Helpful tips for first-time visitors to Disney World

Is it a good time to visit Walt Disney World? For many, the answer may be a solid yes. With all the travel restrictions out there and the uncertainty around how the pandemic has impacted destinations, Disney World might seem like a safe right now bet compared to a big overseas adventure. So what do you need to know before you go?



Although we’ve been to Disney parks before, we’re hardly experts. But we do happen to know one! Our good friend Cosmic Chris Reid from the WDWNT Entertainment YouTube channel, where Chris hosts ‘Cosmic Reid Live’ with Jeff Mielcarz and Angelina Alberto every Monday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

The show focuses on all things Walt Disney World, and with good authority – Chris has been there 15 times!

We asked Chris if he could provide a few tips for those heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, give us a sense of what COVID safety protocols visitors can expect, and share some insight on where to stay. (Hotel links included below!)


Here are Chris’s thoughts, which you can also watch on our YouTube video!





DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO. MAKE A PLAN!

You definitely want to maximize your time at the Walt Disney World Resort because it’s huge. There are four theme parks, two water parks, a giant shopping and dining district (Disney Springs), professional golf courses, mini golf courses; so it's good to do your research and have an idea of what you want to do.

A family-oriented theme park would be the Magic Kingdom, it tends to have something for everyone including rides, attractions, shows, places to eat, parades and fireworks.


If you're going as a couple it might be better to go to Epcot, which has the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and the International Flower & Garden Festival with World Showcase Pavilions. I like to say that Epcot is a little bit more adult themed.


So do your research because you want to maximize your time while you're there. Figure out what you want to do, have a plan going in and it will really help you out while you're on your vacation down there.


DOWNLOAD THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP

The My Disney Experience app will help you out so much while you're at Walt Disney World. It’s a free app. And don’t worry about data use while you're at the theme parks, the water parks or Disney Springs, Disney has you covered with wi-fi.


The app will allow you to make dining reservations or if you want to do an experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios, such as building a lightsaber, you can book a reservation for that too. You can also see all the photos that cast members take of you. They will give you a card that attaches to your app and your account, so you can easily access and order the photos that they took.


It’s more than a personal assistant; it's a must-have.


TRAVEL LIGHT. LEAVE YOUR WATER BOTTLES BEHIND

While you're at Walt Disney World you don't have to carry a water bottle with you. If you go up to any of the table service/counter service places in any of the parks or even at Disney Springs and ask for a glass of water they will give you a big cup or two small cups and you can quench your thirst that way.

I really like minimizing the stuff that I bring with me to the park. If I don't have to bring a water bottle, it's all the easier.


GIVE YOURSELF EXTRA TIME DUE TO SAFETY ENHANCEMENTS*

Disney has introduced new safety protocols at the park, so it's really important to keep this in mind while you're there at this time (Spring 2021). These protocols include staying six feet apart while you're in the queue for an attraction, so make sure your party stays on the dots or squares on the ground.


It's also important to give yourself some extra time when you're arriving to the park because it's not just security you have to go through, now there's also a temperature screening. If you get screened and they find that your temperature is a little bit high they will pull you aside for 15 minutes to see if it drops. Then they will try again and as long as you're in the temperature range not considered a fever you can go into the parks and have fun.


But if you have a reservation for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or for an attraction, then I would get there a couple hours early just to make sure everything goes smoothly and you get to your attraction or reservation on time.


BE PREPARED TO WEAR A MASK*

Masks are required at Walt Disney World, the only exception is while you are sitting down eating and drinking. You have to be at a table when you take off your mask so you can't walk around with food and drink with your mask off. You can’t take them off for photos either, cast members will call you out if you try to do that. So be a sport, wear a mask, stay safe and have fun!


Don't forget to get a Disney themed mask for your trip!


WHERE TO STAY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

There are so many options at the Walt Disney World Resort in terms of where to stay. Disney has three tiers; value, moderate and deluxe, and each one gets a little bit more pricey as you go up.


If it’s your first time at Walt Disney World, you’ll be fine at a value resort. You’re going to want to spend more time visiting the theme parks, water parks or checking out Disney Springs. The hotel is really just a place to sleep. All the other activities are outside that room, so why pay an arm and a leg for it?


Now if you've been there a few times and you want to experience something more, the deluxe resorts are great and they're beautiful. But if it's your first time, stay at a value hotel and save some money.


Here are some hotel options in the value tier:

  • Pop Century Resort

  • All-Star Sports Resort

  • All-Star Movie Resort

  • All-Star Music Resort

  • The Art of Animation Resort

* Safety protocols may change. Please check the official Walt Disney World website for the most recent updates.


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