How exciting – you’re going on your very first trip to Disney World! Here are 13 ways to make it even more magical for your whole family.
Planning your first trip to Disney World can be exhilarating – you want to make it as special and magical as you can for your family! And that’s totally understandable. You want it to be more magical than you’ve ever dreamed! Luckily for you, we can help you accomplish that!
My husband and I have been going to Disney World for years and have celebrated numerous special occasions in the parks. We know exactly how to make your trip extra memorable because we’ve done it ourselves! Every person and family is different, so just make sure you do what makes you happy. After all, it’s your vacation and you know yourself and your family the best! Here are our suggestions on must-do’s for first timers.
If you need personalized help planning your Disney vacation, we would be happy to help you! We are vacation concierge planners for all Disney destinations through Ears of Experience, LLC, and we have years of experience vacationing at the Disney parks. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help!
Already booked your vacation but would still like us to help? We might still be able to! Reach out to us today!
How to Make Your First Visit to Disney World Memorable
1. Stay on property at a Disney Resort hotel
To me, nothing says “I’m at Disney World!” like staying in the middle of the magic. Disney resort hotels just add that extra wow factor to your Disney vacation, and there are so many amazing benefits to staying in Disney World versus staying off property in Orlando. Here are just a few:
- Extra time in the parks at no extra charge (Extra Magic Hours) – 2021 Update: Extra Magic Hours are currently suspended.
- Free transportation to and from the parks. If you are staying in a resort with monorail access, it’s even better and you can get in the parks in a flash without having to stand in line very long.
- Option of purchasing one of the three Disney Dining plans that fits your family best (quick-service, plus dining, or deluxe dining). These plans can save you lots of money on food depending on your situation and family preferences. 2021 Update – dining plans are currently suspended. I will update this post when they return!
- You get the best picks of FastPasses for your favorite attractions by staying at a Disney resort hotel. Disney resort guests are able to reserve their FastPasses 60 days prior to their arrival date. Off property guests are able to reserve their FastPasses 30 days prior. This can make a huge difference in the availability of FastPasses! 2021 Update – FastPasses are currently suspended. I will update this post when they return!
- Access to special promotions like free dining, percentage off rooms, free Disney gift cards, etc
Disney has more than 25 resorts, each with different amenities and price ranges to fit a variety of needs/wants. If you need help exploring the resort options or need suggestions on which resort is best for you, feel free to email us at email@example.com!
2. Get a dining plan – 2021 Update: Dining Plans are Suspended for the time being. I will update this post when they return!
The dining plan is a great way to save money on food during your vacation! You’re basically paying for your meals, snacks, and drinks ahead of time. It’s also a great way to taste everything that Disney has to offer without spending tons of money. There are three different kinds of dining plans you can choose from:
- Disney Quick-Service Dining plan
- Disney Plus Dining plan
- Disney Deluxe Dining plan
Each of these offer different amounts of food, as well as different types of restaurants that are included. The most popular choice among our clients is the Plus Dining plan because it gives you a great variety of dining options without having too much food. This plan offers a mix of quick-service and table service dining, as well as a variety of snacks and drinks. If you have any questions about this or would like more information, let us know! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help you pick which one is right for you.
3. Meet your favorite characters
You just can’t go to Disney World and not meet your favorite characters! There are so many meet and greet opportunities in the parks and at the resorts – they’re hard to miss! If your little one is princess obsessed, take them for a dining experience they will never forget at Cinderella’s Royal Court in Magic Kingdom or let them meet Ana and Elsa at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. If your child likes Pirates, take them to see the show near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Magic Kingdom. Just about anywhere you go in the parks, you’re bound to find your favorite Disney character walking around somewhere,
For the times and locations of all the character appearances, make sure you take a look at your park map on the day you arrive so you can plan them out. 2021 Update – Character experiences look different nowadays as they are done from a distance, but the magic is definitely still there!
4. Try foods/drinks you’ve never had before
Epcot is my favorite park to visit when I want to try new foods (although there are some really unique options at the other parks too!). I love going around the “world” and tasting dishes from different cultures without ever leaving Florida! Every time you think of the new food you tried on vacation, you’ll remember that it was on your very first trip to Disney World. My favorites from Epcot right now are the Cronuts (croissant + donut), the stir fry’s at Teppan Edo, and the crepes in Paris!
If you’re looking for an even better way to experience all of the culinary beauty that Epcot has to offer, consider visiting during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. This is an extra ticketed event, but it is definitely worth it if you are a foodie.
