Disney World character
Guides and Itineraries,  USA

10 Walt Disney World Tips and Tricks for First-Time Visitors

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Going to Disney is every kid’s dream (and perhaps adults too)! After all, it is said to be the “happiest place on earth.” If you are a first-timer, navigating through the park might seem overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some insider tips and tricks to make your Disney World experience even more magical and amazing!

Located in Orlando, Florida, Disney World is composed of four different parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It is also home to two water parks, as well as golf courses. With so many interesting attractions and possible encounters with beloved Disney characters, you’ll want to make sure to maximize your enjoyment and make the most of your time at the park.

Without further ado, here’s our top Disney World tips and tricks for first-time visitors!

1. Plan ahead

Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom

First things first, it’s important to plan ahead for your trip to Disney World. This means booking your tickets and accommodations in advance, as well as doing some research on the different parks and attractions available. This will help you avoid standing in hours-long lines for attractions and rides and any last-minute stress.

You should take your trip to Disney World with a clear idea of:

  • Which park you want to visit
  • The rides you want to experience
  • The restaurants you want to make reservations at or check out
  • The parades, shows, and fireworks displays you want to watch

If you’re going with your family, make sure to get everyone involved with planning. Make a list of your must-see attractions in the park for each day.

Your plan may need adjustments on the ground. However, having a general schedule for your day can make even the briefest visit to Walt Disney World a beautiful experience. If you need assistance planning, you can book your dream Disney vacation with companies like MagicGuides which has decades of Disney planning experience so you can just sit back, slow down, and immerse yourself in the park experience.

2. Study the map of Disney World

Studying the map of Disney World thoroughly before and during your visit there can save your sanity and help you maximize your time at the park. Knowing your shortcuts, routes, and destinations can help you navigate around congested areas and avoid slow foot traffic and large crowds ensuring that you get the most out of your park experience.

Knowing the location of essentials like drinking fountains, first aid, food carts, and bathrooms especially when you are visiting the park with your kids can help you efficiently handle unexpected emergencies like a sudden restroom necessity. If your family gets hungry, thirsty, or needs some medical help from the first aid team, you can use your knowledge of the place to handle your situation quickly and effectively so you can go back to your list of fun activities to partake in at the park.

3. Know the optimal booking season

Understanding how to book your trip to Disney World during non-peak seasons between major holidays and weekdays outside of spring and summer breaks can help you experience a less crowded atmosphere at the park. Visiting Disney parks during this time is an excellent way for you to get more value from your vacation hassle-free.

Securing your Disney tickets ahead of time allows you to simplify your trip and make comparisons and decisions about the number of days you’ll be visiting and the number of parks you’ll tour, potentially saving you money.

4. Utilize the FastPass+

Mickey Mouse at Disney World

One of the best Disney World tips and tricks is to utilize Disney’s FastPass+ system. This is a great way to save time and cut down on waiting in long queues. It allows you to reserve a specific time slot for popular rides and attractions, meaning you can skip the long lines and spend more time actually enjoying the park.

You can obtain your FastPass from in-park kiosks or get them through the My Disney Experience App and link it to your tickets up to 30 days or 60 days in advance for a more organized Disney World adventure.

5. Get to the park early

Arriving at the park early before the park is officially opened by the stage show on the castle forecourt can allow you to have a smoother experience and access your rides and attraction sites early. You will be able to maximize your ride time and when the crowds begin to grow, you can begin to use your FastPasses for rides and attractions that you don’t want to wait too long for.

By the time you’ve exhausted your FastPasses, you’ll have experienced multiple attractions hassle-free and can take a break and look for food before the lunch hour rush.

6. Make time for character meet and greets

Disney World character

Meeting your favorite Disney characters is a must-do for first-timers! Make sure to check the park schedules for character meet and greet times, or use the My Disney Experience app to find out where characters will be throughout the day.

7. Take advantage of extended evening hours

Disneyland Castle at night
Disneyland Castle at night.

If you missed an experience you would like to enjoy at a Disney World Park, you can hop in line anytime as the park nears closing and get to enjoy the attraction site. The great thing about this is that even if you arrive and join a one-hour queue for a ride two minutes before closing time, you will be able to stay behind all the way even after the park closes to experience your ride.

With no FastPasses coming through the waiting lines at this time, the line moves quickly and you get the chance to do what you missed during the day.

8. Plan for your dining needs

Another hack to get the most out of your Disney World experience is to carry your packed snacks to save you time looking for food joints and excessively waiting for your meals to be ready. The advantage of this is that you can carry your healthy snacks and meals as opposed to buying food at the park where most of the eateries are for junk food.

If you are a foodie and love to experience new cuisines, however, you can research some of the best food joints in Disney parks and prepare for them. A lot of people recommend booking at least 2 months in the restaurant you’re interested at.

9. Be prepared for the weather

Florida’s weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for sunny days and a rain jacket or poncho for potential rain showers.

If you are proactive about checking the weather forecasts and rain is predicted, you can consider exploiting that to explore the park while it’s raining because the parks become less crowded during rainy weather, reducing wait times.

Pro Tip: You can also visit attractions and queue for rides during major shows, parades, and fireworks that don’t pique your interest as a strategy to find decreased lines at attraction sites since the majority of visitors will be enjoying the sights of the shows, parades, and fireworks displays.

10. Just have fun!

Disney World tips and tricks - have fun!

If it’s your first time in Disney World, naturally you’ll want to see everything. You may even have a planned itinerary crammed with every attraction and ride listed in Disney World guides online.

Remember, there is so much to do at the park and it’s impossible to check them all off. Even people who’d visited Disney World multiple times haven’t done everything. It’s okay to miss certain attractions — listen to what your body tells you, which means resting when tired; soak up the magical experience of being at the park; and appreciate the little surprises you’ll encounter.

Enjoy the moment, eat good food, and take lots of pictures for the memories.

Don’t forget to read our 3 Days Orlando Itinerary as well.

Has this guide on the best Disney World tips and tricks been helpful to you? If you have anything more to add, let us know in the comments section below!

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