The 10 Worst Mistakes I’ve Made in Disney World (and How You Can Learn From Them)

by | May 2, 2024 | WDW Blog

Despite numerous visits to Disney World, I’ll be the first to admit that I have still made some major mistakes when visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth. Take it from someone who’s been there — these are some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and how you can learn from them to make your trip better.

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Since moving to Florida nearly a decade ago, I’ve been lucky enough to get to go to Disney World several times a year. While I was raised as a Disney-loving child (Wilderness Lodge was our home away from home of choice), when I first went to Disney World as an adult in 2016, it had been years since I had gone. And the swap of going as a child who had had everything planned out for me to a Disney adult making all their own decisions at the parks was a real shock to the system.

Since then, I’ve been able to go to the parks pretty frequently as an Annual Passholder, and I’ve learned from some of my rookie mistakes. So, heed my advice and learn from some of my biggest Disney World mistakes that I’ve experienced over the years.

10 Major Disney World Mistakes

Whether it’s forgetting items or letting my type A personality take over a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth, these are a few of my major Disney World mistakes over the years – and how exactly you can avoid them and learn from my mistakes!

1. I Overplanned My Day

When it comes to just about any vacation, I like to plan. Well, more accurately, I like to overplan. Partly due to my personality and partly due to excitement, I like to make reservations and plan out parts of the day so I can know what to expect. And here’s the thing – a bit of that is good at a place like Disney World, where you do want to make sure you know where you’re going, and what reservations you’ll need (both for the parks and for dining). However, it’s also far too easy to plan out too much of your day, leading to disappointment when things don’t go exactly right.

A great example of this was a trip I took soon after becoming a Passholder, where I planned out an Advance Dining Reservation for every single meal of the day. The amount of dining I had planned just ended up being far too much, leading to very full stomachs and not as much free time as we’d like between meals. Instead of enjoying the rides and experiences we wanted to, we ended up going from place to place for a lot of our day simply to make our next reservation.

Learn From My Mistake: Plan for the essentials, but also pad our your schedule. Instead of overplanning dining, or making an itinerary for every single part of your day, create a list of essentials that you and your group want to hit. Prior to the 60-day Advance Dining Reservation cut-off, get with your group and make a list of essentials, in order of priority. These can be restaurants, rides, experiences, or anything you can think of. From there, plan out your day to make sure you are hitting the top of that list, experiencing the items lower on the list as time becomes available.

This will help to make sure you are meeting expectations, but also planning for inevitable delays or parts of your day you couldn’t plan for, such as weather, overtiredness, or simply wanting to change your plans.

2. I Wore the Wrong Shoes

Within a few weeks of becoming a Florida resident, my shoe of choice had become a sandal. I lived in South Florida at the time, so it was constantly hot and perfect for open-toed shoes. Out of naivety (perhaps over my youth or general athleticism), I decided it would be a grand idea to wear some comfy sandals throughout my day at EPCOT’s World Showcase on one of our first trips. What a mistake that was.

Without proper support, I ended my day with blisters and a twisted knee I could barely walk on for the rest of the trip.

Learn From My Mistake: Don’t bother going for style in Disney World, but instead, go for comfort and pick shoes that will stand up to a day of walking 13+ miles. Additionally, make sure you break in your shoes before you leave for your trip. The first day in a Disney Park is not the right one to wear shoes for the first time, and will just end with blisters (trust me). These are the best shoes for the Disney Parks.

3. I Forgot Baby Essentials

Despite having learned quite a few lessons on my own Disney World trips, I went back to being a beginner when it came to bringing my daughter to Disney World for the first time when she was a year and a half. Despite knowing the essentials to pack for the park in advance, I still found myself forgetting wipes and a stroller fan when I got flustered going out the door for our first trip to Magic Kingdom. And, of course, even though we were only a 15-minute walk away, you quickly realize how cumbersome it is going back and forth when you forget an item.

Learn From My Mistake: I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a list of essentials to pack for in the park. But, that being said, if you do forget something, don’t panic! Each of the four parks is home to a Baby Care Center, which provides a wonderful spot for diaper changes, breastfeeding, or bringing babies and toddlers in for a bit of air conditioning. On top of all that, each spot also features a small shop where you can pick up forgotten essentials like wipes or diapers.

4. I Didn’t Pack My Portable Phone Charger

Because of things like Disney Genie+ and the connected My Disney Experience app, it’s nearly impossible to successfully do Disney World without your phone any more. With that in mind, you will want to bring a portable phone charger with you to keep your battery loaded on the go.

I had purchased a more powerful portable battery prior to my first few trips and quickly found out how much I missed it when I forgot to bring it with me. Luckily, there is an option in the parks – but it will cost you.

Learn From My Mistake: First and foremost, I recommend purchasing your own portable battery charger. Typically, they aren’t that expensive and hold a great charge that you can use throughout your day. However, if you do happen to forget one, you can always purchase a FuelRod at various stations throughout Disney World. The major pro to this option is that you can purchase it and then swap it out for a new one throughout the day. The downside is that the charge is not that strong, so you will definitely need to be going back and forth to get a new one throughout your trip.

