Our family of four visited Walt Disney World in November of 2016. We had a fantastic trip, but also had a few bumps along the way. Here are some of the mistakes we made, as well as some things we did right!
- Letting the crowds disrupt our plans
We had traveled to Disney World the week after Thanksgiving a few years ago and had very low crowds, therefore we expected it to be similar for this trip. However, that was not the case. One night in particular we had dinner reservations at EPCOT and planned on spending the evening exploring the World Showcase. When we arrived at EPCOT at 4:00, there was a long line at security and again at the park entrance. We barely made it to our reservation on time and ended up leaving the park after dinner because we didn’t feel like fighting the crowds to get around.
- Leaving our resort without my magicband
I was in such a rush one morning to get us to the Magic Kingdom by park opening, that I walked out without my magicband. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it until we were on the tram to the T&T Center! Everyone else in the family had theirs, but I didn’t have mine! So we had to turn around and go all the way back to the resort to get it. It ended up costing us an hour of park time and we missed the opening show!
- Trying to watch the Kiss Goodnight on a party night
I LOVE the Kiss Goodnight. It is one of my very favorite Disney details, so I thought that we would watch it the night we attended the MVMCP (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). We did not realize until we had waited nearly an hour after the party had ended that they don’t do the Kiss Goodnight on party nights! So we had kept our kids awake an hour later for no reason. Oops!
- Not considering how much walking we would be doing at MVMCP
We did the MVMCP the night before we checked in for our Disney vacation. I thought it would be a great way to kick off our trip. But after 8 hours in the park for the party, with much of that time spent standing or walking, we were worn out before our trip had even officially started! Following that up with 6 straight park days was tiring on all of us, and we ended up taking more evenings off to relax at the resort pool just to rest our feet.
- Not using our snack credits wisely
We had 24 snack credits for our trip, which is a lot, and most of the time our meals were so filling that we weren’t hungry in between meals. So on our checkout day we ended up having about 10 snacks left, which I used at our resort to buy snacks for the trip home. It would have been better to have bought snacks earlier at places with a greater selection, or more unique items. It just seemed like such a waste to spend Disney snack credits on chips and breakfast bars.
- Planning to spend too much time in the parks
We always want to get the most out of our Disney trips. After all, we’ve spent a lot of money to be there! So I had planned for us to be at park opening every day and to close out whatever park had EMH every night, but that really wasn’t realistic. Even if we took a break in the afternoon, none of us were up for staying in the parks until 11 pm or later! Most evenings, we ended up leaving much earlier than planned to go to our resort pool to let the kids swim.
- Forgetting to lock our car
The night before we checked out, we took our car to the main building to go swimming (our room was on the opposite side of the resort) and when we returned to our room, we forgot to lock it. The next morning when we went to pack up the car, we discovered that all of our Disney souvenirs that were in our trunk had been stolen out of our car! We were devastated. It’s easy when you are in the Disney bubble to assume that nothing bad can happen there, but that isn’t true. While security helped us (see below under things we did right), we will never forget to lock our car again.
The Things We Did Right
- Reporting a problem immediately
Like I explained just above, we had items stolen out of our car on our last night because we forgot to lock it. We knew that we were at fault for that, but we reported it to security anyway, just so that they would be aware of what was happening on their property. We did not expect them to do anything for us, because it wasn’t their fault. However, they were amazing to us! They took our formal report and then gave us park tickets for the day so that we could return to the parks and replace everything that was stolen. They gave us vouchers to cover the cost of the replacement souvenirs, plus a little extra, and gave us fast passes that we could use on any ride at any park! I was amazed! They truly went above and beyond and helped us end our vacation on a good note rather than a bad one!
- Thoroughly exploring our resort
We stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort and over the course of our trip, we ate at the food court three times, swam in the main pool every day, watched the EPCOT fireworks from the beach, and wandered around exploring the different areas of the resort. Part of the fun of a Disney trip is the variety of different resorts and we loved everything about Caribbean Beach.
- Being flexible and willing to change the plan
Ultimately the plan I had made before our trip was unreasonable- it was too tiring, especially for our kids, so we had to change plans. We changed dining reservations to get earlier time slots and we switched parks to avoid crowds. We even left parks early to go back to our resort and relax and swim when our kids had clearly had enough of crowds, lines, and walking. That flexibility helped us avoid true meltdowns (of both kids and adults!) and helped us really enjoy our vacation.
- Driving our own car to the parks
We drove our own car to Orlando, as we have on previous trips to Disney World. However, this time, instead of using Disney buses to get to the parks each day, we drove ourselves. We would type in which park we were visiting into our GPS and it would take us straight to the parking lot every time. It was so easy! Since our car was parked very close to our room and we didn’t have to wait for a bus, we were able to get to the parks much faster. We did a little more walking once we got to each park since we weren’t dropped off close to the entrance the way the buses are, but for us that was insignificant compared to the convenience. Resort guests don’t have to pay to park, which is great!
- Sharing Meals to Stretch the Disney Dining Plan
We wanted to do a signature meal on this trip, but we knew that it would cost us two Table Service credits per person to do that. To keep from having to pay out of pocket for another meal, we shared our Quick Service meals throughout our trip. At most places, three Quick Service credits easily fed our family of four. We also used snack credits for things like breadsticks or egg rolls that could be shared with the meal. By doing this, we were able to have the Signature meal dining experience, without having to pay OOP for any other meals.(Thanks Kerry!)