First Disney World Vacation
Around the world, visiting Walt Disney World or any Disney Park is synonymous with childhood. Many people are fortunate enough to have their first Disney World trip as a child but some wait and visit Disney World for the first time as adults. Experiencing Disney World the first time as a child or an adult are different but they are both magical experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
Disney World trips are a lot of work so make sure to DO these 11 things on your first Disney World vacation!
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You MUST Plan Ahead
If you’ve never been to Disney before, I would recommend you do some research on the theme parks, Disney resorts, Disney restaurants, and what you want to do on your vacation. At Walt Disney World, there are 6 theme parks, over 26 Disney World resorts, hundreds of rides, and over 100 restaurants. You will need to make a lot of decisions.
The best way to plan for your first time at Disney World is to plan ahead. Create a list of all the things you want to do and see. Also make sure to review Disney World planning guides for crowd calendars and tips to get you started!
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Disney World is Physically Exhausting
Most vacations are relaxing but Disney isn’t that type of vacation! On a typical Disney day, I walk approximately 20,000 steps. This equates to roughly 8 or 9 miles a day. At Disney, you walk a ton and spend lots of time on your feet. Additionally, the Florida heat adds to the exhausting nature of a Disney vacation.
I’ve heard some people actually “train” before their Disney vacation in preparation for the amount of walking. I would just recommend you be prepared and bring some comfy walking shoes! Below are some of my favorite comfy shoes!
I usually bring at least two pairs of comfy shoes to rotate. I wouldn’t bring brand new shoes to Disney though because you’ll most likely get blisters and those are painful!
Visit the Magic Kingdom First
On your first trip to Disney World, you need to visit the Magic Kingdom first. Over the years, you see the iconic Disney castle on social media and TV so it’s an amazing feeling to see the castle for the first time.
The Magic Kingdom is really what Disney World is known for so it’s a great starting place. It’s also home to the most famous rides, attractions, and snacks! The Magic Kingdom truly feels like the most magical place on earth. This magical feeling is something you need to experience first on your Disney World vacation!
Get a Free Souvenir
Everything at Disney Parks is expensive but you can get a free souvenir to commemorate your first Disney World trip. You can get a “First Visit” button. When arriving at your Disney resort or Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom, let a Disney cast member know it’s your first Disney World vacation. They will give you a “First Visit” button.
The key is to wear your “First Visit” button throughout your entire Disney World vacation. Disney cast members will go out of their way to make your visit extra magical. I got engaged on a previous Disney trip and we wore our “Just Engaged” buttons all trip and cast members went out of their way to make our vacation even better!
Watch “Happily Ever After”
Many people think fireworks are overrated especially if they haven’t seen Disney World fireworks. Happily Ever After is the Magic Kingdom’s newest nighttime firework show. Viewing Happily Ever After over the Magic Kingdom castle brings everyone back to their childhood and truly makes you believe your dreams can come true.
Disney World first timers must make time to view Happily Ever After. You come to Disney World for magic and relieving childhood memories and this nighttime show is Disney magic!
Tip – If you want a good viewing spot in front of the castle, make sure to arrive to the Hub area at least 45 minutes before Happily Ever After.
The Characters are Hard to Find
After people visit Disney World, you often see pictures with different Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Peter Pan and many more. But what you don’t know is you actually have to wait in line to take a picture with these characters.
If this is your first Disney World trip, you MUST get a picture with Mickey Mouse. It’s a Disney right of passage to meet the mouse himself. Mickey is located at all the theme parks and many of the Disney resorts so he shouldn’t be hard to track down. If you want to visit Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, he’s located in Town Hall right on Main Street U.S.A.
If this is your kids first time to Disney World, you will probably want to visit many more characters. If you want to meet the princesses, visit Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. The Fab Five are located at the Picture Spot in Epcot. If your family loves Star Wars, meet the Star Wars characters in Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios. And if you like animals, meet Mickey, Minnie, and more in safari gear at Animal Kingdom.
Book Dining Reservations ahead
If your like me, I hate having to plan ahead on vacation. Disney World has over a hundred dining locations so you’ll never go hungry but many of the most popular Disney restaurants require advanced reservations. In the past, you could make Disney dining reservations 180 days in advance but due to the COVID pandemic, you can only make reservations 60 days in advance right now.
Many of the most popular restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Le Celliar, Be Our Guest, the California Grill, and Sci-Fi Dine In Theater book up months in advance. This is why I always recommend Disney World first timers do research ahead of time. Make a list of the Disney restaurants you want to visit and make sure to get a dining reservation ahead of time.
You can reserve ride times ahead of time
Like dining reservations, you can usually book ride times ahead with Disney’s Fastpass System! Due to the ongoing pandemic, Disney World currently isn’t using the Fastpass System but I’m sure it will be reinstated in the future.
Disney’s Fastpass System allows you to book three Fastpasses ahead of time for each day of your vacation. For example, you can book ride times for Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain for your Magic Kingdom park day!
You can book Disney Fastpasses 60 days ahead of time if your a Disney resort guest or 30 days ahead if you are staying elsewhere.
Disney Fastpasses shouldn’t be used lightly and should be used for popular rides or rides with long wait times. For example, Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom typically has wait times over 2 hours. This would be an ideal ride to Fastpass.
Like dining reservations, do your research ahead of time. Make of a list of Disney attractions you can’t miss! These would be ideal rides or attractions to Fastpass on your first time at Disney World!
My Disney Experience App
The My Disney Experience App is a lifesaver for Disney veterans and first time Disney goers. On the My Disney Experience App, you will make Fastpasses, dining reservations and find important information like wait times, park maps, character locations, dining menus and more.
Basically, My Disney Experience is your one stop shop for Disney World. Everything you need for your Disney vacation is located on this convenient app. Make sure to download this app before you visit Disney World for the first time and get familiar with the layout and functions.
While your getting Fastpasses, dining reservations, and looking at park maps, your phone battery runs out much quicker than expected! Make sure to bring several portable phone chargers, I promise you’ll need them!
Leave and come back later
Like I mentioned earlier, a Disney World vacation is both physically and mentally exhausting. My family prefers to leave the park in the afternoon and take a pool or nap break. At Disney World, you can leave the park and re-enter later again that day.
Taking breaks will make your first Disney World vacation more enjoyable and less exhausting. I suggest everyone take breaks while at Disney because it gives everyone a chance to recharge!
While at the pool, make sure to bring some fun pool toys, life jackets, floaties, or inner tubes! Disney pools are fun but they don’t have all the extra’s your kids may want!
It’s a little known fact but Disney does offer some great Disney World park discounts. The Disney World website has a page dedicated specifically for deals, check here frequently for updates! For many Disney World first timers, the Disney price tag can be shocking so make sure to check out these discounts to help your wallet.
Additionally, you can get Disney discounts by using the Disney Visa Card, using Disney gift cards, using military discounts, and using Expedia or Hotels.com for great hotel deals. There are also many less known options for saving a few bucks at Disney World.
The first time you visit Walt Disney World can be overwhelming but the magic you’ll feel standing in the Magic Kingdom will make the planning worth while.
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