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Despite being the most magical place on Earth, there are a lot of mistakes to be made at Disney parks.
As a guest and a cast member, I’ve seen people making a lot of completely-avoidable mistakes. Here are some things you’re probably doing wrong that may be ruining your Disney vacation.
Going during the peak season
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Scheduling your trip in the summer or during any holidays will not only cost you more money, but it will seriously impact the quality of your trip. Lines are longer. People are grumpier. And the Florida heat in July is no joke.
Generally, the least crowded and cheapest times to visit are January – February and August – September, with the exception of Martin Luther King Day and Labor Day.
Skipping the shows
The kids in your group (and probably some of the adults) will be focused on the rides, which is totally understandable. But don’t skip out on the shows.
Disney has some incredible shows, parades, and street performances that will blow your mind. It’s also a good idea to plan for a show after lunch. An air conditioned show like Animal Kingdom’s “Finding Nemo – The Musical” will be a refreshing 40-minute break.
Indulging in ALL the sweets
From the churros to the ice cream to the Mickey waffles to the Dole Whips to the … well, you get the point. The sugary treats are everywhere, and they are tempting. But as someone who’s suffered more than her fair share of sugar crashes at Disney, I must warn you to indulge sparingly.
Bringing some extra non-sugar snacks with you and having a good serving of protein with your meal will be a lifesaver.
Not preparing for the rain
It is a fact of summer in Florida that around three or four in the afternoon, it will rain. Yet it still comes as a surprise to a lot of people. Bring ponchos. Plan a show or meal for that time. Don’t let the rain ruin your time, because it’ll just be back the next day.
Missing rope drop
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Every morning at Magic Kingdom, there’s a “rope drop” ceremony that welcomes you to the park. I won’t spoil all the details, but it’s honestly the perfect way to start your day. It doesn’t change much from day to day, so you should only worry about seeing it once during your trip.
Being there at opening, which is usually 9 a.m., will also help you make it to your first ride before the line. But NO RUNNING PLEASE.
Wearing the wrong shoes
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Spending a day in a Disney park is a lot like a day of hiking, but you’ll see a lot of people in sandals or flip-flops. With the amount of walking you’re about to do, those just won’t cut it. Make sure you wear supportive sneakers or other shoes that you know can help you make the trek.
And when you see people struggling in non-athletic shoes, you’ll be glad you dressed appropriately.
Not making advanced dining reservations
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Disney has effectively made it so that you absolutely have to make dining reservations in advance. These ADRs open up 180 days ahead of time, and some of the more popular restaurants will fill up that day.
Make sure you visit the WDW site to see what’s available and book online. Six months before will give you the most options but just shoot for making them as soon as you can.
Spending all your time in the parks
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Obviously the parks are the main event, but there are so many other things to do at Disney. Plan some time to enjoy the entertainment and activities at your resort or any others, explore Disney Springs, play mini golf, etc.
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, catching Yehaa Bob Jackson at Port Orleans, and fireworks viewing at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill (no reservations needed to visit the bar) are all great options if you have some time.
Scheduling your FastPass wrong
The days of walking up to a ride and getting a paper FastPass are long gone. Now, these time-saving features need to be scheduled, you guessed it, in advance. Using your MyDisneyExperience app, you can make up to three FP+ selections before you arrive.
Once those three are gone, you can schedule another. Be sure to think about your selections though. If your lunch reservation is at 12:00 pm in the Germany pavilion of Epcot, you don’t want to rush through your meal to make a 12:45 pm FP+ on the other side of the park.
Ignoring a park
As a cast member, I often had to sell people on the Animal Kingdom when they thought it was a glorified zoo or convince others that Hollywood Studios did actually have rides for kids. Those parks don’t have quite the reputation of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but they’ll add so much fun to your trip.
Not planning enough time for Epcot
It cannot be overstated how big Epcot is. The first half of the park is dedicated to learning, technology, and space, while the second half is a showcase of different countries’ cultures. To walk around the whole area is about 2.78 miles, and that doesn’t include any crisscrossing you’re likely to do. This park is at least a full day, maybe more if your kids are really into the content. Make sure you plan ahead