Skip to content

What Walt Disney World First Timers Need To Know

The package has been paid, the luggage is packed, and all that lies between you and your beloved Walt Disney World is a good night’s sleep.  Before you leave home, here are a few tips Carl and I have picked up over the years to assure your trip goes as smooth as possible.

It’s easy in this debit card age to rarely ever have cash on you. This is key from the time you arrive at the airport or hop into your car to drive over.  Cash will be needed at the airport for vending machines,  alcoholic beverages, tips, and food kiosks.  If you are driving, don’t forget cash for tolls and small side stops.  Make sure to also budget money in general for not only gas to and from home, but also for driving around the WDW area.

Yes, your package covered the cost of you room, but there are some hidden costs to be made aware of.  Every time you pick up that phone to dial outside of your Resort, you will be charged-even if you use a pre-paid phone card, you will still be charged. (Found this out the hard way).  If you are staying at a Value Resort, you will be charged over $10 a night to rent a fridge for your room.  Keep in mind the costs to wash your own clothes at the Laundromat or having it sent out as well.  Tips for valet, bellhops, and mousekeepers are also necessary and in cash.

Before even deciding on the Disney Dining Plan, weigh the pros and cons of how much you will be eating.  I know with the deluxe dining is not only A LOT of food, but you also are now under quite the daily event of making and getting to your Advanced Dining Reservation’s each day. Some don’t like this because you have to make sure you are in the right park, area, resort where your ADR is.  Even with the Quick Service Dining Plan, we were eating a desert with each and every meal and honestly, we just don’t do that at home. We were getting fuller faster, each day of our vacation, it was a lot to eat.  With so many stories of people having snack credits left over at the end of their trip, it doesn’t seem like it was worth the money.  Write down your favorite things to eat, places you would like to try, characters your kids would like to eat with, and see from there what you come up with to make sure the DDP is worth the money to you.

While packing at home, don’t forget the essentials that will save you money, time, and hassle in the end.  Buy rain ponchos, light-up toys, water-proof camera, first-aid kit, batteries, spray-fans, film, suntan lotion, medicines, blister preventions, gum, sunglasses and anything else you can think of in your home town before you leave.  These items are extremely costly inside the parks and gum cannot even be purchased on WDW property. Invest in comfortable foot wear for your trip. Bring tennis shoes to cushion the long days, flip-flops for around the pool

Disney Transportation is a very nice thing to have, just not the most punctual when you really need to get somewhere fast.  Give yourself an hour or more when you need to get to dining reservations and you are taking a bus, boat, or monorail.  Most newcomers think that if you have a 1:30 reservation, that getting on the bus at 1:00 is plenty of time- in a perfect world, it would be.  But because of other stops that they do make, you just can’t count on any short amount of time. Always better to be early than late.

On our first trip, we saw a lovely family in matching t-shirts and inquired on how and where they got them. We never heard “Here at WDW” but many other places instead. If you would like to share the “matching magic” with the family, check out your local Disney Outlet store or the Disney Store online and purchase/try them on before you go.  We have tried to do wear the same shirts at least one day every trip and have always received a great reaction.

Beware of impulse buying-this is a hard one for many! Something in the water at WDW makes us pay $10 for a hot dog that we would never spend more than $2 for at home. So why do we do it? Well, you get caught up in the magic.  I see no problem with enjoying the magic, but you can keep a lot more green in your wallet if you make sure to follow some simple tips.

  • Buy Disney trading pins online at Ebay- sold in lots, these are a great deal and usually have lots of repeats which helps your kids or yourself want to trade them for something else
  • Ride pictures can be expensive, but you want to remember the moment. Take your own camera and take a picture of your snapshot on the monitor if you cannot afford to buy it. Hopefully WDW will eventually apply ride photos to the photopass system.  (although there are some, like Test Track that will place your ride photo on your photo pass card.
  • Share meals and snacks to cut down on costs. Buy one water bottle in the morning and refill it throughout the day.
  • Carry in small snacks in your backpack or purse to cut down the costs of snacks.
  • Buy donut holes or pop-tarts for the resort room for breakfast and save lots of money and time eating in the room in the morning.

Last but not least, learn this- YOU WILL NEVER SEE IT ALL IN ONE TRIP. The best of the best Disney fans can attest to this, it is nearly impossible to do.  Do what you really want to, and let everything else fall into place. No matter when you are going, have a wonderful trip!


  1. Great tips. I have enjoyed the DDP in the past, but have found that now they seem to slow me down. Not only is it the time involved in the table service, but as you said, the amount of food. I am always so full that I find it hard to find much enjoyment for the first 30-60 minutes following the meal. Good food, yes, but at a price other than money.


%d bloggers like this: