You guys know I’m a gusher. I enjoy nothing more than going on and on about the things I love and there is a really wonderful long list of those from this trip. But I would be remiss not to share some of the hiccups we encountered too. So today I want to share with you the mistakes we made on our first Disney World trip (that you can avoid)!
Thinking transportation is always reliable.
We chose to stay on property (more on that tomorrow!) and on the monorail to make travel to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot as easy as possible for our young kids. Good in theory, but the one early morning we had (breakfast at Cinderella’s castle), the monorail was not running. They sent us to the Polynesian boat, which also turned out not to be running yet. Our reservation was at 8:05 am and we were still at the Polynesian at 7:55 am. This is when my meltdown happened. We snagged a bus and realized we were not alone in our frustration, as many people on board were late because of transportation mishaps. When we arrived at the castles, people were being turned away, being told they missed their reservation. They tried to re-book them for lunch but by some Disney miracle, David got us in at 8:45 am.
Another time, as we were leaving Epcot, a monorail couldn’t pull out of the station, so they sent for a tow monorail and redirected all of us to buses, adding about another 45 minutes to our trip. Yes, it’s a first world problem, but when you have a reservation it can cause some stress.
Solution: Leave plenty of time to make it places and always double check on transportation the day before and the morning of days when you have places to be at specific times.
Believing a “5” means super light crowds.
You could also file this under “setting expectations too high.” David and I chose to go to Disney now for two reasons: 1) Under 3 is free so we wanted to go before Kaitlyn hit that mark and 2) it was supposedly one of the lightest times of the year.
We used Touring Plans which I highly recommend checking out. It ranks each parks’ crowds on a scale of 1-10 for each day, tells you line wait for each ride in live time, and helps direct you whether to ride now or wait. It does a lot more than that too, but we mostly used it to choose which parks to go to on which days. When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom on a Monday that was rated a “5” we expected to wander through at our leisure. No dice. There were truly areas we couldn’t walk through because they were so packed. The unexpected crowds completely threw us for a loop. We rode our fast passes, but honestly felt overwhelmed.
Once we readjusted our expectations and better utilized our fast passes and rider swap strategies, the next day was light years better than the first. I had several people weigh in on instagram saying that there really aren’t any “light” days anymore, but for me (slightly agoraphobic), I think I will only visit again on times marked 5 or below. The idea of being there at a 10 (which one of my best friends really enjoys and thrives at so to each their own) makes me want to cry.
Solution: Certainly try to aim for the lighter days, but expect it to be somewhat crowded no matter when you go. For the busier times, plan the fast passes you really want well in advance, utilize ride swap if applicable, get to the park early and head straight to the ride you want but don’t have fast passes for.
Hoping they won’t take height seriously.
I mean, of course they do, but since Kaitlyn is 36-ish” I was curious if she might be able to slip onto a 40″ ride. Ha, sweet ignorance. They measure anyone that looks even close to the height mark before you even get in line. There is no chance a child is getting on a ride they aren’t fully tall enough for.
Solution: Know which rides your child is tall enough ahead of time or wait until your child is at least 40″ when they can ride almost everything.
Not knowing that Snow White is kind of a jerk.
There. I said it. I know I’m ridiculous, but Kaitlyn LOVES Snow White and so I had high hopes of meeting her at the princess breakfast. For those that are new to the character meals setup, each princess present comes to every table. Well Snow White stopped at ours and was gone in the blink of an eye. I seriously tripped over my chair trying to get up in time to snap a pic.
She wasn’t warm and honestly was even a little rude. I wouldn’t have cared (I guess princesses even have off days) if Kaitlyn wouldn’t have loved her so much. She seriously went chasing after her and Snow White never looked back.
When I mentioned this to my BFF who is a Disney guru she cracked up laughing saying that yes, Snow White is always like that. Supposedly it’s just her persona. Still, a heads up for those Snow White fans out there.
Solution: Visit Jasmine instead. 😉
Expecting high priced food to be worth the cost.
Yes, I know, we’re paying for the experience and the characters but we paid over $250 (we didn’t do the meal plan, but if you do, it takes TWO sit down meal credits per person) and my breakfast looked like this:
Whomp whomp. Honestly the castle breakfast food was one of the worst meals I ate. Maybe I ordered wrong, but certainly underwhelming.
I’ve received some comments that people loved the food at the parks, so this one is certainly a matter of opinion! Like I said, I loved the dinner at the Beast’s Castle, but other than that I found everything to be what you’d expect for park quality and produced in mass food. On the plus side, the Safari Amber is quite good, as is the ice cream!
Solution: Bring your own food or just enjoy the food for what it is. My chicken sandwich and fries was just fine!
Having too high of expectations.
Our whole approach to the Disney trip was pretty chill. We certainly spent some hours researching the language (fast pass, rider swaps, etc) and the rides/restaurants that most appealed to us, but we were really mindful that we weren’t going to be able to do everything. The last thing we wanted was to rush and drag our kids all over. That’s not fun for anyone. I’m so glad we embraced that philosophy.
I felt my expectations going in were reasonable (and they were for the most part), but I’ve had multiple friends (read my friend Melissa’s funny take on how Disney is like giving birth) end up in tears at thwarted expectations. The reality is that it’s going to be hot, your kids are going to get overwhelmed and tired at times, it is expensive, and the wait times really do creep into the 200+ minute territory (insanity), BUT there is real magic too.
Solution: Go in expecting a few hiccups and let the magic moments exceed your expectations. There are mental snapshots that will be in my heart for the rest of my life. I will smile for years to come about Hailey’s awe at Fantasmic or Kaitlyn’s excitement after meeting Russell from UP. And if you can keep your expectations in check, you’re more likely to experience and appreciate these moments of bliss.
Remember, I’ve only been once, so I’m no expert, but being a first timer, I feel I learned a lot of valuable info. Next up I’m going to share the things we did right and my BEST tips for first timers!
But for today– those that have been to Disney, did you make any mistakes?
Would you have done anything differently?
Please share! I think it could be really helpful to all those with upcoming trips!