Hi, I’m Courtney and I’m your seasoned guide to all things Disney World.
I’ve been visiting the Disney parks since I was 18 months old and have made my fair share of mistakes. Between wearing the wrong shoes and failing to book my dining reservations on time, there have been so many moments that caught me off guard and unfortunately, resulted in me not having as good of a time as I planned.
But despite these mishaps, Disney World is still my favorite place to be. Now that we’re officially in 2023, I am finally taking the big step of moving to Florida just so I can spend more time at my castle away from home.
Today, I’m here to share with you all the secrets to having the most magical trip ever – and that includes knowing what Disney World mistakes you should avoid.
As Peter Pan says in Peter Pan’s Flight in Magic Kingdom, here we goooooo.
1. Failing to Read Up on Ride Refurbishments and Special Events Before You Buy Tickets
Maybe this entry is first because I’ve made a park reservation for Magic Kingdom not realizing it was closing early due to Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween-Party one too many times over the years.
Regardless, it deserves a top spot because failing to do this can kinda make or break your trip, depending on the circumstances. This is especially true if you were planning on watching the fireworks at the end of the night or taking a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
For example, Magic Kingdom closes down at 7:00 pm on nights when there are special ticketed events – like Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween-Party. So, unless you have a ticket, you’ll have less time at the parks. If this is your only planned day at Magic Kingdom, this can quickly make you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth.
Furthermore, most outdoor water rides temporarily close for refurbishment in January and February. This is because the weather in Florida is usually too cold for these experiences, so fewer guests are willing to ride. Furthermore, Disney World takes advantage of this time slot to make any necessary updates and minor repairs while crowd levels are at a minimum.
Checking in on what’s happening at the parks – and on the days you plan to visit – is critical before you buy your passes. Otherwise, you could be in for some major disappointment.
2. Packing and Bringing Too Many Minnie Ears and Other Disney-Centric Accessories to the Park
We live in an age of social media. And nothing right now is bigger than the Disney influencer. If you bought custom mouse ears off Etsy (check out my bio below), jewelry, or other accessories from small shops, it’s completely understandable why you’d want to show them off during your trip to Walt Disney World. This is particularly true if you’re a brand rep or a small shop owner.
The only problem is that it can be a pain to bring so many items into the parks if you’re also there for vacation. I’ve made this mistake before, and not only does my backpack get heavier, but it eats up how much space I have for other souvenirs and snacks.
Plus, if you are bringing five or six Minnie ears or accessories into the parks with you, the reality is that you’re probably not going to have time to show it all off because you’re going to be too distracted.
My advice instead is to bring one or two things you absolutely love and save the rest for a later trip. Or, if you have to bring them with you due to brand rep or small shop obligations, try and take pictures at your Disney resort or Disney Springs that way you’re not lugging them around from rope drop to park close.
Read more: The Cutest Minnie Ears you can Buy on Etsy
3. Not Bringing in Your Own Snacks and Water Bottle
A bottle of water at Disney World costs upward of $5.00 nowadays. Dole whip costs 5.99. Mickey pretzels cost $7.25. Those famous cheeseburger spring rolls? Yup, they also cost $9.50. These prices can quickly add up, so to economize, bring snacks with you.
While a packet of peanuts may not sound as desirable as a citrus swirl, Disney sometimes tricks us into thinking we’re hungrier than we actually are. And the result of that is not finishing what we order or throwing it in the trash because the line for Pirates of the Caribbean just dropped to 10 minutes and we don’t want to wait around to finish our snack just in case the line creeps back up again.
Bringing in your own water bottle (as long as it’s not glass) and snacks can not only save you money, they can save you time, as well.
4. Not Allowing Yourself to Indulge a Bit At the Parks
And, coming in complete contradiction to Entry #3, don’t restrict yourself just so you save a few bucks. If you really want to try dole whip because you’ve never had it, go ahead and get it. Either you’ll love it or you hate it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try.
While saving money is, of course, important while you’re on vacation, you’re still on vacation. So, don’t be afraid to indulge when it counts. If you really want something, go for it. Many of these items are things you’ll only find at Disney World, so if you don’t try them now, you won’t get a chance to until your next visit.
