5 Things to know before your trip to Disney

5 Things to know before your trip to Disney may seem like a short list, but I know you will find lots more in those 5 tips!

Oh My! It is finally happening! You are going to Disney! Many families dream of that trip to Disney for years! Now it is time to make that dream a reality and you are planning that trip that will fill family memories for years!

Planning a Disney vacation can be a bit overwhelming. There is a great deal of information available for those that are planning. Even more information for those that are first time visitors. Where do you start?

I am by no means an expert. My family and I have vacationed at Disney a few times.  We have visited with kids of various ages. I wanted to share my list of 5 things to know before your trip to Disney.

5 Things to know before your trip to Disney

#5 Do your research before your trip to Disney

Many people who are first visiting Walt Disney World do not realize the actual size of the place. There are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, over 25 resorts, a massive shopping district, multiple golf courses, lakes and waterways.

Add to that fact that Disney is constantly adding things. New resorts are going up. There are new attractions at the theme parks. This fall Disney will open a new transportation mode, the Skyliner. Restaurants are being added. This list could probably take up the whole page. When I finished it and hit publish would guarantee that Disney would add something new. The list is ever changing!

With a list this long you need to do your research for activities that your family likes to do. Some families are all about the mountains. You know, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest. Other families may be all about character interaction. Meeting Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, the princesses and all the rest of the Disney gang. For others it may be all about the food.

Do your research. Find those activities that your family will most enjoy. Find where they are. Check to make sure they aren’t being re-imagined when you want to visit.

And don’t think just the theme parks and shopping. Your resort has great activities and pools as well!

#4 Make a priority list

Do you have a daughter that just HAS to meet Princess Jasmine? A husband that wants to go on a fishing excursion?  A son that really wants to try a cheeseburger egg roll? Yes, that is a real thing. Make a list of their priorities. It is a big place and you won’t get to do everything, but getting to do everyones most wanted thing may be doable. But first you have to know what everyones most wanted to do items are.

Keep in mind that not everything may be doable this trip and may have to wait for future visits. And some things are seasonable and have to be planned for. For example Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween is only August thru October. If that is on someones must do list, then you have to plan accordingly.

#3 Don’t forget your fast passes and advance dining reservations

One cannot say enough about taking advantage of Fast Passes(Fps) and Advance Dining Reservations(ADRs).

Fast Pass

Let’s talk about Fps. First there are lines at Disney. Lots and lots of lines. Fast Passes will get you to the front of the line.

If you are staying on property you can get FPs 60 days before your vacation. If you are off property you are able to securely these 30 days before your vacation. You can get 3 each day of your ticket. After you have used your 3 you can go on My Disney Experience App and make more. There are also places at the parks you can get these as well.

For some rides you are going to absolutely going to need these Fast Passes if you want to ride and not wait for hours in line. Rides such as Navi River and Flights of Passage in Pandora in Animal Kingdom. Any of the rides in Toy Story at Hollywood Studios will need a Fast Pass. Rides like Seven Dwarf Mine Train in Magic Kingdom and Soarin and Frozen Ever After at Epcot are also Fast Pass worthy. And of course if there are any must have to rides on that priority list you may want to fast pass those as well, just to ensure you ride them and don’t wait in line.

Advanced Dining Reservations

Now you need to know about ADRs or Advance Dining Reservations. Much like Fast Passes some of these can fill up quickly. There are so many opinions out there about these. If there is some place you just have to dine at, like Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom, ADRs are strongly recommended. Are you considering character dining? then it is strongly suggested you get ADRs. If you are just someone who just likes to go with the flow, be prepared to eat where you can get a seat.

ADRs can be made 180 days out from your vacation. It doesn’t matter if you are staying on or off property. There are so many great options.

Character Dining

This is where that priority list and ADRs may just overlap and you can take care of two things at once, maybe. If there is a character or two that is on someone’s must see list, find where you can have a meal and meet the character! It beats standing in line for a character and you get to enjoy a meal as well!

Character Dining is included with the Disney Dining Plan, but if the restaurant is in the theme parks you will have to ensure that you have a ticket for the park as well that day.

#2 Be prepared for weather

The weather in Florida can be beautiful and sunny. But, in the summer time it also rains, on average, once a day. It is usually just a quick shower. After the rain it is all back to blue skies and sunshine. It is not a vacation spoiler. Disney goes on just as if nothing happened. They will shut down outside rides if there is lightning in the area.

Pack for the rain. A simple rain poncho is enough to get you through. When it starts to rain most gift shops will bring them out to sell as well. Though I would rather purchase mine at the dollar store before hand and save a few pennies.

If you are prepared the rain showers will not spoil your vacation!

#1 Go for the experience not the itinerary

This is a big one. I know I have talked a lot about planning and research in this, but there comes a time when all this gets thrown out the window for the Magic that is Disney!

If you miss that fast pass or have to reschedule an ADR (do it at least 24 hours before so you do not get charged) isn’t the end of the vacation. Having  special moment or day with your family and making that memory is the important part!

Take the few minutes to interact with the characters in Disney. Don’t just snap the picture and move on to the next thing on your list. Make that memory with them. Let your child ask them questions and give them a hug. Make that special memory.

Slow down and enjoy yourself! So many times we get caught up in our plans we forget about the moment. Take that moment and make a memory!


So these are 5 things to know before your trip to Disney. This is a very short list. It could very well be over 100 things to know before your trip to Disney. I guess much of it falls under #1 do your research! Be sure to ask questions. There are tons of great information out there. Start at the official Walt Disney World website and then just dive right in!

If you are worried about where the money is coming from for this wonderful vacation, be sure to check out our other blog post 5 ways to save for Disney.

But just remember you want this trip to be full of family adventure and memories, so relax and have fun!


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