As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Orange. Enjoy the ride as we share our advice for your first trip to Disney.
Yesterday, I had a friend contact me on Facebook, telling me that her family has been given the opportunity to go to Orlando in a few months, so they will be able to fulfill a dream of spending a few days at Disney (something she didn’t think would ever be possible). She asked me for my ideas and suggestions, as she wants to make the most of this special trip. I thought “what perfect timing!” as I knew I had to put this post together for the Blogorail. So, if you are a newbie, planning to head to Disney for the very first time, here are some tips for you:
#1 – Plan! I cannot stress this one enough. If you are a first-time Disney visitor and you go without a plan – expecting to just “wing it” – you’re going to miss so much! If you just do a little bit of research (aka “homework”), you can ensure that you have the best trip possible for you and your family!
I’m a reader, so I love a good Disney travel book. There are so many of them available to you. The one that first caught my attention and got me hooked was the Birnbaum’s Guide. I haven’t purchased an updated version for the past few years; but we still use many of the tips and tricks that I learned in the first Birnbaum’s Guide that I read – back in 1988! I have a list of my favorite Disney books and magazines – check it out for more great resources to help you plan (there are great planning resources for kids too!)
If you’re not a book reader, then there are plenty of websites out there that you can read to help you get the most out of your vacation. I have a list of some of my favorite websites and blogs that you can refer to. One thing that I like to plan is which day we want to visit which park. I like to look for things like lightest crowds, while still planning around (and for) special events. Touring Plans is a great place to start (it is a subscription website, but I think it’s worth the small cost involved).
The planner in me loves to have my plans on paper and well-organized. My friends over at Walt Disney World Hints have some great downloadable planning pages that I’ve been enjoying filling out with details for my next trip.
#2 – Use a travel agent. This is something that I did not do for our first several trips to Walt Disney World. The planner in me thought I could just do it all on my own. And, technically speaking, I could. But, if you aren’t an agent, you often don’t know about the specials that Disney is running during any given time. So, when you book online, or over the phone, you book at regular rates. An agent can book you today at regular rates, but if Disney offers a special a month from now (during your time of travel) your agent will rebook your trip for you to get you the best possible rate. I love that! My family has saved a lot of money booking through an agent. My own personal agent is listed in the sidebar and I’d highly recommend her. However, I have lots of agent friends – many of them are blogorailers – and I know any of them would be of great help to you! So, find an agent you love, and let him/her get you the most bang for your buck!
#3 – Eat! That sounds like a silly thing, but here’s where my thought comes from — for our first several trips, we stayed off-site and ate off-site. We took snacks and drinks into the parks in a backpack. And, looking back on those trips, I see that we missed so much! One year, we decided to book ONE character meal. Well, that did it – we were hooked! Our next trip, we booked two character meals, then three! Lately, we’ve been taking advantage of the Disney Dining Plan and we love it! We get to try places that we would have never thought to eat – and it’s so nice to enjoy that sit-down time to relax and regroup, but still have park time afterwards, if we want to. I’d highly recommend booking a few Disney meals, even if you aren’t using DDP. You’ll love the experience of dining at Disney!
#4 – If possible, build at least one “day of rest” into your schedule. I realize if you’re only going for a short trip, this isn’t possible (nor is it really necessary). But, if you plan to visit for a week or longer – like my family often does – I definitely recommend building one (or more) day of rest into the plan. Some of the things we like to do on our “off day” are visit Downtown Disney (this place is a treasure trove of shopping and dining experiences and we just love it), visit other resorts (I highly recommend this! it’s so fun to see all the Disney resorts!), or do other off-site things (such as fishing at your resort, having tea at the Grand Floridian, etc.)
#5 – Know that you won’t see and do it all. If you go into your trip knowing that, you’ll be much better off! So, go back and read it again and I’ll say it one more time – you won’t see and do it all! I don’t care if you spend 3 months there, you still won’t see it all. It’s impossible. There is something new to see around every corner and in every nook and cranny. Trust me. We’ve been to Walt Disney World many times and we still have so much that we have yet to see and do. That’s why I love WDW, and why we keep going back for more.
I hope I’ve offered some helpful tips for you newbies today! One thing I’m fairly certain of is this . . .
You will want to go back!
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney on Wheels.
1st Stop ~ Heidi’s Head (*you are here!)
2nd Stop ~ Disney on Wheels
3rd Stop ~ A Glass Slipper Vacation
4th Stop ~ Your Highway in the Sky
Final Stop ~ Focused on the Magic