Tips for First Time Disney Visitors

Florida Guide > Disney Parks

There is no doubt that a holiday in Orlando is great fun but can be very tiring.  The first time we went, we made sure we were at the parks as soon as they opened and left when they closed - we have now learnt to pace ourselves otherwise you need a holiday to recover!!  If you are staying for two weeks, a day at a park and the next day by the pool has to be the best way to enjoy your stay, but there is such a lot to fit in.  Also, recommended is get to the Parks early, do a good six/sevens hours and you can get back to villa early afternoon for a sleep/relax by the pool and then return in the evening for a meal and the fireworks.

On certain days Disney hotel guests are allowed into the parks one hour early.  On these days you will find the rides already swamped, (don’t try to sneak in early - hotel guests have identifying armbands.)  So try and avoid the early-entry days.   It is alternate, so if it’s early-entry at Magic Kingdom go to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. 

  • Sunday - Magic Kingdom

  • Monday - Animal Kingdom

  • Tuesday - Disney Hollywood Studios

  • Wednesday - Epcot

  • Thursday - Magic Kingdom

  • Friday - Animal Kingdom

  • Saturday - Disney Hollywood Studios

These days are subject to change, but you will find brochures detailing times, events, parades etc all over Orlando.  Disney distribute a different one every month - they are an essential part of your planning.  Also pick up the “info” leaflets that are everywhere ie the airport, supermarkets – as the park’s opening times change every month.  The times can change daily because Disney may have not anticipated the crowds so if it is busy you will find that sometimes they add an hour onto the closing time (ring  from the villa (407 WDWINFO) the day before you are due to visit the park and check the opening/closing times – it is an automated service).  It is advised in the hotter months to visit Animal Kingdom at opening as the animals are at their best then – get there when the park opens and the characters greet you at the gate.

Also, bear in mind, that Americans visit their  Parks on the weekends as many drive down for short breaks, so Saturdays and Sundays can be busier than in the week.

Don’t forget to write down your parking row at every Park (parking $7 – if you move your car to another Disney Park, simply show your ticket, you do not have to pay again), otherwise 12 hours later you may well forget and you truly cannot walk around the immense car parks hoping to come across your hire car that looks just like the other thousands there!  Also remember your number plate, as you can so easily get your car mixed up, this number is usually on your key fob.  If you cannot start your car, simply raise the hood and wait and within minutes a security guard will come and start you.  This is free but remember you always tip in America (approx 15%).

Disney transportation is a great way to get around during the day.  We tend to park in the Park we are all going to meet up at the end of the day and jump on the buses near the Parks entrances to wherever we want to go.  Dad sometimes doesn’t come to a park (we leave him doing the DIY in the villa!!) so we just tell the attendant that he is dropping us off and they let you through and direct you to the front of the entrance as opposed to the parking areas.

There are now “bag check” areas and you should have all bags ready for checking before entering.

All Parks have children’s buggies for hire at a very reasonable price.  One payment at a Disney Park entitles you to a buggy at all their Parks on that day. The kids love them and they are handy for putting your bags on etc (We sometimes freeze bottles of water in the freezer at the villa put them in a small cool box then you have ice cold water as they melt during the day.) Towards the end of the day it is not unusual to see children asleep in their buggies, we used to get a double buggy even when the eldest was 7 years old as she was only too grateful to sit in it late at night. Don’t worry about leaving them (the buggies that is, not the kids!) when you go on rides, every ride has a buggy-park outside it. 

Most of the parks have water areas (springs, fountains etc) and when it’s hot, it’s handy to have swimsuits for the kids in a bag or under their clothes and they can get truly soaked.  Mind you, ours have gone in fully dressed and are dry within 15 minutes!  You will see lots of kids in swimsuits and shorts – good idea as a lot of water rides too but please remember your sun block.  We keep our children with Factor 25/30 on at all times.

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