Instead of focusing on a specific Disney park like a did with my Magic Kingdom Travel Tips post, I thought that I would dedicate today's post to sharing some of my best tips for Disney World first timers. I already know quite a few people who are heading to Walt Disney World this Summer and for many of them it will be their first visit so that's totally what inspired today's post. I hope you enjoy and as always, if you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below. So here are my ten tips for Disney World first timers;
Plan, plan and plan again
I'm well aware that what you're planning is a holiday and not something like an expedition but Walt Disney World isn't one of those places that you can just turn up to and wing it. This is especially true if you're short on time or want to make the very most of your stay and see and do all that you possibly can while you're there. Whilst you can't take into consideration the weather, even if you can prepare for it as noted in a previous post, I would definitely recommend making a rough draft of what parks you'd like to visit on which days as well as what rides or attractions are must do's for you and your party. That way you can take advantage of your three Fast Passes for the day and make them coincide with where you're heading to that day or night. If you'd like to hear more about how the current Fast Pass system works at WDW, please let me know and I'll dedicate a blog post to it.
Make Advanced Dining Reservations
And as we're on the topic of planning, you can make your dining reservations 180 days in advance, if you're staying on Disney property. I could certainly do a blog post going into more depth about this topic, perhaps alongside the Fast Pass system, if you'd be interested in that but basically you can plan out where you'll be eating during your stay. You can choose between a whole host of restaurants both at the theme parks and the resorts for table-service, quick-service and snacks.
If you're travelling with young children or individuals who don't like particular rides, you can use the Rider Switch Service to make sure that no-one misses out. So for example, one person can wait with the non-rider or riders as the rest of the party go on the ride. When the rest of the party return they can switch with them and head to the front of the line for their go, without having to wait in the regular line.
You can check which rides and attractions offer up the Rider Switch Service either by asking a Cast Member on the day or by checking the website beforehand.
Don't miss the Boardwalk
Despite visiting Orlando, Florida and Disney, many times, one place that has still alluded me that I definitely plan on checking out this time is the Disney Boardwalk. It's a bit of a hidden secret, well at least it was to us until recently yet like Disney Springs, it's completely free to visit. Located between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the beautiful Boardwalk looks like the perfect place to photograph and I'm already planning on taking some outfit posts for the blog when I'm there, weather permitting. It's also home to shops, restaurants, a dance hall, a duelling piano bar and Surrey bikes. It certainly sounds like a bit of a Disney must-see.
Wear in your shoes and get walking before you go
This has to be one of my biggest tips. Don't make the mistake that I did, on more than one occasion and take a brand new pair of sandals, trainers or shoes with you. Even if you're used to walking a fair distance in your native country, do not underestimate the amount of walking you'll be doing when you visit the parks. I always push myself to walk that little bit further than I usually would here at home in the shoes that I'll be taking with me and that way I'm not limping around the parks with blisters and my feet torn to shreds. I actually have a scar on my foot from wearing a pair of $2 flip flops around the parks a couple of years ago so definitely take heed of my cautionary advice here.
Get a wake-up call from a Disney character
If you're staying on Disney property you can arrange for daily wake-up calls during your stay and every so often, you'll be woken up by some of the brilliant and best-loved Disney characters. This is obviously a special touch for any Disney fans, young or old.
A really fun way to commemorate your visit to WDW or any of the Disney parks worldwide, is to get pin trading. You can purchase pins at any of the official Disney stores, along with a lanyard to house them. Once you have a few pins of your own you can then trade them with Cast Members and fellow guests. All you have to do is approach a fellow pin trader or Cast Member and swap pins. That way you can accumulate a collection of great pins as well as having some mementos of your trips to Disney.
Bring an empty water bottle
This might sound like a bit of a random tip but if you plan on shelling out for a bottle of water each time that you're thirsty at the parks the dollars will soon add up and who wants to spend their hard earned spending money on something like water when there's so much to actually spend their money on shopping-wise in Orlando? You can fill up your empty bottle or bottles at any of the water fountains absolutely free of charge. And you can either bring an empty bottle instead of throwing it out or take a dedicated bottle or bottles with you.
Download The My Disney Experience App
There really is an app for everything nowadays so of course Disney would have a dedicated app for everything WDW related. There's so much that you can do on the app. You can access an interactive, GPS-enabled map of WDW, check wait times, find Character meet and greet times and locations, check out your Disney PhotoPass photos and videos and even buy your park tickets on the go.
You can download the app from the Apple app store or on Google Play if you have an Android phone.
Pick up a First Visit badge
And last but certainly not least, make sure to pick up a free 'First Visit' badge if it's your first time visiting WDW. You can either get yours at Guest Services at any of the Disney Parks or Disney Springs or if you're staying at one of the Disney resorts, you will be able to pick one up when you check in. You'll receive even more of a warm welcome than you would already at WDW and Cast Members will really go out of their way to make sure that your first visit is truly magical.
There you have it, my ten tips for Disney World first timers. If you can think of any more or you've been given a great tip that would work for someone else's first visit, please leave them in the comments below. My plan for the next installment in my Orlando, Florida Travel Tips series is to check out and share some of the best deals when it comes to all aspects of the holiday to Orlando, especially as we're nearing the run up to the Summer holidays. I've already found a couple of great deals from Disney operators such as Holiday Genie where prices to Disney World start at £569. As always, let me know what you think of this idea.
Have you ever visited any of the Disney parks either in the US or internationally? If so, what was your first visit like? Who's your favourite Disney character? And what WDW park would you visit first?