9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

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9 mistakes

Disney World is supposed to be the most magical place in the world, right? Then why do you hear about people not enjoying their Disney vacation or going there once and feeling like that was enough? I believe, as most Disney Addicts do, that all of the people who didn’t enjoy their Disney vacation just didn’t do it right!

Disney is AMAZING and everyone who leaves should be sad to go and look forward to coming back. So, where did the others go wrong? If you want to have a magical trip to Walt Disney World, I think these 9 things need to be avoided.

Here are my Top 9 Disney Vacation Mistakes.

1.Lack of Planning – I don’t think there is any vacation in the world where the phrase “Failing to plan is planning to fail” more than at Walt Disney World.  I know people who thought Disney World was ok, but didn’t really care to go back; when talking to them I learned they didn’t know what FastPass+ was, they stayed off site, they did not use the dining plan or have their trip properly budgeted. The more planning you do before your trip, the more you are able to relax and enjoy while you are on the trip.

2.Over-planning – I know this might sound like the exact opposite of what I suggested in #1, but you must leave room for spontaneity. You can’t predict every amazing little surprise that might arise at Disney World. If you try to plan every minute of your day you are going to end up exhausted, frazzled, and disappointed. My advice is to talk to each person in your group and find out what their one or two “must-do” things are for the day. It could be a ride, a special snack or a show, and then plan those into your day. Plan what area of the park you are going to hit in what order, but do not plan everything. Know the important things and then go with the flow the rest of the time. Most people will not have fun if they are running from one spot to the next trying to fit it all in.

3. Not utilizing FastPass+ – People who spend a lot of time waiting in lines for rides at Disney World did not plan properly. The longest I have ever waited is 45 minutes and the majority of the time it is 20 minutes or less. If you don’t know what a FastPass+ is, read about it here. Do a little research to find out what rides are best to use your FastPass+ on. For example, at Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarf Mine Train and Peter Pan are rides you definitely want to get a FastPass+ for in order to avoid a long wait, or arrive at park opening and hustle right back to the line first thing.

4. Pushing children past the breaking point – I have three little girls and as much as I hate to take a break in the middle of our exciting day at one of the Disney parks, I have learned the hard way (several times) that we NEED to plan for breaks. We go early when the crowds are lighter, break after lunch back at our hotel (one reason I love staying onsite), and hit the park again in the late afternoon or early evening. It’s important to take the break before your children are pushed past their breaking point. Once they are crying, irritated, and melting down it is much harder to regain control of the day, than if you preplan a time to rest outside of the parks.

5. Going at the wrong time – If you hate crowds with a passion or get anxiety being surrounded by a ton of people, then going to Disney World for spring break or the holidays is a mistake. If you hate being in hot humid weather, then going to Disney in July and August is going to be rough (trust me, I went in August when I was extremely pregnant). Do some research to find out what time of the year at Disney makes the most sense for your family. What weather will you enjoy the most? What events do you want to participate in? Do you love Christmas but hate a crowd? Then try going to Disney World in mid-November when you can go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party before the crazy holiday crowds start to show up. A little research goes a long way here.

6. Not utilizing Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)– If you are staying at a Disney property you can make dining reservations 180 days in advance, and there are some restaurants that if  you miss the 180 day reservation mark you might not get the reservation you were hoping for. Disney World is not a place that you can just show up to and wait 10 minutes to be seating at any restaurants you want. The dates for my last Disney trip were planned much later than normal and we struggled to get reservations that we wanted and had to make some compromises because some of them just didn’t come through.

7. Not budgeting correctly – Let’s be honest… Disney World is expensive. It’s an amazing vacation, but it does come at a cost. And, if you don’t really  know what that cost is, you might not have the best time. Do a little research to find ways to save and check promotions. Make sure that you budget and plan for extras, that way if something unexpected comes up or you just really want to buy that Mickey and Minnie salt and pepper shaker, you can without breaking your budget. If you plan on eating at some of the delicious restaurants throughout Disney property, remember to budget in money for a tip (and if you are using the Dining plan remember that gratuity is not included) and to tip your mousekeeper each day. Once you set a realistic budget stick to it so you don’t have vacation regrets once you get home.

8. Choosing the wrong hotel or staying offsite – I am a big believer of staying on property. Can you save money by staying somewhere else? Maybe. Is it worth it? Not in my opinion. Staying at a Disney hotel gives you a heap of advantages that you can’t get anywhere else: Magical Express, Disney transportation (monorail, buses, boats), Extra Magic Hours, and earlier ADRs and FastPass+ times. But, my favorite perk is the ease of going back and forth to your hotel. There are other locations that offer transportation to Disney parks, but it is no where near as convenient as the Disney transportation. You have shorter commute times, the buses come much more frequently, and you are dropped off and picked up at much better locations closer to the park entrances. There are so many great resorts to choose from and the theming is different at each one. You should spend a little time researching each option to find which hotel your family will love.

9. Not letting go – Take Elsa’s advice here. When your vacation begins and you get to Disney World, just let it go. The magic of Disney has a way of coming in and taking away all the stress of “real life”. Don’t worry about all the things you spend your everyday worrying about. Just have fun. Act like a kid again. Skip and jump, hug your favorite character and get excited when you see Cinderella Castle. Allow the magic of the place to take over and enjoy Disney the way a child does. Drop your guard and don’t worry about what the other people around you are thinking, just let it go!

Have fun putting in the planning time and have a magical trip to Walt Disney World! If this sounds like more work than you care to do, but you still want that magical vacation, contact me at stephaniekirby@worldofmagictravel.com and take advantage of my free vacation planning services. I love planning for Disney vacations and would love to help you plan for yours!


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One thought on “9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

  1. These are great tips. I definitely agree with the mid day break away from the parks. Even for adults! Sometimes you don’t know how overstimulating a Disney park can be until you are away from it all. Just going back to the hotel for a nap, a swim in the pool, the playground, a movie, or something else relaxing can make a big difference in both your energy level and attitude. I’ve stayed both on and off property and I agree that on property is both easier to manage, someone else gets to do the driving and navigating (Disney transport) and it’s an entirely different experience when you stay on site. There is nothing compared to being immersed in Disney. The resorts are relaxing and although they are Disney, they are clean and well maintained and managed, with plenty of activities and fun for all ages day and night.

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