Our family loves Disney World. My family started taking me to Disney when I was in junior high and I loved every trip. When I started my family I wanted to share the fun, excitement, and emotion of the Disney experience with my husband and our children. This year we did a lot of people watching on our visit discovered 10 Things Not to Do when you are visiting the parks. 10 things that will make your trip run smoothly.
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We took our first vacation after our honeymoon to Disney World and we visit at least once a year. The parks have changed, grown and to some degree become more complicated. With the different pricing and the “Fast Pass +” scheduling of the rides. But we still love to go and love to find tips and tricks to make every trip fun.
#1 Do Not Stop and Read Your Map in the Middle of the Walkway.
I can not tell you how many times we would be walking in a crowd of 500 to 600 people (we did not follow tip #5 and visited at Spring Break) and a family would stop abruptly, unfolding their map and have a meeting on where to go next. Everyone else would be in motion and almost have a traffic crash of people. If you need to read a map step to the side out of the flow of traffic. Having fun at Disney is all about being patient and being courteous to our fellow visitors. You will love these Disney Backpacks.
# 2 Do Not Text While Walking in the Middle of the Walkway.
This is a universal rule about cell phones, do not text while you are walking. Again when we were at Disney we are in huge groups of people walking. We would be at a nice pace following the people in front of us and there, heading in the other direction is a person with their head down walking right into the oncoming crowd. As we all know if you walk and text you do not go in a straight line, and every time the texter would stagger off to the other side right into a mass of people. Keep it polite and step to the side out of the flow if you are texting. Check out this cute hidden Mickey to keep a grip on your phone.
#3 Do Not Show Directions with a Fully Outstretched Arm.
This was a fun experience. Again we were walking, at a good clip, in a huge group of people, a Mom or Dad would instruct their family to go a different direction, by flinging their arm in full stretch. We got a hand or arm in our face at least a dozen times. We had to keep our reflexes sharp not to get hit in the face. My suggestion would be to give a verbal direction with a short arm looking behind that you do not hit someone.
#4 Do Not Enter Security Checkpoint with Bags All Closed Up.
This “Do Not” is to help you get to your locations on time. With the invention of the “Fast Pass+,” we all are on schedules that are not totally in our control. Disney has stepped up their game when it comes to security. It is reassuring that they are taking security seriously but it makes for long, and I mean sometimes, really long lines to have your bags searched.
Every backpack, purse, and Disney Purse and every purse has to be searched before entering a park. If you are on the monorail line the searching checkpoints are at the hotel where you are entering the monorail. You would think this is a time saver as fewer people enter at each hotel. However, so many people are not prepared for this search.
Anyone without a bag, purse or stroller can just go through the metal detector, however, again many people are not prepared to take everything out of their pockets, Disney big pins off their shirts, or heavy belts off. I have no idea why with security almost everywhere people are shocked and confused at the metal detector.
If you have a backpack, purse, or stroller, be prepared as you wait. Open up every zippered compartment as an officer will open it up if you do not. This just delays the line. There is always someone with 20 zippered compartments that never plan ahead. Disney security is not just taking a look and go, they are very thorough. So Be Prepared.
#5 Do Not Wait to Make Your “Fast Pass+” Reservations
In order to help families not have to wait in line, Disney started the “Fast Pass” system in 1999. They were paper passes that you received at the park. Now we are in the “Fast Pass+” that is attached to your Disney Parks Magic Band. The passes put you in a “Fast Pass” line that is quicker than the regular standby line. You can make the passes at an in-park kiosk or on your mobile device. If you purchase your tickets ahead of time you can make these reservations up to 30 days in advance or if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel up to 60 days in advance of your trip.
If you are going to Disney during high admission time, I recommend you stay at a Disney Hotel and make your passes the minute, the second you are 60 days out. The popular rides the kids want to go on get taken really fast. On our summer trip, we missed out on the Pandora ride by waiting only 1 hour.