Read more: Disney World Splurges for Kids
5. Getting to Main Street, U.S.A. Too Late to Watch the Fireworks
There are two problems with getting to Main Street, U.S.A. too late to watch the fireworks. One, it becomes harder to find a seat along the main “road” or to sit down in front of the castle. Furthermore, the later you get there, the more likely it is that you’re going to have an obstructed view of the castle. And since the castle always has projections, this could be a dealbreaker.
The second reason is that Main Street, U.S.A can reach capacity to the point where an announcement will be made that no more people are allowed to walk onto it.
To avoid these situations, I’d recommend getting to your spot no later than an hour before the show is set to start, if not an hour and a half.
6. Using Mobile Order an Hour Before the Fireworks
I made this mistake back in October and I’m sharing it with you so you don’t do the same. About an hour before Enchantment was set to start, my husband and I thought it’d be a good idea to order some corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner.
Unfortunately, a lot of other people had that idea, too, so he ended up waiting over 40 minutes for food, despite updating his status on the My Disney Experience app that he had arrived for the mobile order pickup. Plus, because Main Street, U.S.A hit capacity, it was nearly impossible for him to find me again and where we were camped out because I stayed behind to hold our seats.
Ultimately, he found me but it was a stressful situation, especially thinking he was going to miss the show we had been camped out to see. If you can, try and order your food or get your snacks before you find your place to sit or stand. Trust me when I say that it’ll make a huge difference.
7. Not Preparing Poses for On-Ride Photos
How many times have you been on the incline of Splash Mountain (RIP) right before the drop and asked your friend “What should we do for the photo?”
On-ride poses are a great way to add humor to your photos, so if you want to do something silly with your entire group, think it up while you’re in line. It’ll end up being a really awesome keepsake. And at only around $20 for an on-ride photo, they’re affordable keepsakes, too.
Read more: Ranking the Top Walt Disney World Souvenirs That Are Perfect for Every Member of Your Family
8. Not Packing What You Need
Here’s a list of what you need to pack for a day at the Disney parks:
- Cell phone
- Rechargeable phone charger
- Hand sanitizer
- Refillable water bottle
- Baby accessories (diapers, food, wipes, etc)
- Feminine products (if necessary)
- Autograph book with a pen (if you’re planning on getting autographs)
- MagicBand or park tickets
This is the basic packing list. If you forget certain things like sunscreen, autograph books, rechargeable chargers, and ponchos in the park, you can find them at most gift shops throughout the parks.
Likewise, the Disney bathrooms stock up on feminine products (that you need to pay for), and you can always go to either the first aid or baby care center for extra diapers or wipes.
However, here are a few things you definitely need to bring to Disney with you that you may not have thought of:
- Lipstick/lip gloss/eyeliner/foundation/makeup brush
- Small hand towel
- Chewing gum
- Plastic straws
- Personal fan
If you’re like me and not used to the Florida humidity, you may not realize just how much it can affect your face and hair, especially if you go on roller coasters or water rides. Bringing in a hairbrush and little extra makeup is a good idea that way you can fix anything that sweated off or got ruined. Bringing in a small hand towel is another smart idea, so you can dry your hair off after a water ride or if you get caught in the rain.
And speaking of humidity, bring a personal fan with you because it makes a big difference in terms of comfort. Plus, those other spritzer fans they sell in the park are EXPENSIVE. They’re not worth paying for when you can buy a pack on Amazon – like this one – for around the same price.
Likewise, you may want to bring in your own chewing gum and/or reusable straws if you hate cardboard straws. To be more sustainable, Disney has gotten rid of plastic straws so you won’t be served them anywhere. If this is a big deal for you, bring in your own (just not at Animal Kingdom because they’re not allowed there for the safety of animals). The same can be said for gum. It’s the one snack/candy that’s not sold in the parks.
9. Not Knowing What to Expect With the New Mears Transportation
When news broke back in 2021 that Disney’s Magical Express was leaving, I, probably like most of you, was gutted. But when news broke that it would be replaced with Mears Connect transportation, I felt optimistic.
Unfortunately, that optimism didn’t last long…mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. A few years ago, at the height of the pandemic, I wrote a blog about how it felt to visit Disney World during a pandemic and the whole point of that article was to show how much better my second trip to Disney during the pandemic was compared to my first when I was still expecting everything to be the same.
