PlanningTrip Planning 101

Top 10 Rookie Mistakes Guests Make at Disney Parks

We’ve all felt like the “rookie” at one time or another. But, we’re here to help you feel like an old pro while enjoying Disney World Parks! Here is our list of the top ten rookies mistakes guests make at Disney Parks… and honestly – yes, we’ve made them all.


1 – Not Making Park Reservations in Advance

Park reservations have been required for guests visiting the theme parks since July 2020. Simply put you cannot enter a theme park without one. When booking vacation packages or purchasing tickets with Walt Disney World, guests are reminded again and again to make park reservations. A good travel agent will let you know that you need to make them. However, we still hear of guests who are caught completely off guard by the requirement. Usually, it isn’t a problem and guests just quickly make a reservation and then go into the park. But during really busy holiday times, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, President’s Day Weekend, and spring break, park reservations fill up and do sell out. This means that you could potentially get to the park on the first day of your vacation and be completely out of luck. As soon as you have purchased your tickets, make your park reservations! They can be modified if you change your mind about which park to visit, based on availability. But if for some reason you can’t change the park because the other ones are full — at least you can still visit a park that day!

2 – Filling up on Soda – not on Water

Rule number one in Florida is to remain hydrated! The heat at Disney World will have you wishing Queen Elsa would just go ahead and freeze things. If you’re like us, that refreshing Coca-Cola sign starts to call your name. But wait – don’t forget about WATER. Simple H2O is your best bet for a refreshing drink that serves the wonderful purpose of keeping you hydrated. Coke will only dehydrate you more, despite what it tastes like when drinking it. Don’t forget to especially keep an eye on what your kids are drinking. Plus, fountain water with ice from Quick Service locations is free… so drink up!

3 – Dressing for Looks, Not for Comfort

You are a princess or a prince regardless of what you stroll up in Disney wearing! We particularly feel terrible for the little girls that dress as princesses and wear those little heals… ouch, are they going to be hurting (as are their Dad’s backs from carrying them). Comfortable, cool clothing to match the weather and great walking shoes are a must-have when spending the day at a Disney park.

4 – No Dining Reservations

Trust us, it’s not fun getting to a Disney park and wishing you could find a table service restaurant to sit down at, enjoy a meal, and relax – but instead, finding all of the restaurants you’ve tried aren’t accepting guests without reservations. That hunger and angry (hangry!) attitude kicks in, and you feel like turning into Wreck-It-Ralph. Do your best to book those dining reservations well in advance – 60 days, if possible. This will save that grumbling stomach in the long run!

Strawberry Shortcake at The Boathouse at Disney Springs

5 – Trying to Do It All

Ok, we understand this one is super tempting for a rookie! This might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and getting everything in seems like the only way to go. It’s Walt Disney World. There is no way possible to get everything done in one day. BUT – we do recommend creating a must-do list and being sure all of those attractions, shows, and entertainment on your family’s must-do list are conquered. Finish that handful of must-do selections and count everything else as icing on the cake.


6 – Figuring Out the Park When You Get There

Spontaneous people – hear us out! We think you are fantastic and strive to be more like you every day. But, our type-A personalities tend to take control from time to time. While we think you must be spontaneous about some things at Disney, do yourself the favor of having a little bit of a grasp on the parks before arriving at them. Even if it’s studying a map on the bus ride over, you’ll be so thankful you have an understanding of the park layout and what it has to offer before arrival. Get that game plan organized, so when you enter those magical gates, you’ll feel like you’ve got this!

7 – Not Checking the Weather

Speaking of spontaneous… have you checked out the Florida weather?! It’s hard to guess each day what the weather may do as in the morning, it may say one thing, but by the afternoon, it’s completely different. We suggest preparing for rain with small Dollar Store ponchos you can throw into a bag. Have a weather app on your phone and check it periodically throughout the day so you have a handle on what might be headed your way.

8 – We Didn’t Expect the Crowds

Before booking the most magical Disney vacation imaginable, we highly recommend checking out the crowd levels at Disney. Check to see what is considered the peak season vs. the value season. Not only will this save you on expenses (especially with resorts), but the crowd levels historically have been much more manageable during value season. If you aren’t able to book during value season and must go during peak season, expect large crowds, and don’t let that put a damper on your vacation! Note that during the 18-month 50th-anniversary celebration (going on now through March 2023), crowd levels have been very high, even during the traditionally slow time in late January to mid-February. It’s been crazy crowded. So be prepared that in the next year during the celebration, there may be no slower times with low crowds. 

For information on crowd patterns and other considerations on vacation timing, check out these two articles:

Best Times to Beat the Crowds: Disney World Trip Planning 101

Choosing When to Go to Disney World – Considerations Beyond the Crowds


Busy-Thanksgiving Week

9 – Forgot to Pack a Bag

Not every individual needs a bag to carry into Disney parks with them, but chances are if you have a family, you may need some supplies. Don’t forget some of the park basics like sunscreen, sunglasses, ponchos, snacks, chapstick, cell charger, Tylenol, and hand sanitizer. While most of these items can be purchased in the park, if necessary, you’ll save the wallet by bringing them along from home.

10 – Ignoring Cast Members

Cast Members are present at specific locations during specific times for a reason. It’s easy to get caught up in awe of Disney but try to focus on what the Cast Members may be asking you to do. Know how many people are in your party when entering an attraction. Move back or forward if they ask you to. And smile back at them when they smile at you! They really do want you to have a great time while being as safe as possible.

Were these tips helpful? We have a lot more where these came from! Sign up for our newsletter in the right-hand column or at the bottom of this article for helpful planning articles and Disney-related news.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


Matt & Kim

We have had a long time love affair with Disney. We love the magic and the memories we've made at Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with being Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and RunDisney participants. From lodging to dining to Genie+ we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us.
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