Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Walt Disney World

Disney Parks experts share some common faux pas to avoid.
There are many Disney Parks fanatics with expert tips for enhancing the experience.
Handout via Getty Images
There are many Disney Parks fanatics with expert tips for enhancing the experience.

It’s been just over a year since Walt Disney World reopened to visitors after its pandemic-induced shutdown, and people are certainly flocking to the iconic theme parks again.

But visitors to the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” have made their fair share of mistakes during their stays ― and seasoned parkgoers certainly take note. We asked Disney Parks experts and fanatics to share some of the faux pas they’ve observed.

From poor planning to bad food strategy, here are 15 mistakes people often make while visiting Walt Disney World ― and some advice for avoiding these errors during your travels.

Only Buying A Ticket

“As a frequent visitor to the parks and a specialized Disney travel agent, one of the biggest mistakes I have seen travelers make as of late is buying their Disney Parks tickets without confirming that the day they wish to go has park pass availability. Disney Parks is currently working on a park pass system, meaning if you don’t have a valid ticket and a park pass for the park of your choice for the same day, you will not be able to enter the park.” ― Victoria Wade, Disney travel agent and content creator

Not Downloading The ‘My Disney Experience’ App

“The No. 1 tip that I have for anybody traveling down to Walt Disney World is to download the My Disney Experience app. This is your one-stop shop for everything on your trip. You can check in to your hotel room, book your dining, check wait times for rides, get step-by-step directions on how to get from point A to point B (using all of Disney’s free transportation), check park hours, showtimes and SO much more!” ― Michael, creator of Michael Does Disney

Paying For Water

“Paying for water is definitely a big one. I’ve made this mistake myself and always regret it. You can get free water throughout Disney property at various quick service spots and save what you would’ve spent on water on an extra Disney treat!” ― Yeskel Larvenz, founder of Winter Garden Moms

Thinking You Can See Everything In A Few Days

“Even the most seasoned Disney fans find new things each time they visit, there is no way to see it all in a week or less. That’s the beauty of Walt Disney World, it’s always changing and there’s something new to discover every time you visit.” ― Francine, creator of Pixie Dust Fan

Waiting In Line For Food

“It’s 2021 and everything can be done electronically now. With the My Disney Experience App, you can mobile order your food at almost every quick service location in the parks ― even your Dole Whip! This will save you so much time and help you to snack around the (Walt Disney) World efficiently.” ― Michael

Going Without A Stroller

“As a mom of two, I also recommended bringing or renting a stroller. There is a lot of walking for everyone, and I feel like many guests underestimate strollers for kids in the 5-8 age range who still need a break from the walking once in a while. It’s also comes in handy for storing things or all the Disney merchandise!” ― Tina Chiu, creator of A Magical Life For Me

Planning An Overly Rigid Itinerary

“Having a plan is necessary, but so many guests have such a strict itinerary that they miss the ‘magic.’ It’s stressful trying to stay on a rigid timetable, especially when there are so many factors that can derail a full schedule. It’s important to make sure that there is time to stop and enjoy the moments as they’re happening, you’re on vacation!” ― Francine

Not Making Advance Reservations

“Another mistake I’ve seen people do frequently is not reserve their sit-down dining meals ... you would be surprised how many people think they can simply walk in and dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest without advance notice. It’s probably ruined quite a few children’s birthdays. Planning and research is always key when it comes to planning the best Disney vacation!” ― Wade

“Walt Disney World is home to many amazing, unique dining experiences and reservations to the popular ones are hot commodities. You can currently book up to 60 days in advance, and I recommend continuing to check for openings up to the days of your trip.” ― Chiu

Being Unprepared For Rain

“I used to be a casual visitor like a lot of people, but since moving here four years ago, I’ve learned that you should always carry what I call a ‘Florida bag.’ This should include rain gear (poncho, umbrella, change of socks, shirt) and a rechargeable fan! There’s nothing worse than being caught in a Florida summer storm and having to shell out money to get ponchos or umbrellas for the family. Having the fan I mentioned helps keep you cool in lines and when out in the hot and humid temps of Florida.” ― Chelsea Watson, creator of Styled By Magic

“Even though Florida is called the Sunshine State, it rains almost every day (especially in the summer). Bring your own rain gear (something small that you can throw in your bag) for the second that it starts raining. That way you’re not scrambling to find the closest shop with ponchos (which you’ll find after you’re already soaking wet).” ― Michael

Visiting During Peak Season

“As a frequent traveler to Walt Disney World, my family and I love to visit during the holiday seasons. But this isn’t exactly the best time to go if you’re looking for a manageable crowd size. For a first-timer, it could be overwhelming. Try to visit the parks in the late winter/early spring months. Not only is the park ‘calmer’ but the weather is perfection!” ― Denysha Crawford, creator of Imagineermom

Forgetting To Take Downtime

“I understand the desire to want to do everything on a trip but that’s another mistake I see tourists making. With four large parks, there is just so much to do and I’ve seen families that rope drop to park close everyday and then need a vacation at the end of their vacation. I recommend picking your top must-dos to aim for and then be flexible with the rest. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, I also recommend to going back to your room to recharge and to enjoy the resorts since it’s a vacation destination of its own.” ― Chiu

Missing Out On Primo Fireworks Views

“One of the best tips that I have that I don’t see enough people doing is booking a reservation at California Grill (at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort) for a time slot during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. They have two outdoor viewing areas up there that actually pump the music from the fireworks show through and you get the most amazing aerial view of the show. It’s something that I think everyone should experience at least once!” ―Michael

Staying Outside The Property

“If you really want to get the full ‘Disney experience,’ you need to stay in the bubble. The magic isn’t confined inside the four parks, it is all over the property. The resorts have their own charm that makes them unique, but it’s the activities and amenities that make them worthwhile. Watching movies at night under the stars to carriage rides and campfires — there is a resort that is perfect for every family.” ― Francine

“Take full advantage of the Walt Disney World Transportation. I always recommend staying on property because of the convenience and the amenities. Why not get the full Disney experience?!” ― Crawford

Not Having A Photo Strategy

“Have one person in your group buy Disney PhotoPass Memory Maker. Only one person in your party needs to buy this (with unlimited downloads of your professional pics taken in the parks) and then they can download them for everyone in the group! There are so many PhotoPass photographers in every nook and cranny of all four Walt Disney World parks, ready and willing to take as many awesome pictures of you and your family as you want. If you ask nicely, they can sometimes even add a bit of MAGIC to some of the pics (ask for a magic shot)!” ― Michael

Taking Advice That Doesn’t Suit Your Trip

“Walt Disney World is a complex destination with a variety of things to consider when planning. You’ll have friends, family and online social groups sharing their opinions on what you should do on your vacation. The problem is that not all ‘experts’ are created equal. A person that visited six years ago, went during a work conference or had a girls getaway for the weekend is not going to have the experience and up-to-date information needed to plan your family trip now. Remember to take the online help with a grain of salt and make sure that you’re getting advice from real experts.” ― Francine

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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