Planning your first Disney World trip? Planning your first Disney World trip as an adult can be an exciting and memorable experience.
Zack and I had our first Disney World trip as a couple and as adults.
I haven’t been to Disney World since 1999, since I was so young I was not involved in any of the vacation planning. That was all my dad!
When I asked Zack if I could plan a vacation to Disney World for my 35th birthday, I had no idea what would be involved in the planning stages. I am not a relaxed person, so I wanted to control everything, haha.
Planning your first Disney World trip as an adult can be an exciting and memorable experience. Here is my best advice for how to plan your first Disney World trip as an adult.
Planning Your First Disney World Trip
Planning your first Disney World trip can seem overwhelming, but with a systematic approach, you can make it a magical and enjoyable experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your first Disney World trip:
- Determine the best time to visit: Consider factors such as crowd levels, weather, and special events. Generally, weekdays and non-peak seasons tend to be less crowded. Check Disney’s official website for a crowd calendar and event schedule.
- Set a budget: Decide on a budget for your trip, including transportation, accommodation, park tickets, meals, and souvenirs. Disney World offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly to luxurious resorts. You can take a peek at how much we spent on our Disney trip.
- Research and book accommodations: Look into different accommodation options within the Disney World resort area or nearby. Consider factors such as proximity to the parks, amenities, and budget. You can choose to stay at a Disney resort hotel or opt for off-site accommodations.
- Purchase park tickets: Decide how many days you want to spend in the parks and purchase your tickets accordingly. Consider whether you want to visit all four main parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) or focus on specific ones.
- Plan your park itinerary: Familiarize yourself with the layout and attractions of each park. Make a list of must-see attractions and prioritize them. You can also make dining reservations and FastPass+ selections (if available) in advance.
- Arrange transportation: Determine how you will get to Disney World and how you will get around the resort. If you’re flying, consider whether you’ll need a rental car or if Disney’s complimentary transportation options (such as buses, monorails, and boats) will suffice.
- Consider dining options: Disney World offers a wide range of dining experiences, from quick-service to fine dining. Research and make dining reservations in advance, especially for popular restaurants. Be sure to try some iconic Disney snacks too!
- Familiarize yourself with the My Disney Experience app: Download the My Disney Experience app, which allows you to manage your park tickets, make FastPass+ selections (if available), check wait times, view maps, and more. It’s a handy tool to have during your trip.
- Pack appropriately: Check the weather forecast for your travel dates and pack accordingly. Comfortable shoes are a must since you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Also, consider bringing essentials like sunscreen, hats, ponchos (in case of rain), and a portable phone charger. Check out my Disney essentials packing list.
- Make a flexible schedule: While it’s good to have a plan, be open to spontaneous moments and enjoy the magic of Disney. Don’t feel the need to rush from one attraction to another. Take breaks, explore the details, and savor the experience.
- Capture memories: Don’t forget your camera! Of course you want to capture all the moments. Disney World offers many picturesque spots, so take advantage of the photo opportunities. You can also purchase Disney’s Memory Maker to get professional photos taken by park photographers.
Disney World is a vast and immersive destination, so don’t hesitate to reach out to Disney’s customer service or online communities for any specific questions or guidance. Enjoy your trip and embrace the childlike wonder that Disney has to offer!
Here are some additional tips on how to plan your first Disney World trip:
- Plan your FastPass+ selections: If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can book your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days in advance.
Take advantage of this service to reserve access to popular attractions, shows, and character meet-and-greets. This will help you save time and avoid long lines.
- Arrive early: Getting to the parks early allows you to beat the crowds and experience popular attractions with shorter wait times. Plus, you can enjoy the parks during the cooler morning hours when the weather is usually more comfortable.
- Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours: If you’re staying at a Disney resort hotel, you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, which allow you to enter the parks early or stay late on select days. This provides an opportunity to enjoy the attractions with fewer people.
- Use the single rider lines: If you don’t mind riding separately from your group, single rider lines can significantly reduce wait times for certain attractions. It’s a great option if you’re willing to split up temporarily and save time.
- Stay hydrated and take breaks: Florida’s weather can be hot and humid, so staying hydrated is essential. Carry a refillable water bottle and take advantage of water fountains throughout the parks. Additionally, take regular breaks to rest, recharge, and avoid exhaustion.
- Explore the lesser-known attractions: While the iconic attractions are a must-see, Disney World is filled with hidden gems and lesser-known experiences. Take the time to explore these overlooked attractions, shows, and interactive experiences to discover unique moments.
- Enjoy the entertainment and shows: Disney World offers an array of incredible shows and entertainment throughout the day. Plan your schedule to include parades, fireworks, stage shows, and character performances. These experiences add an extra dose of magic to your trip.
- Try diverse dining options: Disney World has a wide variety of dining options to suit all tastes and preferences. Don’t be afraid to venture beyond standard theme park fare. Explore different cuisines, character dining experiences, and themed restaurants to enhance your culinary journey.
- Take advantage of rider swap: If you’re traveling with small children who can’t or don’t want to ride certain attractions, use the rider swap option.
One adult can wait with the child while the rest of the group rides, and then the waiting adult can swap places with another adult in the group without waiting in line again.
- Enjoy the details: Disney is known for its attention to detail and immersive environments. Take the time to appreciate the intricate theming, hidden surprises, and story elements that make each attraction and area unique. Slow down, look around, and soak in the Disney magic.
Remember to stay flexible and adapt your plans as needed. Disney World is a vast and dynamic destination, so embrace the spontaneity and create cherished memories during your trip.
I started my search by pricing the tickets and the hotel on the Disney website, but I didn’t book immediately. And I was so glad I didn’t! I received an email in February with a $500 off the resort with a minimum amount of nights.
I’m sure there are a ton of “hacks” out there, but I didn’t even go down that lane. I really only wanted to get there – and the price was expected. If you have any tips for me, let me know in the comments below!
Remember that planning is essential, but being open to spontaneous moments will make your first Disney World trip truly unforgettable. Happy planning and have a magical time at Disney World!
Be sure to check out these blog posts for more Disney travel tips and inspiration!