10 rookie mistakes to avoid on Disney vacations

Your trip will be even more magical if you avoid these rookie moves.

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10 rookie mistakes to avoid on Disney vacations

Not taking into account the weather

If you’re still in the planning stages of your Disney vacation, don’t make the rookie mistake of underestimating the weather. Kristen Heptinstall, a Disney writer and travel agent with Sager Fairytale Getaways, says that the heat and rain in Orlando are especially oppressive. And while Disneyland is more temperate, Southern California can get hot too! For families that may not be as heat tolerant, look up average highs and lows for the dates you are thinking of traveling, recommends Heptinstall. “Consider a different time of year, especially if you have elderly family members or very young children in your group,” says Heptinstall. “Heat and humidity can really ruin a fun time.” 

Going during peak seasons

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid going to Disney during peak seasons, but you should always take into account how the huge crowds could impact your trip. “At certain times of the year, Disney parks are absolutely packed and completely miserable,” says Heptinstall. The busiest times are the week between Christmas and New Years, and the week of Independence Day, according to Heptinstall. Angela Rice, the co-founder of Boutique Travel Advisors, adds that summer is also relatively busy for Disney vacations, whereas there are typically fewer crowds in the fall. There are a few apps and websites Heptinstall recommends that can help predict crowd levels including touringplans.com and magicguides.com. No matter when you plan your trip for, don’t waste precious suitcase space on these 18 everyday items that are banned from Disney parks.

Only planning the basics

OK, you have your plane tickets, your Disney passes, and a hotel booked. These are big steps in the process, but don’t forget about planning beyond the basics. Heptinstall says a rookie mistake is not pre-planning for dining and attractions. “Dining can be booked 180 days out and attractions 60 days out,” she says. “If you fail to do so, you’ll be left waiting in very long lines for new and popular attractions, or missing out on dinner at your restaurant of choice,” adds Heptinstall. Instead, spend time with the Walt Disney World app, or enlist a travel agent to book your trip and make the dining and attraction bookings for you.

Relying on the meal plans

The meal plans at Disney are not for everybody. “Some of the meal plans include multiple courses and beverages that equate to unnecessary spending,” says Rice. “The benefits will depend on whether you will consume all that is included in the package.” Three dining plan levels include a certain number of snacks and different types of meals. If your family doesn’t use all of these each day, you’ll lose money. Whether or not you opt for a meal plan, you’ll still want to make a reservation way in advance for the hardest restaurant to get reservations at in Disney World.

Over-scheduling yourself

Disney vacations could be overwhelming, so don’t over-schedule yourself. Remember, this is still a vacation, and everyone needs a little downtime and spontaneity. “Not every day of your vacation needs to be spent at the park,” says Rice. Consider adding on a beach or shopping day. You might even want to take advantage of hotel amenities like spas, too. 

Not having a safety plan

Establish meeting places, especially when traveling in a large group to Disney. “Wearing matching themed clothes, preferably Disney themed in nature, is a common occurrence at Disney and does help to find each other,” says Rice. You can also remember what everyone is wearing by taking a picture on your phone at the beginning of each day.” It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone knows these two codewords you never want to hear in Disney parks.

Booking your room based on the nightly rate

Establish meeting places, especially when traveling in a large group to Disney. “Wearing matching themed clothes, preferably Disney themed in nature, is a common occurrence at Disney and does help to find each other,” says Rice. You can also remember what everyone is wearing by taking a picture on your phone at the beginning of each day.” It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone knows these two codewords you never want to hear in Disney parks.

Skipping the extras

Disney offers some perks and extras that more travelers should take advantage of including the FASTPASS+ and Extra Magic Hours. The FASTPASS+ is a ticket system that allows people to “skip the line” on three attractions at one park per day by picking the rides in advance of your trip—and it’s totally free. This also makes it easier to double up on the three rides every Disney World visitor should go on twice. Each park also has Extra Magic Hours for guests staying on-site. This free perk lets guests enter a Disney theme park an hour earlier or stay in a park two hours later than the official operating hours on select days.

Buying Disney gear at the park 

Merchandise prices are much higher at the parks than online. It’s actually OK to buy your Disney gear before your trip, Rice notes. “You will likely avoid the impulse to buy too much while on your trip if you purchase your Disney attire prior to your vacation,” says Rice. Investing time in prepping for your Disney trip with these purchases and is a great way to extend the anticipation of a vacation, too. For families on a tight budget, you’ll want to read our guide about the best free things in Disney world.

Sleeping in too much

One more mistake rookies often make when they visit Disney is sleeping in late. “Sure, relaxing should be part of your vacation, but being at the park when it opens at ‘rope drop’ can really maximize your day and help your family enjoy more attractions,” says Heptinstall. Plus, if it’s hot, you can take a break to go back to your resort and dip in the pool before coming back for more. Make sure to set your alarm clocks and get to bed a decent time the night before.

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The post 10 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid on Disney Vacations appeared first on Reader's Digest.

