A First Timer’s Guide To Walt Disney World – Making An Itinerary

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As a first time traveler to Walt Disney World, it can be tricky to navigate the world of Theme Parks, dining, rides, attractions, shows, resorts…etc, etc – there’s just SO much to do and see that planning your trip can seem really overwhelming! But fear not – we here at Chip and Co are here to help – with info about how to pick a Resort, where to eat, and how to plan your days too.

Read on for some first timer Itenerary Tips and Tricks:

Read Up: Make sure you know what you’re in for – there’s a LOT to do at Disney, so you’ll want to do some research/reading before your trip. There’s tons of information out there – so make sure you’re using trusted sources – places like chipandco.com, the official WDW website, and there’s some good guidebooks out there too. Don’t bother going too in depth or spending hours and hours researching – just do enough that you get an idea of what’s there and what your family might enjoy doing

Use Technology To Your Advantage: We live in an age of smartphones, smart watches, apps, tablets, drones….etc, etc – the world if technology has exploded over the past few years, and Disney has really been embracing it all – with advances like their photopass system, mobile app, online dining reservation booking, online fastpass selection – and all of it is tied together with one little bracelet – the MagicBand! It has a chip in it that stores your Park tickets, WDW Resort room key, Dining information, fastpass reservations, photopass photos – it is truly amazing, and while it may seem overwhelming to a first timer, I highly recommend you utilize all of these to their fullest capabilities. And if you can’t figure it out – you can always ask a Cast Member while at WDW, or call Disney before your vacation and they will gladly walk you through any of these amazing high-tech options

Take It Slow: The immediate reaction most people have when they go to WDW for the first time is that they want to see and do it ALL – and trust me – unless you’re taking a month long vacation, that is just NOT possible. Don’t tire yourself out by trying to ride all the rides and see all the shows and characters – it will just leave you needing a vacation from your vacation! Use your research to know what things would best suit your family (think about ages, fears, likes, dislikes, etc!) and pick just a few “must do” things to do at each Park. If you have more time then great! If not, at least you will have gotten to see your top picks!

One Park At A Time: Another thing people tend to do when they are at WDW is to think they can easily Park hop and see all the parks in one or two days – and while park hopping is absolutely possible and something I do often – It isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t usually work out well for first time WDW vacationers. When you visit WDW for the first time, you really want to take some time to explore each park – the décor, the little hidden spots, the beauty and tiny details that make it truly amazing. Your instinct might be to rush over to a Park, ride your top 5 rides, then rush over to another Park and repeat the same process…but you will just wind up tired and cranky from all that (not to mention you’ll spend most of your day on – or waiting for – a Disney bus/boat/monorail which is not the most fun), so try and slow down and do one park a day if you can, you will have a much more relaxed vacation if you do!

Write It Down: Now that you’ve researched the rides, attractions, magic bands, food, and parks – it’s time to actually make a plan! When it comes to writing an itinerary, I like to stick to 1 park a day, and I will generally pick 1 “must do” ride/attraction for each person I am traveling with and use my fastpass selections for the day on those – and then have a list of backup items that I can do between the fastpass things – rides that might have shorter lines, or I will plan my fastpasses so that I can see fireworks or the parade. I NEVER plan more than 5 things to do in any given day – I might have other things I want to *try* and do – but I never over-plan – and to me that’s the key to a successful Disney vacation. My itinerary is very basic – it might look something like this:

Day 1 – Magic Kingdom

  • 9 am: ADR – breakfast at Crystal Palace
  • 11am: Fastpass – Seven Dwarves Mine Train
  • 12pm: Fastpass: Space Mountain
  • 2:30pm: Fastpass: Splash Mountain
  • Other “Must Do” Rides: Haunted Mansion, Pirates Of the Caribbean

Day 2 – Hollywood Studios

  • 12 pm: Fastpass – Tower of Terror
  • 1:15 pm: Fastpass – Rock’N Roller Coaster
  • 2:30pm: Fastpass – Star Tours
  • Other “Must Do’s”: The Great Movie Ride

The beauty of having only a few things planned each day is that you can be spontaneous – if you decide you want to Park hop, then go for it! Want to head to a different Disney Resort for a drink and dinner? No problem! For me, the key is keeping it simple, and being willing to be flexible if need be

Happy Planning!


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Catie Hiltz is an avid Walt Disney World lover who has been vacationing there since she was tall enough to ride Space Mountain. She believes there is something for everyone at WDW-and especially writing about the benefits of vacationing there as an adult
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One thought on “A First Timer’s Guide To Walt Disney World – Making An Itinerary

  1. My best advice is something my son insisted we do one day, and it worked so brilliantly that we do it every day we’re at Disney now. We take a mid-afternoon “siesta”. When we start losing steam, we go back to the resort for an hour or so for a dip in the pool. Once we’ve recharged, we head back to the park. We miss the worst of the heat and the worst of the crowds by doing that.

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