As I write this article there are people planning a future Disney World vacation months down the road. They are picking their resort, making advanced dining reservations (ADRs) and choosing the days they will visit the different parks. Then there are those that will book their trip and make no preparations whatsoever for their Disney vacation. We all have our own way of doing things to get ready for our vacation but what you do and what you don’t do before you go really does make a difference on how your experience at Disney will begin and continue throughout your entire trip.
Do not go without sleep before your Disney trip.
Many of us gets really excited before our next Disney trip to the point we can’t sleep. While I know it’s hard to stop thinking about the magic it’s a lot better to sleep and dream about Disney. I am an example of what can happen if you do not get any sleep before your Disney vacation. Before Lou Mongello’s WDW Radio Dream Cruise I was working at a company that required long hours. I was also busy with WDW Fan Zone, which was in its infancy, while trying to make time for my family and finishing last minute preparations for the trip. The result of all this was going 40 plus hours with no sleep. We spent a day at Epcot before going on Lou’s Cruise, then a couple of days in the parks after the cruise. I was feeling great having been able to relax quite a bit on the cruise and then towards the end of our vacation I got sicker than I can ever remember being, even as a child. The lack of sleep had to weaken my immune system’s resistance. I can only imagine how much worse I would have been if I had only gone to the parks as I would not have gotten nearly as much rest as I did on the cruise. Although I have said sleep is overrated and I still don’t get anywhere near as much rest as I probably should, it was a valuable lesson learned. The sleep and rest you get today can go a long way for you tomorrow.
Do not travel to Disney without bringing along medicine for colds, headaches, allergies, sunscreen, etc.
Has anyone in your family or traveling party ever gotten sick or sun burned during your Disney vacation? Mine has and although it didn’t stop us from having a great time it did slow us down on occasion. While there is no guarantee that taking every possible precaution will prevent you from getting sick, it will increase the odds in your favor to have a happy and healthy vacation. In the event you or one of your traveling party were to get sick, you will be prepared for it. Being prepared will also save you quite a few dollars as over the counter medicine and sunscreen on Disney property can be quite expensive. Please also remember that the stores are not pharmacies so the items they carry are limited. There are off property pharmacies that will deliver items to you but that gets more expensive. Even if you have a car to pick up medication it will take valuable time away from your vacation.
Do not go to Disney without making ADRs for a sit down restaurant meal.
When going to Disney always, always, always make ADRs at restaurants you are certain you want to dine at. It is important to note that you can make ADRs 180 days out from your arrival date. I also believe it is better to show up early at the restaurant you have an ADR for rather than a late so you don’t risk missing out on your reservation. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people (even a large group) walk into a Disney restaurant with no clue that you need to make an ADR. While some guests understand, I have seen others get belligerent with cast members when they are told how long the wait is or that there is no seating available at all.
Do not pack your suitcase the night before you leave on your Disney vacation.
I will bet there many of you reading this who always wait until the very last minute to pack your bags. It is more likely than not that you will forget to bring something you need for your trip like prescription medication or your child’s favorite stuffed animal. It’s not so much the things you forget to pack as it is the stress that it will cause. Packing in advance also helps when you have a daughter like mine who empties out her closet and dresser into her suitcase. It allows for time to go through it and take out the unnecessary items. Though I have to admit she is getting really clever as we have found her trying to hide things in mine and my wife’s suitcases.
Do not bring brand new shoes (sneakers) to wear in the parks.
Your feet are going to log lots and lots of miles at Disney so bringing a new pair of shoes to walk around in could turn out to be a disaster. The last thing you want is sore, blistered feet. That’s why I would suggest bringing a very comfortable pair of shoes to wear. If you insist on bringing a new pair of shoes then do yourself a favor and break them in at least two weeks before your departure date.
Do not use a travel agent that is not an authorized Disney vacation planning specialist.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes I see made by people looking to arrange a trip to Disney is that they use an agent that generalizes in all types of travel but they do not specialize in Disney vacation planning. There are so many different offers that Disney has available for perspective guests, that it takes a lot of time and research to figure out which one is best for you. Many years ago, before I knew much about Disney, I used a travel agent (not a Disney specialist) to book our family trip. She booked the resort we asked for and the tickets but she never offered any advice, information or alternatives that may have been available and possibly better suited for my family. She didn’t take the time to get to know us or learn what our vacation needs were. There were a few times I called her with information on new promotions Disney was offering and each time she took a week or more to get back to me. When she did respond the answer was always the same, that the offer was not available. It was after this experience I decided to do all the planning and book my own Disney vacations. However, it got to a point where I just didn’t have the time so, I decided to use an authorized Disney travel expert, Mouse Fan Travel. This was long before they were a sponsor of this site and it has turned out to be an absolutely great decision. Their agents are Disney travel experts and graduates of the College of Disney Knowledge education program. My agent is Sara Varney co-host of the great PassPorter Mom’s Podcast. I couldn’t ask for anyone better at taking care of my vacation planning needs. Whenever Disney comes out with a new promotion that will save me money, I don’t have to call Sara about it because she has already taken care of it. Once you decide you want to go to Disney World your next step should always be to find a qualified Disney vacation specialist.