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What’s the Best Disney Tip for a First Time Visitor?

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

We commonly receive questions looking for tips on how to best enjoy visits to Disney Parks. Recently, one of our Twitter followers asked, “If you had to offer a first time visitor just one tip before they arrived, what would it be?” While we’re happy to offer advice, who better to answer than some of our loyal fans? So, we tossed the question out to you for an answer and were immediately overwhelmed with advice – 3,000 posts/comments in the first hour on Twitter and our Facebook page. Today, we’re sharing some of your favorite tips – in no particular order:

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Get to the parks early
  • Take advantage of FASTPASS
  • Research and have a plan
  • Stay on Disney property
  • Use the dining plan
  • Take time to enjoy the sights
  • Make early dinner reservations

Thank you to everyone who shared their expertise. Are there any more? Please let us know in the comments.


  • Best tip I can give you: be a part of the magic!
    As soon as you go through the gates become 12 again.
    Be surprised, relax, take your time, enjoy and be happy, it’s made easy by Disney parks around the world.
    (it always works for me at Disneyland Resort Paris)

  • I have a couple quick tips.
    -Make your dining reservations as soon as you can, as they fill up quickly with the dining plan. Character meals are so much fun, even if you’re traveling without kids.
    -If you want to know where a certain character will be, any cast member can call the CHIP hotline and find out for you!
    -Take tons of pictures! The easiest way to get your Disney fix after your trip is to look at all the pictures you’ve taken.
    -If you buy an autograph book, make sure you put your name and address inside the front cover, that way if it’s found by a cast member it can be mailed to you.

  • Be comfortable in every aspect:
    take naps (not just the kids), sleep in or retire early
    review your must sees, use fast passes to help you fit a lot in! (Toy Story Mania seems to be the only one that runs out really early for the day)
    do buy Disney Dining (FL only, DLR you need to get DD), well worth it, the food is fabulous.
    And if you fall in love with the parks, and I am sure you will, go to a DVC kiosk and get yourself into a presentation early on in your trip. That way you can come back next year and save a bundle on primo accomodations. It really is worth every penny of the investment.
    If you have time a head of your trip and need to budget, go to the Disney Store nearest you, get yourself a Disney Gift Card and start loading up your extra vacation cash on it. Then you can spread your expenses over time without it being all on a credit card. Then you can relax on the trip, because its all paid for and not having to worry about spending the next 10 years on paying it off.
    Pick and choose the Character Must Sees. The Character meals are much easier and simpler for that, and are on the dining plan! You are eating, being entertained and you get your family pics/autograph with the characters.
    Yeah, I am a well seasoned guest!

  • Do your homework… read up ahead of your trip. Make a list of 3 attractions per day that are must-dos. Whatever else you get to will be bonus then. The theme of “relax” is a good one. Save something for your NEXT visit!

  • I could not agree more with this comment: – R E L A X

    David from TN on May 1st, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Include a rest break in your daily plan. Even if you can’t get back to your hotel for a break, find a quiet place in the parks to sit down, relax and recharge. Each park, even the Magic Kingdom, has a lot of out of the way spots to just sit back and watch the crowds go by. Adding a little down time to your Disney World day goes a long way to keeping the magic going.

  • The most important thing to do on your first visit to Disney is to simply let go. Forget your life outside the park. Awake your inner child and let him or her come out. For one day at least, get back your inner 7-year-old and simply live the moment. Take it all in. I went to Disneyland the first time when I was 21 and I just let go and it is easily one of the best days of my life.

  • Hi again. I am so happy to see that other people love their Disney crocs as much as we do!!!!

    Purses for women – (Regina – check these out) I bought a Sherpani bag for our first trip. I wear it diagonally across my body. There are zipper compartments for my id, credit cards & cash. On the inside I can fit my Cannon Elph & Blackberry. And – they are water resistant/water proof. It keeps my hands free for the kids and I don’t have to take it off on rides–so no worries about leaving it anywhere. Disney – it would be fun to have some Sherpani’s made with Disney characters!

  • Most of what I might offer as tips was already written. So, I’ll go with hats. The sun in central Florida can be fierce but a good hat with a wide brim will keep the sun off you face and out of your eyes. Just remember to take the hat off on the coasters and slpash mountain. You would not believe the number and variety of hats at the lost-n-found center.

