10) Not taking advantage of some of the free perks available:
If you're staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel, make sure you're taking advantage of the benefits available to you, including Extra Magic Hours when the parks either open early or stay open late exclusively for resort guests to enjoy. Keep in mind that during these hours some attractions may not be available. Free transportation between your Disney resort hotel and the parks is available by bus or water taxi. Sometimes, getting where you need to go may require you to switch busses or modes of transportation entirely, so make sure you allow enough time to arrive at your destination on time. Be sure to get your free Celebration Buttons at Guest Services in any of the parks or Disney Springs. Each Cast Member you come in contact with will acknowledge your special celebration (even if you're celebrating that it's Tuesday), and sometimes, those buttons can even mean a free dessert or other special treat. Package Delivery is another bonus that not many guests are aware of, but as long as you still have at least 24 hours before departure, you can have your purchases delivered to your Disney Resort Hotel room at no additional charge rather than having to schlep it all over the park and risk losing it or having something happen to it.
9) Not appreciating the history of some of the attractions:
Think that attractions like the Jungle Cruise, It's a Small World, and Carousel of Progress are all snooze-fests? Think again! Walt Disney himself had direct influence over these and other attractions, so the next time you're riding through laughing (or not) at the Skipper's corny jokes about the backside of water, or hearing "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" for the 18th time in 20 minutes, think for a minute about the genius behind it.
8) Not trying new things:
Leave your comfort zone at home for while you're not on vacation! I'm not suggesting trying something that's going to put you in physical or emotional danger or go against a medical professionals advice for your unique health profile, but don't be afraid to try new things. The food you've always wondered about but never tried before....try it. That experience that your friends who also love Disney talk about that you've never gotten to try....do it. You may just find a new thing to add to your own "must-do" list.
7) Not taking breaks:
The Walt Disney World resort encompasses 27,000 acres, and believe it or not, only about 35% of that has been developed. With that said, each of the four theme parks are a lot bigger than many guests expect, and for your enjoyment and that of your travel party, make sure you take breaks when you need to. Not only is there a LOT of walking, primarily on black top pavement, but there's Florida's own special brand of humidity. I promise you, you're NOT going to see everything in a park in a day, even if you sprint from attraction to attraction (which isn't a smart move anyway, for the safety of yourself and other guests), so take breaks for water, find shade when you can, or stop into one of the air conditioned attractions like Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, or Country Bear Jamboree and recharge a bit before heading back out.
6) Not making dining reservations:
Using the My Disney Experience app or website, you can make dining reservations that will link directly to your reservation up to 180 days prior to your arrival. That 180 days rolls each day, so keep in mind if it's 180 days from the day you arrive, you'll be able to make reservations for your first day, but for second day reservations, you'll have to wait until the next day and so on. Most of the restaurants should have availability for at least a limited time after the 180 day mark, but highly sought reservations, like those at Be Our Guest, disappear quickly. With that said, be flexible. If you can't get into a restaurant for dinner, but lunch reservations are available, take them. You'll still get to see the restaurant and enjoy the fare rather than not getting to eat there at all.
5) Not having a plan:
The biggest time-waster ever at Walt Disney World is dragging back and forth across the park 16 times to bounce between attractions in different lands. Again, the parks are bigger than they seem. Everyone in your travel party will appreciate a well thought out plan of mobility through the parks, which, if done properly, will get you into the right area for dining reservations and Fast Pass + attractions at the right time.
4) Not choosing the right Resort Hotel:
Every family is different. Every travel party is different. It's very important that when you're planning your Walt Disney World vacation, you choose the right Resort Hotel that will meet the specific needs of your travel party. Some of the Resort Hotel properties are very expansive and require a lot of walking to get from some of the buildings to the main building, restaurants, and transportation stops. Some resorts are themed more appropriately for travel parties with small children. The Resort hotels vary quite a bit, even within the same category, with room rates as well.
3) Trying to Pack Everything In:
As I mentioned in #7, you WILL NOT see and do everything in a park within a single day, and you certainly won't be able to cover the entire Walt Disney Resort and all there is to see and do with the limits of a normal week's vacation. Don't even try.
2) Not living in the moment:
In item #5, I mentioned that not having a plan is a bad idea. Equally as bad is being "too" planned and being so focused on the next thing on your bulleted, color-coded, laminated itinerary each day that you miss an opportunity to experience some real Disney magic. It happens all the time,and in the least expected place. Take the time to notice the details. Notice the sights and smells...yes....smells. Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Main Street USA, and many other parts of Walt Disney World, including the Resort Hotel lobbies themselves, have distinct smells to them. Also, and while this is counter-intuitive to the My Disney Experience app being on your smart phone and the parks providing free, although very slow, Wi-Fi....PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! Enjoy your time and lose yourself in the magic of Happily Ever After without thinking you're going to post it on Facebook. Many of the attractions are dark, and video recording is distracting to other guests around you. Enjoy the vacation and the people you're with and the experiences you have with them.
And the number 1 way to RUIN your Walt Disney World vacation:
Thinking everything HAS to be perfect:
Despite their best efforts, the Cast Members cannot promise perfection at every moment, and it's unfair that we expect it. While you should speak up if something happens that casts a negative pall on your vacation, don't verbally assault a Cast Member when late for a dining reservation because you just HAD to take one more ride. Don't come unglued if Test Track is closed down during a rain storm due to lightning concerns. You see where I'm going with this?
I understand that a Walt Disney World vacation is expensive, and you want to feel as though you've gotten your money's worth, but don't ruin the trip for yourself, your travel party, or the other guests you encounter! If you observe these 10 strategies, you'll have a great vacation! If you're interested in expert advice and assistance planning your next Walt Disney World vacation, I'd be more than happy to assist.