Planning a trip to Disney World? Read about my Disney World mistakes so that you can avoid these mistakes and have the best possible trip!
Disney World is full of magic and excitement.
But visiting Walt Disney World has become increasingly complex. And increasingly expensive.
For these reasons, it’s important to know how to avoid Disney World mistakes in advance of visiting. Then you can simply enjoy the parks to the fullest.
Read on to learn about my Disney World mistakes and how you can avoid them!
1. Not getting familiar with the Disney Experience app in advance
The Disney Experience app is your one-stop-shop in Walt Disney World.
You use the app to make ride reservations, find out ride wait times, and make mobile food orders.
I didn’t find the Disney Experience app that intuitive. It would have been helpful if I had downloaded the app in advance and looked at the different screens to understand the app.
The screen I found most helpful is buried pretty deep in the app. You need to click on the hamburger menu (the three lines), then go to “My Disney Genie Day”, then click on “Tip Board”.
The “Tip Board” screen is where you make your ride reservations, look up ride wait times, and make mobile food orders.
I wasted some valuable time at Disney World, trying to understand the app. I wish I had taken the time to understand it in advance.
2. Not understanding the ride reservation process in advance
The process for reserving rides at Disney World can be a little complex.
I didn’t research this process in advance, so spent valuable time at the Disney parks trying to figure it out.
To help you avoid this Disney World mistake, I’ve outlined the ride reservation process below.
The ride reservation process uses the following terms: Lightning Lanes, Genie+, and Virtual Queues.
Lightning Lanes are the new “fast pass”. These are lanes you can use to get on the rides faster than the regular lanes.
Genie+ Lighting Lanes:
Each day you visit a park, you decide whether you want to purchase a service called Genie+. Genie+ will give you access to Lightning Lane reservations. Disney changes the cost of Genie+ based on demand. It cost $20-$22 per person per day for us. You purchase Genie+ and make the Lightning Lane reservations through the Disney Experience app.
Individual Lightning Lanes:
Disney has some rides that are even more popular than others. These rides are not part of Genie+. If you want to use Lighting Lanes for these rides, you have to pay a separate amount per person per ride. I saw prices of around $11-$15 per person for these rides.
There are some super, super popular rides that have Virtual Queues. Disney resort guests can enter the queue at 7AM to try to reserve that particular ride for the day. Disney changes which rides are in the Virtual Queues, but the Disney Experience app will tell you which rides currently have a Virtual Queue (such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Tron).
With this information, you’ll be much better equipped to navigate Disney World than I was.
3. Not planning what rides we wanted to go on in advance
As you saw in mistake #2 above, the Disney ride reservation process is pretty complex.
I recommend that you decide the night before going to a park which rides you want to go on, then figure out the ride reservation process for each of those rides.
Since there are three different categories of ride reservations (Genie+, Individual Lighting Lane, and Virtual Queues), it’s helpful to know in advance which category applies to the rides you want to take. Then you can strategize how to make these ride reservations.
Here’s an example of how it worked for us at EPCOT:
- We wanted to go on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This ride had a Virtual Queue in the Disney Experience app. We could enter the queue at 7AM as Disney resort guests (we were staying at the Grand Floridian).
We weren’t able to get a reservation in the Virtual Queue, so ended up paying $11 per person for Individual Lighting Lane passes for this ride.
- We also wanted to go on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. For this ride, we purchased Genie+ and made a Lightning Lane reservation in the Disney Experience app. If you purchase Genie+, you can make your first reservations starting at 7AM.
As you can see, just for two rides, the ride reservation process was pretty complex. It’s helpful to know how it applies to the rides you want to take so you don’t lose valuable time (and reservation spots) learning it.
4. Not booking Lightning Lane passes starting at 7AM
If you purchase Genie+, you can make your first Lightning Lane reservation of the day at 7AM.
Also, if you’re a guest at a Disney resort, you can enter Virtual Queues and make Individual Lightning Lane passes at 7AM.
Other Disney park guests don’t have access to these reservations until the parks open.
The first day we were at Disney World, my friends and I decided on our way to Animal Kingdom what rides we wanted to go on.
We logged into the Disney Experience app around 9AM. And found that the ride reservations for that morning were all gone for the rides we wanted to take. Rather than make a Lighting Lane reservation for the next available time at 4PM, we opted instead to wait in the regular line…for 2 hours.
