PlanningTrip Planning 101

12 Things Most First Timers Don’t Know About Disney World but Should

Disney World is 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 twelve things most first-timers don’t know about Disney World but should.


12 – Characters Don’t Wander the Park

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. The My Disney Experience app will tell you where and when characters appear for each theme park. Also, check the Entertainment schedule to see the characters in parades and stage shows. 

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 the weather will 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. Some buses 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.

View of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort on Disney Skyliner

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.

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 will typically downpour for 10 minutes and then clear right up.

7 – Your Dining Plan Covers How Many Nights You Stay, Not Days

Editor’s Note: Disney Dining Plans are temporarily suspended. However, Disney has confirmed that they will return for vacation packages beginning January 9, 2024. Those packages are now on sale.

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 five nights and six days, you will have enough meal and snack credits for five 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 many fabulous restaurants ranging from 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, which 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, waking up early to get on rides, or staying late to see the nighttime 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.

Pineapple Float: Dole® Pineapple Juice with Pineapple Dole® Whip
Pineapple Float: Dole® Pineapple Juice with Pineapple Dole® Whip

3 – Purchasing Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane is Optional

As a first-timer, you probably haven’t heard of FastPass, but if you have, you’ll need to know that a new system is in place to “skip the line.” The new Lightning Lane allows guests to skip the regular queue by paying for access. There are two ways to do this. First, you can purchase Disney Genie+ for the day of your visit. This costs anywhere from $15-$35 per day, per person, depending on the date you visit. With Genie+, you can access the Lightning Lane at select attractions at either the theme park you are visiting (if you purchased a single park ticket) or all parks if you have a park hopper and choose to purchase the multi-park option.

A second option for purchasing Lightning Lane is the a la carte method. There are attractions at each park that are NOT included with your Genie+ purchase and must be purchased separately. Prices range from $7-$25 per attraction, per person. Keep in mind that you do not have to purchase either of these options to enjoy these attractions. The standby queue is available for all but Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which still offers a (free) virtual queue. While purchasing these options may be great for your family, you certainly do not have to purchase them to enjoy a Walt Disney World Vacation. 

2 – Visit the Parks Early

The parks are less crowded first thing in the morning. If you are a Disney resort guest, you’ll want to take advantage of Early Theme Park entry, where you get to enter the park thirty minutes early. This gives you a huge advantage and gets you in line for the most popular attractions ahead of non-resort guests. With fewer people in the park, the lines are inevitably shorter for a while anyway. Visit the popular rides first thing, such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, 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

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 five minutes before the posted opening time. Mickey and friends open the park in a magical way. This stage show takes place at the Castle Forecourt Stage and sets the tone for a special day at Magic Kingdom.

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.



Lauren lives in Hamilton Ontario, but dreams of one day moving to Orlando to be closer to the Magic Kingdom. In the meantime, she spends her days working for the family business as a barista and baker, being active in the independent theatre scene in Hamilton and working part-time as a professional personal assistant to a writer. Lauren’s most memorable Disney moment is by far when she became engaged in front of Cinderella’s Castle making it her best Disney vacation to date.
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