5. I Bought Genie+ When I Didn’t Need To

I am not someone who loves waiting in line (I mean, who does?), so for me, purchasing Disney Genie+ is usually a pretty easy decision to make. However, it is an expensive one, which is why I have regretted purchasing it in the past when I didn’t need to. Specifically, I have made the mistake of purchasing it when wait times have been low enough that I in no way needed to pay the extra $15+ a day per person to skip relatively short lines.

disney genie lightning lane, disney genie tips

Photo by Cliff Wang

Learn From My Mistake: While Disney Genie+ is something you won’t be able to purchase day-of, if you want to budget for it, I recommend checking out our Disney Genie+ pricing calendar for a better idea of exactly how much the service will cost on a given day. If you are in the parks and find that most rides are in the 15-20 minute posted wait time range, you may be better off saving your money and just using the standby option instead. However, if you are visiting during a busy time of year, or are with younger kids who may have trouble waiting in a lengthier line, it can absolutely be a paid experience that’s worth the cost.

6. I Didn’t Re-Appy Sunscreen

File this under mistakes I’ve made both in and out of Disney World. While I’m pretty good at putting on sunscreen at the beginning of my day, the same cannot be said for re-application. On a number of occasions, I’ve ended my night at a park burnt to a crisp because I didn’t take into account just how strong that Orlando sunshine was shining down on me throughout the day.

Learn From My Mistake: Bring sunscreen with you to the park, and make sure you are applying it every couple of hours. Especially during the warmer months, you’ll get so sweaty while walking around Disney World that you are simply sweating off any sun protection you have. Make sure everyone in your party is stopping every few hours to put on a fresh coat of sunscreen to protect their skin. Forgot sunscreen? You can pick it up at many of the outdoor kiosks or stores in the parks (just know you’ll be paying Disney pricing for it).

7. I Got Caught in the Magic Kingdom Closing Time Crowd

While it’s completely magical to experience Happily Ever After at the end of teh night in Magic Kingdom, what is certainly not magical is the crowd that follows it. After the fireworks, the massive crowd of people also watching the nighttime spectacular are also leaving. Because the Transportation and Ticket Center (a.k.a. the Magic Kingdom parking lot) can only be accessed by Monorail or ferry boat, you will have to join a huge amount of people (and a big line) to get back to your car at the end of the night.

Additionally, if you need to take a bus, monorail, or boat back to your resort, you can expect a lengthy line to get on any.

Learn From My Mistake: You have a few options here to beat the worst of the lines. If you need to get back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, I’d recommend hanging around in the park a bit until the crowd has dispersed a bit. Honestly, if you’re bringing your own car to Magic Kingdom, I’d actually recommend taking a rideshare to get to and from the park versus parking your own car if you plan on staying until the end of the night. It will get you where you need to go much quicker.

If you’re staying at a hotel in the Monorail Resort Area, a boat typically has a shorter line than the Monorail will. Additionally, Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridan Resort hotels are all within walking distance (which will be much quicker than waiting for transportation).

8. I Blew Way Too Much Money on Food

I’ll be honest: when I am hot and hungry, my decision-making is far from the best. And it’s hard to go to Disney World without both of those qualities being front and center for your every moment. I have had far too many moments where I’ve spent entirely too much on essentials I could’ve brought on my own for cheaper, such as water bottles or snacks.

This is also the case with more expensive things, like booking a table service restaurant instead of grabbing a dish or two from the EPCOT festival of the moment for cheaper.

Learn From My Mistake: There are a few lessons to learn here. The biggest one is to budget for when it comes to food. Plan out how much you want to spend, and perhaps even put it on Disney gift cards so you have a set “amount” that you will be able to spend when it comes to snacking around Disney World.

Also, make sure to bring the essentials with you. When my toddler needs a quick snack like crackers, it’s far cheaper for me to have brought that into the park with me than to buy it with Disney pricing. The same goes with things like water — take advantage of free water refill stations around the park by bringing your own water bottle instead of having to buy them throughout the day in the park.

9. I Forgot to Bring Bike Shorts (or a Chafing Stick)

Just like I wore the wrong shoes, I also had experiences with wearing the wrong clothing. Perhaps my biggest example of this has been when I’ve worn dresses without wearing bike shorts underneath to prevent chafing. Getting thigh burn hurts a lot and will affect the rest of your trip, so bringing the right clothing that will keep you comfortable is going to be essential to a great trip.

Learn From My Mistake: Wear the right clothing, or pack for potential downfalls. For chafing, this could include something like bringing a chafing stick (I personally love the one from MegaBabe). Or, for the changing temperatures, wear layers so you won’t find yourself too hot or too cold throughout the day.

10. I Overpaid for a Disney World Hotel

When I’ve gone to Disney World with only adults, we’ll typically stay off-site to save money on a hotel that’s within a short drive of the parks. However, when I take my daughter to the parks, I prefer to stay on-site if I can because of the convention transportation and amenities. Because I’ve stayed off-site for so long, I took for granted just how expensive staying on Disney property can be and have relied on a Passholder or Florida Resident discount to save me money. However, there’s a much better way to do it.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, exterior from Seven Seas Lagoon

Photo by Danny Shuster

Learn From My Mistake: Now, when I book for Disney World with my daughter, I prefer to do so by renting DVC points through David’s DVC Rentals. This allows you to book by renting DVC points through a Disney Vacation Club member, so you can stay at one of the Deluxe DVC Villas for less. While availability is not always available (especially if you aren’t booking a bit further out), I have been able to stay at Deluxe Resort hotels for about as much as I’d be paying for a Moderate Resort hotel through the Disney World website.

 

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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