  • Use Disney’s Photopass and a disposable camera. Travel light to the parks…if it doesn’t fit in your pocket, don’t take it. My husband wears cargo shorts or pants to carry a water bottle, but often cold water is better this time of year! Do take a nap during the hottest part of the day. Short lines are an hour or two before park closing–if all the Fast passes have been given out. Don’t miss the resorts–resort hopping is really fun and each resort has it’s special qualities.

  • As a first-timer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Little touches help make it magical, so focus on those wherever you are. Then a mere walk or wait in line becomes a treasure hunt.

    Take time to look at the displays in the windows, notice the pretty flowers here, veggies there. Drop a penny in a wishing well. Check out the open castle door, and see where it goes.

    Might take more time to see the park like this, but your experience will be that much more satisfying.

  • Comfortable shoes are a must for every member of the family. We love Disney Crocs because they save your feet and if they get wet they dry quickly and you aren’t walking around in soggy shoes all day. Disney – please bring back the Crocs (I have one pair left from the Croc sale I am saving for my next trip in 2011)

    Also – take your time – enjoy the little details.

    Start with a game plan – get the show times off the web sit for the days you will be in the park – some shows are only on limited schedules during the week.

    Be flexible if Mom thinks the Theater show is a MUST see and the kids want to stop and watch a street performance – let it happen the Theater show can be seen at a later time.

  • Don’t be discouraged if it rains. Purchase a poncho and enjoy the parks. Many of the attractions are inside.

  • Include a rest break in your daily plan. Even if you can’t get back to your hotel for a break, find a quiet place in the parks to sit down, relax and recharge. Each park, even the Magic Kingdom, has a lot of out of the way spots to just sit back and watch the crowds go by. Adding a little down time to your Disney World day goes a long way to keeping the magic going.

  • Well my last comment was mainly special memories at Disneyland, it didn’t really cover a lot of tips. So I do have a few suggestions that I don’t think have been covered yet.

    In Disneyland at the Market house coffee shop on main street sells some basic Medicine(Tylenol, cough meds). (And in my opinion, has the best hot chocolate at Disneyland.)

    If you are disable or will be using a wheel chair during your trip go to City Hall to get a map that has the wheel chair entrances marked on it, as well as some other good info(also available online).

    If you have a camera thats great, if not no worries Disney has DisneyPhotopass photographers at the major hot spots at Disneyland (and World). They give a plastic card that when they take your picture they scans the card and upload the image to the corresponding account number. You can get multiple cards and add them to one account on the website or print (or a CD)of them at the PhotoPass counters at the parks. This is really good if you have a large group of people.

    If the adults in the group want to take a break but the kids have enough energy to power a small city, there are several play(parent rest)areas where the kids can run around but still be seen.

    Which brings me back to the maps, I really love these things. They make a great souvenir, and if you are thinking of a return trip are nice thing to look at later and dream about Disneyland. They have the maps in many different languages too.

    Almost forgot, if it’s your first time there you can get a big “First visit” button for free from city hall or from one of the main stores. Same for the happy birthday, anniversary, or just married buttons.

  • I don’t remember much about my first time at Disneyland, I was so young. But for my cousins first time (ages; 9,7,2) we surprised them at Christmas with some maps from Disneyland. It took them a second to realize what that meant, but when they did the look on their faces was priceless. They spent the days prior to the trip pouring over the maps each picking a ride they wanted to go on.
    It was a last minute thing that I put the old maps I had into an envelop instead of the tickets. But I am so glad I did, it made the memory and the trip extra special.

    Now I believe has customizable maps you can print out, if you don’t have Disneyland maps at home.

    I’m a big Disney fan and have been to Disneyland many times. For me visiting Disneyland is all about having fun and making magical memories.

  • As the spouse of an employee with 4 years under her belt. We go more relaxed than ever before. We had never been to Calfornia Adventure until she was hired, and we are Southern California Residence since birth (0ver 70 years combine), but we take our time and look and shop cause we know we will be back. There is no rush, and we STILL find things new. We were here in Nov 91 for our Honeymoon so we are not noobies…..

  • Here are my suggestions:
    Wear comfortable, well-broken-in shoes (people will look at your face, not your feet).
    Use sunscreen with a high SPF.
    Take lots and lots of pictures. Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself, too.
    Buy something that says “This is my first visit” (T-shirt, pin, etc).
    Arrive at the parks early, leave midday to enjoy your hotel or to rest, then return at night.
    Don’t forget the “other” attractions: boating, miniature golf, horseback riding, etc. A lot of first timers probably don’t know these exist.
    Don’t be afraid to ask cast members for help or advice.
    Have fun, pace yourself, and wear comfortable shoes (did I say that already?).

