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11 Things Every First Time Disney Visitor Should Know

There comes in many Disney fans lives when they will make the decision to visit a Walt Disney World (WDW) Park.

Before you head to City Hall in Magic Kingdom to pick up your free ‘1stVisit’ button you will need to make sure you have got all your Disney characters in a row or you could be facing an uphill battle when you arrive in town.

Don’t feel overwhelmed with all the options, Disney is not a once in a lifetime visit type of place and if you are not able to cover everything on your first trip you will feel just as welcomed as during your first visit.

Here are 11 things that every first time visitor to WDW should keep in mind when planning their first trip to Florida.

Look at the Calendar While Planning Your Trip

There are many times of the year when Walt Disney World Resort is packed to capacity.

Magic Kingdom alone closes about six times a year and the park fits 100,000 guests.

For your first trip you may want to consider choosing dates during low season for your visit.

You will find that if you can come down in February, March, September or October the lines will be shorter and the weather may also be a little more favorable.

This will likely make the memories of your first experience cherished ones rather than one of being sunburned while waiting in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Make Reservations Once Travel Dates are Confirmed

A few restaurants see large volume requests, even during low season, so it is best to make your reservations as soon as 180 days from your desired date and time.

This could mean the difference between a 7pm reservation at Be Our Guestand one at 4pm.

You can also check menus for each establishment to confirm that there is something for everyone in your group, if you try to change a reservation two weeks later you might learn that you may be stuck with one hungry person in your party.

It is worth noting that WDW is very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions; just make the restaurant aware prior to your arrival.

This also goes for Fast Pass+ reservations as well.

Passes can be booked up to 60 days in advance if you are staying at a WDW hotel or 30 days if you are not.

You will be more likely to get your whole group booked at the same reservation times for your top choice rides and shows if you do so earlier.

Once you have completed your three selected Fast Pass+ booking you can head to a Kiosk or you’re my Disney Experience app to add another reservation.

Let Your Budget Guide you, not Control Your Trip

Not everyone is able to spend $200+ on food a day for the family trip to Disney, but you don’t have to.

There are a number of coupons and deals that you can find to lessen that part of the budget.

When it comes to making your budget work for you there are a number of ways to have your cake and eat it, too.

There are on-property sites within most prices ranges.

Consider staying at an on-site property and get a few added perks like character wake-up calls.

A Stroller is a Must Have

Yes, a seven year old is not a baby and does not want to be made to feel like one, but this is a time when they will need to make a concession.

You can easily walk 10 miles during a day at Disney and with 80,000 other guests a child get lost in the mix or want to leave the park completely.

A stroller will allow them rest or enjoy a snack as you make your way from Frontierland to Tomorrowland.

It will Take Longer Than Expected

You may think that if you leave your hotel and park your car 15 minutes prior to Magic Kingdom opening that you will make it to the park and be met my zero wait times.

Well you’ll be surprised to find that you will need to take a tram or walk from the parking lot to the monorail or ferry that will then transport you to the entrance of the park.

Once there you will need to have your bags checked and then get your tickets or armband scanned before you can enter the park.

Similarly lines will form in eating establishments.

Make the best of this time and go over your schedule for the day one final time.

Packing Snacks is Essential

This one ties in a few other tips. When you pack a snack for your children or your entire family you lessen the probability of searching for a quick bite to eat and save time and money.

If everyone loves Veggie Straws it may be a smart idea to pack a bag along with a few chilled bottles of water.

You are allowed to bring food and beverages (non-alcoholic) into the parks so stop by a grocery store the day before you visit the park so you have them on hand.

No glass containers are permitted.

Rider Switch Pass Option

At times there are rides that some kids are tall enough to ride and other just do not have the height for.

With this pass up to three people can use it as one adult/parent waits.

Once that person/group has completed the ride the pass can be used a second time and the adult/parent that waited with the child initially can enjoy the ride with up to two people (just as the first rider was able to).


You will surely see people of all ages with a lanyard filled with pins.

You do not have to be left out of this ‘cool’ group, purchase a pin and lanyard set online or at the Disney Store prior to your trip.

When you see other park members or Cast Members with a pin that you would like to trade them for you are now able to do so through this bartering process.

There are also websites that you can go to in order to get a few additional pins to add to your lanyard, many times they are a lot less expensive than pins that you will find at WDW parks.

Free IceWater

Even if you brought a water bottle with you to the park it will eventually run out of water, especially on a warm and sunny day.

At dining (outer service) establishments that serve fountain drinks you can ask for a cup of water, free of charge of course.

This is something that is available at all dining establishments on WDW property.

This is not available at quick service food carts.

Photo Pass+ Photographers

You will run into Cast Members throughout the park that ask to take a photo of you at popular spots.

Yes, there is a charge for the photo that they have taken of you, but they will also gladly take a photo with your camera or cellular phone if you ask.

Do not feel that the Cast Member will pressure you into making a purchase, it is the opposite.

My Disney Experience

If you have an Android of iPhone smartphone you can download the My Disney Experience app to help with your planning.

With this application you can make Fast Pass+ reservations and changes leading up to your visit – even during the visits.

Wait times, park maps and dining information are also available.

If you had taken photos during your time at the park and scanned your Photo Pass+ card or armband you will be able to see your photos here.

My Disney experience has even added the PhotoPass feature to app.

By Marie Ospina

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