12 Disney Vacation Mistakes to Avoid

12 Disney Vacation Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re traveling to Disney, chances are you have come across tons of travel tips, planning guides, and everything you need to know to make your Disney vacation perfect. But there are definitely a few Disney Vacation Mistakes that could totally ruin your vacation. Especially, if you aren’t aware of them. The good news is that you have control over most of them. If you’re hoping to skip all the drama and get straight to the good stuff, check out these 12 Disney Mistakes to Avoid on your next trip to the parks. 

Hollywood Studios at Disney World

Make a Plan

If you think Disney Parks are just theme parks, think again! Showing up without a Disney Ride Strategy and Dining Reservations may soon have you waiting in lines and going hungry. Not to mention sitting around wondering what to do next. Sure, the allure of not booking things leaves you a ton of free time to just enjoy the parks. But, are you really enjoying the parks if you have to wait 120 minutes to ride Flight of Peter Pan? No, probably not. While you don’t need to go crazy and plan everything it’s in your best interest to at least plan a few things. Don’t let these Disney mistakes get the best of you. Here’s our bare-bones list. 

  1. Figure out which Disney park to visit each day.
  2. Pick which rides you most want to try in each park and make a plan for morning rides and evening rides. 
  3. Book a Disney restaurant for at least 2 or 3 meals during your vacation. Reservations open 60 days before your arrival date. 

disney mistake #2 Plan too much

Be Realistic with your Time

We’re all guilty of this. The only thing worse than not planning for a Disney Trip at all is planning too much! Sure, you can plan rides and book breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but do you really want your vacation to be a series of to-do lists every single moment? Do you really need to go to all the parades and shows? Of course, you’re going to want to watch the fireworks and a parade or two, but they don’t necessarily need to be scheduled. If you have the Disney Dining Plan it will be very easy to over-book yourself because of all those restaurant options. Take care and remember flexibility is your friend. Be sure to avoid the parks on the Day you Arrive at Disney, and maybe on the day you leave Disney too. Plan a Disney Springs or a Disney Resorts day so you can just hang out and experience more than the parks. 

disney mistake #3 Don't Take Breaks

Take Breaks

Why do you need breaks on Disney Vacation? Apart from the 15 miles of walking per day, nonstop stimuli and constant crowds, there are many reasons. As a society, we don’t reward breaks. So many easy Disney Vacation Mistakes to make here! A Disney Vacation is by definition harried, expensive, and a whirlwind of fun. But if you race through your vacation without taking breaks, plan on needing another vacation once you get home. Disney regulars know that the best vacations come with lazy mornings on the hub grass at Magic Kingdom. We also like afternoon naps or pool time at the resorts. And lounge time after dinner in front of the fire, or a lawn movie is a great way to end the day. Breaks can be the best part of your vacation, so don’t feel guilty about not “doing all the things.” Disney will still be there after you’re done taking a breather. Check out our favorite places to take a break at Disney World for extra quiet and relaxation. 

disney mistake #4 don't treat yourself

Treat Yourself

A big trend among Disney moms and dads is restriction. But on a Disney Vacation, this shouldn’t be happening. We totally get you don’t want to ruin your diet, or that sugar doesn’t sit well with the kids, but you are allowed to enjoy your life! If you’re talking yourself out of a dole whip and feeling bad about not having the amazing rose gold cupcake then do something about it. You’re probably not at Disney every month indulging in these snacks, so this one time or few days of happy food is probably o.k! Same goes for a massage or makeover. It’s o.k. to spoil yourself a little on vacation. 

How to Mobile Order at Walt Disney World. Mobile Ordering Tips. #waltdisneyworld #disneytips #mobileorderatdisney #disneyfoodoptions

Limit Phone Time

A  classic Disney trip issue is the need to have your phone on your at all times. True, the Disney app is on there, and bus times, and ride wait times, and dining reservations and everything. But, another way to totally ruin your vacation is to just be on your phone!!! If you’re spending your time on this pricey vacation, with gorgeous detail-infused buildings, foods, rides, and experiences you should be paying attention to them. We’ve written about a Digital Detox Vacation at Disney before because if there is anywhere you should put down your phone and spend time with your family or friends- it’s at Disney. Sure, you’ll need to check the app every once in a while, but other socials should be kept at a minimum. 

disney mistake #6 attaching your credit card to your magic band

Pay with a Gift Card Instead

Attaching your credit card to your magic band may seem like a convenient, easy, and grown-up thing to do, but believe us, it’s better if you don’t. With a credit card easily attached to your wrist, you’ll find yourself paying for your water instead of getting them free at Starbucks. You’ll begin charging exorbitant tips at restaurants just so you don’t have to pull out cash. By day 3 of your vacation, you’ll stop saying no to every souvenir and just start giving in. We’ve all been guilty of Disney vacation mistakes, and this one is the worst! If you can’t say no to the allure of convenience, then you can set limits on your spending. This will at least prevent you from ending up with a massive bill at the end of the vacation. Otherwise, we always recommend grabbing Disney gift cards as an excellent way to budget your vacation. 

disney mistake #7 Don't Plan for the weather

Plan for the Weather

Ahhh, how we love the weather. And Florida weather is all over the place! It really can ruin your vacation if you’re not prepared. Sometimes it’s 95 degrees in September and 35 degrees in December. And it rains a lot and you’ll probably still get sunburned. So, pack the poncho, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Pack more tank tops, pack a hoodie, pack jeans, and bring layers. If you have those wicking shirts that runners wear- bring those! Pack excellent shoes that can carry you 15 miles a day. And put your vacation destination in your weather app on your phone so you can keep an eye on what’s coming and pack appropriately.