  • First things first, get your FREE PhotoPass Card from the the first Photopass photographer you see. Ask for “Magic Shots” and always tell them you are getting the CD. (they take tons more that way) Then ask for the next photopass spot to take a picture. You’ll always want those great memories to last forever. Have your card ready. You can even set up your FREE account at Disney’s Photopass today.

  • Get yourself a Disney photopass. It’s free and you only buy what you want. The photographers get everyone in the picture, and none of the family is left out. Plus it frees you up from the burden of lugging around your gear all day.

  • Take photos of your kid’s reaction when they first see Mickey in a parade. Your child’s face will be priceless!

  • Be there for rope drop. Don’t sleep in! Get there early and have plenty of time.

    Crocs are awesome. We walked over 18 miles in a day in ours, and our feet felt great.

  • If you are staying at a disney resort take advantage f the extra magic hours the waits are much shorter! Also, bring a first aid kit you never know when you might need one 🙂

  • Come out from behind your camera! I think every time I go, I spend so much time trying to get pictures of every corner of Disney World that I miss a lot of Disney World! I think it’s a best to relax, have fun, and let it all sink in!

  • Drop your ego at the door and just have fun. Disney Parks tend to encompass a certain magic that blocks it from the outside world, never letting in any negative energy through the gates so only happy thoughts will ever exist inside.

  • I go to Disneyland frequently. My tips are look for the relaxing. A trip around the park on the train is a great start. Linger on Main Street,enjoy the shops, the band, the characters, Mr. Lincoln, the horse drawn carriage. I love the Tiki Room, It’s a Small World and the Jungle Cruise. If your kids are high energy, let them roam in the Tarzan Treehouse and on Tom Sawyer’s island. The canoes are always fun. I just started going to the Golden Horseshoe to see Billy and The Hillbillies. They are incredibly entertaining. Give your kids a set amount for souvenirs. Mostly enjoy your time and appreciate your friends or family.

  • If you have small children and want them to see the parade GET THERE EARLY!! My best friend and I always get there an hour early to have a seat on the curb on main street! It might seem like a long wait but there is always something for the kids to do with some of the cast members on main street and it’s a great time to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere! The parades are most definitely worth the wait!

  • meeting their favorite Disney characters can really enhance a child’s experience at the Disney Parks. buy autograph books when you first arrive and make sure to always have a camera with you, either your own or a disposable one bought in the parks. that way if you run into one, you’re prepared for a meet-and-greet with them.

    you can also do research beforehand to find out where some of the most popular characters can usually be seen. if your child has a favorite princess or character from a movie, look them up before you go to see where they normally are in the parks so you know where to find them when you get there.

    when a child meets a character, they feel like they’re a part of their character’s journey, and it makes their vacation all the more magical.

  • Don’t overlook entertainment. Character stage shows, parades, and “streetmosphere” characters and live performers can provide some of the best memories from a trip. Stop and enjoy if you can, the attractions will still be there later 🙂

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  • If you are going to be in the WDW area at a WDW resort for more than 3-4 days, the Disney Dining Plan is a MUST. That way you don’t have to worry about running out of money(as easily) and you are fed REALLY well. We kept track of the cost of everything we ate when we tried this out and after tax and tip, we would’ve spent almost double had we not done the dining plan. We went with the middle of the road plan(2 table service/day etc…)

  • We took our first trip to Disneyland when our boys were 11 months & 4 yrs old. We have since been back many times. Here’s what our family suggests.
    1. IF you can, stay at a Disney Hotel – especially the Grand Californian Hotel. It is the closest to the parks and is a quick walk when in need of naps, major clothes changes, et.
    2. Strollers: Even if your child is high energy and doesn’t normally use a stroller, take one!! Even at age 6, there were times our oldest needed a stroller. Plus, if they fall asleep in the stroller, it’s a nice time for Mom & Dad to enjoy a nice walk or a break sitting in a shaded area.
    3. Do not rent a car. Take one of the shuttles and totally immerse yourself in the experience. Once we arrive, we don’t leave the park/Downtown Disney area. By doing this, you are away from traffic and the outside world. The only time my husband leaves the area is to walk to Starbucks. Disney–PLEASE put a Starbucks in Downtown Disney!! Happy, perky parents spend MORE money on toys, et for their kids.
    4. Comfortable shoes are a MUST (women–do NOT care about style)
    My husband & I both wear our Mickey Crocs–they are perfect. Disney–PLEASE bring that product back. Ours are getting worn out but we can’t part with them!!