The same principle applies here. Mears Connect transportation is not themed to Disney, but you will get a chance to answer some fun Disney trivia questions during your commute. However, whereas the video on Disney’s Magical Express was perfectly timed to when you got dropped off at your resort, the video on this bus is probably only about 15-20 minutes, so it repeats.
It also talks about local offerings in Florida, rather than exclusively theme park-related content. Also, some of these videos focus on sensitive subjects, like how many manatees die per year from boating accidents and cancer. So, if these topics are triggering for you, best not to book this transportation service.
The other thing you need to know about Mears Connect is that it doesn’t just drop people off at Disney World. It makes several stops along the way at resorts off Disney property, which was something my husband and I were really surprised by. Again, we failed to do our research on this beforehand. Our resort was the very last stop and by the time we reached our hotel, we had probably been on the bus for close to two hours.
10. Not Taking Advantage of a Disney Travel Agent
If you’re like me, then you probably hear the word “travel agent” and immediately think of having to spend more money. And what is the benefit of that if you can just book yourself? But that way of thinking is totally wrong!
The reality is that using a Disney travel agent is completely FREE. That’s right: FREE! They get a cut of the profits that would normally all go to the parks. In other words, nothing is coming out of your pocket when you book your Walt Disney World vacation with a travel agent.
Using a Disney travel agent is helpful for many reasons. First and foremost, they can plan everything, because let’s face it: having to book a Disney vacation can be stressful. Plus, they know all the best deals so they can actually help you save money.
Second, they can snag hard-to-get dining reservations and stay on the phone with Disney if something comes up and you have to switch around your dates. And, in cases of severe weather like Hurricane Ian and the Covid-19 pandemic, having someone to take your place while on hold with Disney for 5+ hours, really comes in handy.
Read more: Why Booking your Disney Vacation with a Travel Agent is the BEST Idea
11. Not Taking Advantage of Special Hotel Deals and Room Specials Throughout the Year
Disney offers excellent specials throughout the year that can save you a lot of money, making it easier to stay at even their priciest resorts. Plus, they offer discounts throughout the year to Florida residents and those that are in the military.
With the price of a Walt Disney World vacation continuing to increase, finding ways to save money and take advantage of these deals while they’re available is one thing you shouldn’t pass by.
Here are just a few of the discounts you may be able to take advantage of when you book your Walt Disney World vacation either through an authorized Disney travel agent or on Disney’s actual website:
- Discounted rates for most nights through January 1, 2023 – December 15, 2023, for active or retired U.S. military personnel.
- 30% discount on rooms at select Disney World resort hotels for Annual Passholders for most stays from May 1, 2023 – July 10, 2023.
- Up to 25% off rooms for most stays between April 10, 2023 – July 10, 2023 (and for annual passholders on select nights from January 2, 2023 – April 30, 2023)
- Save up to $700 on 2-night stays at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Voyagers, when combined with another resort stay, from February 5, 2023 – September 30, 2023.
- Save up to $400 on a 4-night, 4-day room, and ticket package on most stays at select hotels from January 2, 2023 – March 30, 2023.
- Up to 30% off on select rooms for 5 or more nights at Aulani Resort for annual passholders
Furthermore, for those that have been eager for the Disney Dining Plan to return, guests who are arriving at their Disney World Resort hotel on most nights between July 1, 2023 – July 10, 2023, and from August 1, 2023 – September 14, 2023, may be able to receive a Disney Dining Promo card worth $750 if they are staying at select Disney Deluxe resort.
Plus, new Disney Visa credit card holders can earn back $300, which can easily cover a one-night stay at a deluxe resort.
12. Missing Special Ticketed Events
If you’re visiting the Disney parks during the Halloween season and you can snag a ticket to Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary-Halloween-Party, do it. Though the tickets are add-ons, meaning you’ll pay an additional fee on top of your park admission, these limited events offer character meet-and-greets, shows, fireworks, and other amenities you won’t be able to find elsewhere during the year.
Here’s a list of all the specially-ticketed events you can get throughout the year:
- Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom (select nights January 9, 2023 – March 27, 2023)
- Disney After Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (select nights January 4, 2023 – April 19, 2023)
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party (TBD)
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (TBD)
Best of all, these special events give you more time in the parks, so you get to stay later and ride more stuff.