If we had logged in to the Disney Experience app at 7AM, our chances of getting a decent ride reservation time would have been much better. And we would have saved 2 hours waiting in line.
There are many people who buy Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes, so it’s no guarantee that you’ll get a decent reservation time. But you can avoid my Disney World mistake by logging in to the Disney Experience app to make your first ride reservation at 7AM.
5. Not taking advantage of entering the park 30 minutes early for resort guests
We really underestimated how crowded Disney World was going to be when we visited.
So we took our time getting ready in the morning and usually made it to the parks around public opening time or within 30 minutes of public opening time.
At that time, the parks were already very crowded.
As guests of a Disney resort (the Grand Floridian), we had the option to enter the parks 30 minutes prior to the public opening.
We really should have taken advantage of this. On the days when we couldn’t get decent times for Lightning Lane reservations, we could have gotten to the first ride before the public opening. Then we would have saved ourselves a lot of time from waiting in line.
6. Not realizing when EPCOT snack bars and shops opened – Disney World mistake
On our second day at Walt Disney World, we started the day at EPCOT.
We got there at 9AM. And quickly realized that many of the snack bars and shops didn’t open until 11AM.
So we ended up wasting some valuable time, retracing our steps to go back to places after they opened.
For a future trip to Disney World, I would change my tickets so that I started the day at one of the other Disney World parks. Then I would park hop in the afternoon to EPCOT.
7. Not taking advantage of the single-rider lane on Expedition Everest – Disney World mistake
The first ride we went on during our Disney World trip was Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom.
We used a Lighting Lane pass to avoid having to wait in a long line for the ride.
As we were boarding the ride, we were joined by a couple from the single-rider lane. Expedition Everest has a single-rider lane that people can join for free.
Although the couple had to split up for the ride, they didn’t have to pay extra and they didn’t have to wait in line (at least at that time).
By the time we finished Expedition Everest and tried to book a Lightning Lane pass for Avatar: Flight of Passage, the next available pass was for 6+ hours later.
So we ended up spending 2 hours in the regular line for Avatar.
I would avoid this Disney World mistake in the future by logging into the Disney Experience app at 7AM and making a Lightning Lane reservation for Avatar: Flight of Passage. Then I would have gone to Expedition Everest as soon as I could enter the park and used the single-rider lane. Our 3-person group would have needed to split up, but we would have happily done this to wait in line less.
8. Not having snacks available as we waited in line
We had to wait in long lines for rides.
And we made the Disney World mistake of not having any snacks with us.
A long wait can get even less enjoyable when you’re hungry.
Next time, I’ll pack some snacks and refill my water bottle ahead of any long wait times.
This is another situation where the Disney Experience app can come in handy. Before you walk towards a ride, you can check the wait time in the Disney Experience app. If the wait time is long and you don’t have any snacks with you, you can grab some snacks on the way to the ride.
9. Paying for water
A bottle of water at Disney World costs $5.75.
But you can get a cup of water for free.
Even better, you can bring your own water bottle and refill it at the many water fountains throughout Disney World.
The Disney World water doesn’t taste that great. But I’ll happily sacrifice the taste to avoid paying $5.75 for a bottle of water.
So next time I go to Disney World, I’ll be sure to bring my refillable water bottle.
10. Not wearing supportive shoes
Because of the location and timing of our ride reservations, we had to rush to opposite ends of EPCOT a couple of times.
We didn’t have a lot of control over this, given the reservation times we were assigned. But I do wish I had worn better shoes.
I was wearing broken-in, comfortable shoes. But they didn’t have a very supportive sole. So my feet were feeling pretty awful at the end of the day.
I wore hiking shoes the next day in the park and those were much better.
Next time I’m at Disney World, I’ll make sure I wear comfortable, worn-in shoes that also have a supportive sole.
11. Not planning for direct sunlight in ride waiting areas
Although Disney World makes a lot of considerations for their guests, there are still some rides where you’re waiting in direct sunlight.
12. Not having the right things with me in the park
I pride myself on packing light. It means that I’m not lugging around a heavy backpack all day long.
Usually, this works in my favor. But in this case, there were a few more things that I wish I’d had with me in the park:
But I was glad to have the following things with me that my friends didn’t have and requested during the day:
Next time I’m at Disney World, I’ll bring all of these things with me for a great day at the parks.
Disney World can be a wonderful experience.
I hope reading about my Disney World mistakes helps you to avoid them so that you can have the best possible trip!