There are so many things to know when planning a vacation to Walt Disney World. Even veterans learn something new every visit. Educating yourself before your very first trip can be a daunting task. Here are just 5 things to remember before you begin your big vacation.
1. Sunscreen. Always.
Yeah, sunscreen seems pretty obvious on a Disney vacation but did you know that you still need that sunscreen in the cooler winter months? The Christmas holiday season is the busiest of the year. While you might be bundling up in layers at home, it's easy to forget that you'll need to lather up with some sunscreen when you start a day in the parks.
2. You Can't Do it All
The old adage is true, you can't do it all. Not in one day, not in one week, more than likely not in two weeks. There is a lot of things to do at Walt Disney World. Between the parks, resorts and everything in between you could have an entirely different vacation than someone visiting at the exact same time. And that's not a bad thing.
If this is your "once in a lifetime trip" then you will want to do a little research on what your party will respond to the most. If you're traveling with small children, prioritize characters and slow rides. If traveling with teens, prioritize the thrill rides and late night activities. If a future trip is possibly in the cards, don't sweat it. Having something new to look forward to in the years to come makes coming back all the more enjoyable.
3. Make Dining Reservations
One of the most notable parts of any Disney trip is the food. We've all heard the rave reviews of the Be Our Guest Restaurant. That dream of eating in Beast's castle will quickly turn into a nightmare when you and your family waltz up with no reservation. Nearly all year round the hottest restaurants on property are impossible to get a table at without a dining reservation 180 days out. I don't know what I want for lunch, much less 180 days away but those are the tough choices you'll have to make.
If you can't get that ever illusive reservation for Be Our Guest or the Boathouse there are plenty of other places to eat on property. So even if you can't get that dream reservation you might just find a new favorite somewhere you never thought of before.
4. Choose Your Park Wisely
Time is extremely valuable on a Disney vacation. The last thing you want to do is gear your entire party up for a day at the Magic Kingdom only to find that there is a special event or party going on and you can't stay without an additional ticket, which also happens to be sold out.
There are many other variables that go into planning the most productive day. Which parks have extra magic hours? Which park should I make my first FastPasses at? If I'm going to park hop which order should I visit the parks? Those questions can be answered by deciding what you'd like to do then checking Disney's calendar to see if it is even possible. If one day won't work for you plans maybe the next day could work or be even better.
5. Pace Yourself
It's Florida. It's hot. If you and your party are not used to extreme heat then make sure to schedule plenty of rest breaks and stay hydrated. Disney will even give you free cups of ice water if you ask at most counter service restaurants. Even if the weather is nice you will be doing more walking than you are most likely used to. I average 8-10 miles a day when visiting.
If you plan attractions that are close to one another and intersperse outdoor rides/queues with slow and cool dark rides and shows you'll have a much easier day. If you have younger ones in your group take time to go back to your hotel and go in the pool. Some of my most memorable moments on vacation are the ones where we took it slow and stopped to smell the roses.
Do you have any tips for the first time traveler?