13. Forgetting to Bring a Rechargeable Battery Pack to the Parks
Since digital cameras are now a thing of the past, Disney park guests are even more reliant on their phones for taking pictures. But factor in your digital wallet, Disney Genie, and mobile order, and yeah, being attached to your phone while visiting the Disney parks is practically a necessity at this point.
Unfortunately, the heavy reliance on cell phone use at the parks means that it’s likely your battery will drain faster. Though Disney does offer rechargeable battery packs in the parks called Fuel Rods, they’ll easily set you back $30, though refills are free. Instead of paying that, I recommend ordering yours off Amazon for a fraction of the price.
These are the ones I brought on my last trip and they worked great. Plus, they were slim enough to sit in my pocket so it didn’t force me to have to bring a backpack or purse with me if I didn’t want to.
14. Not Familiarizing Yourself With Disney Genie
When Walt Disney World first announced Disney Genie, I feel like the collective Disney community was excited. But now it seems the fan fair has died down and a lot of that has to do with many people still not really understanding how the app works.
Disney Genie is available through the My Disney Experience app and it’s ultimately broken down into two parts. The first is the Disney Genie itself, which acts as a park itinerary in real-time, so you can make the most of your day. This part of Disney Genie is completely free to use.
The other section is split into Disney Genie+ and Lighting Lane. Disney Genie+ is what essentially replaced the old FastPass+ system. With this, you’ll be able to skip the standby line for most attractions at Walt Disney World by paying a fee. The price usually starts at $15 per person, per day, but it can vary depending on peak periods.
Guests can make one reservation for a ride on the day of their scheduled park visit beginning at 7:00 am. Then, either once your arrival window has passed or it’s been at least 120 minutes since you booked your last reservation, you can then make another.
Disney Genie+ is available for most rides, including:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Muppet Vision 3D
- Haunted Mansion
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- The Barnstormer
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Na’vi River Journey
- Mission: SPACE
- Spaceship Earth
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Jungle Cruise
- Disney Junior Play & Dance
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Festival of the Lion King
- Kali River Rapids
- Living with the Land
- Frozen Ever After
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- It’s Tough to be a Bug
- Toy Story Mania!
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- it’s a small world
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Space Mountain
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond
- Feathered Friends in Flight
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mad Tea Party
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Test Track
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
You can also use Disney Genie+ for various character experiences through the parks, such as meeting Olaf in Hollywood Studios and Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom.
While these rides are all included in the price of Disney Genie+, certain attractions such as Rise of the Resistance, Avatar Flight of Passage, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train can only be accessed either by waiting in the standby line or purchasing an individual ticket for every member of your party. These tickets vary in price but can be upward of $25 per person. Expect TRON Lightcycle / Run to be added to this system once it opens in Tomorrowland on April 4, 2023.
Knowing how to use this system before you go is incredibly helpful because it can be overwhelming to use for the first time, especially when it comes to that 120-minute rule.
Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Disney Genie and Disney Genie+
15. Feeling Pressured Into Using Disney Genie
If I were a betting person, I’d argue that you’ll probably see a lot of big changes regarding Disney Genie in 2023. Since Bob Iger’s return, it seems that the Disney parks are slowly returning to normal. More character sightings are coming back. Park reservations are starting to slowly get rolled back for Annual Passholders (and probably regular guests soon, too). Resort parking fees were removed.
And, if I were to guess, I’d say that Disney Genie is going to offer some semblance of the old FastPass system soon, at least still part of Disney Genie, because let’s face it: it’s Disney and they still are going to do whatever they have to in order to make money. But I do think they will offer a free version in the future.
However, because none of that has been confirmed yet (or maybe ever will be), we all still have to live with Disney Genie.
Deciding whether or not Disney Genie+ or Lighting Lane is right for you and your family is a personal decision. But that’s exactly my point – it should be a personal decision. There are a lot of influencers in the community who praise it, but that doesn’t always mean it’s worth it. A lot of influencers praised Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser too, and we all remember how that turned out.
Bottom line: don’t be pressured to take advantage of Disney Genie or the included Lightning Lane. You’ll still be able to ride everything you want without it, even if you have to wait a little longer in line.
