When the #DisneySMMC invitation hit my email inbox, I knew my family and I were in for a magical treat. Both my husband and I had not been to Disney World since we were young teenagers, and we were waiting for the day when we felt it was good to take our girls.
That day came sooner than we planned! We thought we wanted our girls to be older. However, little did we know that this was perfect timing for our family to experience this kind of trip. (One thing I learned is that there is no right or wrong time to take your kids – there is something for everyone at Disney World!)
We decided to arrive three days before the conference so we could visit the parks on our own time without having to rush. I’m so glad that we did because it felt we literally did it all!
While I am no Disney expert whatsoever, I definitely learned some great tips on our first time to Disney World as adults with our own children. Here are 10 Disney World tips for first timers that I learned on this trip!
10 Disney World Tips for First Timers
1. Don’t let the overwhelming aspect of Disney overwhelm you.
Just thinking about planning a Disney World trip is overwhelming. Then there’s a lot of “Disney freaks” out there. In fact, I think I just became one of them (haha!). They know all the things, have all the matching shirts and ears, plan everything 180 days out from their trip, have all the pins, all the swag, and seem to do it all perfectly. Don’t let that deter you from planning an awesome vacation with your family. You are going to have an amazing time! You don’t need matching ears to enjoy a trip. I didn’t want to pay $20 a pop for ears so I made my own!
2. Ask the Disney experts for help.
I’m sure you have friends that visit Disney frequently. They are a great resource for help! I was lucky to have a few friends walk me through my plans. I was super overwhelmed by planning everything, and luckily my friend Channing came to the rescue. She sat down with me and helped me schedule our Fast Passes and walked me through it all. I’d also recommend going through a Disney travel planner because they are super knowledgeable and helpful. Using a Disney travel planner is free for you to use and you are not paying inflated prices. They help you plan your itinerary out and take a lot of the stress off! They also have great tips and are Disney lovers. If you’re looking for someone, hit up my friend Stephanie from Traveling Ears. Tell her I sent you!
3. Rent a stroller, even if your kids aren’t stroller age anymore.
I didn’t want to lug a stroller through the airport, so I rented one in Orlando. It’s far more expensive to rent per day in the parks, so go with an off-site rental company. There are a ton of rental companies, and they deliver directly to your hotel. After my research, I found that Baby Wheels Orlando was the cheapest. I made the mistake of getting a single stroller, and both of the girls fought over it the first two days in the parks. Baby Wheels Orlando was completely out of strollers (holiday weekend), but luckily Magic Strollers came to the rescue and delivered us a double stroller. It was a lifesaver in the parks. My kids are 3 and 6 and heavily relied on it.
4. Plan for a lot of travel time and walking.
I mentioned before that you do a lot of walking in Disney, and a great pair of broken in sneakers are key. Also, it just takes a lot of time to travel to and from and around the parks. Give yourself an hour to and from the park to the hotel. This is especially important if you have a Fast Pass or meal reservation.
5. The magic of Disney can happen on the fly.
If you didn’t get to plan as much as you hoped, don’t let that bum you out. Disney World is special and so much fun can happen without much of a plan. You can say “we’ve got a few extra hours, let’s go to Epcot!” and do it. Let that strict itinerary fly out the window. Allow yourself some breathing room! You also don’t need meal reservations for everything. Restaurants open up last-minute and you can always hit up one of the many quick service restaurants.
6. The My Disney Experience app is your friend.
I didn’t plan a lot of meals out in advance, and I don’t even know why. I think it was because I was so overwhelmed and didn’t realize some people book their meals 180 days in advance. Crazy town. Everything worked out great, though. I used the My Disney Experience app to order food and skip the long crazy lines at quick-service restaurants. It’s especially nice when you want a Dole Whip and don’t want to wait in the long line. The app is also great to check out wait times for rides and attractions. We went on a particularly busy week, and felt that we didn’t have too many long wait times. It’s all about checking the app and utilizing your fast passes. We were pleasantly surprised!
7. Don’t stress out if you forget something.
You’re going to Orlando, not a remote area of the world. You can get literally anything you may have forgotten. There’s Amazon Prime Now. Also, if you end up not bringing enough clothes, you can do laundry at most Disney hotels.
8. Get all of the fun pictures out of the way at the beginning of the day so you can enjoy the rest at your leisure.
Since I am a blogger, photos are very important to me. Not to mention, Disney is something you will always remember, so having great photos are special! Set low expectations but just try and get it done as soon as you get to the parks. Everyone is excited at the beginning of the day, so get the kids to pose and take as many family pictures as you can before you enjoy the rest of your day.
9. Bring your own water and snacks.
Everything in Disney World is expensive, so stocking up on snacks and bottled water on your own is key. You can use Amazon Prime Now to get it all delivered directly to your hotel – no need to pack any of this in your suitcase. My friend Channing told me about Garden Grocer, which is another option for grocery delivery.
10. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do Disney.
There are so many blogs, forums, videos, etc. that will give you the “best tips” or tell you the “right way” to plan your vacation. Some people say that your kids need to be a certain age to enjoy the trip, but what I’ve found is that it really is for everyone. At the end of the day, the vacation you plan is the best vacation you’ll have. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You’re a rockstar for taking your family!
I hope you found this helpful! As I said, I am no expert whatsoever, but I really learned so much on my first trip as an adult with kids. I hope it encourages you to take your first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth!