Are you heading on to Walt Disney World and want to set yourself up for a successful trip? Find out how to avoid these top 5 Walt Disney World mistakes people make on their first trip to Walt Disney World!
This list of 5 biggest Walt Disney World mistakes first-timers make contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Do you want to have the best Walt Disney World vacation ever?

Of course you do! And I’m here to help. I’ve been visiting the parks for years and know all the tips and tricks to make your trip amazing.

You can have a horrible Walt Disney World vacation if you let yourself. Unfortunately, it happens often. I get complaints all the time from people who think Walt Disney World is a waste of money. I see it on guests’ faces in the park when they aren’t having a good time.

The good news is they’re just doing it wrong.

Sometimes Disney drops the ball but rarely is it enough to ruin an entire vacation. I’m just saying, if you’re having a terrible time at the most magical place on Earth, you might be the drama.

Follow my advice and you’ll be able to avoid all the common pitfalls that ruin people’s vacations. With a bit of preparation, you can relax and enjoy yourself while in the parks. It’s going to be an incredible experience that you’ll never forget.

Keep scrolling to find out the classic Walt Disney World mistakes first-timers make that ruin their Disney trip.

Walt Disney World Mistakes FAQs

What are the biggest Disney World mistakes families make?

One of the biggest Walt Disney World mistakes that people make all the time is trying to keep large families together. This includes multi-generational trips to Disney World, but also larger families or families with a wide range of ages of children. Instead, try to split off into smaller groups and meet up for meals or for certain rides.

How important is choosing a Walt Disney World resort?

A lot of families choose a really expensive Walt Disney World resort with a ton of cool amenities, but end up spending all their time in the parks and just sleeping at the resort. What a waste! Don’t forget to enjoy your on-site resort. Plan a couple of resort days to rest between your long park days. Or come back to your resort in the afternoon to relax or enjoy the pool.

When should I buy my Walt Disney World souvenirs?

There are tons of amazing things to buy at Walt Disney World. But, you don’t want to be stuck carrying around all your Disney souvenirs. Instead, have them send your souvenirs to your Walt Disney World resort or wait to purchase them until the end of the day.

Classic Pitfalls That Will Ruin Your Walt Disney World Vacation

1. Trying to Do Too Much

It’s a problem many of us face. The cost of a Walt Disney World trip is so high. Not only do we feel pressure to get the value, but we also know we aren’t likely to return for several years at least.

That means that time is of the essence. There is so much to do and we have to do it all!

Photo credit: Sees the Day Photography

That’s exactly the mind-frame that many first-timers suffer from and it can even be a problem for the pros as well. Even if you could afford a trip every couple of years before the pandemic, so much has changed now that those numbers might not add up.

If you visit Walt Disney World now, chances are great, you won’t return again for a very long time, so you have to make it count.

But trying to shoehorn too many experiences into your vacation is one of the greatest pitfalls that ruin your Disney trip. It actually diminishes the value of your trip. It adds stress when you should be having fun, and it keeps you from being present by always making you look forward to the next thing.

Overbooking your schedule will wear you out fast and keep you from getting the maximum enjoyment you crave from this vacation time.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

Instead of rushing through the parks too fast, you should schedule some breaks at each park where you can recharge. If it’s built into your schedule, you won’t feel guilty about slowing down.

Plus, it will give you a chance to sit back and take in all the cool Disney decor details at each park. Trust me, you probably wouldn’t otherwise notice the incredible job Disney does down to the last detail trying to immerse you in the experience.

2. Picking the Wrong Resort

There are all kinds of ways to pick the wrong resort. There is no right resort, but there are plenty of wrong ones. That’s because the perfect experience for you is not the same as the most fun trip for me.

Inspired by turn-of-the-century national park lodges, Disney's Wilderness Lodge combines rustic charm with a contemporary flair on the shore of Bay Lake at Walt Disney World Resort. The 727-room hideaway features a spectacular six-story lobby, replete with teepee-topped chandeliers, totem poles, an 82-foot-tall stone fireplace and a bubbling hot spring that expands outside the building into a roaring waterfall. Walt Disney World Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)
Photo credit: Walt Disney World Resort

The thing is, that there are so many options to choose from that many of them won’t fit your needs at all. The resorts become pitfalls that ruin your Disney trip when they’re too far away from what is important to you, or they’re too expensive.

Maybe there isn’t enough theming, or it isn’t “Disney” enough. Believe it or not, I’ve heard that complaint about deluxe resorts.

Some guests choose the cheaper value resorts because they feel the characters make the Disney experience more so than the elaborate and atmospheric Deluxe resort hotels like Wilderness Lodge or the Polynesian Village.

The resort you choose must fit the type of trip you want.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

It really helps to ask yourself a few questions before you book your Walt Disney World accommodations:

  • Will you be in the parks most of the time?
  • Which parks?
  • How far will you be?
  • What transportation options are there?
  • Do you want to enjoy other nearby resorts?
  • Do you want a lot of pool time?
  • A Spa?

All of the answers to these questions point to different resorts for the highest benefit. The wrong choice could kill your time or your budget and ruin your whole vibe, so choose carefully!

3. Forgetting to Make Reservations

Reservations are more important now than ever. It used to be that all you had to reserve were tables at a popular restaurant. Now you reserve everything from ride access to an entire park ticket.

It never used to be this way, but now you can’t get into a Disney park without first making a reservation even if you have a ticket. The ticket doesn’t get time-stamped until you select your date using Park Pass.

Image of people wearing masks while walking through the Disney Hollywood Studios entrance at Walt Disney World.
Entrance to Disney Hollywood Studios.

Missing this step can be a major blunder. It has the potential to be one of the greatest pitfalls that ruin your Disney trip. Once you are in, though, you’ll still want to make those ride reservations for those popular attractions with long wait times.

Dining is still an important part of your Walt Disney World vacation as well. Some restaurants will be very hard to get into if you haven’t booked an advance reservation.

When you are in the parks especially, you want to be able to walk right in and be seated. You want to save time and you want to be assured that you have a place to eat, especially if you are trying to duck out of the heat or pouring rain.

Reservations at table service restaurants are an important part of the theme park survival strategy.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

Make a note on your calendar for the exact date you can reserve your Walt Disney World tickets, make dining reservations, and book any special tours or experiences.

If you don’t get the reservations that you’re hoping for, don’t stress out. Keep checking at different times of the day to see if you can snag something. Lots of people cancel reservations so there’s a good chance you can get what you want if you have a little patience.

4. Not Booking Transportation

Officially now, there is no Disney-sponsored way to get from the airport to Walt Disney World and back.

If you are used to the Magical Express Experience, you will have to re-learn how to get to Disney World. And unfortunately, that also means you will have to pay an additional fee to do so.

Image of three teens holding Mickey dolls at the Orlando Airport.
Orlando Airport.

Getting stuck at the airport and having to improvise a way to get to your hotel at the end of a long flight can be one of the toughest pitfalls that ruin your Disney trip, especially if you have to figure out your way back to the airport once you check out.

Find out some Orlando Airport transportation options that will save you time and stress.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

The good news is Mears still has a variety of shuttles to take you to your hotel. They just don’t do it for free anymore. Mears isn’t the only option although it is probably the best.

Whether you book Mears for your airport transit services, call an Uber, or rent a car, you will need to make some sort of transportation arrangements where in previous years you never did.

5. Failure to Plan

Another huge pitfall that too many people make is not planning things out enough. They figure they will just wing it and everything will be magical.

It’s even worse because Disney Genie Plus plays into this idea. It’s marketed as an app that does all your thinking for you so you don’t have to figure anything out ahead of time. This is FALSE!

Image of the Splash Mountain sign at  Walt Disney World.
Photo credit: Sees the Day Photography

In fact, while Disney Genie Plus can be fun for Magic Keyholders that have already “been there, done that,” the suggestions made by the complimentary Genie service do not take important factors like geographic location and prioritization into account.

If you show up without a plan, the fact is that you will miss out on a lot. You will be likely to find out about stuff you could have done if you only knew about it beforehand. You will just as likely run into frustrating situations that are totally avoidable.

Know Before You Go is a repeated mantra found all over the Walt Disney World website and with good reason.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

Do your research and plan ahead!

There are so many resources out there geared to helping you plan your perfect Walt Disney World vacation. Take advantage of them!

Read a few different Disney blogs and join some Disney World Facebook groups to get advice from other families and learn from their Walt Disney World mistakes.

Mistakes Disney World First-Timers Make Wrap Up

I hope you’ve learned a few Disney tips to make your next Walt Disney World vacation amazing! Whether you’re looking for the best places to stay, where to eat, or what rides and attractions are worth waiting in line for, we have everything you need.

Check out our other Walt Disney World content here on Marcie and the Mouse and find more information about all of the incredible things this theme park has to offer.

Looking for more Walt Disney World tips? Check out the best Walt Disney World hotels for every budget, how to get groceries at Walt Disney World, how to visit Walt Disney World while pregnant, and how to take advantage of the Walt Disney World concierge service.

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