Before going to WDW, I wish I would have

We soon go to WDW for our first visit. I want to just ask an open ended question. What one or two things do you wish you would have known before your first trip?
Thanks, Craig


I hope you have a great trip! My #1- you can never “do it all”. Don’t try!


Just how enormous the entire property is. Some things are VERY far apart from each other - like 20 minutes by car.


I reiterate how massive it is. It’s roughly the size of San Francisco. You can’t expect to see / do it all in one trip. I’ve been nearly 20 times & I still find new things to see / do every trip.

Also, what a pain it can be getting to & from your hotel - unless you have your own transportation / car. You can spend an hour or so just getting to the park waiting / using Disney buses

Stop thinking about budget. If you go, just know it’s going to cost thousands of dollars. I did the math just the other day and I spend 8% - 10% of my gross annual income for a week at WDW. It took me years to finally “let it go” and just buy what I want / let my kid get that $100 souvenir.

Learn the park layout before going! Study those park maps like you are heading to the “New World”. It will be such a time saver if you know how to get from Ride A to Restaurant X + where the toilets are!!

Survey your family about meals. You can waste so much time (and time is $$$ at WDW) just asking - “What do you want to eat?” I’m such a crazy planner that I have every meal already planned every day. (except for “treats” / impromptu snacks)

Play with the MDE App & Lines App (if you are using it). Practice at home as if you are there and follow along with wait times & etc…

You are going to walk about 10 miles each day. If you haven’t already “gotten your WDW legs” in advance - be ready to be sore! :crazy_face: Wear super comfortable shoes & don’t buy new shoes right before you go.

Place travel size first aid needs in a simple Ziplock bag - headache pills, nausea pills, heartburn meds, a couple band-aid. Having to go back to the hotel can take a couple hours round trip or even going to First Aid in the parks can be a bother now as they insist on questioning you for COVID symptoms.

SUNSCREEN! SPF 50+ & sweat proof! Apply before going in and reapply at least once around lunch. Nothing kills a vacation like someone getting totally burned. You’ll see people blistering red all over the parks & you know their night / next day is going to suck.




This doesn’t help right now, but I wish I had understood the ins and outs of using the dining plan and free dining offers earlier. In our earlier trips we spent thousands on dining each trip and could have either saved or better spent the money.


TP has some good reflective data on DDP. We like it for the conviences of prepaying, but when we’ve compared it to trip where we pay out of pocket we actually save money. b/c we would never eat all that food if we were paying for it on our own. And we have decided that we don’t like to be hemmed in by ADR. We like to be more relaxed and trying to make a dinning res doesn’t always work or feel good, the day of.


My first trip we started at MK. I was not prepared to be as overwhelmed as I was when I entered. Total deer-in-headlights moment (this was 2014 so it’s hard to compare to what’s going on now). We muddled through until lunch when it was 12:30, kids were hungry and the line for the nearest QS was out the door. We settled on overpriced plain hot dogs but because it was the closest/fastest.

So I’m preaching to a choir here when I say- have a plan even if you don’t follow it religiously. Knowing I’m turning left towards X rides at the hub keeps us from wasting time making decisions.

Having a plan extends towards meals. I know those special Disney snacks mess with meal times but I keep my eye on the clock so I don’t end up with the masses when I want an actual meal (or on the wrong side of the park for the place we all wanted to try)


OR…get Badger (or other brand, but we use Badge brand) of clear zinc oxide, active or sport. One application lasts all day. This is because, unlike other types of sunblock, it doesn’t break down due to sun exposure. It is a bit pricey, but WAY better than other sunblocks on the market.


Following up on the shoes/walking issue, if you can bring two pairs of comfortable walking shoes and alternate them. I find that to be very helpful to keep my feet happy. Also, in florida one pair might get soaked and it’s good to have a dry pair on hand.


I would identify ONE THING that each person in my party (in my case, specifically my wife) would absolutely want to do while at WDW. Then I make a plan where each day of the trip, we specifically work to achieve that one of those goals.

After one trip where my wife told me only after we left that we did not do the one thing that she was looking forward to doing, I now make sure that the first two days on-site are dedicated to her favorite things to do.


Our last BIG family trip… extended family, I created a google survey for everyone to tell me their priorities. It was great until my SiLs became A-holes and refused to follow the TP. Won’t pay for them again LOL. I don’t care that they went off and did their own thing, but I care about their crappy ungrateful attitude.


Totally forgot one of the most important things…

Gold Bond Medicated Powder… Dump it in your underwear and rub it in the creases of your thighs to prevent chaffing from all that sweaty walking! (FYI - If it’s your first time, it’s gonna feel “weird” / icy-hot)


The single biggest thing I wish I’d known about is … THIS FORUM!!! My last trip to WDW was three years ago and while I was a frequent TP reader and subscriber, I did not know about the forum. You can ask any question here and will get an answer pretty quickly. And just by reading / following along (especially trip reports!) you can get so many great ideas that you wouldn’t have even thought to ask about.

Other items:

  • How to take advantage of Fastpass, Boarding Groups, Dining Reservations etc. (when applicable)
  • Lesser known attractions, dining / dishes / snacks, character interactions, experiences etc.
  • Tips for arriving at each park, including transportation, health & security checks, tapstiles

This is a weird but true and helpful TMI


I don’t know if you have a stroller or not, but a minor thing that I wish I would have known is that if you park your stroller in a non-designated stroller area (even if it looks like it is one, or if it is out of the way and other strollers are there) then they WILL move the stroller to the true designated area, and it might not be easy to figure out which one. We learned this the hard way when we came off of the Haunted Mansion to find our stroller (and all the others it was with) gone. Luckily we had tied a bright cloth, and our kids balloons to it, so once we found the stroller area it was easy to see- but it took about a half hour out of our day!

I also wish that I knew about the baby centers. I feel like I should have known- I knew that there was something, but I didn’t know how helpful they are. After the trip I learned what the baby centers actually were (we have them in places like our zoo, where they are just a bench to nurse and a changing table!) and wished we had utilized them.


Oh, one thing I learned the hard way about this - put a poncho or cover over your stroller when you park it! Even if you put it under an awning that is a designated stroller parking area, it could be moved by a CM. Rain happens almost every afternoon in the summer, so even if it’s dry when you go into the ride, you may come out to find your stroller soaked through.


So true! :laughing: I was not prepared with this on my last trip and paid for it. My family mocked me for the way I was walking by the end of the day.


We are all planners, that’s why we’re here on this site. But inevitably something will happen and you’ll need to adapt or change course. Just go with the flow. You plan in advance so that those hiccups don’t become catastrophic.


Until Coronavirus, I never looked at the WDW posts - only DLR. Now I know what I was missing out on. :rofl:


Won the lottery