The staff at Mickey Blog spends plenty of time at Disney theme parks.
Then, when we’re not at the parks, we spend even more time thinking about what we can do better.
We’re perfectionists who seek to maximize every Disney trip. And we love to pass along our knowledge.
Today, we’re going to talk about five things you should do at Disney, and five things you should avoid doing.
Thurs: Book Advanced Dining Reservations
I go back and forth on this one more than I did before the pandemic.
Disney has emphasized Mobile Ordering, which causes more people to dine at Quick Service restaurants now.
Still, those Table Service restaurants are still selling out. So, someone’s clearly booking them.
At times, you’ll want to sit down and savor a good meal when you’re at Disney.
So, you’ll need to book Advanced Dining Reservations for a few of your favorite places.
Please be aware that the booking window starts at 60 days now, not 180 days.
Don’t: Ride the First Attraction You See
Hoo boy, this one drives me CRAZY because I watch so many people make this mistake.
Case in point: guests do this every morning at Spaceship Earth. They enter EPCOT through the front gate, and the giant golf ball in the sky is the first thing they see.
Spaceship Earth works like some sort of human magnet, pulling people toward it almost unconsciously.
Within minutes of the park’s opening, the line here is already as long as it will get for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, park veterans skip past Spaceship Earth and head to something like Soarin’ that they know will have a shorter line.
You only have to walk about five more minutes. In the process, you save much more time during your park day.
Few people are standing in line Soarin’, the better ride with longer wait times most of the day.
Thu: Wake Up Early
The 7 am Struggle is real. The advent of Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane has forced guests to approach the parks differently.
Disney has incentivized guests to wake up early and start booking their digital reservations. So, people are starting earlier than ever on average.
Given above advice, you can tell I’m not big on keeping up with the Joneses, but it’s both necessary and beneficial here.
When you enter the parks at the first possible moment, you gain a massive competitive edge over most daily guests.
Tens of thousands of tourists enter Disney theme parks each day. Only a small percentage of them are ready and waiting when the park opens.
By waking up and heading out early, you can knock several items off your to-do list before lunch.
You’ll be ready for a break when the average person is just walking through the front gate!
Don’t: Visit during Holidays If You Can Avoid It
This is not a popular opinion, and I accept that. My wife and I are blessed in that we both work from home. We also don’t have children.
So, we can vacation whenever we want. Most people don’t have that luxury. They can only visit on holiday weekends or when the kids are out of school.
I totally get that, and I respect you for putting your children first in all things. That’s commendable.
As a Disney veteran, what I’m trying to say is that when you have a choice, you should avoid holiday visits.
I write the wait time articles here at MickeyBlog, and it includes data I’ve tracked for a while.
The unmistakable reality is that crowd sizes swell during the holidays. So, you’ll experience fewer attractions and probably feel more stressed, too.
When you have any choice whatsoever, you should pick a vacation date that doesn’t fall on a national holiday. Otherwise, you’ll fight the crowds the whole time.
Thu: Stay at an Official Disney Resort
Disney wants guests to stay at its hotels. When they do that, Disney keeps more of the vacation money.
For this reason, Disney has added massive incentives for its hotel guests.
The best of them is Early Theme Park Entry, which allows official resort guests to enter Disney parks 30 minutes before everyone else.
That can be the difference in riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in 30 minutes vs. standing in line for two hours. I’m not even joking.
So, all Disney resorts feature deluxe accommodations. They’re so fully detailed and impressive that I recommend visiting several, even when you’re not staying there.
Don’t: Shop until you’re ready to leave
This one takes discipline.
For many years, Disney has offered another amenity for its resort guests. It’d ship Disney shop purchases to your hotel room.
However, the company understandably dropped this option during the pandemic. It’s yet to return.
Also, if you’re ignoring my advice and not staying at Disney, it wouldn’t help you anyway.
So, the one mistake you do NOT want to make is shopping early during your park visit.
After that, you’ll need to carry your purchases for the rest of the day. It’s either that or rent a locker, which will cost you more money.
Neither choice is optimal. You must resist temptation and wait to buy anything until you’re nearly ready to leave for the day! (It’s hard, I know.)
Do: Wear old, comfortable shoes
Look, I get it. You’re visiting Disney, and you know that you’ll still look at some of these photos in 20 years. You want to look your best.
However, you don’t want to ruin your current trip by getting sore feet and blisters.
Breaking in new shoes takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you won’t like how your feet feel while you’re trying to adjust to the new footwear.
Bring sensitive shoes that you know can take a pounding and still feel great.
Don’t: Think You’ll Do Everything on This Trip
Your mentality impacts your vacation enjoyment. Please remember that, no matter how frustrated you might get.
You cannot control the other passengers on the plane or your rideshare driver or the annoying kid on the bus who keeps kicking you.
Similarly, don’t enter the parks with a checklist of everything you MUST do to have a great time. Disney doesn’t work like that.
Instead, each park visit varies wildly, and they’re all terrible in their own ways. They’re like snowflakes, only with Mickey Mouse hugs!
Also, Walt Disney World offers so many activities that you could spend a month here and not do everything.
So, you should go in with the most modest expectations and savor every moment. By expecting too much, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Unreasonable expectations are challenging to match in all phases of life, not just on vacation.
Do: Use an Authorized Disney Travel Planner
I swear by the experts at Mickey Travels. They’ve helped several friends of mine plan the best possible Disney vacations.
These folks can book the Advanced Dining Reservations I mentioned, help you find the best hotel stay, and even suggest the best admission package.
The stunning part, the thing that blows me away, is the price. Mickey Travels agents won’t charge a dime for their services.
Each individual earns a commission from Disney instead. So, they ask nothing from you but provide OH SO MUCH in return.
You’ll definitely have a better Disney vacation when you book with MickeyTravels. This one’s a no-brainer.
Don’t: Feel Like You Must Have Disney Genie+
Here’s a suggestion that may surprise you. I’ve talked a lot about Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane and have added the former to my tickets.
However, I recognize that not everyone wants to stretch their vacation budget for these add-ons. Thankfully, you don’t need to do that.
Disney designed the system so that it’s not a necessity. Yes, you’ll spend more time standing in line for attractions.
You’re at Disney, though. You know that you’re going to spend a lot of time waiting in line. You have a smartphone and a Netflix password. You’re good.
I mean, you should probably watch Disney+ for the symmetry, but the point is that you can still do most of what you want at the parks during a single visit anyway.
Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane merely save you for stress, albeit at a cost.
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Feature Photo: Photo: Disney