All getaways can have their hiccups, but that doesn't mean a Walt Disney World vacation has to. For a smooth trip to the Orlando resort, read on for 10 mistakes you should avoid making.
This should be the first thing you do when considering a Disney World trip; at least three to six months prior to a given travel period, the resort will release a deal for on-site stays -- including a free Disney Dining Plan, room savings, and discounts on park tickets. Take a look at this page at the beginning of your planning process and see if there are any valid deals for the time of your trip. If you do book a vacation without a special offer, but one comes out later on, you can have it applied to your reservation.
One of the complimentary features of park admission is being able to reserve times for certain attractions prior to your visit using FastPass+. Guests staying at a resort on property can do this 60 days before, while day guests' windows open up 30 days out. The upside of FastPass+ is that it significantly reduces your wait times for select rides or shows, so be sure to book yours early.
The four parks -- Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom -- all have different operating hours. Each day, one park opens at least one hour early while another stays open a bit longer at night during Extra Magic Hours, which are exclusively for resort guests. Checking the park hours and individual park schedules online will allow you to plan around your FastPass+ and dining reservations -- it's also helpful to know the times of shows, parades, and fireworks.
It's totally understandable to want to see and do as much as possible on a Disney vacation, but that's unrealistic. Before you go, make a list of at least one thing each person would like to do for each day of the trip and make it your goal to get that done -- then you can determine what else is worth your time once you're there.
Thinking of hitting the parks multiple days in a row? We understand the your park-hopping ambition, but pounding the pavement nonstop will lead to burnout. To avoid it, schedule at least one day that doesn't involve a park visit. As an alternative, lounge by the pool, take in a movie at Disney Springs, or play some mini golf.
This portal is your best friend on a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Here, you can review reservations for the hotel, dining, and FastPass+. Beyond that, use it for hotel check-in, browsing restaurant menus, attraction wait times, directions, restroom locations, and more.
Prepaying for meals and saving as much as 20 percent on food are two of the biggest draws to the Disney Dining Plan, but you're doing yourself a disservice by opting for this add-on and not making any table-service reservations. Many of those eateries fill up quickly, while others don't accept walk-ups, so you'll need to make reservations if you want to get in.
It's a common misconception that because Disney World is a theme park resort, that most of the food on property is the typical cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. You can find all of those things, but park fare also includes items like Moroccan lamb sausage and rice-stuffed grape leaves at Epcot's Spice Road Table, rice bowls with veggie slaw and boba balls at the new Pandora -- The World of Avatar, and braised pork at Be Our Guest. Find some other great options here.
Set those alarms! One of the most effective ways to beat the crowds is to get to the parks about 45 t0 60 minutes prior to opening; once the park is officially in operation for the day, you'll find smaller crowds and shorter lines early in the morning.
We'll let you in on a secret: one of the easiest ways to zip through an attraction line is to go through the single rider lane, which is usually much shorter than the standby one meant for groups. If you and your party do go through this line, just know that you may be seated separately -- but it beats having to wait in a long queue.