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20 Surprises for First-Time WDW Visitors

For most families, planning a Walt Disney World vacation starts long before you step foot on property. It can take years to save, months to plan, days to pack and several sleepless night of excitement before you begin your magical vacation.

Once you arrive, without any prior expectations, realities can be overwhelming for a new WDW visitor. There are many things that surprise first time visitors because they weren’t expecting it.

I polled my followers on Twitter and Facebook several times and asked “What surprised you most about your first Walt Disney World trip”? They gave me straight forward answers and I’m reporting back!

Top 20 Surprises for First Time WDW Visitors

  • 20: How long the buses take.

You’d be surprised but during peak hours of operation, waiting for the bus can feel like forever! I’ve paid a few bucks to take a taxi and save time.

  • 19: Characters can feel “hidden”.

If you’re used to Disneyland, you have to spend a bit more time hunting for characters. Use My Disney Experience App to help you search from your smartphone.

©Disney Photographer: Ryan Wendler

©Disney Photographer: Ryan Wendler


  • 18: How far you walk.

You seriously have to train for a WDW vacation if you’re not active. You can easily walk 8-10 miles per day without trying!

  • 17:  You need to take advantage of advanced dining reservations.

It’s true. Popular, or new restaurants, require an early morning wake up call 180 days in advance if you want to score a table.

  • 16: How delicious the food was.

I couldn’t agree more! WDW has something to offer for everyone. You don’t have to eat stereotypical park food all day (unless you want to).

©Disney Photographer: Matt Stroshane

©Disney Photographer: Matt Stroshane


  • 15: The afternoon rain.

If you’re not from Florida and travel during the Summer hurricane season months, the afternoon monsoon can be as surprise. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t last long… usually.

  • 14: How educational WDW can be for kids.

So many schools plan field trips to WDW for this very reason. From environmental learning at Animal Kingdom to cultural learning at Epcot, you can teach your kids so much- while on vacation!

  • 13: It’s easier than you’d expect for Seniors.

This one even surprised my family! My dad, who has trouble walking, easily rented a scooter and had it delivered right to our resort. It was so easy for him to get around property.

  • 12: How clean everything is, from the parks to the resorts.

Disney is meticulous about keeping everything tidy. It doesn’t mean that something doesn’t accidentally get overseen sometimes, but things do seem to sparkle!

  • 11: How careful they are with food allergies.

My Husband has a pineapple allergy and the head chefs always come out to talk to us before we order. Be sure to make a special note in your dining reservation and let the waiter know upon arrival.

  • 10: How amazing it is through kid’s eyes!

I couldn’t agree more. There is something extra special about your child’s first visit to the parks and experiencing it through their eyes.

  • 9: How much there is to do.

You truly can’t repeat a Walt Disney World vacation twice. There’s so much to do, you’ll want to always come back for something.

  • 8: How easy the dining plan is.

Disney offers several dining plan options to fit everyone’s budget or dining desires. It’s an easy to use point system and each receipt tells you how many points you have remaining.

  • 7: You can dehydrate easily.

This is especially true for the Summer months. When you’re walking so many miles in the heat, you can dehydrate easily. Don’t forget that quick service locations offer free ice water.

  • 6: The pools are a fun break from the parks.

Guests get so wrapped up in the fun of the parks that they forget about the themed resort pools. It’s so much more than a view from your room! It’s a fun place to grab a drink or relax with the family. They even offer special entertainment for the little ones.

  • 5: The special parties are worth paying for.

Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party are hot ticket events that guests rave about.

©Disney Photographer: Kent Phillips

©Disney Photographer: Kent Phillips


  • 4: Concierge level rooms are worth it.

I have to admit, I love the concierge experience too. Offered at the Deluxe Resorts, the concierge level provides around-the-clock snacks, cocktails in the evening and Cast Members on hand to help with plans.

  • 3: Taking a baby is easier than expected.

Disney offers a place for nursing Moms, ride switch and stroller rentals. They cater to families with children of ALL ages.

  • 2: Adults can have fun too.

One of my favorite ways to vacation at Walt Disney World is with just my spouse. Disney has fun themed lounges, signature dining restaurants and nighttime adult-only entertainment options. The possibilities are endless.

  • 1: How addictive WDW is. 

Honestly, Disney can ruin you for any other type of vacation. From supreme service to something for everyone, Walt Disney World is a top notch travel destination for families. You’ll compare every past vacation to WDW and want to go back as soon as you leave. It’s happened to my family and we aren’t looking back!


If you need assistance planning your first visit to Walt Disney World, contact Megan at Living with the Magic. Don’t forget to mention that Fit Disney Mom sent you!



Monday 12th of September 2016

We just got back from Disney last week and we walked so much! I am grateful that Disney makes it easy for the elderly so my parents can still come with us.


Thursday 8th of September 2016

Such a great list - I can vouch for the fact that the Disney restaurants are VERY serious about food allergies, and I really appreciated it. I'm gluten free because of an allergy and it was refreshing to have a restaurant be that attentive and that careful.


Monday 5th of September 2016

we are heading to DL in january and we can't wait. i'm disabled so i have to use a wheelchair, but my husband expects a lot of walking.

Whitney S. @ Fabulous in Fayette

Monday 5th of September 2016

I think these are very good tips for those that are visiting. I've never been there, but I have been to DisneyLand!


Monday 5th of September 2016

I love Disney! We haven't been since my oldest was 1, but it was a magical visit then. I can't wait to go back. We try to really slow down when we go to Disney, but it definitely takes some awareness to do that, everything is so exciting!

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