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Top Tips for Walt Disney World First Timers

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To me, Walt Disney World, Florida is a homing beacon I always end up coming back to no matter where else in the world I’ve been lucky enough to explore. It’s a place of true happiness, fantasy and magic. However, with six theme parks covering 1200 acres, it can be daunting for Disney first-timers, especially with little ones in tow. So, I’ve decided to give you a helping hand and write this post on top tips to ensure your Disney holiday remains stress-free and full of magic!

Disneyland Orlando - Image: Jessica French

Disneyland Orlando

Image: Jessica French

Plan Disney Like a Military Operation

Now, I know this may not sound like fun, but trust me when I say you’ll have a significantly better time with a plan under your belt than if you wander around aimlessly and spend most of your day queuing in the baking heat. Make planning your Disney holiday part of the fun; sit around the computer together, book your FastPasses, dining reservations and discuss each person’s must-dos on the trip. Forming a rough plan each day around your reservations and desires will stand you in great stead. If you need a little help, there are thousands of blogs dedicated to planning a Disney trip, use them, they’re awesome!

It Pays To Be Punctual

If you’re a Brit like me, use the jet lag to your advantage and rise early. Not only are the parks quietest first thing, it’s also cooler. You can often tick off a large number of activities from your list without having to queue or use fast passes if you’re willing to sacrifice your lie-ins.

Disneyland Orlando - Image: Jessica French

Disneyland Orlando

Image: Jessica French

Keep Hydrated!

There is nothing worse than dehydration, and when you’re doing a lot of walking, sweating (this is inevitable) and standing out in the sun you’re at an increased risk of becoming a shrivelled prune! Always carry a water bottle, buying water will really add up and Disney has lots of water fountains around the park to fill up at. TOP TIP - you can go into any quick-service restaurant and ask for free ice water.

Disneyland Orlando - Image: Jessica French

Disneyland Orlando

Image: Jessica French

Park Bag Must-Haves

As an old hand at park-hopping here are some essential items - a water bottle (as mentioned above), sunglasses, hat, sun cream, a ziplock bag (great for saving uneaten GIANT snacks for later AND to protect electronic devices on the water rides), a small medical kit, a camera to capture magical moments, a phone with the My Disney Experience App downloaded and money for snacks/souvenirs.

FastPass+ Is Your Best Friend

FastPasses allow you to skip the queue of a ride or attraction at an allocated time slot. FastPass+ is a system which allows you to pre-book them in advance; 60 days if you’re a Disney resort guest and 30 days if not. It’s an amazing, completely free system which can be accessed via the My Disney Experience App and if used well, can slash your queuing time. Another TOP TIP - if you have little ones who are too small to ride you can utilise a child swap, this is a ticket which allows one adult to queue once, then the remaining adult who was waiting with the kids gets to use the FastPass queue on their turn. The greatest thing about this is the older kids gets to ride with both parents! Just ask the cast member as you enter the ride for a child swap and they'll happily oblige.

Disneyland ride - Image: Jessica French

Disneyland ride

Image: Jessica French

If You’re Celebrating Let Them Know!

Disney love to make your day special. I have been lucky enough to have celebrated my birthday six times in Disney World and have received freebie treats, birthday cards, had cast members wish me a happy birthday and I even opened the Magic Kingdom park! Disney goes above and beyond to make your day amazing so don’t be quiet about it if you’re celebrating! Grab a free, personalised celebration badge at guest services as you enter and allow Disney to make your day magical.

Have a Meeting Spot

At the beginning of the day in each park pick an obvious landmark you will meet at in case you want to split off or anyone gets lost. Disney is huge so if you get separated you need a plan to find each other.

Disneyland Orlando - Image: Jessica French

Disneyland Orlando

Image: Jessica French

Get the My Disney Experience App

This app is everything you need to be Disney ready! It stores your FastPasses, dining reservations, updates you on ride wait times, show schedules, has an interactive map and games available to play while queuing and much more! It’s definitely a handy string to your bow that I wouldn’t be without. Also, the parks have free Wi-Fi so it’s always accessible.

Aim to Experience Everything!

Disney puts its heart and soul into its attractions, so even if you fancy yourself as a thrill-seeking ride junkie, don’t miss out on the other rides and shows. I’ve never experienced anything like Disney Imagineering before and I push you to try everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult, go and meet your favourite Disney characters, buy a pair of Minnie ears, tuck into the themed food and bounce along on the Winnie the Pooh ride because young or old, every ride and attraction is an experience you shouldn’t miss!

Star Wars ride - Image: Jessica French

Star Wars ride

Image: Jessica French

Finally, Embrace the Magic...

There is nowhere else like Disney World and whether you’ve come on your own or with family, make sure you embrace everything Disney has created for you to enjoy. There’s a reason despite having been swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos, trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and explored the Amazon Rainforest, I still always come back to Disney. It will bring magic to your life and I promise you will never forget your holiday to the happiest place on earth!

Written by Jessica French

Vet by day (and often by night), searching for a cure for wanderlust - I'm confident it must be in one of the many countries I am yet to explore!  When not caring for ‘All creatures great and small’ in the UK, adventuring, eating and getting up close and personal with the world’s grunters, squeakers, roarers and squawkers are my passions in life. Like any good vet should, I make excellent "clinical notes" on my adventures at

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