11 Mistakes You’re Making When Planning for Disney World

Planning a trip to Disney World? There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration as you get ready for your trip — how many days should you go, where will you stay, what parks do you want to visit, what restaurants should you eat in, etc.

Ready for a Trip to Disney World?

With so much to consider, it’s easy to make some big mistakes when pulling it all together.

We’re breaking down 11 of those mistakes right here so you can avoid them during your future vacations.

1. Not Scheduling Any Resort/Off Time

There is a lot to see in Disney World from new attractions to new merchandise. You may be tempted to spend every waking second in the parks, exploring everything they have to offer — and that can certainly work for some people. But for others it can be incredibly exhausting and leave adults (and little ones) feeling cranky, sore, and just plain tired.

We think it is really important to build in breaks, “off time,” or resort-specific time into your trip!

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Now, this doesn’t have to be a scheduled day “off” at the resort, although it certainly can be. If you still want to focus on the parks during your trip, you can keep it simple, and just set aside some time to sit down on a bench, grab a refreshing treat, and rest your feet for a bit.

Just Grab a Seat and Chill!

But having a full day, a half day, or even a few hours at the resort to rest, recharge, and refresh can also really make the vacation feel like a vacation (rather than a marathon). Plus, you’re probably paying a pretty penny for your hotel room and its associated resort amenities. You might as well take advantage of that!

There are a lot of things that the resorts have to offer including great restaurants, scavenger hunts (at some locations), movies under the stars, pools, activities by the pools, and more.

Time for Some Fun in the Sun!

Planning a resort day or half-day can give adults and kiddos a chance to still have fun in a way that’s a bit more relaxing and quiet than the intensity of the main theme parks. That can give you the energy you need to tackle the busy days in the parks that may follow.

Click here to see why you should SKIP the parks on your next Disney World trip!

2. Picking the Wrong Hotel and Overpaying

Choosing the wrong hotel is a big mistake that some people make. You might be booking an expensive Disney World hotel because you think the high price indicates that it’s the best. Or you may be booking the cheapest hotel without thinking about certain amenities that might make more expensive hotels worth it for your specific case.

Or you might be booking a pricier hotel but only spending a super limited amount of hours there (essentially just to shower and sleep), when you could be saving up that money to spend on more food or souvenirs.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Basically, when you’re picking your Resort, you need to really consider a number of factors:

  • What are your plans? Will you be spending most of your days in the parks or spending a significant amount of time at the hotel?
  • What amenities do you want/need? A really great pool for kiddos? Walking access to EPCOT? A washer/dryer in your room?
  • What features are most important to you? Great restaurants? Monorail or Skyliner access?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can take a look at the Resort hotel options that are available, and hopefully you’ll have a much easier time sifting through the options and picking what’s actually best for your family and your budget.

Overpaying for that hotel can be a BIG mistake! Disney typically has a number of offers available for its hotels for select nights. You’ll want to keep a close eye out for those discounts and see if you can take advantage of them during your trip. Even if a discount is announced after you’ve booked your trip, you can typically take some steps to utilize it.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Lobby

And don’t forget that there are a LOT of options out there, like the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels, that can help you save big when it comes to hotel rooms.

If you’re looking to book a Disney Vacation Club room, we highly recommend that you work with our friends over at David’s Vacation Club Rentals. Instead of booking the room directly through Disney (which can be really expensive), you could rent DVC points, stay in the same (or better) rooms, and save a significant amount of money!

Saratoga Springs Lobby

You may also want to consider working with a travel agent, like our friends at Mouse Fan Travel. Their travel agents have an extensive amount of knowledge about planning Disney trips and stay up-to-date on all the latest deals. They can help make your trip planning way less stressful and even help you save money along the way.

Click here to see our AllEars reader picks for the top 3 Disney World hotels in each price category.

3. Dining Reservation Mistakes

There are quite a few mistakes that we’ve seen people make (and even made ourselves) when it comes to dining. First, not booking dining reservations you really want as soon as they become available can be a big mistake. The Advanced Dining Reservation window is now 60 days before your trip begins. Guests staying at Disney-owned resorts can make dining selections for their entire vacation (up to 10 days) at the beginning of that window. Another perk to consider when choosing your resort.

Plaza Restaurant

Popular places can fill up really quickly. If you’re hoping to eat at Be Our Guest or really any other spot that’s a must-do for you, you’ll want to book those reservations as far in advance as you can.

Entrance to Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

Can’t get the reservations you want? You’ll want to continuously check the system to see if more become available. You’ll especially want to check right around the time when people have to cancel their reservations if they want to avoid being charged for not showing up (generally reservations must be canceled by 11:59PM the night before the reservation but be sure to check each restaurant’s cancellation requirements).