disney mistake #8 Visit during peak season

Visit During Slow Times

Visiting Walt Disney World during very busy times will undoubtedly ruin your vacation. It’s one of the more common Disney vacation mistakes because you won’t see the crazy coming! If you’re visiting Disney in the summer, read up on why we’d recommend any other time of year. Peak season at Disney tends to be the summer months when all the kids have off school. Spring break and the holidays are also pretty busy. Visiting during this time usually means less dining reservation availability, crowds, lines, and lots of waiting for buses and monorails. If all these yucky situations sound manageable to you, more power to ya! We, however, like to keep our vacations feeling magical so give ourselves the best chance for fun in the off-season instead. Check out the Cheapest and Most Expensive Times to Visit Walt World, the most expensive times are often the busiest. 

Happily Ever After Fireworks Show Magic Kingdom

Arrive Early or Stay Late

Both of these are Disney vacation mistakes for good reason. Many vacationers arrive at the parks between 10-11 am and leave by 9 or 9:30 pm. Dare we say this causes tons of lines at the busses and rides. But what else do you miss by not going early or staying late? Early morning hours get you closer to rides and coffee with low lines. You’ll see fewer crowds and get beautiful pictures before the sun gets too bright. You can also see the rope drop show and early street shows. Staying late will allow you to see the fireworks and nighttime experiences on certain rides ( like Kilimanjaro Safari). And if you stay late enough, a glimpse at the Kiss Goodnight at Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom. What we like best about going early or staying late on certain days is that we can usually avoid the crowds. All as a result of just a small shift in our day. 

disney mistake #10 Skip a park

Learn the Parks

Walt Disney World has 4 parks, 2 Water Parks, and Disney Springs. Disneyland has 2 parks and the Downtown Disney District. Both U.S. parks also have resorts that are all worth a visit. That said, if you’re traveling to Disney try not to skip one of the main parks, and don’t limit your vacation to just Magic Kingdom! They all have something special and you’ll regret missing one. In fact, we’ve overheard guests talking about how they only think they “need” to do Magic Kingdom to really get a feeling for Disney. They then realize all their favorite rides and favorite experiences will be in other parks. It really is worth the time to visit them all. Brush up on Disney World Parks and Disneyland if you want to make the most of your vacation. 

disney mistake #11 depend only on disney transportation

Be Flexible with Transportation

Disney provides complimentary bus and monorail service. Note: it’s complimentary. We can’t stress this point enough. While Disney has excellent transportation options they are under no obligation whatsoever to arrive or depart based on your schedule. During busy times or heavy construction, buses could take up to an hour to arrive at your bus stop. And the monorail may fill up a number of times before it’s finally your turn to get on. Please keep in mind you can always uber, lyft or use a traditional taxi if you’re up against a schedule. Just remembering this is an option that can help you alleviate frustration at the bus depot. Of all the Disney vacation mistakes to make, we’ve seen this one ruin the most vacation. Have a backup plan for Disney transportation. 

disney mistake #12 Treat this like it's your only disney Vacation

Don’t Try to Fit it All In

One of our biggest mistakes the first time we ever visited Walt Disney World was treating it like it was going to be the only time we ever visited. After a hellish few days of trying to do everything we reconsidered. By the third day of our very first vacation we just “decided” that we were going to come back annually. Mind you, we had no real basis for this decision. We were both in sub-par jobs and not really sure we were going to make an annual Disney vacation work. But, the stress of trying to do all the things in that one vacation was overwhelming enough to make us consider this new option. By day four, our mindset was completely shifted and we were more ok with not going on all the rides, or missing a parade, or a treat- we would just put it on the list for “next time”.

What resulted was one of the best vacations we ever had where we could really enjoy the little things. Face it, you don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps this won’t be your only Disney vacation. We promise if you treat this vacation like it’s just one of many, it will actually feel pretty magical. 

Disney Vacation Mistakes to Avoid

So there you have it. 12 ways to totally ruin your Disney vacation. While there are plenty of things you can do to improve your vacation. Namely, staying on property, making sure you buy that souvenir you won’t be able to get when you return home, and being sure to visit Disney Springs at WDW or the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland, missing those won’t ruin your vacay like these will. We can speak personally to several of these and have to say you really can’t forget bad times, so learn the lesson quickly. Let us know if you have a learning experience you’d like to share! And good luck with your next trip to Disney.

12 Ways you can totally ruin your disney vacation. Want to have the Perfect Disney Vacation? Be aware of these 12 pitfalls that could cause worry, dismay, distress and regret before, during and after your next disney vacation. #polkadotpixies #disneyvacation #disneytips

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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2 thoughts on “12 Disney Vacation Mistakes to Avoid”

  • Great article! I agree with the points made here, especially the last one (“Treat it like its your only Disney vacation”). This is something I’ve learned only very recently and wish I would have realized it sooner. I used to always feel a lot of pressure to do everything every time we went, but we’re lucky enough to be Annual Passholders/DVC so we get to go pretty frequently, so there’s no need to feel that way. In future trips, I’m going to take it a little slower and focus on doing time-specific activities like Epcot Festivals and special treats.

    • Great to hear Allison! Thanks for reading! And yes we are definitely guilty of the “shove it all in” mentality. We adore the festivals, so be sure to take time to enjoy those too. They are totally worth it.