Disney theme parks (i.e. Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris/Tokyo/Hong Kong), but you can also take cruises on the Disney Cruise Line, and so many other awesome trips too.

    Also really look into the Disney Dining Plan, especially the quick service and standard plans. You’re basically paying a flat rate per person per night and get to have whatever you want (within reason, and the waiter/waitress at sit-down restaurants will let you know if it’s covered or not).

  8. 1. Wear comfortable walking shoes, nosandals or flipflops. You will feel more energized and less fatigue since you are on your feet all day in variouse terrains in the parks.
    2. Don’t bring your kids till they are at least five years old! I have been to Disney World eight times from the age of four thru two months ago at the age of 30 and I can honsestly say I do not remember my first time at Disney. Taking your kids before age five is less about the kids experience and more about a “Photo-Op” for parents. As you all probably know, little kids do not do well in theme parks and Disney is ment to be an emotional imaginative experience, which can be scary or even boring for little kids.
    3. Put yourself mentally in the story and truly experience each park as if you are in the movie. Walt wanted to make the storys alive and inspire your imagination! Please, allow yourself to go outside your routine and experience each park.
    4. Disney World is not a marathon, “There is more to be seen, than could ever be seen, more to do than could ever be done”, enjoy your experience, but leave room for your next trip, never say you will never be there again!

    1. Love #3, but I have to disagree with #5. It is not just a photo op for the parents, it is enjoying Disney World for what it has to offer you at any age. The older toddler may not remember everything from their 3 year-old visit, but they sure loved it when they were there! If I waited until my daughter was 5, then my son would have waited until he was 9, and he would have missed out on a huge chunk of Disney geared to his age as a younger kid 6-8 years-old, not to mention that my daughter would have completely missed out on Cinderella’s Castle in her “Princess Phase” at age 3.

    2. I have to disagree with #2 as well. We took our daughter to Disneyland her first time at 13 months and she did enjoy herself, was mesmerized during World of Color, and kissed Mickey Mouse on the nose the first time she met him. That trip was a little more for me because it was so amazing to watch her reactions and share something special with her. We took her back to Disneyland last summer when she was 2 1/2. It was a one day trip- we were going to Phoenix and couldn’t resist being so close without taking her. A year later, she remembers every detail of the trip, including what we wore! She looks at the pictures every day and wants to go back. We are planning a trip to WDW in January and she will be 4. (I took my first trip to WDW at 4). I know she may not remember it clearly when she gets older, but she will remember it now. It is building the foundation for her love and passion for Disney in the future- she may not remember specifics but she will remember how she felt when Tinkerbell soared over her head or the anticipation of getting on the plane to go there, or how special she felt when Cinderella called her princess and hugged her.

      Don’t let your child’s age decide for you when you go. Budget, plan, and go when it is right for your family. Enjoy it for what it is, you are making memories and the joy you get as a parent for watching them experience the magic is just as important as them remembering it.

      Now that being said, keep your child’s temperament in mind. My daughter is a viking when it comes to theme parks and can usually make it all day as long as she is well fed. Make sure you budget time for naps or breaks for young kids so they don’t have meltdowns- especially if you are planning to do fireworks or Fantasmic later in the evening. Even a sitdown meal in the middle of the day can help refresh everyone enough for the rest of the day,

      Now this is all coming from a seasoned Disneyland visitor- I haven’t been to WDW since I was 4, so let’s see if my logic holds true on the other coast!

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