Disney World Tips for First Timers
Planning your first trip to Walt Disney World? Check out these Disney World tips for first timers to help make your Disney trip successful.
Use Magic Bands
These fun bracelets are your ticket to EVERYTHING at Walt Disney World Resort. From your hotel key to your park entry, this little wrist band makes the whole experience seamless. You can even connect your credit/debit card to your Magic Band (with a pin number for security) to make paying for food and souvenirs easier too. Magic Bands come in a variety of colors and can be accessorized too. If you want a fun and affordable way to add character to your Magic Band, try adding designs using temporary tattoos! The tattoos will stay on until removed with rubbing alcohol, just make sure you cut the tattoo to fit the width of the magic band and follow the directions for standard application. Here’s a fun tutorial to make your Magic Band sparkly!
Book FastPass+ Reservations
If staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, FastPass+ reservations can be booked up to 60 days in advanced. For regular guests (not staying at a Disney Resort) FastPass+ can only be booked 30 days before your trip. Guests can choose up to three FastPasses+ for one single park. Once you have used your three, you can book one at a time until FastPass+ selections are gone for the day. Each pass provides an one hour window to ride with a very short wait time. Some rides are extremely difficult to secure FastPass+ for (like Seven Dwarves Mine Train or Peter Pan) while others are pretty easy (It’s a Small World or Mad Hatter Teacups).
Check the Crowd Calendar
There is nothing worse than waiting in line. My favorite times to visit Walt Disney World are January through March. This is generally the slowest time of the year and also has the coolest weather (though temperatures can still be rather warm). We try to only plan trips on ‘green’ days. To avoid long lines and heavy crowds, avoid the days marked in red. See the full Disney Crowd calendar we use.
Pack Lots of Snacks
I am hungry ALL THE TIME, and so is my toddler. Going to the park empty handed means spending a lot of money on food. By packing snacks, we are able to eat on the go (in between rides or in line) and save money. While alcohol and glass containers are prohibited, all other food is allowed. Even soft and hard coolers can be brought in the park.
BONUS TIP: Some people suggest asking for water or filling up reusable containers at water fountains. I’ve tried that and the water doesn’t taste great. We always freeze a few bottles to keep the rest of our food cold on hot days instead of wasting cooler space on ice or freeze packs. Or ask for extra ice waters when we stop at restaurants to eat.
Bring a Back Pack
Even if bringing a stroller, it’s important to have a back pack to take with you on rides to hold all of your valuable items. A back pack is easier to carry than a regular diaper bag and is loads more comfortable while standing in line, especially if you’re wrangling a kid or two. It’s great to keep a few extra snacks, drinks or entertainment (think small book or toy) in your bag since strollers are not allowed in line and you may have to wait 45 mins+ for some attractions. Here’s my favorite Disney backpack!
Pack Your Phone Charger (or Back Up Battery)
My phone almost always dies after a day at Walt Disney World. Pack a battery backup to conveniently charge on the go or bring your phone cord and stop by a convenient charging station (often in the shade with plenty of seating) to rest for a bit and recharge (both yourself and your phone). Guest services will also charge your phone for you if you feel comfortable leaving it with them. I always use naptime to grab food and find a free charging station since you can’t wait in ride queues with strollers.
Make a Plan
If it’s your first trip to Disney, don’t go in completely unprepared. Research the park and make a plan of rides, shows and characters you want to meet. Knowing the basic flow of the park is also helpful so you can plan the day accordingly. The maps are all conveniently included in the My Disney Experience app which can be accessed prior to your trip.
Build in Breaks
If you only have one day at Disney, of course you’ll be eager to GO GO GO. However, it’s best to build in break times to recharge. It’s hard to go all day from rope drop to fireworks on your feet and in the Florida heat. We love lounging on the green grass near the castle (hub grass and chill), recharging near the Rapunzel bathrooms or resting in the AC on Carousel of Progress which rarely ever has a long wait time.
Take Lots of Pictures
My brother always says if you don’t have a picture, it didn’t happen. While that may not necessarily be true, you will want loads of pictures to remember your first trip to Disney. Most Cast Members will take a picture on your phone if you ask (even Disney PhotoPass Photographers). If you can splurge, book Memory Maker with your vacation package so that Disney’s talented photography staff will take the photos for you and then scan your Magic Band to upload them directly to your account.
Stick to One Park
If you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, don’t try to park hop. You will waste an hour or more of your day traveling from one park to another. Sticking to one park allows you to fully experience the magic. If you NEED TO combine two parks I recommend Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom and Epcot will both take one full day to complete.
Download the MyDisneyExperience App
This app is so helpful! It lists updated wait times for every ride, show times, character meet and greet times, maps of each park and dining options. It also keeps track of your FastPasses+ and shows you any photos that have been taken by the Disney PhotoPass staff. Did I mention Walt Disney World also has complimentary guest WiFi? Though it tends to get much slower when there’s a ton of people, it generally works well enough to operate the app on a regular basis.
Check the Weather
For people unfamiliar with Florida weather, it is bipolar. It can be 40 degrees at 8am and then 80 degrees by noon. There is almost ALWAYS a chance of rain. Check the weather before you go and plan to dress accordingly. Layering clothes is extremely helpful. If you’re visiting during the hotter months, check out these tips to stay cool at Disney World. Pack an umbrella or disposable poncho (just in case of rain). This is especially useful if you have a stroller since nearly ALL stroller parking is OUTSIDE and UNCOVERED. We always have a poncho packed so in the event of rain we can quickly cover the stroller and head to the nearest indoor ride. If it does rain, check out these tips for surviving a rainy Disney day.
Don’t Forget to Pick Up Your First Time Disney World Button
Park buttons are a fun way to celebrate your trip and they’re FREE! Pick up your “First Visit”, “Happy Birthday”, “Happily Ever After” or “I’m Celebrating” button at the ticket counter, guest services or gift shop at any of the Walt Disney World parks. Celebrating a birthday? Check out all these freebies you can get at Disney!