Planning a trip to Disney World can not only be expensive but also completely overwhelming! We’ve put together a list of things to avoid while at Disney World so you can just sit back and enjoy your family vacation.
Avoid These Major Mistakes:
Forgetting Sun Screen
Florida is extremely hot and humid during the summer months. Don’t forget to spray your feet if you are wearing sandals. The backs of your legs, hair parts, ears and nose! You can never be too careful!
If you are traveling during the pandemic, you really don’t want lines where your sunglasses and mask meet. Make sure to pack your sun screen in your park bag so you can reapply throughout the day.
Not packing extra masks
During the pandemic, we are all required to wear face masks 24/7 while on Disney properties. Don’t forget to pack extra masks, you will need a clean one for each day you are there. Also, make sure to pack a spare or two in your park bag just in case some one gets their mask wet or loses it on a ride. To see what masks we like the best in the parks, check out our Mask Review.
Not having some kind of plan before you leave your home is a terrible idea. Its essential to build a plan before you reserve you Fastpasses and dinner reservations. You don’t want to reserve your Fastpasses for Hollywood Studios when you will be at the Magic Kingdom all day.
You will also want to try to make your dining reservations to synch with the park or resorts that you will be near. This way you aren’t making a mad dash to a different resort or park. We tried this, its not fun and is super stressful if you don’t time it correctly.
Not Booking Your Fastpasses
Fastpasses are now a must! Some rides during the summer can get up to a 4 hour wait! Make sure to hop on and reserve your Fastpasses the moment you are able. To see how Fastpasses work, check out our complete Fastpasses guide. We have also put together a separate list for our must-have Fastpasses, those passes are always the first ones to sell out and have the longest wait times.
Not Making Dining Reservations
Disney World houses some of the greatest restaurants we have ever had the pleasure of tasting. They have some top notch restaurants both inside the parks and at the resorts. The restaurants that seem to book the fastest are Cinderellas Castle, The Beauty and The Beast Castle and most character meals in general.
Make sure, just like your Fastpasses that you reserve your dinner reservations as soon as possible. If you cant get a reservation for the date or time that you want, consider eating there for lunch or try for a different day. We have also been able to check back closer to our travel date and modify it to a more suitable time.
Not doing rope drop or at least as close to as possible. Not taking advantage of the cool mornings and lighter crowds is a huge mistake. On long summer days, we like to rope drop and then head back to our resort to swim or nap mid day. We then go back to the parks later when its cooled down and the crowds have again started clearing out for dinner, and the young kids go to bed.
In the summer Disney likes to extend their hours to 12:00am, its so nice when the crowds dies down and the sun isn’t beating down on you!
Wearing Old Worn Out Shoes or New Shoes
Make sure you pack your most comfortable shoes with you. If you are getting new shoes, which I highly recommend since yo will be walking so much. I would plan on breaking them in at least 3 months in advance. I also would recommend taking at least 3 different pairs of shoes with you. This may seem like a lot, but you will be walking from morning to night. Trust me, you will want to switch up your shoes and your feet will thank you!
If you choose to take your old worn out shoes with you that’s fine, just make sure you take some spare shoes with you. I personally take 3 pairs of Nikes, 1 pair of Tieks, 1 pair of comfy sandals and 1 pair of Brooks running shoes because they have extra arch support. AND I buy a new pack of moister wicking socks for every trip, I like the extra padding brand new socks give my feet.
Traveling During The Holidays Is The Worst!
I know, the kids have it off and all you want to do is plan the greatest vacation ever, and that’s great but expect large crowds. Holidays and summer breaks are the busiest you will ever see Disney parks. If you decide to travel during the holidays I highly recommend checking out Undercovertourist.com crowd calendar before you go, its always pretty spot on!
Remember that Disney puts up the Halloween and Christmas decorations early, so if you want to see the Christmas decorations I would check out the first and second week of November. These seem to be somewhat slow weeks compared to the rest of the Christmas season.
Not Budgeting For Souvenirs
This can be the worst let down ever. We normally give our kids a budget, and let them know exactly how much they have to spend before we even leave the house. Try to keep everyone on budget, but don’t cut corners so much that its making everyone miserable. I would make a budget and then set another couple hundred aside for those one offs that might occur. This will give you a little cushion for spending.
Not Packing What’s Needed
Forgetting to pack everything you need can be also be the worst. There’s nothing more nerve wrecking than trying to remember and pack everything that’s needed, and then getting to your resort and realizing you still forgot it. I usually making a packing list for every person in the house hold and have them pack their own bags. Yes, I do go through their bags and repack them, to make sure they have everything they need and to unpack unnecessary items.
One year my son packed a couple of outfits and then proceeded to feel the rest of his bag with transformers. Each pocket also had a hot wheel stuffed in it! But allowing them to pack themselves not only teaches them how to pack but what’s need and what isn’t, how to follow directions, and most of all it makes them feel like they are helping.
My kids are now teens, I can make a list and I very rarely have to go through and take things out or add anything to their bags. I’m quite certain they can not only pack their bags but also navigate through the airport on their own, including security. This is pretty impressive considering some adults have yet to perfect this!
Not Using Disney Transportation
Disney provides transportation to and from Orlando International for free, The Magical Express. They also provide free transportation to and from all of the parks via Bus, Ferry, Monorail, Skyliner and of course walking just depending on what resort you stay at.
This eliminates the need to rent a car, pay parking fees, take a taxi or Uber. Thus saving you money! Don’t know what The Magical Express is? That’s okay, we go over everything you need to know in our How to use Disneys Magical Express article.
I know the hopper passes are more expensive but they are worth it! The only time I recommend not purchasing hopper passes is if you are in a really tight pinch. Not purchasing hopper passes can save you quite a bit of money. With Disney’s extended hours its nice to spend half a day at one park, and then spend the rest of your day riding all of your favorite rides in a different park.
Transportation can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes between parks just depending on what transportation you use and what parks you are trying to visit. This last trip we weren’t able to park hop due to the pandemic and it was a real bummer. It was the one change I missed the most!
You Didn’t Bring Extra Luggage For Souvenirs
I always recommend taking an extra bag or suit case with you just to bring home and stow all of the extra souvenirs in. We started doing this for our trips to Disneyland because we would always stock up on our favorite items while at the parks. You may not have extra room in your luggage for anything extra, I know I don’t! Lol but I am an over packer I love to have outfit options!
Being Too Frugal and ONLY Focusing On How Much This Trip Is Costing You
I completely understand traveling on a budget, I’ve stayed in a lot of motels in my travel to cut back on expenses. Staying in the roach motel is not ideal, but we’ve all done it! Luckily Disney’s value resorts are much better than most resorts in their price range. Its always important to make a budget and try to stick to it. This is why I really like the dining plan, it makes you feel like an all inclusive trip and helps me stay on budget.
There’s just something relaxing knowing that you don’t have to set money aside for food. If you decide to pack in your own snacks and meals, I highly suggest using Amazon fresh to have your groceries delivered straight to your resort. There are many ways to cut corners on expenses, but please don’t buy something just because its not in the budget. The only reason why I say this is, I passed up the perfect bracelet 6 years ago and I have regretted it every year since. So, with that being said don’t pass up on something special if you can help it.
Not Allowing Enough Time To Shop
So this one is something I have yet to master! I feel like every time we go to the parks, I never allow myself enough time to shop! Epcot is the worst, there is just so much to look at. With all of the different countries and shops, I never allow myself enough time to really slow down and take it all in.
I usually get stuck in the China and Japan pavilions for way too long. If you have the chance to stop into the Japan pavilion, make sure to set some money aside to do the pick a pearl. There is so much to see in all of the parks, but shopping is a good way to take a break in the air conditioning.
Forgetting To Take Breaks and Let Your Feet Rest
There are plenty of areas throughout the parks to rest on benches in the shade. There are also a lot of shows you can watch in an air conditioned area while you rest your feet. You can also take a break mid day to go back to the resort to swim or take a nap. Heat exhaustion is a real thing. Take a break and grab a water bottle, your feet and body will thank you.
