Blog Post,  Children,  Planning,  Tips

10 Things First Timers NEED to Know About Disney World

First Time at Disney World: When thinking about your first time going to Disney World, I bet all you can think about is the magic that goes along with it. And that’s a great thing! Disney World is probably the most magical place you will ever be, no doubt about that. But there are things that some people, especially those who have never been before, don’t really think about when it comes to planning their WDW vacation. I’m here to help with that!

Since this post went live- the world has changed quite a bit. And with that, Disney World has changed quite a bit too. Not all the info in this post will be 100% accurate right now. We are keeping it up because we are confident Disney will go back to normal at some point. To compare what is currently happening at the parks right now, read this post here. If you still have any questions, feel free to email me at I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

1. If you can, plan your trip a minimum of 180 in advance.

Nicole Ellington

If you are planning to book a Disney vacation, try your hardest to book it a minimum of 180 days in advance! The reasoning behind this is because Disney allows you to book dining reservations starting at 180 days in advance. And yes, certain restaurants will book out that early. So if you have your heart set on a certain restaurant, make sure to book it in advance!

2. There is not a ton of shade.

Nicole Ellington

I am looking at you Toy Story Land! Andy’s Backyard is kind of notorious for its lack of shade, but actually, most of Disney is out in the bright Florida sun. You will NEED sunscreen and you will need to reapply it during the day. Instead of lugging a big bottle of sunscreen with me throughout the parks, I end up putting some in a travel-size container and refill it every day before I hit the parks.

Here is an article all about how to handle that Disney heat!

3. The parks are always busy!

Lots of times I hear, “When are the least crowded times to go to Disney World?” And the short answer is… Disney is ALWAYS crowded! True, there are times when it’s more crowded than others (Christmas break, spring break, holiday weekends), but the truth is that there will always be a crowd. I know some might think of this as a bad thing, but I like to think of it this way: obviously, Disney is doing something right when no matter what time of year you go, there are people that want to be at Disney World. So my suggestion is to book when you want to go! Don’t let crowds scare you. With enough planning, the crowds will not bother you and you will have a great first time at Disney World.

Want to know more about how to handle crowded park days? Click here!

4. If you have your heart set on a great spot for a show or parade, get there early!


Don’t get me wrong, I love the Happily Ever After fireworks in Magic Kingdom! I cry almost every time I watch it. But I don’t mind watching it from a ‘non-traditional’ view (for example, behind the castle near The Little Mermaid Ride). This is because if you would like a great view right in front of the castle, you are going to have to get there early. Like, an hour to an hour and a half early. For me, that’s cutting into precious park time and doesn’t feel worth it to me. But I do understand that first-timers, or people who really love Happily Ever After, want the best view possible. So if that’s the case, get there early. And that goes for the parade too.

5. Think about your feet!

I know at Disney, a lot of families like to buy new outfits to get that adorable matching family photo. And that’s great! But do your feet a favor and don’t wear new shoes to the parks. Wear the shoes that you are most comfortable in, even if they are a little run down. I know it’s tempting to get new shoes to match that new outfit you bought, but think about it. You will be walking and standing for hours and hours a day. My Apple watch recorded 12 miles a day on average for me this past trip. If you really want a new pair of shoes for your trip, buy them at least a month in advance and wear them around so your feet can get used to them.

Ps- These are really comfy shoes!

6. You will NOT be able to do everything in one trip.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but I am just trying to tell you the facts! Disney World is HUGE! There is so much to do, to see, to experience, and to eat! You will never get to do everything in just one trip. I have been more times than I can count, and we always manage to try something new during our trips. My advice to newbies is to pick 3-5 things that you want to do that day. Focus on doing those things. Anything after that will just be a magical extra!

7. Florida Weather is unpredictable!

As Scar says, “Be Prepared!” Actually, I don’t know if we should be getting our advice from a Disney Villain. But you get the point. One minute it can be bright and sunny, the next minute it can be torrential downpours. I have been to Disney in May when one day it was in the 90s and it was soo hot! But that night it felt so cold that I needed a sweater. Also, I have been in January when one day I was wearing jeans and a jacket and still felt cold, and the next day it was so hot that I wished I was wearing shorts! So check the weather and try to be prepared for the unexpected. And always pack a poncho or an umbrella.

Want to read more about how to strategize a rainy day at Disney? Click here!

8. Taking a break is okay!

I know you have just spent an unearthly amount of money on your dream vacation and you want to live it up to its fullest. But breaks are necessary during a WDW vacation! Like I said before, on my last trip I averaged 12 miles a day. And that’s in the hot Florida sun with crowds of people around you. WDW isn’t exactly a relaxing vacation. I often joke that I need a vacation once I get back from Disney. If you are there for multiple days, I highly suggest sleeping in one morning, or taking an afternoon break at the resort. Whatever works best for you and your family. Having to deal with grumpy kids (or grumpy adults for that matter) is never fun. Taking a break during your trip will be highly beneficial.

Rest days are some of my favorite days! Click here to see what awesome things you can do!

9. Plan your Fastpasses as best as you can.


The Fastpass system can sometimes be hard to figure out, but once you do get the hang of it, it can be really beneficial! If you are staying on-site, you can book your Fastpasses for 60 days out. If you are staying off-site, then it’s 30 days. The first tip for Fastpasses is to try to book them around the middle of the day if possible. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  • The first, lines aren’t super long the first hour or two after park opening, so you can probably get a few in before lunchtime.
  • Second, try not to book any of your original three fastpasses for the evening/night. If you book them for midday, you can be done with all three of your Fastpasses by early afternoon. Now you have the whole afternoon/evening to schedule even more fastpasses!

If you want to read more about Fastpasses (and use our awesome FREE printable cheat sheet, click here!)

10. Getting from your resort to the parks can take a lot of time.

If you end up having an early Fastpass or a breakfast reservation, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to travel! Sometimes buses are delayed. Sometimes the security check is really backed up. And like I said before, WDW is huge! So even if everything is running smoothly, it can still take some time.

Helpful links-

In order to help you plan the PERFECT first vacation, here are some helpful links!

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First Time at Disney World: With these tips, you will be exploring the parks like a Disney veteran! Knowing these valuable tips will help to set you up for a successful, magical vacation. Do you have any tips that you like to give first-timers? If so, leave them in the comments below or let me know on Twitter at @DisneyDreamCo!

Post You May Like: Free Printable Disney World Planning Sheets!

I'm a lover of all things Disney! I have an adorable son named Andy (after Toy Story), and an amazing hubby named Aaron. For my family and I, Disney isn’t just a hobby or someplace we casually go when on vacation, it's a way of life. We try to go back 'Home' twice a year. My hope for this blog is to help families navigate their crazy, magical times through Disney and reach their Disney Dream!


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