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imageIt’s your first trip to Walt Disney World. You’re not only worried about your trip and if you’re going to enjoy yourself and its going to be the family trip of a lifetime, you also full realize you have no idea what you’re doing!

Let me help you with my top tips for First Trip Families.

1. Know the 10 Commandments of Disney World Vacation Planning. Don’t miss this post as time-wasting is the most irritating part of Disney World trips.

2. Remember Quality over Quantity: You’re not going to see everything on one one trip to Walt Disney World dear ones. So just get that little notion out of your head right now. Instead what you need to do is really research ahead of time what things you DO want to do in each park. Which attractions you want to ride, which shows you want to see, which restaurants you want to try. This is why planning is so essential. So a list of MUST DOs for your family and HOPE TO DOs and SKIPPABLE rides is important. Then, of course, you need to have a good planning sheet to work off of like this one: Make sure you include your kids in the planning process to save some money.

3. Pack smart: One of the most common first time mistakes is over-packing. If you’re flying this translates to MUCHO DENARO. You’re probably going to buy clothes, hats, things like that, in souvenir shops anyway. And every resort on property and most off-property resorts have coin-operated washers and dryers. 1 load of washing and drying, with one box of soap is only $5.00! That’s a lot less than baggage fees. Check out my printable packing list if you need a starting place, but realize it is a complete list. Many of these things you can buy at the parks or off property.

4. Take a mid-day rest even if you don’t think you need to: Please, do not argue with me. You need a mid-day rest. You cannot have fun if you are exhausted and snatching people and things up, and especially if you are “teeth talking”. WDW Melt-downs are guaranteed to ruin your trip (and they normally happen at about 3:00pm with the worst one occurring on day 3 of your trip.) You need to take a rest. Disney is over-stimulating for EVERYBODY. You’re doing a ton of walking and sometimes just having such high-expectations can wear you out. Get out of the park in the middle of the day where parks are most crowded and its hottest and go cool off for a while. If you absolutely cannot go back to your resort (because of a shuttle or something like that) then read my post about Quiet Places to rest and nap in WDW

5. Pack the perfect backpack: There are many items that you can bring with you daily that will keep you well equipped for the day in the park and probably save you some money too. You can check out my perfectly packed backpack list HERE.

6. Get a map ahead of time and study it: You can order custom maps of Disney parks for FREE since you know which attractions you want to do. You need to know where as many things are as you can BEFORE you get there so you can get your bearings quickly and find where you want to go quickly.

7. Plan a budget! The best thing I’ve seen to help you budget out there so far is on Plan it Disney. com’s page. You can really put down your tickets, itemize each character meal, food thing, souvenir. Being smart about how you spend your money means MORE trips in your future. You can go to WDW for a whole lot less than most people go for if you’re smart.

8. Try to pay attention to the details as you go. – Disney is the BEST at details. Its tempting to rush from one attraction to the next, standing irritated in every line, instead of taking in how much time Disney spends on the details and the “story” that is being told. I’m not just talking about hidden mickeys here, every attraction, every pathway has been thought out. Don’t get into such a hurry that you don’t marvel at how much is actually there. Especially while waiting in lines.

9. Do character meals instead of standing in line for those characters. – Making Advance Dining Reservations for Character meals help you do two things at once. Eat, which you’re going to have to do anyway, AND see characters/ get autographs. For first time WDW visitors this is a key time-saving device. I’m not saying its inexpensive, but it does save time and allow you to have character experiences.

10. Learn how to use fast pass! – I really can’t emphasize this enough. Not knowing how to use Fast Passes is probably THE biggest “rookie mistake” out there. It is extremely important for you to know when to ride fast passes and how to use them. You don’t stand in a 50 minute line while waiting for a fast pass to “come up”, you get a fast pass, ride all the short line things around it, then move to the next fast pass when it’s time. Use them well!

11, Don’t push your kids to ride thinks they don’t want to – One of the worst mistakes people make is getting/ making their kids ride attractions they’re really not ready for. It will result in your child shutting down and refusing to ride anything else if you scare them too much. So really, don’t push them. If they’re screaming, trembling, crying, whatever SKIP IT. You can go ride it by yourself later on, they don’t have to ride it with you and should NOT be made to feel bad about themselves if they don’t ride exactly what you want when you want it. Don’t be a ride bully. It will put a major MAJOR black spot on your whole Disney Vacation to your family.

12. Social Norms still apply to you at WDW – If you’ve ever been to the doctor with your child and had to help hold them down while they got a shot, you will understand how I feel right now. See, I have to talk to you about social norms because you REALLY need to think about them before you go to Disney World. This is not just for you, and it’s not just for people like me who go all the time and are irritated by these things, the bottom line is this. YOU DON’T NEED TO BE RUDE and spending a lot of money for a vacation or going to that location for the first time does not excuse you to do rude things. Example:

– Standing in the middle of a walkway to read a map. Now you wouldn’t stop your car in the middle of a busy street to read a map, so why are you doing it at Disney. Like in a car, the polite thing to do is to move over to the side and read. Then get back in the flow when you’re ready. Its not about you being lost, its you thinking its ok to just stop in a walkway and read.

– Jumping out in front of/ or stopping short in front of people with strollers, on scooters, or wheelchairs. Ever had someone walk in front of you at the grocery store and then suddenly stop, then have a complete fit when you accidently ram into them with? What’s your reply? “This thing doesn’t stop on a dime!” That’s right, its moving. And in crowded places like WDW you must realize that the people who are using these “wheeled” vehicles NEED them in order to enjoy their time with their family just like you are trying to enjoy time with your family. So at the very least, if you do it unknowingly (which is normally what happens cause we’re in a fog when we’re walking) then you should at the very least look at the person and sincerely apologize.

– NO SHOVING. I don’t care if its fireworks, busses, lines, whatever. Shoving or jostling the people around you is rude. The world will not explode if your 3 year old does not see Rapunzel as soon as she walks out of the door and if a person has taken the time to reserve their spot for a parade or fireworks you should be respectful of this. Its just good manners. I understand, we’re in an individualistic society that is mostly concerned about how things effect us, but a little common courtesy in large crowds like this is MANDITORY, And just because everybody else is doing it DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.

– Follow the bus rules. If the bus driver tells you to move to the back of the bus THEN MOVE. Don’t’ stand their like a stubborn mule no matter how tired you are. IITS JUST GOOD MANNERS. Whether you are a male or a female you should at least offer your seat to someone who is elderly or has children that they need to hold.

I could go on, but the theme here is, there are a lot of other people who have paid a lot of their hard earned money for this trip too, so we should all do our best to be respectful of the people around us. It is, as I say, the nature of the beast. Many times I’ve commented to people when we see people around us get ticky because someone ran into them or act exasperated that they’re crowded, “if you didn’t expect to get touched while you were at Disney World you shouldn’t have come here”. I’ve had little kids come grab my leg only to realize that I’m not their mom. I’ve had people from all over the world (including the giant Brazillian tour groups)violate AMERICAN social norms, but do I get mad? No, because that is the NATURE OF THE BEAST. Laugh at it and keep rolling. Keep it all in perspective. And please, don’t think that just because its your first time to go that its ok to be rude. Its not. Just like its not ok for people who have been MANY times to act rudely to you.

So there we go. The Disney Diva’s top 12 tips for First Time Disney guests. Do you have more to add? Leave a comment!!