Not Exercising Before Your Vacation
No I don’t mean hitting the gym every day and lifting weights but if you are like me and have a desk job, your feet will not be used to standing all day. I recommend breaking in your new shoes by going for daily walks and purchasing a stand up desk. This actually helped me out a lot. As much as you train and walk or stand, your feet will still hurt just not as much.
Believe me, the Florida humidity and heat will make your feet and fingers swell. To help ease your future foot pain, try to walk further and further each week up until you leave. The average person walks 10 miles while on their Disney vacation, so keep that in mind!
Planning Too Much
This is a thing… Trust me! You will see parents get frustrated with their kids, spouses and family because they aren’t sticking to the plan, or someone is not getting their way. Its good to have a plan, I like to call them rough drafts. You put together a rough draft of how you would like your days to go but remember with rough drafts, nothings set in stone. Its okay to stray off the plan path to get a snack, wave to a princess or even get in line for a ride with a short line. Don’t make your family or yourself miserable by stressing about sticking to the plan.
Waiting In Line For Food and Not Using The Mobile App
Disney has made an awesome app that allows you to order your quick service meals right from the app. This will eliminate more standing in lines! All you have to do is down load the app, click on mobile ordering, and pull up the menu for the restaurant you would like to eat at. From there, you can order and pay for your meal even while you are standing in line for a ride! Then, you simply let them know when you are on your way to the restaurant and they will start preparing your meal. By the time you get to the restaurant you will receive a notification telling you exactly where to pick up your food at. We usually send the kids to look for a table to sit at while the adults pick up the food.
Not Watching The Weather Before You Go
Keep an eye on the weather. Florida goes from hot to cold or sunny to rainy in the blink of an eye! Make sure you are prepared for all of the changes that come your way. I make sure that everyone packs a jacket and a pair of pants just in case we get caught in a storm. Florida nights can also get pretty cold!
Not Looking Into What Your Resort Has To Offer
All of Disney’s resorts have free activities and fun for everyone in the family. Check in with front desk for an activity schedule. You can also go on Disney Worlds website and see all of the amenities every resort has to offer. We utilize the chat feature to ask every question possible so we can experience all the fun imaginable.
Paying Full Price For Tickets and Resorts
Our family motto is, never pay full price. Why? We like to save as much money as we can we can spend more shopping! Disney World runs specials all the time for both their resorts and the dining plan.
The resorts usually go on sale 6 months out from your desired date of arrival. Right now (October), Disney is running their resort discounts for travel between January and April. They usual discount is 35% off of Deluxe resorts and villas, 25% off of Moderate resorts and 20% off of Value resorts.
The free dining plan promo usually is only available for travel later in the year. The release dates varies. We did do the math and during the free dining plan promo, it really is free. You can use any other discounts with it, but in the end for a family of 4 it would save us over $1000. If you don’t want the dining plan, I would go for the resort discount instead.
If you don’t want to book your resort through Disney directly, that’s fine too. Some of the 3rd party travel websites can also give you the same deal. We like to use Hotels.com because for every 10 nights you book, they give you a night free. We travel quite a bit, but last year we accumulated 3 free nights that I used towards our vacation in Cancun. So that’s just something to keep in mind with them.
For discount tickets I usually use Undercovertourist.com I like and trust their services. I use them for both Disney World and Disneyland. They also have discount tickets for quite a few additional theme parks, including Universal Studios.
Not Taking Advantage Of Merchandise Pickup and Drop Off
One of Disney Worlds best kept secrets is their merchandise pick up and drop off. What is this? You can either send your purchases to the front of the park for pick up when you’re done with your day. Or, you can have your merchandise sent straight to your resort if you are staying at a Disney resort!
This is awesome because you wont have to try to shove all of you souvenirs in the bottom of the stroller, worry about them getting stolen or have to hold them all day. Disney is all about ease!
If you purchase something large that cant travel back with you, like a Samurai Sword (yes you read that right). Disney can make arrangements to have them sent via UPS right to your home.
Is there anything we missed on this list? What were your biggest mistakes on your last trip to Disney World?