We just returned from our 2020 Disney World vacation. We had a fabulous 9 night trip that was loaded with park days, runDisney events, good food, and fabulous weather. As with each and every trip we come back and think about the mistakes that we made that we want to make sure we don’t repeat. Take a look at the 5 mistakes we made this Disney trip and make sure to steer clear of them for your next vacation.
Not Buying the Dining Plan
This was our first Disney World vacation in 7 years that we didn’t purchase the dining plan. We did this because, honestly we thought we’d save money. Lincoln, our middle child, is now 4. This meant he would be charged for the dining plan. Children under 3 are free. This also meant that each time we ordered food he would have his own meal instead of splitting his meal with his older sister. We thought that food would get wasted. We had no idea how much our youngest son would end up eating. He ate more than the other two. So those extra meals certainly wouldn’t have been wasted. Because we weren’t on the dining plan, we didn’t have desserts with most of our meals. Jeff and I didn’t indulge in any alcoholic beverages and we certainly didn’t eat as many snacks. We’ve crunched the numbers and we saved $150 by paying out of pocket. But we ate half as much as we would have had we been on the dining plan. Now we know, and we will always purchase one of the dining plans going forward.
Not Bringing a Camera
Yes, our phones take amazing pictures but we also rely on them for other things. We need them to connect with our families at different ends of the park. We need them to check the MyDisneyExperience app. Plus the batteries drain very quickly. Bringing a camera with you on your Disney vacation allows you more freedom to take pictures without using your phone. It also keeps the emails and texts at bay that you’ll just glance at when you open your phone to take a picture. I really missed having our camera with us this time and I definitely took less pictures because of it.
Doing Too Many Park Days
One of the main portions of our vacation was the runDisney events our whole family participated in. I ran the half marathon. My husband, Jeff, ran the full marathon. Each of our kids participated in one of the kids race. MacKenzie and Lincoln ran in the 200m race and our youngest William was in the Diaper Dash. These events ate into our normally scheduled non-park days. These days are normally spent pool side, at the playground, shopping. Knowing we were participating in these events we should have planned less park days.
We were at Disney World for 9 nights. The first day was a travel day. We had 6 park days. Two of the other days were spent going to the runDisney expo and participating in events. It’s not that we were exhausted from all these days, it was more that we felt we missed out on enjoying the resort we were staying at. We stayed at Old Key West, which has beautiful playgrounds, a community hall, a golf course and a great pool. We maybe spent a few hours at the resort relaxing. Next time we plan on doing runDisney events we’ll tone down the amount of park time we do.
Rider Switch Pass
Another mistake we made was not taking full advantage of the rider switch pass. These passes are offered at each and every attraction that has a height requirement. When your party has a guest that is too short to ride the attraction one party member has to wait with that guest. The party member that’s waiting can get a rider switch pass, which allows them to get on the attraction by waiting in the FastPass line instead of the regular line. But the pass isn’t just for that one person, other party members can get a pass too. This way the guest doesn’t have to ride the ride alone. We used this pass to get on Smuggler’s Run with little wait time, we used it for Slinky Dog Dash, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Soarin’. What we should have done was booked our FastPasses accordingly. When I booked our FastPasses I booked the same reservations for each member of our family. What I should have done was broken them up into MacKenzie and myself in group 1 and Jeff and Lincoln in group 2. For MacKenzie and I, I could have booked Big Thunder Mountain and Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train. For Lincoln and Jeff, I could have booked Barnstormer and Space Mountain. When MacKenzie and I went to ride Big Thunder, we would get a rider switch pass for Jeff and Lincoln. It would have doubled the amount of FastPasses we could have had. We will definitely try this out on our next trip.
Park Open to Park Close
This was our fourth Disney World vacation with kids. During each of our previous vacations we have arrived at the parks for rope drop and left after the nighttime entertainment. There’s been very few exceptions to this. I now realize the key to these full days being successful were the naps our kids were taking. Unfortunately, our older two kids are past the napping in stroller stage, for the most part. This meant our days at the park we fuller. There was no 1-2 hour nap in the stroller while we wondered the stores or while we traded off riding a couple rides. By dinner time we knew the wise decision was to end the day before it fell a part. The one day, out of six park days, we made it through till park close was our Magic Kingdom day. We were determined to see those fireworks. I wish I had geared up for these shorter days ahead of time because I would have planned our days a little differently. I certainly wouldn’t have booked a FastPass for Fantasmic! on our final evening. Lesson learned.
As the needs and wants of our family changes, these vacation will continue to alter. And with it come the learning curves. Things that have worked during past vacations won’t work anymore and we’ll try new things that will. The major takeaway each and every trip is to have fun and to roll with the punches. Just like each and every day of our lives as a family is filled with beautiful and not-so beautiful moments so will each trip. It’s how we respond to them that shapes the memories. May these mistakes steer you in the direction of creating a vacation that will be pleasurable and memorable. Happy Planning, Friends.
Want to check out the mistakes we made back in 2018? Take a look at this previous post by clicking here.