16. Not Dressing for the Weather
I live in New Jersey, so it’s cold for approximately half the year. So, when I think of Disney World, I only tend to think of clear blue skies and warm weather.
But after freezing for an hour while waiting for the bus to pick me and my friends up from Disney Springs in mid-December, I quickly changed my tune.
Disney World isn’t immune from cold weather, especially during December and January. Temps routinely drop into the high 40s during this time. As such, it’s so important to dress for the weather so you’re not caught off guard during your vacation.
Look up temps before you go and pack accordingly. If visiting during the winter months, I recommend packing a pair of full-length leggings, a sweatshirt, closed shoes, and a light jacket. It’s best to dress in layers if you’re visiting during the winter season because it’s chilly in the morning and evenings, but usually comfortable mid-afternoon.
17. Expecting it Not to Rain During Your Trip
It’s Florida. It’s gonna rain. Usually around 3:00 pm.
So dress accordingly and bring your ponchos. And hey if it does and if you time it right, you’ll get to see the Rainy Day Cavalcade, which is pretty rare and cool to see driving up Main Street, U.S.A.
18. Not Spending Enough Time at Your Disney Resort
I won’t lie, this one is rather new for me. Whenever I visited Disney World, I placed so much emphasis on spending all day at the parks that I didn’t care what my Disney resort had to offer.
However, on my last trip, I took the time to explore the grounds and it completely changed my tune on making time to spend at my Disney Resort. Though the amenities you’ll have access to will depend on where you stay, here are just a few of the activities you’ll be able to enjoy:
- Surrey bike rentals
- Beautiful pools
- Lazy river
- Excellent restaurants
- Tennis courts
- Guided fishing excursions
- Boat rentals
- Movie Under the Stars
- Monorail rides
- Photo ops
Again, these amenities will vary depending on where you’re staying, but these are just a few of the mostly free or inexpensive experiences you can enjoy in addition to time spent in the parks.
Read more: How to Make the Most of a Disney Resort Day
19. Thinking You Can Only Enjoy the Fireworks from Main Street, U.S.A.
Watching the fireworks over Cinderella Castle from Main Street, U.S.A. is quintessentially Disney. However, depending on where you stand, it can be hard to see the projections or even a clear view of the castle and fireworks from your vantage point. Plus, Main Street, U.S.A. gets VERY crowded for the nighttime shows.
While you may think that standing here gives you your past vantage point, that really only applies to the projections on the front of the castle. There are actually a ton of other great spots that give you an even clearer view of the fireworks.
These include watching from the back of Cinderella Castle, at the bathrooms in the Tangled-themed section near it’s a small world, and believe it or not, on certain rides such as the PeopleMover, Astro Orbiter, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
I’d argue that watching the fireworks from one of these rides feels even more magical than standing in front of the castle. It’s a view you should get at least once!
20. Not Visiting Disney Springs
Disney Springs is home to approx. 100 stores, 65 restaurants, and endless opportunities for fun. Best of all, it’s completely free to both park and visit. While many guests do take the time to visit Disney Springs, others may choose to pass it up believing it’s not super kid-friendly, but honestly, nothing could be further from the truth.
Kids can make stuffed dinosaurs from T-REX while dining in the prehistoric age. They can take photos with Cinderella and Aurora near the outside of World of Disney. They can visit the largest Disney store on Disney property – aka World of Disney. They can ride a beautifully-themed carousel, enjoy time on the water thanks to the Amphicars from the Boathouse, and even make their own sweet treat at Goofy’s Candy Company.
21. Waiting too Long to Make Dining Reservations
Disney World recently announced changes to their dining reservations, allowing guests to cancel within two hours of their scheduled reservation. This means it’s going to be a lot harder to snag dining reservations for beloved restaurants on property.
That being said, waiting too long to make any dining reservations is a big mistake because they go really fast. There are apps you can use such as MouseWatcher and Mouse Dining that let you know when a dining reservation has opened up, which comes in handy.
But if you’re interested in eating at a particular restaurant, look for openings and book as soon as your window opens up. And then, keep checking twice a day until the day of your vacation. With guests being able to cancel so late, you never know what you may be able to score last minute.
