I have a friend who is taking her family to Walt Disney World in Florida for the first time. This person wants to avoid all the planning and research and just show up. For this person, it is going beyond not understanding, or having time, or caring about planning the vacation. It seems like this person is trying to prove some point and almost planning to make sure that the vacation is some kind of failure.
I guess that if you want to spend that much time and money to prove some kind of point about how something is not fun…Well, go ahead and knock yourself out.
For the rest of us who WANT to have a good time with our families, I suggest the following as a minimum amount of preparation for your first Walt Disney World vacation.
- Travel and accommodation reservations. OK, this one goes without saying but I figured someone would bring it up if I did not mention it. So, this one is just here for completeness.
- Setup your My Disney Experience account on the internet, and then download the app to your phone.
- Research and pre-buy your Walt Disney World tickets. Get them registered on your My Disney Experience account if you did not buy them there.
- Decide what park you will visit on which day. You need this information to make your restaurant and Fastpass+ reservations. Use a search engine and find some crowd calendars to do this. Note that you CAN change your mind later, but you need this information to make any reservations.
- Make any restaurant reservations that you want as far out as possible. (up to 180 days) Check number 4 above to know what park you will visit on what day. The “good” restaurants fill up. If you don’t want to spend time sitting in sit-down restaurants, then don’t bother. This one is optional, only if you WANT to use these restaurants.
- Make your Fastpass+ reservations. Check number 4 above to know what park you will visit on what day. Do this 60 days out if you are staying in a Disney hotel, or 30 days out if you are staying off-site. You CAN skip this step, but everybody else at Disney World has done this. By skipping this step you are really agreeing to stand in line longer than other visitors at the parks.
- If you plan to use Magic Bands, get them purchased and associated with a person and a ticket on My Disney Experience.
- Know what time the parks open each day of your visit. I suggest arriving a bit early each day so that you can maximize your park experience.
- Know what attractions you plan to do first when you arrive on your first day. You do not need to plan the entire day. Just know that when the gates open you will join the throng headed in some particular direction rather than milling about looking at a map while the lines build.
This minimal amount of preparation will keep you from standing in line to buy tickets on your first morning. It will give you a basic outline of a plan and allow you to start the fun when you arrive. It will help you to avoid being completely lost and annoyed on your first morning at Walt Disney World.
I hope this helps someone. Have a great vacation.