For many families, a trip to Disney is a magical experience filled with laughter, adventure, and cherished memories. However, when you are a local Disney fan like us and visit Disney 20 or more times per year, you quickly learn the ins and outs of navigating the parks.
In this article:
Tips We’ve Learned Over Several Disney Visits
Through trial and error, we’ve discovered some valuable lessons that have transformed our Disney vacations into seamless and enjoyable adventures. In this article, we’re sharing the 10 things we’ll never do again at Disney, based on our extensive experience.
Not Taking It Slow
Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned from our frequent visits to Disney is the importance of taking it slow and savoring the experience. During our early trips, we were so focused on checking items off our must-do list that we forgot to truly enjoy the moment.
Now, we prioritize quality over quantity. We’ve come to appreciate the joy of simply strolling through the parks, enjoying a Dole Whip, and watching the sunset over Cinderella Castle. It’s these moments of relaxation and reflection that make our Disney trips truly magical!
Ignoring Park Hours and Crowd Levels
Assuming that all Disney days are created equal is a common mistake. Not all days are equally crowded, and each park has different operating hours. For example, Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other parks, and Magic Kingdom may have special events that close the park early. Additionally, during the Halloween season at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure closes early during Oogie Boogie Bash party nights, so unlucky visitors without a Park Hopper ticket who aren’t aware of this are forced to go home or back to their hotel.
In the past, we overlooked this crucial information and faced long lines, crowded spaces, and disappointment. Today, we closely monitor crowd calendars and park hours, choosing to visit on off-peak days whenever possible, and make sure we aren’t visiting on a day when the parks are closing early.
Skipping Rope Drop
Rope drop, the moment when the parks open, is a golden opportunity to enjoy popular attractions with minimal wait times. Initially, we didn’t prioritize rope drop, opting for a leisurely morning instead.
However, after realizing the immense advantage it offers, we’ve become rope drop enthusiasts. Arriving early means fewer crowds and more chances to ride favorite attractions multiple times before lines build up. For popular experiences such as Flight of Passage, Rise of the Resistance, etc., rope dropping is one of the best ways to enjoy these attractions.
Ignoring the Importance of Park Hopping
Park hopping allows you to visit multiple parks in a single day, opening up a world of possibilities. Initially, we stuck to one park per day, thinking it was more efficient.
However, park hopping lets you enjoy different themes, attractions, and entertainment in a short span. Especially if you’re on a shorter trip and trying to fit in as much as you can, make sure not to overlook this option! It’s now a staple of our Disney strategy, providing a richer experience helping avoid some of the crowds throughout the day.
Neglecting the Details
Disney is famous for its attention to detail, and there are hidden gems and Easter eggs scattered all throughout the parks. In the past, we rushed through the parks without taking the time to appreciate the intricate theming and storytelling.
Now, we’ve become avid detail hunters. We love exploring the nooks and crannies of the parks, discovering hidden Mickey Mouse symbols, and appreciating the craftsmanship that goes into every aspect of the Disney experience. It’s amazing how much more magical Disney becomes when you pay attention to all of the small things.
Underestimating the Impact of Shows and Parades
In our early Disney days, we often treated shows and parades as optional extras. Little did we know, these experiences can be just as memorable as rides.
Whether it’s the enchanting nighttime spectaculars or heartwarming character parades, these shows add depth to the Disney experience. We now make sure to include them in our plans and consider them a must-do. Because these entertainment offerings have such limited show-times, it’s important to plan when you will attend or see this entertainment.
On our first few Disney trips, we packed as if we were embarking on an expedition to the North Pole. We brought everything from spare clothes and rain gear to snacks and first-aid kits, and the quantity of items we packed became quite heavy. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this was a mistake. Disney Parks are well-equipped with stores, restaurants, and amenities, so there’s no need to carry around a backpack that feels like a lead weight, and packing just what we need allows us to move more freely and comfortably through the park.
While you don’t want to be lugging around unnecessary items all day, make sure you don’t neglect the essentials in your Disney park bag: sunscreen, hats, ponchos, and a small bag for wallets and phones.
Waiting in Long Lines
One of the biggest drawbacks of visiting Disney Parks is the notorious long lines for popular attractions. When we first started going to Disney Parks, we would often spend hours waiting in line for our favorite rides. It was exhausting and frustrating, and it often felt like we were wasting precious time that could be spent enjoying other aspects of the park.
However, we’ve since learned that there are several ways to minimize wait times. Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes, for example, allow you to reserve access to select attractions in advance, reducing your wait time significantly. Additionally, visiting during the off-peak season can help you avoid long lines. We’ve made it a rule never to stand in a line longer than 45 minutes, and our Disney experiences have improved dramatically as a result. Be sure to watch out for these 10 unexpectedly long lines at Disney World!
Not Taking Advantage of Mobile Ordering
In regard to dining, Mobile Ordering is one of the best-kept secrets for saving time and avoiding lines at Disney Parks. It allows you to order and pay for your food through the official Disney app, then pick up your meal at a designated window without waiting in line.
In the past, we would wait in line at Quick Service restaurants, wasting precious park time. Now, we use Mobile Ordering whenever possible, and it has revolutionized our dining experience. We no longer have to waste time in lines, and our meals are ready when we are. See more dining hacks in our list of 15 dining tips and tricks for your Disneyland visit!
Not Utilizing PhotoPass
Capturing precious memories at Disney is a must, and while we used to rely solely on our own cameras and smartphones, we’ve since discovered the value of Disney’s PhotoPass service.
PhotoPass photographers are stationed throughout the parks, ready to take high-quality photos of you and your family in front of iconic Disney backdrops. We’ve learned that it’s worth investing in PhotoPass because it allows us to get everyone in the picture and ensures we have professional-quality photos to cherish. Plus, it frees us from the burden of having to take our own pictures all day!
Neglecting Rest and Hydration
With so much to see and do at Disney, it’s easy to forget about self-care. During our early visits, we would power through the day without considering breaks or staying hydrated. This often resulted in exhaustion and even ruined the latter part of the day, causing us to feel the need to leave early.
Nowadays, we plan regular breaks, hydrate frequently, and schedule sit-down meals to recharge our energy. You can get free water cups from most food and beverage locations in the parks. Some of the best locations to rest are indoor shows, so make sure not to overlook these—see the best shows at Disneyland.
Disney World Regulars Try To Keep These 10 Disney World Spots Quiet, But They Are Worth Trying to Check Out
Disney World has a wealth of spots that are hidden gems not every visitor knows about. See some of the secret places Disney World regulars try to keep quiet that are relaxing places to enjoy around the theme parks and Disney World Resort hotels.
10 Failed Disney Rides That Were so Unsuccessful They Were Removed Swiftly
While several beloved Disney rides have stood the test of time, others have faced issues or declined in popularity to the extent that they were removed. See our list of 10 failed Disney rides and learn why they were removed from the parks.
Evicted From the Magic! Disney Kicks Guests Out Of Theme Park For These 15 Interesting Reasons
There are certain things guests can do at the most magical place on earth that will earn them a ticket straight out of the park. Make sure to avoid these 15 behaviors that can get you kicked out of a Disney park!