Read more: How to Get Last Minute Disney Dining Reservations
22. Thinking You Can Do It All
Magic Kingdom has 23 rides and over 20 quick service locations and restaurants. Hollywood Studios has nine rides and six shows. Epcot has four festivals, over 25 booths during festival season, nine rides, and over 50 restaurants and quick service locations. Animal Kingdom has 6 rides, two shows, and 11 restaurants and quick service locations. And this is excluding all there is to do at the 25+ Disney World resorts and Disney Springs.
Simply put, there is so much to see and do that even if you were to stay there for a month, you still wouldn’t be able to cross everything off your list. Let alone a 5 or 7-day vacation. And that’s how they get you to come back to Disney. It’s the greatest marketing strategy ever.
That being said, it’s okay if you can’t do it all. And, thinking that you can is only going to end up in exhaustion and disappointment. That’s why, before you visit, I recommend every member of your travel party come up with 1-2 things they want to do or experience on the trip.
Then, when you visit, cross them off your list. This not only adds variety to every day of your Disney World vacation, but it ensures everyone did something they really wanted to do. You’ll have a better trip if you plan it this way.
23. Not Visiting Epcot During Festival Season
Epcot has four major festivals throughout the year:
- International Festival of the Arts
- International Flower & Garden Festival
- International Food & Wine Festival
- International Festival of the Holidays
Though these more or less run concurrent with one another at this point, they each offer unique experiences you can’t find anywhere else. Best of all, these festivals are constantly being updated and in some cases, extended so guests have more time to enjoy them. These all really change the look and feel of the World Showcase.
Read more: Best Places to Eat in EPCOT: The Ultimate World Showcase Food Guide
24. Feeling Pressured to Ride the New Attractions as Soon as They Come Out
In recent years, Disney World has gone away with standby lines for their newest attraction, meaning you’ll only be able to access it through a virtual boarding pass like how it used to be for Rise of the Resistance, or by purchasing an individual ticket for every member of your party via Lighting Lane. If you’re traveling in a party of four, it could end up costing you upward of $100 just to experience the latest attraction – which in this case, will be TRON Lightcycle / Run.
If this is in your budget or you’re not planning to visit Disney World soon, then by all means, go for it. However, if you do visit Disney pretty regularly, then I’d recommend waiting until the standby line option happens. Though Rise of the Resistance took two years to open up a standby line, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure switched after just a few months. I’d argue on average, moving forward, Disney will keep a paid or virtual option on their newest rides for about a year.
Maybe it’s just me, but having to pay for the latest ride or get up at 7:00 am on my trip to secure a virtual pass isn’t my cup of tea, so if it’s not yours either, don’t feel pressured to experience the newest attractions as soon as they come out. The interest in them will eventually die down.
25. Thinking You Can’t Afford a Disney Deluxe Resort
My husband and I had always earmarked Animal Kingdom Lodge as our dream resort stay, but in all honesty, we could never really afford it. But in 2021, we caught a deal that brought the price for a savanna-view room down to $300-something a night. And yes, that is still very expensive, but when you consider the fact that a night at the All-Stars, on average, only costs about $150 less, we realized that we weren’t paying that much more considering the excellent amenities Animal Kingdom Lodge offered.
What made our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge so affordable was that we took advantage of one of Disney’s deals. Throughout the year, Disney offers package discounts that make your room and park ticket more affordable. However, this is far from the only way you have to save. If you use a Disney travel agent, they will scour the internet for deals (all of which are totally free to you), or you can even use a DVC rental.
While the Deluxe resorts will set you back more, you may be surprised by how affordable they can be when you take advantage of the deals mentioned above.
26. Using Flash Photography on Dark Rides
Flash photography is strictly prohibited on all Disney dark rides, but of course, that doesn’t stop people from doing it.
While you may want to capture that on-ride photo, make sure your flash is off. It can be incredibly disruptive to the overall ride experience and in most cases, photos taken on dark rides don’t even turn out all too well anyway. Quite honestly, with the news that phones are no longer allowed on Space Mountain, I wouldn’t be surprised if this starts spreading like wildfire to many other rides.
Just like the use of selfie sticks, influencer culture has gotten to be a bit out of control in terms of taking photos and videos at the parks, especially on rides. Don’t be one of those people.
