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Dos and Don’ts on your first day at Walt Disney World

We are officially here for #DisneySMMC and we had a bit of an uneven day. Fun, but uneven. For some reason we prepared less for this trip than our usual, my guess is because we were both slammed at work last week. Regardless, we’re here! Anyway, I need to process a bit so here is my list of dos and don’ts for myself. Learned from personal experience within the last 24 hours…

Related reading: Six must pack items for Disney World

Do:  Take a morning flight so you can spend the afternoon getting acclimated

Don’t:  Wake up your kids at 600 AM and expect everything to go smoothly.

A tongue in cheek Day 1 Disney World Dos and Don'ts list bred from personal experience

Do:  Utilize Disney’s Magical Express

Don’t:  Forget to bring a bag to hold the garbage from all the snacks you need to feed the kids on the trip (which can take up to an hour or more). Also, don’t forget to wash out your pocket afterwards.

A tongue in cheek Day 1 Disney World Dos and Don'ts list bred from personal experience

Do:  Check-in online, receive a text message when your room is ready, and use your magic band to get into your room. Truly wonderful.

Don’t:  Book a room on the second floor if you have a stroller. Or two. Port Orleans: Riverside does not have elevators (at least in my building).

Don’t:  Go to the front desk reception for any reason if you can help it. The line is interminable. Seriously, check in online.

Do:  Use Touring Plans or the unofficial Port Orleans site to help you choose a room you’d like. Touring Plans will fax your request in if you are a subscriber.

Don’t:  Underestimate the value of being closer to the lobby and food court.

Do:  Consider renting a stroller. Super convenient. We used Orlando Stroller Rentals, the City Mini we got is well used but still works great. Beats the alternative we had at home.

A tongue in cheek Day 1 Disney World Dos and Don'ts list bred from personal experience

Do:  Enjoy the very nicely themed and fun pool.

Don’t:  Leave your clothes there and not remember until two hours after pool close.

Do:  Order food from Amazon Prime Now or an equivalent food service. You save so much money. It costs $5 to deliver to the hotel but still well worth it.

Don’t:  Call bell services asking them to bring the food but tell them you got groceries instead of something from Amazon, even Prime Now. They didn’t realize our food was there and didn’t call us back (because they were waiting for the food). An hour wasted and we had to pick up the food ourselves.

Don’t:  Stick to your plan of going to Disney Springs even though you are an hour behind schedule (and one hour short of the kids’ normal bedtimes).

Don’t:  Sprint through the resort after dropping off the groceries to make a bus in order to stick to said stupid plan.

A tongue in cheek Day 1 Disney World Dos and Don'ts list bred from personal experience

Don’t:  Show up at Disney Springs with no idea where you want to eat it is crowded, especially on a Saturday night.

Do:  Eat at Morimoto’s Street Food. I liked it quite a bit.

Don’t:  Go to Disney Springs without knowing how you are going to get out of there. Another half an hour wasted looking for the right boat to go back (we never found it because we made the mistake of ignoring a dock cast member’s direction for a land cast member. Is it too much to ask for people to know the right information though?).

Do:  Stay calm. We obviously hit a lot of rough patches today, mostly of our own doing, but kept it together and didn’t ratchet up the stress, mostly thanks to The Glue. Things could have fallen apart but instead we still had a really fun day.

Do:  Show empathy for your fellow travelers. A poor woman on the bus was in tears because she couldn’t calm down her toddler. That was rough.

Do:  Prepare for an early morning rope drop the next day by getting the kids to bed as early as humanly possible despite spending way too long finding a bus at Disney Springs.

Don’t:  Stay up late blogging about it that night.

Here are my quick impressions of what I’ve seen so far, all of which has been new to me (since we usually stay off site).

Magical Express: Great to have the service, though not necessarily the most convenient. Still, it was amazing to have our bags just show up.

Port Orleans Riverside: This resort is beautiful. The room is modest but feels comfortable, but the theming of the resort overall is great, and obviously what I’m paying for.

Disney Springs: Doesn’t feel like my scene. Too crowded and too confusing. Maybe it’s just cuz it’s Saturday night but I didn’t have the greatest first impression. Probably is cooler for people without kids (though there was a super cute kids’ dance party going on).

Disney bus system: It’s free…so that’s something. TBD I guess.

Tomorrow’s a new day and I can’t wait to get to Epcot! 

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A tongue in cheek Day 1 Disney World Dos and Don'ts list bred from personal experience

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

19 thoughts on “Dos and Don’ts on your first day at Walt Disney World

  1. Transportation is not free, it’s built into the exorbitant prices for everything else.

    Disney Springs is a waste of time for little kids. You have a lot to learn I see from what you wrote, hopefully nobody pays attention to what you wrote as there’s nothing helpful.

    1. Agree with your comment about Disney Springs! I was there 1 1/2 months ago and it’s just too much. Waits and crowds ruin the fun. Imho, it’s now a place for hard partying. Not what you want your kids being around. If you must go…stay near the Basin, Ghirardelli ice cream and Earl of Sandwich area as it’s of the original Downtown Marketplace charm.

  2. Are you sure there isn’t an elevator? We didn’t find it until the second day, but I’m pretty sure every building has one. You’ll probably have to walk quite a bit out of your way to get to it, but with strollers it’s worth it.
    I love Port Orleans Riverside too! We stayed at French Wuarter the second time thinking it’d be more fun for the kids, but I think Riverside is just as fun and I think it’s prettier.

    1. French Quarter has elevators that’s for sure! I dunno, I asked housekeeping after walking around half the building. There must be a service elevator hidden somewhere…

      1. I know our Riverside building had an elevator. But I can’t say for sure that all the buildings are identical. It definitely was hard to find. And the building was huge, so it was pretty far from our room.

  3. We have gone to wdw since our daughter was 3. We mostly stay at French Quarter. Disney Springs is not a really a park. More of an outdoor shopping mall.

    This is what you do. Schedule fast passes to events and orbit the nearby areas prior to the events. Pick a park where your kids want to go and schedule the fast passes. There’s no getting around lines when trying to meet characters, unless you do some character dining, which I totally recommend for younger kids.

    For the first day, that always is a resting day and have a relatively low stress day at the resort, especially with lil ones.

  4. My advice with little slow ones = No Strollers. Period. The bus/monorail are huge hassles, as is navigating crowds. Beef up you upper body and carry them – that’s what you’ll end up doing anyway. The time wasted to find stroller parking, then retrieving it (they move them around while you’re on the attraction) is ridiculous. Been to WDW 26 times with well over 75 in-park days.

  5. As a non-parent who occasionally visits Disney I often wonder how many visits are set up for what parents want their kids to want rather than what the kids want. The huge mental and financial investment parents make on such trips creates tremendous pressure. It seems that most kids would be happier just to play in a hotel pool most of the vacation.

    1. That’s a strong point and something I’ve been thinking about, especially since my daughter suddenly became afraid of all the dark rides on this trip. My guess? Disney wants a balance of crazy parents (me) passing on the obsession to their children without scaring the kids off. The difference for a travel hacker is Disney is one of the few trips where the financial investment is skewed towards the cash side, so it makes me feel a different sort of pressure. But all of our vacations are sort of like this, finding a compromise between what the kids and parents want to do. It’s just at Disney the things parents want to do are purportedly more kid friendly!

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