From deciding where to purchase tickets to how to spend each day, planning your first Orlando theme park vacation can be a bit overwhelming. Here’s a list of common first time mistakes so you won’t make the same ones.
Mistake #1 – Over-Scheduling
Trying to squeeze two vacations’ worth of activities into one trip simply does not work. Overly ambitious scheduling will leave you exhausted, grouchy and unfulfilled. Remember, it’s quality over quantity…and there’s always next time! As you begin forming a schedule, use Leap’s Crowd Calendar to pick the best time to visit and the recommended parks to visit each day of your vacation. Here’s a helpful guide to using Leap’s Crowd Calendar (blog).
Mistake #2 – Arriving Late
Theme park vacations are not for the late-risers. The simplest way to make the most out of each day of your trip is to arrive at the parks at least 30 minutes before rope-drop. We go on our favorite rides the first hour or two after the parks open while the lines are still short. If we get to the parks late, we always feel like we’re playing “catch-up” the rest of the day.
Mistake #3 – Buying Tickets at the Gate
By purchasing tickets in advance you accomplish several things: 1) You have the best ticket for YOUR family’s vacation; 2) You Skip the Lines and go straight through the gates when you arrive at the parks; and 3) YOU SAVE MONEY!
Mistake #4 – Using an Inexperienced Travel Agent
Most people feel comfortable booking their trip one piece at a time (i.e. purchase discount tickets from Undercover Tourist, book flights directly from the airline, etc.) but if you wish to use a travel agent, I strongly recommend choosing one who specializes in the Orlando area theme parks. With so many ticket options available, it’s important to choose the best combination to suit your family’s needs and know what’s included on each ticket.
Mistake #5 – No Plan
The difference between a successful theme park vacation and a stressful theme park vacation is all in the planning. Use Leap’s Crowd Calendar to see recommended parks and park hours for each day of your vacation. Watch videos on Undercover Tourist’s YouTube Channel to decide which rides to put on your “must-do” list. Use the ‘Planner’ feature on Undercover Tourist’s apps to customize your schedule…a sequence of your favorite attractions, dining reservation information, when to save your spot for the afternoon parade, everything. You can even import the popular FrogTOUR to your iPhone.
Mistake #6 – Staying Off-Site
You have enough to worry about on your first trip to Disney. From the complimentary transportation to and from the parks to the extended theme park hours, the benefits of staying on-property well outweigh any additional cost. Read Why the Frog Family Stays On-Property (blog) here.
Mistake #7 – Not Making Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Advanced Dining Reservations are precisely that. Many of Disney’s table-service restaurants are booked months in advance and without an ADR you will not get a table. Call 407-WDW-DINE to make dining reservations as soon as you begin planning your trip. Want to know where the Frog Family likes to eat? Read 10 Advanced Dining Reservations Worth Making for Your Family (blog).
Mistake #8 – Waiting Until You’re Starving to Eat
Lines during regular meal times can be very long, so don’t wait until you or your little ones get hungry to find somewhere to eat. Eating an early lunch is also a great time-saver! The wait times at your favorite rides will be shorter while everyone else is eating. Make dining decisions beforehand with the maps and menus on our iPhone and Android apps and on the Disney Dining planning page.
Mistake #9 – Forgoing the FASTPASS
Disney’s FASTPASS is a free service included on all Disney tickets that allows you to reserve your future place in line at the more popular attractions. Don’t let the process intimidate you. Here’s an extremely helpful guide to using Disney’s FASTPASS: What’s a FASTPASS & How Do I Use It (blog).
Mistake #10 – Impatience
I can picture it…it’s 95 degrees, we’ve been walking all day, the line for Peter Pan’s Flight is 60 minutes and Tad and Lily are hungry. Since the Frog Family always packs our patience, we just take a deep breath and remember we’re lucky enough to be on vacation. There are going to be lines and there are going to be crowds…it’s all in the attitude.
Here are few more helpful resources for first-timers:
To Hop or Not to Hop…Magic Your Way vs. Park Hopper (blog)
Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids (blog)
Top 10 Time-Saving Tips for Theme Parks (blog)
Planning Pages on UndercoverTourist.com
We’re always here to help if you have any questions as you plan your vacation. Don’t hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-846-1302.