Enjoy the ride and make a mental memory instead. In all seriousness, how often are you REALLY going to look at the photos of the jailed pirates from Pirates of the Caribbean?
27. Wearing the Wrong Shoes…Like Flip Flops
That $1 Flip-Flop sale from Old Navy is great, but what isn’t great is wearing those flip-flops to Magic Kingdom.
Keep in mind that Magic Kingdom is 107 acres and Animal Kingdom is a whopping 580 acres, so wearing proper footwear is a must to prevent both foot pain and blisters. If you’re dying to wear cute shoes, bring them along in your bag so you can quickly change into them for your in-park dining reservation or a specific photo op.
Read more: The Best Shoes to Wear at Walt Disney World
28. Not Taking Advantage of One of the Lockers
When I visited Universal Studios for the first time, one of the things I DETESTED was having to put my purse in the lockers before I entered the ride queue. But by my third or fourth ride, I was like, “Okay, Universal, MAYBE you’re onto something.”
If you don’t need to carry something on you, then I highly recommend taking advantage of the lockers. It still keeps your personal items nearby if you need them at any point during your day, but makes your day way more enjoyable.
You don’t really realize how much more comfortable you feel walking around the parks until it’s just you and your person, and not a crossbody or heavy backpack weighing heavy on your shoulders.
29. Not Listening to the Height Requirements
Your child may be desperate to finally ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but those safety requirements are there for a reason: their safety.
Cast Members are not going to budge or be lenient and make an exception that could not only harm your child but hold the park liable for injuries that could result. Don’t argue with the Cast Members over their rules. Don’t try to stuff extra padding in your kid’s shoes. I know they may be disappointed, but their safety trumps everything – especially riding something at a theme park.
Read More: Disney World Height Requirements for Rides
30. Buying Souvenirs or Balloons at the Start of Your Day
Regardless of which Disney park you enter, the first thing you’re going to come across – before food, before character interactions, even before most rides and restaurants are stores. So. Many. Stores.
And because of this, you’re likely to come across something you’ll want to buy or something that your child absolutely must have (and then play with once when you get back home before it’s sold at next year’s yard sale).
Before the pandemic, you could have bought something up until two days before you were scheduled to check out and have it delivered to your room, making it easy to buy whatever you want, whenever you wanted to. However, that’s no longer the case.
Buying something so early in the day may not seem like a big deal at first, but you have to be responsible for it all day. And since it’s not something you’re used to carrying around like your purse, backpack, or diaper bag, it’s easy to leave it behind on rides or on the counter in the bathroom. Plus, it’s just really annoying to have to carry another thing during the day or try to keep it safe while on rides.
If you do decide to do some early shopping, I recommend renting a locker for the day. That way it’s not only safeguarded, but your hands are free, as well. The only time I recommend buying something early on in your park day is if it’s limited. Like a Loungefly backpack or special set of ears, because those can – and do – sell out quickly.
As for the balloon? The problems with buying that one early on in the day are pretty self-explanatory.
Bonus Entry: Not Having Fun
This entry may seem a bit weird to add, but the reality is that a Disney World vacation isn’t really a vacation. Not in the traditional sense anyway. You get up early. You’re standing in long lines. You’re continually exposed to high levels of humidity. By the time you get to your hotel, your feet hurt, the kids are either overstimulated or exhausted and you probably spent way more money than you planned to.
Quite honestly, there’s a reason why people who come back from their Disney World vacation say that they need another vacation. But despite all this – and despite all the less-than-ideal things that have been part of the parks as of late – Disney World really is the Most Magical Place on Earth.
And that’s why the biggest mistake you can make on your Disney World vacation is not having fun.
Yes, your feet will hurt. And yes, things are expensive. But there’s nowhere else in the world that allows you to revisit your childhood and have it be acceptable. Nowhere else, but Disney World, can you reconnect with that part of yourself that was once so full of innocence and excitement – even over something as simple as biting down into an ice cream bar shaped like Mickey Mouse at 11 a.m. And watching the magic through your child’s eyes isn’t too shabby, either.
No vacation is going to be free from stress, expense, or exhaustion. And, at the same token, no other destination is going to be filled with the type of magic and memories you can make at Walt Disney World.
So…if you’re looking for Disney World mistakes you should avoid, this one is probably the most important.
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As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.
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