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Tips For Your First Walt Disney World Vacation

Updated: Nov 4, 2023


Photo Credit: hercampus.com


I’ve always wanted to go to The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL and in 2015, I was able to pull the funds together, make a down payment and plan my first Walt Disney World vacation. It was me, my 14-year-old daughter and my 60-year-old mother. I had no clue on what to do, where to go, how to plan any of this. I watched shows like The Middle, which had a Walt Disney World episode, I read blogs, watched Youtube videos and spoke with friends and family who’ve done this before. I even made a vacation binder with a touring plan and scheduled every minute of our vacation. I was OBSESSED with planning my vacation. Then we went and what do you know, I never opened the binder, it never even left my suitcase. We just followed the plan on which park had magic mornings and had fun at the parks!! These tips are based on my learning curve. I have experimented with different touring plans, different rest days and park days, played with different length of stays but these are what have stayed consistent throughout planning all my trips. Hope this works for you, but if it doesn’t, it’s okay, you will find what works for your family and remember to have fun.


Plan Your Vacation

When are the crowds low? When is hurricane season? Can we pull the kids out of school or should we go during a school break? These are only some questions to ask when planning a WDW vacation. Maybe you want to go during the summer, except the heat is overwhelming and the crowds are at their peak, but that’s the only time the family can go together. Maybe you decide to go after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, because the crowds are low, but can the kids be out of that school that long, especially with winter break being right around the corner…which ever you choose, pick a time that’s right for your family with the lowest risk. I’ve been during spring break in April, in November, during Wine and Dine Marathon and in early January, right after New Year’s during the WDW Marathon. Spring Break was crowded and hot, November was less crowded but still hot…January was my “mama bear”…just right!! It was cold and not crowded..in fact too cold..So, I bought a jacket!! PERFECT!!


Choose a Resort

What helps you decide in choosing that right resort for your vacation? After all, this will be your home away from home for the next 7-14 days (or however long your vacation will be). I started by logging on to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com and filled in the blanks to “price my vacation.” From there, I chose the resort with the lowest price that will fit my family dynamic. If it’s Mom and Dad, Sister and Brother and everyone gets along, then I would choose 1 room with 2 Queen beds. Are you going to spend a lot of time at the resort/room or will you and your family be at the parks all day and be at the resort to just sleep? Whichever it may be, check each hotel that fits your budget and plan accordingly. Remember, you still have many things to spend your money on. We have been loyal to and stay at POP Century every time we go to WDW. We never go with any more than 3 people, sometimes 2, and it’s the perfect resort. It’s not too big and sprawling where we have to walk so far to get to the lobby or to bring food from the resort restaurant back to our room. It just got refurbished a couple of years ago, so the rooms are pretty new and modern. It just feels weird to stay anywhere else for us. If you’re interested in the POP Century Resort, click HERE for more information.


Decide How Many Park Days

Next step is how many parks days is everyone going to be able to tolerate? Take it from me (I’ve done it) Doing all 4 resorts every day for 4 days from Rope Drop to Closing sounds epic in your mind and paper, but it’s tiring, overwhelming and completely unrealistic!! I mean, it can be done, don’t get me wrong, but you’re going to sacrifice your sanity and your feet. By the end of the day on your 2nd Park day, everyone is grumpy from lack of sleep and annoyed by everyone else!! Truth. Learning from mistakes, I would still do 4 park days, 1 day per park but add in rest days in between each park day. Sleep in, plan a shopping day at Disney Springs, enjoy the pool at your resort, or even take a LYFT and go to the Disney Character Warehouse at the Outlet Shops. I heard the one on Vineland is better than the one on International Dr., by the way. Speaking of LYFT, remember the “Minnie” Vans are now available within the park through the LYFT app. It may a little expensive, but if it’s within your budget, try it!!


Make Dining Reservations

At this point, you should remember to make reservations for your dining. Trust me, going all the way to Disney World and not making any Dining reservations is just plain bold!! I mean, either you’re planning on eating at Counter Service restaurants, planning on being there for some type of festival (like the Food and Wine Festival) or eating at your resort hotel, which all are perfectly fine, you are not going to be able to get in at any sit down restaurants. Rose and Crown at EPCOT UK, The Boathouse in Disney Springs, Ohana at the Polynesian Resort and more require reservations. Remember to do your research. Some families plan their park days around their dining reservations…just a thought. We’ve tried Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom with Character Dining, Rose and Crown at EPCOT UK, Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, The Boathouse at Disney Springs, Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs and the food booths at both The Flower and Garden Festival and the Food and Wine Festival. We have also eaten at Everything POP at POP Century Resort. If you need more information on Walt Disney World Dining, Click HERE.


Create a Touring Plan

What ride are we doing first? What park has Magic Morning? Can we have breakfast at the park? Whichever is a priority for you and your family, plan accordingly. I would do 1 park per day, unless you plan to make reservations for dinner at other parks then I would grab a park hopper. I think 1 park per day is perfect because you can plan everything for that one park, rides, shows and dining without wasting time by leaving the park. Remember waiting for the shuttles, going through each entrance and walking to each attraction takes time… a lot of time. We did 1 park per day, no park hoppers. And we found the attractions that we were important to us to experience and we just “went with it.” For more information on types of touring plans, Click HERE.


Make Fastpass Reservations

Remember to make your fast pass reservations. There are some parks that Tier their rides so you can’t make a Fastpass for 2 attractions on the same pier during the same period. Also, learning from past mistakes, make all your fast passes for around the same time in the morning. Once you’re done with your 3 fast passes, you can just log on to the WDW app and make more. For my first trip, I made all three Fastpasses but I spread them out throughout the course of the day. That was a mistake because we couldn’t make anymore Fastpasses and we spent most of our time waiting in line…never again.


Book Flights

I’ve flown a lot through the years and I find booking flights are a tricky, tricky business. What may cost $800 for a family of four today, may end up being $1600 tomorrow. I’ve heard booking your flights 6 weeks in advance on a Monday evening usually brings up the cheapest flight, but who knows…8 weeks in advance on a random Tuesday evening at 8pm during a full moon on leap year could work too. I usually stick with the “old faithful".. tickets purchased 6 weeks before with a departure time early in the morning. Nonstop flight so we land in the early evening. For the flight home, I booked a 5 or 6pm flight and ask for a late check out. That way we can take our time getting ready, take our luggage to the concierge by noon, eat brunch, shop and wait for the Magical Express to pick us up 3 hours before our flight.


Have Fun

Remember, this is a Walt Disney World VACATION!! You shouldn’t come home from your vacation needing a vacation!! Take your time, play it by ear, go with the flow, rest when you’re tired and remember to have fun. You’re spending time with your loved ones, friends and family, your schedule should take the backseat to everyone’s sanity and joy. Of course, if you’re doing a 4-park challenge, then by all means…have at it and win that 4-park challenge!!




Edited By: Ryder Lazo

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