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The 7 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make on a Walt Disney World Vacation


In Disney’s drive to increase profit centers, the company has changed its basic theme park experience. Now every visitor must plan somewhat or pay a price.

To eat at the best sit-down restaurants or enjoy a character meal, you must make reservations 60 days in advance or else face a lack of availability. To avoid long wait times for rides, you have to plan to join Virtual Queues or buy Lightning Lane access ahead of time. And to do any of that, you have to set up an account—and provide credit card info—using the Disney World app. 

You also have to make sure that the park of your choice isn’t closing early for a special evening event on the date of your visit—after-hours events are common, especially in the autumn—which would cut the opening hours available to you.

For a look at what requires advance reservations and the earliest you can make them, see our feature Disney World in Advance: What You Need to Reserve Ahead, and When.

Tron Lightcycle Run, Magic Kingdom


On the other hand, Disney World minutiae can send you down a rabbit hole deeper than Alice’s. You used to be able to walk up to the gates, buy a ticket, and go have fun. Now planning a Disney vacation feels more complex than the federal tax code. Even the rates for theme park tickets, hotels, and the Genie+ service change from day to day. A giant industry has sprung up just to help Disney vacationers understand and navigate the complexity of the Disney machine.  

But if you go too hard on advance planning, you’ll spend your entire vacation in an anxious state, hunched over your smartphone, agonized about following your planned schedule. The point of going to Disney was supposed to be to have fun, remember?

Over-purchasing ticket options

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Disney’s pricing system hits you hard for a short visit but then lowers per-day costs if you add extra days. That can seduce you into staying longer than you intended, paying high hotel and food rates. 

Ask yourself seriously: Am I going to have the time or energy to visit a Disney water park? If the answer is questionable, don’t purchase the Water Park and Sports option. Are you definitely going to try visiting two theme parks in one day? If not, don’t splurge for the Park Hopper option.

Remember: If you decide you want to add those options later, you can always upgrade your ticket once you arrive. But you can’t remove them midvacation.

“Festival of the Lion King,” Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Wearing inadequate footwear or clothing

You can easily walk 10 miles during a day at Disney. The emergence of a blister or chafed skin from Florida’s dense humidity can wreck all your best-laid plans. Make sure what you’re wearing can go the distance.

Neglecting sunscreen and water

Even Florida’s cloudy weather can scorch your skin, and one bad day can leave you with a sunburn that ruins a whole trip. The combination of heat and humidity, especially from May to October, can be shocking for visitors who have never experienced Florida weather before. Stay hydrated, make time to rest, and listen to your body if it suggests you’re pushing your luck. Maintaining a good mood despite physical discomfort can preserve good memories of your vacation.

Pushing kids too hard

When the kids with you are having a blast, you’ll enjoy the experience more, too. When children want to slow down, indulge them. If they’re not into riding something, don’t traumatize or shame them over it, because that creates the wrong type of lasting memory. If they need naps, take the opportunity to enjoy your hotel for a few hours and return to the parks later. 

Disney corrals you into sticking to your hard-won schedule, but don’t forget that you came here to enjoy yourselves.

Princess Tiana meet-and-greet, Magic Kingdom

Relying on Disney’s ECV or wheelchair rental

If anyone in your group has mobility needs, rental counters at the four Disney parks may not have the inventory to assist you—and although there will be a waiting list, your number is unlikely to come up for many hours. Scooter rentals usually run out shortly after the parks open. If you rent from Disney, you will also not be able to take your ECV (electric convenience vehicle) to a second park in the same day; you’ll have to return the vehicle as you leave the first park and pray there’s availability at your next park.

In the Frommer’s guide to Walt Disney World and here at, you can find reputable businesses that rent wheelchairs and ECVs and deliver them to you at your Orlando-area hotel.

Frommer’s Disney World, Universal & Orlando contains 320 pages of great tips, insider advice, and recommendations for an Orlando vacation of a lifetime. You can buy the book as a paperback or e-book at your favorite bookseller or through our Bookstore.