First-Timers Learn Hard Truths About Disney World

in Walt Disney World

Two little girls walk toward the disney castle, being photographed by a woman in mickey ears. All carry balloons.

Credit: WDW News

Whether you’re five, fifteen, or fifty, there’s no forgetting your first time visiting a Disney Park. Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort have been the source of magic and joy for generations of Guests, and they’ve since become beloved traditions for millions. However, there’s a world of difference between planning your trip and following through.

Adult and young Guest at Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

A first-time Disney trip can be wonderful, but it tends to be the most flawed. Sometimes things go according to plan, but that’s different from the majority outcome. Fortunately the Disney fanbase is always eager to come together to make sure everyone has a marvelous and magical time.

Doing Disney World the Right Way

Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Going to Disney World is a marvelous occasion, and it can be dangerously easy to get swept up on the fun side of things that it can cause more practical thoughts to be pushed to the wayside. In the famous words of Dr. Seuss, “it’s fun to have fun, but you’ve got to know how. Packing the essentials and having a plan can keep a day at Disney from being an absolute disaster.

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A recent post on r/WaltDisneyWorld asked the question, “What’s One WDW Thing You Had to Learn the Hard Way?” and hundreds of fans responded with their various war stories of their erroneous trips. While no Disney trips are the same way twice, it does help to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Some commenters posted obvious tips like packing extra sunscreen, planning for rain, and so on. However, there are plenty of comments that even us seasoned Disney Park Guests never thought about.

Your Resort Matters

Grand Floridian Resort, exterior aerial shot
Credit: Disney

u/IamNotYourMouse begins the thread by stating,

“I am never EVER staying off park property again. You miss so much and so many benefits from even a basic room. That Best Western was junk…”

The user is absolutely right, staying at a Walt Disney World hotel or resort can drastically improve your trip. Regardless of where you hang your Mickey ears at night, different resorts have different perks. Although all of them have complementary early entry and transportation, they all offer different additions depending on where you stay.

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If you’re a gung-ho Park-Hopper, stay at the All-Star Resorts. If you’re looking for a staycation, splurge a little and go to one of the moderate or value hotels like the Caribbean Beach or Grand Floridian resorts.In the end, it really depends how long you want to stay in the actual Parks.

Be Prepared to Wait

A crowd of people at a Disney Park
Credit: u/mjh2901

Regardless of whether or not you’ve purchased a Lightning Lane, you will be waiting. Whether that’s for a popular ride like Big Thunder Mountain, meeting Mickey at the Main Street Theater, or simply grabbing a corndog at Casey’s Corner, there will always be lines for something. It’s a cold hard truth that everyone just has to accept.

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There are plenty of things to wait for across Disney property, but the most prominent example are the queues for Disney’s Character Meet and Greets.

u/zeebs758 writes,

“Character meet and greet lines are deceiving. They may look short but the wait is a lot longer than it looks.”

To which u/drRATM responds,

“Absolutely. We still laugh/b**** about the “short line to meet Joy and Sadness “ from years ago. Kids ended up laying on floor practically asleep. Years later we jumped in line to meet Sully because the line looked short. Misery ensued.”

And u/lilrongal replies,

“I didn’t know that 25 mins meant an hour till I got in standby for Rapunzel and Tiana…”

It should also be noted that the wait times posted above Meet and Greets and attractions are not always the most accurate. While they can definitely be longer than advertised, they have also been frequently shorter, at least in this writer’s experience. Even so, waiting is a part of the entire Disney Park experience.

The Importance of Breaks and a Resort Day

Girls Swimming Under Water
Credit: ITM

We’re more than willing to admit that we’ve made this mistake more times than we care to admit, but sometimes it’s always best to pace yourself over the course of your Disney trip. While we’re all guilty of going full Disney Rambo and trying to do all four major Parks at once, making time for a break can definitely improve your experience.

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Many Disney Park Guests agree that breaks full resort days at the Parks can be insanely beneficial, especially if resort-hopping is on the table. Sometimes a little RnR can go a long way at the place where dreams come true.

u/phamio23 writes,

“Breaks/downtime out of the parks can save a whole trip. Each of the trips my family took together when I was younger, we went full-send. We did full days in the park for 6 days straight… e wound up exhausted at the end of the week and the drive home back up the east coast was brutal. Nowadays, we like to take one break day for every two full days in the parks. Those days are just for resort exploring or casually going to Downtown Disney. It keeps the energy up for the whole trip and we’re able to enjoy everything a lot more.”

And u/SpaceAzn_Zen adds,

“I know people think it might be a waste of money, but people should NEVER skip a resort day for every 2-3 days at the parks. A day of doing nothing but sitting by the pool or resort hoping to check places out does wonders to help people reset from go go go.”

Let the Sun Shine

Cinderella Castle at sunset
Credit: Disney

Yet another mistake even veteran Disney Park Guests forget on occasion is the importance of staying hydrated. They don’t call Florida the sunshine state for nothing, and temperatures rising 80 degrees and above can easily put a damper on a day at the Magic Kingdom. Although there are several shady spots hydration station scattered throughout the Parks, never underestimate the power of a water bottle and sunscreen.

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u/Snuffy1717 posts,

“As a Canadian who has visited Disney in the Summer many times, this 1000x over… Huge difference in both the intensity of a sun higher in the sky and the length of time it’s up…”

And u/RickGrimesBeard23 replies,

“And the sun in Florida is just different from other parts of the country, especially if you’re coming from a more northern spot. I have never once in my life applied sunscreen to my legs, they just never burned and struggled to even tan. Two days in Florida and my legs burn for the first time ever.”

Moreover, many Disney World Guests had different takes on the water situation in the Parks. While there’s little to do about the temperature, there are more than a few ways for visitors to stay hydrated as they make their way through.
“I trained as an EMT and got caught up in my own childish fun at HS and forgot to hydrate and ended up feeling sick the rest of the day.”

And u/darkenedmalachi adds,

“And, as a supplement, you can get free ice water everywhere. It might be swamp tap, but it’s cold and free.”

Guests pass out from heat stroke or exhaustion at Disney World all the time, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking time go get out of the sun and get a good drink of water can be an absolute lifesaver on your next trip.

The Dangers of Disney World Crowds

Mickey, looking confused, in a large crowd of people at the Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

It’s no secret that crowds can be a huge factor in any Disney trip, no matter how well-planned. Mickey greets hundreds, if not thousands, each day. No matter what time of year you go, you’re goning to be absolutely swamped at one point or another, and they can do some truly ridiculous things.

u/Jiveaintgotnobrains bluntly yet aptly writes,

“Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public”

While that might sound a bit harsh, mob mentality is indeed a thing and it’s ruined many a Disney vacation. Our psychology changes whenever we’re in a large group of people, and it’s definitely had some less-than-savory results.

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u/SunflowerSerpent better addresses this factor when they reply with their first-hand example,

“I’ve noticed people don’t read signs or listen to cast members at all. There are people that will stand in the lightning lane line who don’t have a return time because it’s the longer of the two lines and then are surprised when they can’t go in that way.”

Guests can do some truly crazy things, and that seems to be amplified any time an enormous group of people get on Disney property. Disney Park Guests can be capable of some cringe-worthy acts, try to avoid getting sucked in if you want to visit again.

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios
Credit: Disney

There is no one right way to take a Disney World vacation and rarely does everything go according to plan, but that shouldn’t prevent any Guest from enjoying their visit. Cast Members, guidelines, and regulations are all there for a reason. All you really have to do to enjoy your stay is use common sense and have a plan. A lesson lived is better than one told.

What have you learned after visiting the Disney Parks? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!



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