Just a side note, the Pandora “Flight of Passage” ride is the best ride there is in any park. The ride is based on the movie Avatar. I was nervous as I do not like to be in tight spaces and I get motion sickness. I did not have any problem with this ride. There is room as you sit in the ride and you can always just look down at yourself if you feel a little nauseous. When the movie starts they have the wind blowing at you with fresh air that helps too. I can not even describe how fantastic this ride is. It is as if you are transformed into the movie and you actually are in Pandora flying around. So much fun and full of excitement. Do Not wait to get a Fast Pass for this ride as the line can be up to 3-5 hours long (yes I said hours).
#6 Do Not Visit at Spring Break, Christmas Week, or God Help You, New Year’s Eve.
The crowds at Spring Break and specifically Easter week are the worst. So many people, so many strollers. We have visited many years at Spring Break so that we would not have to take the kids out of school. If possible find another week. It is so hard to see all that you want. We go every year so if we do not get on a ride or see a show we are ok. But if this is your only trip or one of a few you will be disappointed. While it is beautiful and full of flowers at this time you really have to plan ahead in order to enjoy your trip and not just stand around waiting.
When our daughter Katie interned at Disney we visited her the week of New Year’s Eve. I have never seen so many people in one place. We could hardly walk. It got so tight with people shoulder to shoulder at EPCOT on New Year’s Eve at 7:00 pm we left and when Hollywood Studios where Katie was and it was a little better. They told us there were 110,000 people at EPCOT and 80,000 at Hollywood Studios. At one point I was afraid for my safety. I was glad I was not there with small children. If you can avoid these times of the year.
#7 Do Not Only Bring One Pair of Tennis Shoes
I always bring a good pair of tennis shoes that I know are comfortable and are not new. On this visit, I did just that. After 4 days of walking over 20,000 steps a day even these good shoes hurt my feet. After talking to several of the staff they recommended that you bring 2 to 3 pairs of shoes, different styles, and change them out so that your feet do not get rubbed by the shoe in the same place each day. I try not to overpack on these trips but I will be bringing 3 different good well-padded shoes next trip.
#8 Do Not Leave Your Room without a Water Bottle
It can not be said too much; it is hot in Florida. Even when you think it is a nice cool day, there is tons of humidity. In March on our trip, it was in the low 70’s and high 80’s and you get dehydrated very fast. The cool breeze and the change from the cold north are deceiving. You think you are fine but you need to keep drinking water. I put a small water bottle in my purse and one in each kid’s backpack and one in my husband’s pocket. Then when it is empty as it is small we refill them at the drinking fountains.
Very Important to know: At Disney, they are required to give you free tap water if you ask. When you go to a food station they have small cups with lids sitting there ready for the asking.
#9 Do Not Leave Your Room without Sunscreen On
It is hard for us in the North to remember that you need sunscreen when it is nice and a cool breeze. But everyone needs to be covered. Now that we have the spray sunscreen and not just the lotion it is easier to get squirmy kids covered. I always coated my little ones before they get dressed. While all skin is exposed while dressing, I coated all skin. There is nothing worse than putting on sunscreen and discovering you missed an area you thought was under clothes.
I know everyone will object but your skin is your largest organ. The sun is the hottest between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. I also try to get everyone to wear a hat during this time. My aunt who lived in Florida told me that you get burned faster as the State of Florida is closer to the sun than Ohio. Not sure if that is scientific but it makes sense.
#10 Do Not Bring a Weapon to Disney
Well, he can bring his toy weapon to Disney Hollywood Studios, as he is one of many who will be at the new Star Wars Land. But make sure you leave everything at home. Even pocket knives and mace. As we reviewed in #4, security is very tight. We were walking at Disney Springs one night and a police officer with a police dog picked out a man with a female companion out of about 600 people. The dog circled them sat down and signaled. The officer approached and asked the man if he had a weapon. I am not sure how these K-9 officers are so smart but he was right on target. The man was carrying a bundle of what looked like a jacket but the police dog knew better. We did not stay to see the outcome but I am very glad Disney protecting families who may save for years just to have one trip to the parks.
I hope all these tips help you have a fun and safe trip to Disney World. Disney does take some planning and comfortable shoes but it is the best resort vacation. The accommodations and the staff are first class. Everyone is always ready to help and make your vacation extra special as if you were the only guest.