Sometimes it’s hard to step out of park vet brain.  Although we’ve discussed tips for newbies on Park Wise, I thought it might be interesting to hear from former newbies who’ve traveled to Walt Disney World for the first time recently.  Here are ten of the top tips I received from the geeks-in-training.

1. Plan Ahead

“Don’t just show up and see what happens.  You don’t have to plan every minute, but there’s so much to do that you can’t make the most of your day without at least a basic plan, especially if you don’t know your way around.”–Adriana W.

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2. Look for Specials

“I didn’t even know you could get discounts at Disney World!  I originally just called [Disney] and asked for prices.  One of the moms in my son’s class was telling me how cheap their trip was, and I was floored!  She sent me to her travel agent.  We had to move our trip back a couple days, but we ended up saving about $300 and stayed in a nicer place!”–Lisa D.

3. Sunscreen

I got this from lots of former newbies.  It’s really a no-brainer.  When headed out in the Florida sun, no matter your skin tone, slather on the SPF! Don’t forget those sneaky places like the part in your hair and behind and on top of your ears.

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Get Park Wise: Sunscreen is widely available at the parks and resorts, but it is sold at premium.  Pick some up at home or somewhere off property if you have your own transportation.

4. Check the Weather

Ok, so I just waxed poetic about the Florida sun, but take a peek at the weather before you pack.

“We just assumed Florida would be sunny, but we had two rainy days at the end of our vacation.  I would have packed a jacket and umbrella for everyone if I’d thought to look at the forecast.”–Alan H.

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Get Park Wise: Although weather can change on a dime, checking out the 10-day before you leave home can give you an idea of what you should toss in your luggage.  Also, summer vacationers, expect an almost daily afternoon shower.  They usually don’t last long, so wait it out and enjoy the slightly less crowded park after the rain.

5. Don’t Worry About Water

“I loaded our backpack down with bottled water.  It was nice to have when we needed it but a pain to carry.  Halfway through we left the water in the hotel room and just bought cold water bottles in the parks.”–Sarah T.

Get Park Wise: Remember, if you’re cost conscious, quick service restaurants offer free ice water.  Can you tell this is a favorite tip? 😉

6. Comfortable Shoes

Another no-brainer I received multiple times.  You’ll be walking miles upon miles a day.  Great for your thighs, hell on your feet.  Invest in a nice sturdy pair of shoes a couple of months before your trip and break them in, or go with a pair you already know are comfy.  Happy feet make happy travelers!

7. Make Reservations

“If you know you want to eat somewhere [a table service restaurant], make reservations.  We ate at Be Our Guest and walked past a huge line hoping to get in.  We were so glad we scheduled a reservation!”–Adriana W.

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Get Park Wise: Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance.  While some restaurants do have walk-up availability, if any of your must-dos are heavy hitters such as Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table or most character meals, make those reservations ASAP!

8. Make Sure to Use FastPass

While this was always a tip of mine, it’s vital to use the new FastPass+ if you want to make the most of your time.  Unfortunately, FastPass+ seems to be indirectly elongating standby times for rides that were often “walk-on,” so it’s more important than ever to take advantage.

“I was able to schedule some of our favorite rides on my phone before we got to Disney.  We slept in and still got to ride Toy Story with a short wait.”–Gary J.

9. Use PhotoPass

“We got Memory Maker with our package and were really glad we had it.  We ended up with over 200 pictures and I liked having the ride pictures because I wouldn’t usually spend the money for those even though they’re usually pretty funny.”–Kristin C.

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Get Park Wise: If you’re not ready to invest in Memory Maker, PhotoPass photographers will take photos with your camera, too.  If you did choose Memory Maker, let them know, and they’ll often take several pictures to help you get the most bang for your buck.

10. Use a Disney Specialist Travel Agent

I promise I didn’t make them say this!!

“We told her what we wanted, and she made it happen!  Jessica handled all of the details from reservations to itinerary recommendations and discounts.  Her expert knowledge came in handy before, during and after our trip! Wouldn’t book a Disney vacation any other way!”–Valerie M.

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Any new Disney parks travelers reading?  What’s your advice after your first trip?

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