Planning a first visit to Walt Disney World can be quite overwhelming. There are 4 parks, 2 water parks, lots of hotels to choose from both on and off site and several types of dining plans!
So here are my top 10 tips for first time visitors:
1. Plan Early – Start planning your vacation as early as you can. I always suggest at least 8-12 months ahead of
time so you can decide on dining and make reservations in advance.
2. Don’t visit during a major holiday week! The weeks of Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are going to be the most crowded. It’s tough to enjoy the parks as a first timer when the crowds are this high.
3. Stay on Disney property! This is a biggy! Disney offers resorts for every budget with value, moderate and deluxe resorts to choose from. When you stay on Disney property you get special amenities other resorts don’t offer such as complimentary transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport via Disney’s Magical Express, early entry into one park each day (only for Disney resort guests!), and transportation to all the parks from your Disney resort. You can also only take advantage of the Disney Dining Plans!
4. Take advantage of one of the three Disney Dining Plans! Food can be expensive so your best value is taking advantage of one of the Disney Dining plans. There is the Quick Service Dining Plan, the traditional Disney Dining plan (most popular) and the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (popular for those who want to make a lot of character dining reservations). New in 2012 – All dining plans include the resort refillable mug which has unlimited refills at your resort food court!
5. Disney offers Extra Magic Hours only to Disney Resort Guests! One park opens an hour early OR one park stays open up to 3 hours late each day! Many people stay late so if you take advantage of morning Extra Magic Hours, chances are you’ll get a lot accomplished in the parks in that hour!
6. If at all possible, stay at a deluxe or moderate resort for your first visit. These resorts will be closer to the parks and have hot tubs near the main pool area for those sore muscles you’re going to have from walking all day.
7. Make advance dining reservations! Disney allows you to make your advance table service dining reservations 6 months prior to arrival. I always recommend making reservations so you get the restaurants you want. Many popular restaurants and character dining experiences fill up fast! So put that phone on speed dial and at 7 a.m. on the 180th day before your arrival, make those reservations!…..OR…. **You can make the reservations online at http://www.Waltdisneyworld.com beginning at 6 a.m. that day!** Be sure you know your confirmation number.
8. Try to stay 7 nights for your first visit. This way you are not feeling rushed with all there is to see and do! If you can’t stay 7 nights, do at least 5.
9. Be sure to get park hopper passes! Disney has park passes that are just the base ticket and they are the cheapest ones. But that pass only allows you into one park each day. Spend the extra money and get a park hopper pass so you can park hop and go back and forth to the different parks. You may not think you’ll use this but if you miss the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom because of rain, you’ll want to go back another night and see them!
10. Learn about Disney’s Fast Pass (which is free!) and use it. It works and is the best way to get on more rides!