Disney World is a truly a wonderful place, but if you are a first-time visitor and you go in completely blind, you may find yourself disappointed. In order to help you maximize the enjoyment of your first visit to Disney World, we have put together a list of 12 things most first-timers don’t know about Disney World but should.
12 – Characters Don’t Wander the Park
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, character greetings are temporarily suspended. You’ll see characters come through each park in short parades. Click here for more information on how to see characters during the phased reopening.
There are Disney characters all over the parks and resorts, but they don’t wander around throughout the park. Characters appear at specific places at specific times. There are time guides at the parks that will tell you where and when characters appear, or you can look up the character meet and greet locations and times online. You can even book a FastPass+ to meet characters, or be prepared to wait in a line.
11 – Do Research
Take the time to do some research before your vacation. Reading articles like this one will help you find out what you need to know to have a great vacation. Checking the Disney website and app will be helpful, as well. Take a look at the park maps to see where attractions are located, look up the park hours during your stay, look at the menus of the restaurants, and what will the weather be like. All of this will help you prepare for your vacation.
10 – Lots of Ways to Travel
Disney has you covered when it comes to transportation. It’s easy, free, and convenient. There are buses that run from all the resorts to the parks, but some resorts also offer water taxis to certain locations. A few of the deluxe resorts by Magic Kingdom offer Monorail service to Epcot and Magic Kingdom. It’s worth riding the Monorail just for the experience itself, even if your destination is where you started. The Disney Skyliner is also a fun and efficient way to travel throughout Walt Disney World. It’s all part of the Disney experience.
9 – Having a Basic Plan Will Make All the Difference
After you’ve done some research, have a basic plan in place for each day of your vacation. You should know which park you will be visiting each day, and that will determine where you make dinner reservations, and FastPass+ selections.
8 – It Rains
It rains a lot in Florida, so come prepared. The shops sell umbrellas and ponchos, but you can also pick up some less expensive ponchos prior to your vacation to carry around with you at the parks. Rarely does it rain all day long (though it does happen occasionally) it typically will downpour for 10 minutes or so, and then clear right up.
7 – Your Dining Plan Covers How Many Nights You Stay, Not Days
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, dining plans are temporarily not available.
If you have purchased a dining plan for your stay, keep in mind that your plan is based on how many nights you are booked into the resort, not days. So you if are staying 5 nights and 6 days, you will have enough meal and snack credits for 5 days at the parks. Keep that in mind, when making dining reservations, you may find you’ll have to pay out of pocket for one day of meals and snacks.
6 – There are Great Restaurants at the Resorts
When making dinner reservations, consider the restaurants at the resorts as well. There are a number of fabulous restaurants that range in fine dining, to character dining experiences to laid back comfort food. Some of the resorts are very close to the parks, such as the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge are all very close to the Magic Kingdom. If you find that some of the restaurants that offer character dining in the parks don’t have any free reservations, try 1900 Park Fare. Their dinner buffet is delicious, and there are Disney princesses make appearances. Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary is great for breakfast with the family, and you can meet Mickey and his friends. There are also some terrific restaurants at the resorts around Epcot, like The Yachtsman, which serves some of the best steaks on property.
5 – Disney is Very Accommodating
Disney does what it can to make your stay wonderful and enjoyable, and because of that, they try to be very accommodating. Disney restaurants can make accommodations for those with special dietary needs. Just make a note of it on your advance dining reservation, and let your server know when you are seated. Disney also has a number of services for those with special needs and disabilities. Visit Guest Services upon arriving at the parks, or speak with the concierge at your resort to find out what services they offer that will help make your visit the best it can be.
4 – You Will Need to Take Breaks
A Disney vacation can be a very tiring vacation. Spending all day walking the parks, and waking up early to get on rides, or staying late to see the night time shows can really take a lot of you, and make you cranky. The best way to avoid this is to schedule a break in your day. This could mean stopping in the shade for a Dole Whip or Mickey ice cream bar or going back to your resort for a quick nap or a dip in the pool. Taking an hour to slow down and relax will make a world of difference.
3 – Character Wake Up Calls
A fun way to wake up at Disney is to arrange for a Character Wake Up Call. You can call the front desk, or use the wake-up call button on the phone in your resort room to arrange for the call, and the next morning, a Disney character will call you!
2 – Visit the Parks Early
The parks are less crowded first thing in the morning at rope drop. You will get on more rides, and experience more attractions earlier in the day. With fewer people in the park, the lines are inevitably shorter, for a while anyway. Visit the popular rides first thing, especially if you don’t have a FastPass+ reservation for some of the popular rides, like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Avatar Flight of Passage, Peter Pan’s Flight, Thunder Mountain, or Tower of Terror, to name just a few.
1 – Opening Ceremony – “Let the Magic Begin” at Magic Kingdom
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom does not open an hour early. Cast Members have told us they would like guests to arrive at park opening. However, they will open the gates early to avoid crowding, but it will not be at any set time. “Let the Magic Begin,” is not operating.
Magic Kingdom opens its gates one hour before park opening. Guests are allowed to stroll up Main Street U.S.A and up to the Hub. This allows guests to get pictures, get some shopping done, and eat breakfast in the park without losing time otherwise spent on riding attractions. Arriving early is the only way to see the opening show, “Let the Magic Begin,” which opens the park 5 minutes before the posted opening time. A Royal Herald invites you to join Mickey and friends as they open the park in a magical way. This stage show takes place at the Castle Forecourt Stage. The show sets the tone for a special day at Magic Kingdom.
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