by Jolly Frogger Diva
When planning a trip to Disney, whether it’s your 1st or 40th, a little bit of research will net you lots of “Must-Do” advice. Everyone has their favorite things to do, eat, see, and ride. To switch things up a little, I decided to offer some advice on things you shouldn’t do when visiting Walt Disney World.
1) Dont wait on that perfect souvenir
Yes, there are tons of shopping opportunities at Walt Disney World, and you can usually find the same thing at several stores. However, if you find something you simply must have, my advice is to go ahead and buy it while you can find it. Disney makes shopping easy- you can purchase the souvenir and have it sent to your room if you’re staying on Disney property, sent to the front of the park for pickup later in the day if you’re not, or even shipped to your home. Although the Shop Parks app has made it easier to locate where certain products are sold throughout Disney property, I wouldn’t pass up something I had to have on the off chance that it ends up selling out before I get a chance to purchase it. This is especially true for clothing- certain sizes may be limited, so if you find something in your size that you love, I recommend purchasing it while you find it, so you don’t risk having to search all over the parks for it later. Additionally, there are plenty of souvenirs that are fun to use while on vacation – sporting a cute pair of ears for pictures or playing with bubble wands while waiting in line are a few of my family’s favorite ways to use our vacation souvenirs.
2) Don’t underestimate travel time
If you’ve been to Disney World frequently, you may already be aware of this, but it takes longer than you think to travel across Disney property. If you’re using the bus and you have my luck, you’ll inevitably walk up just as the bus you needed is pulling off, and you’ll have to wait for the next one. My personal rule of thumb is always to allow an hour to an hour and a half to get where I want to go. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind when making dining reservations and Fast Pass+ reservations. My family isn’t a fan of very early mornings, so an 8am pre-park breakfast reservation usually isn’t for us since it would mean leaving the hotel no later than 7am. There are now faster options than the buses- personal transportation such as Minnie Vans (Disney Magic Diva has the scoop on the Minnie Vans here), Uber, and Lyft is very popular now, but all of those still require a decent amount of travel time when you factor in traffic, the distance you may need to travel across property, and the time it takes to go through security to enter if your reservation is at one of the 6 theme parks. Regardless of how you get there, be sure to allow plenty of travel time when heading for your dining or FastPass+ reservations. It’s always better to be early than late. Disney Bride Diva tells us all about Disney Transportation here.
3) Don’t forget to utilize Rider Switch
If you’ve never traveled with small children before, you may not be familiar with Disney’s Rider Switch program. It’s a great way for everyone in the family to get to ride something that one member might not be tall enough to ride, without having to wait in the full line twice. You can also utilize Rider Switch if your child wouldn’t like a certain ride, even if they’re tall enough. To utilize Rider Switch, your whole party needs to see a Cast Member at the entrance to the ride. If you’re planning to use FastPass+ for any of your party, all members of your party who plan to ride must have a FastPass+ reservation for that ride. Pixie Dusted Diva has some great tips for using rider switch that you can check out here. We had never used Rider Switch until we started traveling with our daughter, but it’s definitely a great way to ride the bigger rides without having to make someone miss out while they sit with the children who might not be able to ride. There have been some changes to the Rider Switch program lately, so if you’ve used it in the past you may want to check out Disney’s official Rider Switch page to make sure you’re familiar with the latest rules and information.
4) Don’t forget to schedule a non-park day
It’s easy to focus on all the Disney parks have to offer. Our family, however, likes to make sure and take a day or two of each vacation to spend time outside the parks- enjoying the amenities that our resort has to offer, visiting other resorts, and even spending time at Disney Springs. One of my personal favorite activities for a non-park day is high tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room (you can read about Pixie Hollow Diva’s Mommy and Me Afternoon tea here). On our last trip, it was very hot and we spent a lot of our non-park days swimming in Port Orleans French Quarter’s amazing pool (Tonga Princess Diva shares her love of the Polynesian Village Pools here). Regardless of what you choose to do, I highly recommend you take at least one day of your vacation to explore all of the non-park offerings at Walt Disney World.
5) Don’t be afraid of a rainy day
There are certain times of the year when it rains EVERY DAY in Florida. Our last trip was a perfect example of that- without fail it would rain very hard every day for a short time between lunch and dinner time. Don’t let a little rain keep you from spending time in the parks- the parks are still magical! In fact, the best day I’ve ever spent at Animal Kingdom was a rainy day- the crowds were lighter, the animals were more active, and we were still able to do everything we love to do. For more on making the most of a rainy day at Walt Disney World, check out my article here.
6) Don’t overlook character meals
I’m a member of several Disney travel related social media groups, and I see lots of adults talking about skipping character meals because they aren’t traveling with children. Personally, I love character meals without or without children in our party. Disney brings out the inner child in most people, and character meals are a fun way to interact with some of the most popular and well-loved friends without having to stand in line. Even before we had children, we always included at least 1 character meal in our dining reservations each trip. When you are traveling with kids, character meals are a great way to meet several characters at once, allowing you to meet more friends each trip, some of whom don’t meet regularly in the park. For example, you can meet Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger at Crystal Palace– 4 friends during the course of 1 meal is a great time saver, in my opinion, and we’ve always had wonderful interactions with those characters. Pixie Dusted Diva created a guide to character meals around Walt Disney World that you can check out here. If you’re new to character dining, give it a try- it may become a new favorite tradition.
7) Don’t plan every minute
I am a big proponent of having a plan when visiting Walt Disney World- there is far too much to see and do for one trip, so I feel like a plan allows me to maximize my to-do list. However, I also feel it’s important to leave some room in that schedule to play things by ear, or allow for changes to be made on the fly. On our last visit, we had no idea that my daughter would decide that meeting every character we passed would be her favorite part of the trip. I had created a daily schedule on Touring Plans but that went out the window pretty quickly because we couldn’t pass a character without my daughter pleading us to get in line for an autograph. Sure, that change meant there were things we wanted to do that got postponed or skipped, but watching my daughter’s eyes light up every time she met a new friend more than made up for anything else we may have missed. My advice is to leave some time for the unexpected- maybe you’ll come across a character you want to meet, maybe you’ll decide to take an unscheduled nap or dip in the pool, or maybe you’ll find that a leisurely meal is just what you need to recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. That unexpected event might just end up being your favorite part of your vacation.
So there you have it, my list of things you shouldn’t do at Walt Disney World. Do you have any don’t do’s that I should add to my list? If you want to plan a trip of your own or get a free quote, Patricia from All for Dreams Travel can help.