50’s Prime Time Café in Echo Lake

And don’t forget to use features like Table-Service to Go and Mobile Dine Walk-Up Waitlist once you’re in Disney World. These features could help you grab food or snag a last-minute spot at places for which you weren’t able to get a reservation.

Another big dining mistake is making TOO many dining reservations. There are only so many times you can have a big, table-service meal before you just feel sick to your stomach.

Our Meal Spread!

Be sure to check just how many reservations you’ve made and whether you think your family will really be able to enjoy them all, or whether you can swap some out for snacks or quick-service meals.

Click here to see the best restaurants in every price point in Disney World!

4. Not Booking Park Passes Early

Right now, to visit a Disney World theme park you need a valid theme park ticket as well as a valid Park Pass reservation for each day of your trip. Park Passes can fill up pretty quickly particularly for holidays or holiday weekends. And while we have seen more Park Passes become available for certain days, it’s better to be safe and book your passes in advance rather than simply hope that more passes will become available later.

Pandora — The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you book them in advance, then you’re guaranteed to enter the parks you’ve got the passes for. If more availability opens up later and you want to cancel your existing pass and book one for a different park, you could do that. But at least you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you will be able to enter the parks you’ve got the reservations for.

Trust us when we say the best strategy is to book those Park Passes as soon as you’re able to!

Click here to learn more about Disney World’s Park Pass system.

5. Not Planning for Long Lines and Waits…Everywhere!

It’s Disney World, so you’re probably expecting long lines. But particularly now,  as capacity is gradually being increased, we’ve been seeing long lines everywhere!

That’s Quite the Line!

There can be long lines for Disney transportation, rides, Mobile Order pick-ups, stores, and more!

Some spots in the parks may also utilize virtual queues, so that’s something you’ll need to be on the lookout for.

Time to Hop in Line

While some of these lines will move fairly quickly, others won’t. The most important thing you can do is come prepared to face these lines and (if possible) try to do some things to beat the lines.

In terms of being prepared, you may want to bring some snacks and games to keep the whole family entertained. Maybe download a few apps you all can play while waiting. Just be sure to bring those phone chargers, too!

The line looked a lot shorter!

In terms of beating the lines, you could try to do things like rope drop the parks (and ride some attractions before the park has even opened!), get to some of your must-see spots early, and make those Mobile Orders way in advance.

When there are long lines, the key is to be prepared but also stay flexible!

Click here to see our list of 7 things to do in Disney World when the lines are way too long!

6. Not Setting a Realistic Budget

If you’ve got unlimited funds and a special credit card that would let you charge a whole house on it, then this tip isn’t for you (and also, can we go to Disney World with you?). But, if you’ve only got limited funds for your Disney World trip, setting a budget is hugely important.

You may not fully realize just HOW expensive Disney can be between the tickets, food, merchandise, hotel, etc. You’ll want to put a budget in place that can help you make sure you aren’t hit with a bill later that’ll make you faint!

Gotta Set Those Budgets!

The real key here though is to set a realistic budget. If you know you’re going to want to buy five pairs of Disney ears, then plan for that. If you know you want to eat the best snack in every Disney World park, then set aside the money for it. Depending on what’s important to you, you can then adjust your plans to make sure they fit in your budget.

Maybe that means staying at a value resort or skipping that character meal. Whatever you do, just be realistic about the things you want to buy or do, and see how you can adjust your plans if possible to make it work!

Click here to see how to save money on your next trip.

7. Planning Too Much or Too Little

There’s a lot to see and do in Disney World. If you’re a planner, you may be tempted to over-plan. Every second of every day may be scheduled, right down to giving your kids 3 minutes to brush their teeth, 2 minutes to get dressed, and 5 minutes to walk to the bus. If you plan too much, you run the risk that you won’t be able to do it all, which can result in a feeling of disappointment.

Disney Bus

Plus, things can (and probably will) go wrong at some point during your trip — a ride may break down, a kiddo might need a break, you might need to grab a snack during a time that wasn’t scheduled for eating, etc. If you’ve over-planned every second of your day, these little hiccups can result in a major disaster from your plan’s point of view. Over-planning can make it difficult to allow for spontaneity or flexibility.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

On the flip side, if you don’t plan at all or you plan too little, you could have a lot of issues. You may walk into Magic Kingdom asking where Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is, make your Mobile Order too late and get hangry while waiting for your food to be ready, or miss out on a ton of things you and your family would have loved to have seen.

