Planning a trip to Disney for the first time is no small task. Searching the internet you may stumble across a plethora of information and some it might be conflicting. It’s hard to sort through it all. I spent a lot of time talking to people on Facebook and reading there recaps. These were people that had been on their first, second, and umpteenth trip.
The first thing I noticed after “lurking” online before joining in was a reinforcement of something we all should hopefully already know and understand: What works for you, doesn’t always work for me. But the opinions really mattered! Especially when stepping into the massive experience that is Walt Disney World.
So here are some actual thoughts that I posted Facebook following my first trip. I have only modified them for clarity, not content. These were originally posted in the one of the now-archived Real Disney Planning Groups. Check them out if you’re planning a trip. I found a lot of super helpful info there. Hopefully someone else found/finds what I wrote then and share now to be helpful.
- Eight full days at Disney was perfect. There was time for each park and multiple (necessary) visits to Magic Kingdom. We arrived early on Saturday morning and left late the following Saturday.
- I’m a planner. I had a plan. I had a plan with lots of gaps in it and I went in expecting it to change. It did and there were only two things I missed and I was slightly bummed about. We added several things to our plan as we walked by. We decided not to do some others.
- Even with planning this trip for a year it was like I forgot everything almost immediately. Disney can be overwhelming. There’s a lot going on and a lot to do.
- I appreciated having Touring Plans & Character Locator. I constantly used Touring Plans for wait times. I also checked off items on our to do list. I did NOT necessarily do things in the optimized or listed order.
- After we missed Snow White the first time I learned to love Character Locator to get the times for each character. And when my son said, “I want to meet Peter Pan.” I was able look it up and find a time that would work with our dining reservation. Well worth the few dollars it cost to subscribe.
- Buses were a blessing and a curse. I would not want to drive (and if offsite, pay for parking) and you get dropped off right at the gate so in this respect the buses are a great convenience. They are just inconsistent.
- Not one character meal took us 90 minutes, maybe that’s because my kids were not big at interacting as much as some others. Maybe it’s because we eat fast. Most were done in under 60 minutes. We saw each character at each meal at least one and had some fun with them and several pics.
- I liked having the dining plan (regular) because we did so many character meals, but would likely consider a Quick Service plan in the future and even that is a ton of food. It also worked out for us because we only had to pay for 3 of us. (Daughter is 2.5 years old)
- Renting a stroller from a vendor was much better than bringing my own and gate checking it.
- Amazon pantry delivery for water and a few snacks was perfect. We didn’t need a whole grocery delivery. We were able to pick up milk as part of our meals and use at breakfast.
- Fast passes are great at Magic Kingdom. Everywhere else I sort of used them, but never needed a 4th. Some parks I didn’t even use all 3.
- It’s really important to look at the map when planning fast passes 60 days out and then make logical choices based on location (especially at MK).
- Extra magic hours were awesome. I wish we had used them more, especially morning ones.
- Every kid cries at Disney. It makes you feel better to know your kid is not the only one crying/whining.
- When my kids asked about something, I immediately looked things up on the MyDisneyExperience/TouringPlans/Character Locator or the internet to find a way to make it happen. It was these little things that made the trip so much fun.
- 11:30am was the perfect time for Quick Serice lunch. Nothing was crowded at that time. I never found a great time for Quick Service dinner.
Also, on your first visit, don’t forget to get the cool (free) button pictured above!
My advice from a second visit changes very little. We still haven’t done the Quick Service only dining plan. We did use more FastPasses at parks other than Magic Kingdom. And we used Amazon Now for groceries instead of Prime Pantry. More to come in another post.