Re: What Disney Tip Were you Glad you Were Given?
My very first visit to WDW was a day trip to MK. It didn't go well and I came away wondering what all the fuss was about.
Several years later I returned, and learned then that it was the people I was with the first time that so detracted from the experience.
Some of the things I've come to learn through the years about visiting WDW successfully are:
Take the monorail for a fun, free ride through the resorts near MK. Also, the monorail from TTC (or MK) to EPCOT is free and a nice way to get a feel for the system. It used to be one of those things we did when we weren't going into a park.
Visit the resorts on non-park days and explore and learn what each has to offer. Ft. Wilderness in particular, is a great place to visit with it's horse barns, and petting zoo (so to speak) and trails to walk, etc. Each resort has something unique and different to offer, and you can enjoy everything at the resort other than the pools. You can visit the pool area, but not use the pool itself. You can have a bite to eat in any venue that is available, you can rent anything that is there to rent (water craft, most often) watch a movie on the beach if the particular resort offers that. And don't forget that during the Christmas season each resort is fully decorated with their own theme, and elaborate gingerbread or candy display. It's well worth the visit during the season or at any time. (And unless you buy something, FREE)!
Having a base plan for each park is a great way to structure your day to be sure you don't miss out on the things that are important to you. Know what big attractions and interesting (again, to you) shows are in each park and plan accordingly. Nothing wastes time more than standing around wondering what to do next. Fast Passes are there to enhance your park experience. Learn where they are and how to use them.
Make use of guest services. They are wonderful sources of information and can help you plan where to eat, where to find characters, what special events to attend, etc. They are also where you can obtain the free "badges/buttons" that you can wear if you are so inclined (everything from birthdays, to anniversaries, to first visit badges are available). Don't forget to pick up a park map and schedule of events too!
Disney transport system is complex and if you do not have your own transport you need to learn to use it to your best advantage. Disney does not transport from resort to resort, so you need to understand how to go from TTC, or Park, or DTD to the resort that you wish to visit. Allow a minimum of one hour to accomplish those sorts of transfers. Plan your resort ADRs to coincide with the closest park to accomplish the most direct transport. Otherwise, DTD is a great place to do transfers as it's open until 2:00 am.
Discounts abound at WDW for purchases of merchandise and food. If you are not sure if a discount applies, ask! If you have an Annual Pass, a DVC membership, or sometimes AAA membership you can get a discount on many things. Never hesitate to ask.
Be sure to bring extremely comfortable footwear, and more than one pair! Especially if you are visiting during the summer months when rain will surely soak your feet. Also, the heat and walking on hard pavement often cause feet to swell (where they normally wouldn't) so allow for that. Sometimes, when walking on the hot pavement a rash-like redness will appear on your lower legs. It can sometimes itch. Cool water will help relieve that.
Make use of the first aid stations. If you feel a blister starting go immediately to first aid and get some supplies to help prevent it from worsening. They are clean, cool places, with water and knowledgeable staff. They have other over the counter relief medicines too, such as calgel (for itching or insect bite) ibuprofen, etc.
Make use of the baby care centers! They too are cool, and well stocked. You can purchase items there for baby, and use the water fountain to prepare formulas. There are microwaves for heating, clean high chairs for feeding and clean changing tables. There are also private areas for breast feeding if you feel you need to feed your child behind closed doors.
Guest Assistant Passes are available for those guests who need special assistance for any number of reasons. The courtesy card allows you to wait in special areas if needed, have special seating for events, etc. Be sure to obtain one if you or someone in your party needs individualized assistance to enjoy all that WDW has to offer.
EPCOT is an excellent place to see characters! The lines are often much shorter than in any other park, and the characters often spend longer with the guest as a result.
Research the best park ticket for your needs. It's a major part of the visit and you want to be sure you choose the most cost effective ticket that allows you to do the most. One of the first major mistakes I made was buying a length of stay ticket (which allowed access to all parks) instead of an AP. For about the same amount the AP would have provided me with so much more in perks and options. I didn't know that at the time.
Remember that WDW allows you to carry in your own food and non-alcoholic drinks. This can be a true cost saving measure, or if it applies to your family, a health matter. A soft sided cooler that you can easily carry is the best option, but if you have a stroller you can most likely have something a bit bigger. There is the belief that you cannot bring in rolling coolers, but I've seen them there enough to know that they do get past the gates, frequently. However, it's not a great idea to take a chance on being turned away (or have your cooler turned away) so it's best to keep it to something that you can theoretically carry.
Bring little packets of powdered drink mix to put in the water. We use it to flavor the Dasani that is available in the parks. We really can't stand the taste of it. The fountain water is better tasting to us! A Britta water bottle with filter is good too.
Plan on keeping your hands free. Anything you carry into the park is going to feel like it weighs a ton before the day is out. There are lockers for rent, but they are at the entrances and don't do you much good if you are deep into the park and need something from your locker.
Consider bringing your own stroller. The park strollers are expensive, hard, low to the ground, and do not recline. (I won't even talk about cleanliness). Having your own stroller gives you transport for your child from the car park/ bus and back. If you need a double strongly consider getting the type that have the seats one behind the other instead of side by side.
Don't forget that DTD is often the site of free and fun entertainment. There are often musical groups, dance troupes, disc jockeys playing music, etc. Guest Services can give you schedule of upcoming events.
Disney offers many opportunities for walking (like that's a surprise! LOL) other than the walking you do in the parks. There is the trail from DTD to SSR to OKW and back. Lovely walk. There is the walkway from EPCOT to the circle of resorts outside the international gateway to DHS... no lack of opportunity to walk, or run, or jog outside the parks.
Do not forget sunscreen, insect repellent, hats, and sunglasses. You'll need them all. Oh, and something for the rain. Ponchos are ok, rain gear is better, umbrellas are sometimes more trouble than they are worth.
DO NOT FEED ANY WILD LIFE. NONE. NADA. You'll learn fast that the birds in the parks and DTD are very aggressive. They've been fed and believe that your food is theirs! If you see any other sort of wildlife anywhere remember it is illegal in Florida to feed them. It can also be dangerous. Care to feed a 'gator? Don't even think about it!!
Remember to take your time. Enjoy the experience, savor the sounds and sights and details. AK is one park that is chock full of detail that you will definitely miss if you rush about madly trying to "do it all." Doing it all includes enjoying it and not making yourself and exhausted wreck! Let your child play in the fountain, look at the birds, enjoy the butterfly box...
Never make the mistake of thinking this is your "only" visit to WDW, or your "last." You'll be back! See ya' real soon!!!