Living in Southern California and being able to be a passholder to Disneyland has been amazing! It’s one of my favorite places to visit with my family, but with my love for Disney I have never been able to visit Disney World. It’s been a big bucket list item since I was a child, and a couple months ago I finally was able to make it a reality!
We typically visit Disneyland about twice a month, and just knowing how much it changes and all the amazing things they offer has made we wonder for years what Disney World would be like. I only imagined it 100x bigger and more elaborate. With my first visit I wasn’t disappointed, especially with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and a 6 month old in tow, I had an amazing time.
Before out trip I did research, and more research, and then some more! Overall we we’re pretty happy with what we planned during our trip. But of course I learned some things along the way. Here is what I learned from my first visit to Disney World.
Get the App, My Disney Experience
Downloading the My Disney Experience app is a must. You honestly do everything from the app and if you use it right it can save you so much time. The app shows you wait times, show times, entertainment, food menus, and so much more. It also is a place where you can review and schedule your FastPass+ along with a place you can create an itinerary.
If you plan on taking pictures or visiting any of the photo stops then I highly recommend getting the Memory Maker. I believe we paid $170 for our entire trip and we used it. We ended up having a couple hundred of pictures just from the Memory Maker, plus they also film your experience on some of the rides (like Tower of Terror) so it was well worth it. Plus, I loved not having to stress about bringing my camera along.
Here in CA we have a card pass, or our phone if you have the app, that we typically use to redeem FastPass. But I was surprised just how much you use the MagicBand. It was your park ticket, Hotel key, a way to pay for things, and of course how use used FastPass. It reminded me of being on a cruise where all you needed was your card.
My only complaint is that the MagicBand would easily snap off my wrist whenever I would pick up and hold my kids, which was constantly. Otherwise it was great.
Dining & Mobile Order
For starters dining is crazy! You would think with the amount of options it wouldn’t be like that, but it is. Every night at Disney World is like a Friday or Saturday night at a typical restaurant. If you do any type of research, then you probably have read to make reservations early. I didn’t realize early meant close to 180 days before you visit. I ended up booking my trip about 45 days before and I thought I had plenty of time. Well… I started trying to make reservations and had a really hard time. Luckily I kept checking (like every day) for some restaurants until I finally got a decent time. And if you think you can just do walk in, think again. We had dining reservations and we still had to wait 15-30 minutes to be seated.
Of course quick service dining is always available, but even some of those restaurants have very long lines. If you have the app then I definitely suggest using Mobile Order. We visited Pinocchio Village Haus in Magic Kingdom and it was packed. We ended up grabbing a table and then ordering from my phone. Best thing, my food was ready in 5 minutes. Being able to bypass the line was amazing.
If you stay at a Disney World resort then you have 60 days to prebook your selections. You get 3 options a day so it’s recommend to book them morning to mid-day then you can go to the stands around the park and add more if they are available. This is where you have to do research on what rides are a must for your family along with where they are located within the park. FastPass+ is a little different from Disneyland since you prebook them and it’s not like you can visit each attraction and grab one based on the stand by line. Most likely the big featured rides like Avatar Flight of Passage, will be completely filled up for the day before you even step into the park. I wasn’t really expecting that, and unfortunately a couple rides we never got to go on.
Of course I was expecting rain, I honestly expected way more than we got, but I wasn’t expecting what would happen with the rides. Every day of our trip we had anywhere from 1-4 hours with nothing to do because the rides closed down due to weather. I had no idea if there was any chance of thunderstorms in the forecast then they shut down everything. This was a little upsetting especially when you only have so many hours to visit the park, but most days we stuck around and it ended up working in our favor.
Why?….Well, once the weather clears up the rides reopen and it’s like the opening of the day with no lines. We took advantage with the new Toy Story land and we were able to ride the new Slinky Dog ride. Otherwise, we would have had to wait a couple hours for standby which is a no-go with little kids. So make sure to pick what ride you want to go on during this downtime and stay close by!
Finally, no matter how much you plan and set an itinerary, you’ll never be able to see and do it all. I wish we had a whole other week to visit. Honestly each park needs 2-3 days to get it all done, plus if you plan on enjoying your resorts amenities, or the other options like the water parks, mini golf, or Disney Springs, then more time is always needed.
In the end, I learned a lot from my first trip at Disney World and of course I can’t wait to go back!