For a look at everything new coming to Disney World and Disneyland in 2018, check out the slide show below!

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11 new things to do at Disney in 2019
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11 new things to do at Disney in 2019

Mickey and Minnie's Surprise Celebration

Open: January 18, 2019 through September 30, 2019

Join Disney's Mickey and Minnie for new surprises in the Magic Kingdom. Sign the Celebration Guest Book and meet the duo (in their new party outfits!) for a picture inside the Town Square Theater. Then join them outside in front of the castle for their new Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party

The new outdoor dance parade features a new song called "It's a Good Time," and classic cast members like Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Chip 'n Dale and more. 

Choreographer Cindy Wilson told the Disney Parks Blog, “The ‘Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It!’ Street Party is a throwback to the Mickey Mouse Club, with wonderful music that everybody’s going to want to get up and dance to, and it’s contemporary at the same time. I think when [the characters] all come off the floats, guests are going to want to just jump in.”

Check the entertainment schedule for run times. 

Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party

Open: January 2019

Disney is celebrating the 25th anniversary of "The Lion King" with a Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party hosted by Timon and Rafiki on Discovery Island in the Animal Kingdom.

The dance party includes music, characters and new photo ops every day from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Meet The Incredibles at Pixar Place

Open: January 2019 through September 30, 2019

At the start of 2019, Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios transformed into a Municiberg city block. The park features a party for Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Frozone to honor their victories and a meet-and-greet with Edna Mode and her best creations. In addition, guests can look throughout Pixar Place for clues on where to find the youngest member of the Incredible family, Jack-Jack.

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy

Opening: March 31, 2019

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy is a new show using high tech screens. Guests (rookie racers) will learn the rules of the road from "Cars" star Lightning McQueen. There will also be a new character meet-and-greet with Cruz Ramirez.

Wonderful World of Animation

Opening: May 1, 2019

The Wonderful World of Animation is a new projection light show that will take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The show will take guests on a journey through more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animations with favorites including "The Incredibles," "Coco," "Sleeping Beauty" and more. 

Space 220

Opening: 2019

Epcot is opening a new space-themed restaurant called Space 220. According to Disney Food Blog, the restaurant will showcase simulate space views while guests sit in a restaurant modeled after a space station. It will seat more than 350 guests, those of which will be "transported" to the restaurant by elevators covered in digital screens that will mock a trip to space.

A job posting seeking staff for the restaurant lists April 2019 as when applicants can join the cast, so we can assume this restaurant will be open by summer. 

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Opening: Fall 2019

Both Disney World and Disneyland will be opening a Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The park is being made to look like the planet of Batuu, which is a remote outpost that was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes and is now a safe haven for those avoiding the First Order. 

There will be two main attractions where guests can fly the Millennium Falcon and another that puts guests in a Star Destroyer in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

Other fun additions will include Luke Skywalker's blue milk, a marketplace and toys, apparel and characters like BB-8 and Chewbacca. 

See more on the park's progress here

Skyliner Gondola

Opening: Fall 2019

If you like taking the monorail into the parks, you'll want to check out the new Skyliner Gondolas. Similar to a lift you'd find at a ski resort, the gondolas will take guests through two parks, offering spectacular views. 

The Skyliner Gondola will connect Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios to four hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation ResortDisney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort as well as a new resort coming in fall 2019, Disney’s Riviera Resort.

For more on the Skyliner Gondola system, see here

Disney's Riviera Resort

Opening: Fall 2019

The new Disney Riviera Resort hotel is inspired by the "grandeur of Europe." It will have transportation to the parks, a fitness center, a rooftop restaurant and wide range of room sizes.

The Riviera Pool, a family-friendly pool, will be decorated with stucco façades, a slide that winds around a column tower (pictured) and a kids interactive water play area that slightly mimics the public fountains of Europe. 

For adults seeking peace and quiet, there's a separate area called the Beau Soleil Pool. 

The Disney Riviera Resort is currently taking reservations for Dec. 16 - Dec. 31, 2019. 

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

Opening: 2019

While there's no set opening date yet for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, their first ride attraction, it's set to open sometime this year. The ride will begin with guests viewing a new cartoon short with the mice getting ready for a picnic As Mickey and Minnie are leaving, they drive alongside a train where they see that Goofy is the engineer and the ride takes off from there.

There isn't a whole lot of additional information, but according to the Disney Parks Blog, "Imagineers have been hard at work creating Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, using breakthrough technology to transform a two-dimensional cartoon into an amazing real-world experience."

Epcot Forever

Opening: Fall 2019

Epcot's famous IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nighttime lights and fireworks show is sadly ending at the end of Summer 2019, but will be temporarily replaced with a show called Epcot Forever. The new show will feature classic Epcot tunes, combining music with fireworks, lighting, lasers and special effects kites. 

Then, keep an eye out, because in 2020 Disney is gearing up to replace Epcot Forever with a new nighttime show called A Celebration of Disney Music with floating set pieces, custom-LED panels, fountains, lights, fire and lasers.

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