There’s a fine balance here.

Slinky Dog Dash

You want to plan enough so that you know generally where things are, big places/food items you want to visit/try, and have a general understanding of how to do things (how to place your Mobile Order, how to make a dining reservation, how to get a Boarding Group for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, etc.)

But you also want to leave room for spontaneity and things that will (inevitably) go wrong.

Cinderella Castle

In line with these potential mistakes with over or under planning comes over-packing and under-packing. You want to be prepared, but you also don’t want to be lugging around a 15 pound backpack in Disney’s Animal Kingdom all day. You can click here to see our list of 7 mistakes you’re making when packing for Walt Disney World!

And click here to check out more of our packing tips!

8. Falling for Disney’s Tricks

When planning your Disney World trip, you might fall for some tricks and buy things you don’t need! 

For example, the Disney Dining plan (when available) generally offered a lot of food for the average family at a pretty significant cost. For some families, the dining plan was a good buy. But for others, it was not. You may have been tempted (or be tempted in the future) to buy the Dining Plan because it is easy and convenient, but it’s important for you to see if it’s something you actually NEED or something that can actually help you save money.

An old favorite!

If you crunch the numbers and think about what your family actually eats during your typical trips, you may find that the dining plan actually won’t result in any savings to you but instead would cause you to pay for food you might not be able to eat.

The same thing often happens for Park Hopping. People might buy a ticket with Park Hopping abilities because they feel like they need it. But, if they actually sat down to look at their typical park patterns and what they want to do during their trip, they might realize that they don’t actually need it. Getting a ticket with Park Hopping abilities (versus standard 1-park per day tickets) can be a significant cost. Before purchasing your tickets, be sure to look and see whether that cost is actually worth it for you!

MagicBand Scanner

Disney sometimes also offers special discounts on tickets, hotel rooms, or packages. Buying a package might seem convenient, or utilizing the hotel discount might seem like the best choice, but you’ll really need to crunch the numbers to see what deal works best for your specific trip!

Click here to see 5 things you shouldn’t waste your money on in Disney World!

9. Not Considering What Everyone Wants

Unless you’re traveling alone, you’ll likely be sharing your trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth with at least 1 other friend or family member. Whether you’re going with 2 friends or a family reunion of 20 people, it’s likely that people will want to do different things and that’s OK!


You’ll want to take in everyone’s wants/needs when planning your trip. It’s key to give people the time they need to do the things they want to do. If grandma just has to see The American Adventure, she might be grumpy the rest of the trip if you force her to skip it to get on Frozen Ever After.

The American Adventure

Because of these different wants and needs, the group may need to split up at times. This can be hard for some families to come to terms with if they had planned on keeping everyone together the whole trip. But, it’s important to go over your strategy with the group you’re traveling with to make sure everyone is on the same page. This can help make things a lot easier once you’re in Disney World.

Click here to see our tips for surviving Disney World with a large group!

10. Not Checking Park Hours

The operating hours for Disney World’s theme parks can vary by park and by date. Sometimes, these hours get extended well in advance. Other times, they might be extended a day before your trip or while you’re there!

EPCOT Park Hours ©Disney

Before you pick what park you’ll be going to on any given day, be sure to check the park hours! You could lose out on valuable time in the parks if you don’t look at those hours carefully. You’re paying for those tickets, so it’s important for you to maximize your time in each park as much as possible to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Click here to see the Disney World park hours that have been released through September!

11. Thinking You Can Do It ALL!

There is a LOT to do in Disney World between the 4 theme parks, 2 water parks (1 of which is currently open), Disney Springs, the Disney World Resort hotels, mini golf, and much more. Unless you’re visiting Disney World for an extended period of time, you likely won’t be able to do it ALL in just one trip.

Hi, Mickey & Minnie!

It’s important to set reachable goals for your vacation. If you think that you can do it all and set that high of an expectation, you (and your kiddos) may be severely disappointed when/if you don’t meet it. If, instead, you set some reachable goals of a set number of things you want to do/see/eat each day, then any extra time you have to do other things will be a total bonus!

The Most Magical Place on Earth will be there, waiting for you to return at some point in the future, and you can check more items off your bucket list then!

Click here to see the secret to having the best day in Disney World!

And that’s our list of 11 mistakes people make when planning for Disney World.

What mistakes do you think people make when planning for their trips? Tell us in the comments below!

We’ll keep sharing more tips and tricks with you to help you have the most magical trips ever. Want to know the secret to having the best day in Magic Kingdom? Check out the video below!

And stay tuned to us here at AllEars for more Disney news!

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