5. Attend an After Hours event, a holiday party, or a VIP tour – 2021 Update: Changes have been made to these events and as of now, there will only be a “Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash” in the fall. Certain VIP tours are also available right now. More details to come soon!
Disney has so many fun special events going on throughout the year. It can be hard to choose which one to do! These usually are extra ticketed events, but they are so worth it. As of February 2020, Disney is offering several special events such as After Hours at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Villains After Hours, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party, and H20 Glow Nights at the water parks! These events are especially enticing because of the low wait times expected for rides, special themed food and merchandise, and spectacular event-exclusive shows.
VIP tours are just what they sound like – tours that get you a behind the scenes look at Disney’s magic! There are many different kinds of VIP tours offered at different parks, and which one you participate in will depend on what you want to see and do. As a VIP tour guest you get amazing perks that make you feel like a cast member! This is also a great way to do everything you want in all 4 parks in the same day. Want more information on any of these especial events? Shoot us an email today!
Here are some of our photos from our time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party! I highly recommend this party if you love all things fall/halloween. It is SO much fun to be able to dress up and go trick or treating in the happiest place on earth! Totally worth every penny for the extra tickets!
6. Buy special Mickey Ears
Is it your baby’s first visit to the parks? Get them a monogrammed Mickey hat! Are you also honeymooners or celebrating your anniversary on your first ever visit? Get some adorable bride and groom ears! Even if you aren’t celebrating a special occasion on your first trip, getting a pair of Mickey ears as a souvenir can help you remember your trip for years to come. I’ve actually got a little bit of an obsession with collecting Mickey ears now…#sorrynotsorry
7. Participate in pin trading
This is a super fun activity for the kids to do – they’ll treasure their pins forever! And the great thing about this is, you can always add more pins every time you go back to the parks. Basically, you start by buying a lanyard and several pins at just about any of the Disney gift shops on site. Then, find someone to trade with! This can either be a cast member or guest of the park (just remember to be friendly!). It’s fun to see how many cool/different pins you can find throughout the parks!
8. Get matching family shirts
Matching family shirts are always a great idea and a way to add some extra magic to your vacation! It’s also a great way to keep up with everyone and makes for perfect photo opportunities. We went to our local embroidery/vinyl shop and got ours personalized.
9. Get Memory Maker
Memory Maker is an absolute MUST any time you visit the parks. It’s a great way to make sure everyone in the family is in the photo and every memory is captured on camera. There are cast members all around the parks, in the restaurants, and at Disney Springs ready to take your photos in picture perfect locations. All you have to do is let them scan your magic band, and they automatically go on your My Disney Experience app. Memory Maker allows you to get unlimited photos and is only $169 if you purchase it before your trip. There are even cool little special effects that cast members can add to your photos!
10. Get a celebration button
If you are celebrating anything special like a first visit, anniversary, honeymoon, birthday, engagement, etc., let Disney know! They will give you a free button you can wear proudly throughout the parks. It’s a sweet little keepsake – we’ve collected tons over the years and it’s nice to look back and remember our vacations when we got them!
11. Get an autograph book
If you or your little one love meeting characters, I highly recommend getting an autograph book to have the characters sign! Disney sells them at the parks or you can get some on Amazon before you go (they are much cheaper online).
12. In Room Celebrations
Surprise your family with an in room celebration! These are fun Disney themed gifts/room decor for any occasion and they can be set up in your room before your arrival. There are many options and it’s a great way to add that extra touch of magic to your trip. You can take a look at all of the theme options here (there’s even some great gifts for honeymooners and couples as well!).
13. Book your trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
Planning a Disney vacation is a lot of work and can be very overwhelming, especially for first time visitors. There are so many things to do and remember! In order to get the most out of your time in the parks, you have to do things strategically and have a plan set in place. It can be difficult to do that if you don’t know exactly how from personal experience.
My husband and I have been to Disney World literally hundreds of times, and we know the parks inside and out. We are part of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency, Ears of Experience, and we are certified gradates of Disney’s College of Knowledge. We are here to help you every single step of the way with anything you need – just call us your personal Fairy Godmother! We do as little or as much of the planning as you want – you are in complete control of your vacation!
We can take care of your dining reservations and FastPasses, provide exclusive tips and tricks, give you a personalized itinerary based on your family’s needs and wants, and much more! Why not book your vacation with us and have us do all of the work for you? Email us at email@example.com.