Visiting Disney World can be very overwhelming, especially for first time visitors. If you’re visiting Disney World for the first time and haven’t had too much time to plan and research, don’t worry! It’s not too late there are many things you can do to have the most magical vacation. So let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations and tips for first time Disney World visitors.
Tips and recommendations for first time Disney World visitors
While Disney World vacations require a lot of planning, even if you haven’t had a lot of time to plan, there are some simple things you can do to make the most out of your trip. At Disney World, little things can go a long way so it’s worth the time to prepare at least a little bit in advance. We’ve compiled advice that should give you the best bang for your metaphorical buck. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please share your tips in the comments!
1. Download and get to know the My Disney Experience App
The first and most important thing you should do before you get to Disney World is to download the My Disney Experience app onto your smartphone. Almost everything you can and need to do at Disney World can be accomplished through the app.
You can book dining reservations, check park hours, attraction wait times, character meet and greets, and much more. But the most important thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the Fastpass+ system. You can book, change, and cancel all your Fastpass+ reservations using the My Disney Experience app. This is one of if not the most important tool to maximize your time at Disney World.
2. Learn the Fastpass+ system and book your first three Fastpass+ reservations
The second thing you should do is to familiarize yourself with the Fastpass+ reservation system. Fastpass+ is a way to drastically reduce your time in line – if you have a Fastpass+ reservation you go into a much shorter queue than the regular “standby” queue.
Here are the basics. You can book three Fastpass+ reservations in advance of your trip starting 30 days before your ticket dates (60 days if you’re staying at a Disney hotel). These three Fastpass+ reservations must be in the same park but after you’ve used those three you can keep adding Fastpass+ reservations one at a time. It’s easiest to do this from – you guessed it – the My Disney Experience app!
We’ve spoken a lot more about the Fastpass+ reservation system and advanced techniques elsewhere, but at a bare minimum make sure you understand the basics. And since your first three Fastpass+ reservations every day need to be in the same park, it’s actually pretty important to decide what day you will visit each park.
3. Choose which days you plan to visit each Disney theme park
One thing that surprises first time visitors to Disney World is how much planning the trip can involve. Disney World actually consists of four different theme parks and two water parks. Because you want to make three Fastpass+ reservations in advance, you actually want to think about which parks you plan to visit on which days.
Some things to consider when you’re choosing your park days. If you are not staying at an on site Disney hotel, you might want to avoid parks that have Extra Magic Hours (when Disney guests get extra time in the park) because those days are often busier. If you ARE on site and have a Park Hopper, you could start with an Extra Magic Hour morning and then hop over to another park. (To figure out Extra Magic Hour days you can, of course, use the app!)
You also might want to decide which parks to repeat visit according to the ages of your kids. Older kids might want to visit Hollywood Studios twice for the thrill rides while younger kids might appreciate Magic Kingdom more.
Finally, be sure to check out crowd calendars, like those at WDW Prep School and Touring Plans.
4. Research attractions to help prioritize
Once again, a little research goes a long way. We recommend researching attractions before you visit and keying in on a few attractions you want to hit. This not only helps you plan your Fastpass+ reservations, but it also can help you to form an itinerary for the day.
Most importantly, by prioritizing attractions you will save yourself time wasted due to indecision. You can also talk with your party about what are MUST dos – and plan accordingly.
5. Get to the parks early!
Even if you don’t get your ideal Fastpass+ reservations, “rope drop covers a multitude of sins”, as Leslie likes to say. Rope drop means getting to the park before scheduled opening time – you often will be let in early and you can beat a ton of lines this way.
We recommend getting to the parks at least a half hour in advance, preferably an hour. The amount of rides you can get done in the first couple hours that the park is open often equals the number of rides you can do for the rest of the day. So wake up early, rope drop, and take a nap in the afternoon.
6. Use Mobile Food Ordering
One last tip – use mobile food ordering! Once again, you can do this through the My Disney Experience app (they don’t pay us, we swear). Mobile Food Ordering can drastically reduce the amount of time you need to wait in line for food.
Just order on your app, even before you reach a restaurant, and then when you arrive click “I’m here, prepare my food.” It’s that easy and you’ll marvel at all the people waiting in line. This is especially useful when you have young kids who might not have the patience to wait for food.
Like we said at the top, this by no means is an exhaustive list of tips and tricks for Disney World. But for first time Disney World visitors, this should get you well on your way to enjoying a magical vacation.
What are your favorite tips for Disney World first timers? Let us know in the comments!
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