  • Our Cardinal Rule: Avoid Fantasyland at Nap-Time… and if you have small children, take them back to the hotel to swim in the afternoon, for a break.

  • Use Disney’s Magical Express, so you can immerse yourself in the magic starting at the airport. The other thing I tell everyone is relax and enjoy yourself, its about making family memories and having a fun time with the people you are with.

  • Some of the suggestions I like to pass on:

    Don’t push your kids too hard just because you want to try to see it all or go on something that would be fun for you. If kids are young, some attractions are just scary because they are dark or loud.

    Take advantage of Baby Swap.

    Enjoy all the various entertainment opportunities (not just parades or fireworks.)

    Have fun!

  • Look for opportunities to steer away from the crowds and discover the Disney magic that lives around WDW’s less-travelled corners. Be flexible with meal times. Save time by eating before or after peak meal time. Save more by knowing that the Table Service buffets are built identically from both the left and right sides towards its center. And, the cash register stations at many Quick Service eateries are designed to accept orders from both sides of each register. When there is only one line and there should be two, start a new one. Look for alternatives that might you save time and return more magic! If it’s hot and there is a long line at the ice cream/drink cart, check the Popcorn Stand as they will also have water but they might not be as busy. If it’s cold outside, try getting your hot chocolate at the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor. Think outside the box and enjoy your rewards!

  • As some users suggested, wear sunblock, comfortable shoes, bring water!

    Take time to relax but still have a loose itinerary to make sure you go to your favorite attractions or shows. Plus, take the time to tour the resorts – they are all beautiful and unique in their own way! Plus it will give you ideas for which hotels for your next visit!

  • Have a plan but expect not to get everything done. Just enjoy the day as it unfolds. Oh…. and remember to keep hydrated during the warm days and sit down to take a break.

  • ENJOY!!! Don’t go too fast or you will miss everything that makes Disney wonderful!!

  • Walt Disney World will be there, don’t try to do it all in one visit. Most Important – take a break every day and then head out to the parks again.


  • if its really busy (usually the middle of the day) go on pirates of the Caribbean, haunted mansion, jungle cruise or it’s a small world because even when their line looks huge it goes really fast!

  • ENJOY a parade. The parades are truly magical and breathtaking and always bring tears of joy to my eyes!

  • For a lot of families outside of the USA this will be the first and only one trip to somewhere outside their own country, so… Have Fun, dance, smile, cry, pay attention to the details, smells, colors, sounds and everything else… If you are traveling with kids, see their reactions and dreams coming true in front of your eyes… as a Disney TV ad once said: What is magic to us, is reality to our children. Go and have fun 🙂

    • Indeed…well said, Marcio. Thanks for sharing.

  • good broken in shoes is a must!!! Water bottle, sun block, make use of the fast passes and be sure not to miss the fireworks!

    • I learned the shoes tip the hard way years ago. Thanks for this set…awesome.

  • Make sure you have a pre-determined meeting place. Use it when people get separated (or lost) or when you want to re-combine the group. At Disneyland, we always pick City Hall and be sure to point it out to the kids on the way in. We also make sure the younger kids know that they can go up to any cast member with a name tag and get help, if they get separated.

    • Great one, Susan. We do something similar during visits with family members. Thanks.

  • If you have the option to take a boat to your next destination, by all means do.

  • Take a DVC tour.

    The guides make it fun.
    You get a free snack out of the heat.
    You get free childcare. (hey — you need a break too)
    You get another free snack.
    You get bonus fast passes that make up for the time you spend.
    Did I mention a free snack — we had ice cream.
    If you decide to buy, you save on vacations for the next 50 or so years.

  • Definitely use very confortable shoes… and a sun block

  • -Don’t go commando and try to do everything there is to do; you can’t unless you’re staying for a month. The parks have so many small, beautiful details that beg to be noticed and enjoyed. Look up, down, left, and right…there is something that the Imagineers put there for you to notice. I would also add that you need to talk to the wonderful cast members whose job it is to make your vacation magical, and when one of them does, tell them thank you.

  • Relax. You are visiting a resort. Slow down and enjoy the things you do. Act as if you will come back again.

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