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I'm A Dad Who Just Went To Disney World With My Family For The First Time. Here's What I'd Change If We Went Again

Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire
(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Disney World is known as the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” and I learned that firsthand with my family during a recent three-day trip and resort stay. We made many memories that will stay with me forever, and overall I enjoyed my time in the park. With that said, as a dad who just took his family to Disney World for the first time, there are definitely some things I’d do differently should we return in the future. 

Before getting into all this, I do want to reiterate I did have a great time at Disney World. However, I was very new to the Disney vacation experience, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who will attend in the new future that is. For anyone planning or hoping to plan a trip and thinking debating the value of Genie+ is their main concern, I’ll be the first to say there are a few more things to prepare for on such a vacation. 

Galactic Starcruiser concept art

(Image credit: Disney Parks)

I’d Spend More To Avoid The Value Resorts Or Stay Off Property

One of the things I heard going into booking this trip was that staying on the property was convenient compared to staying off. After staying at the All-Star Movies resort, we definitely questioned if the “convenience” of staying on property was worth the trade-off for what we could’ve gotten spending the same money off the property. 

Our food options were limited to expensive cafeteria food I’d label as “fine.” It wasn’t bad, but it's way more than I would’ve paid eating off the property. I also wasn’t thrilled with the fact we often had to walk way further than the other resorts to get to our bus stops, and seemingly experienced less frequent pickups compared to some of the higher-priced resorts. To be fair I only felt like that was the case and wasn’t keeping a watch, but I definitely had plenty of time at stops watching other buses come and go. 

These things, paired with some other minor issues with our accommodations (I didn’t get the memo the Magic Express was phased out, for one), gave me one major takeaway. Disney World does offer options for people to stay on the property on a value budget, but you’re better served spending even more money for a nicer experience or by staying elsewhere. If I’m in a better position to go beyond the value tier next time, I will, or I’ll just skip out on the resort experience entirely and sacrifice bus service and the extra minutes in the park. 

Captain Phasma and Stormtroopers at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

(Image credit: Disneyland Resort)

I Would Avoid Florida In August

I’m from the Midwest, and while we’re not exactly foreign to the concept of hot summers and humid weather, there’s really no easing into Florida in the height of August. The humidity is thick, making it uncomfortable to spend hours on the concrete with the temperature in the low to mid-90s for a vast majority of the day. Make no mistake, battling the heat is a real thing at Disney World, and I saw a few people and even felt myself losing the battle at times. 

The only reprieve from the heat is rain, and given that August is in the midst of Florida’s hurricane season, rain is a safe bet. Unfortunately, it’s also hard to predict, so if you do go, a poncho is certainly worth the investment. These are obviously tips any Disney veteran would know, but for someone who has only been to Florida sporadically throughout my lifetime, it's something I learned the hard way. 

Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World

(Image credit: Walt Disney)

I’d Buy Those Gimmicky Fans And Other Things To Keep Cool

When my sister first suggested a cooling towel to help deal with the heat at Disney World, I scoffed at the idea. Fast forward to the trip, I was soaking that thing every hour in a water fountain or bathroom just trying to find some reprieve from the heat. It made a noticeable difference, and suddenly my mind began to race about all the other gimmicky devices I could utilize that would’ve helped me beat the heat during my stay. 

Personally, I was very interested in that combo spray bottle and fan I saw at a couple of booths, but the fans that looked like headphones you wear around your neck were also interesting. I didn’t try either, unfortunately, because I was already spending so much on everything else, and it felt like anything available on-site was at a markup I just couldn’t justify. With that said, if I would’ve traveled back in time to myself a week before the trip, I definitely would’ve told myself to order some of those things on Amazon to take to the park with me.

1923 lamb chops

(Image credit: CinemaBlend)

I’d Pack More Food To Bring Into The Park

You can get a lot of great food and drinks at Disney World if you know where to look and frequent, but therein lies the problem. If you haven’t done your due diligence and are just roaming the park for something to eat because you’re starving from all the walking, you might bypass all those appetizing options for a food item that isn’t any more ambitious or delicious than something found at the county fair. 

Fair food is good, but there’s also a time and a place for it. If I had some granola bars, I might’ve opted for those rather than trying to choke down Woody’s Lunch Box Totchos at 9:30 a.m. for breakfast. In short, it’s good to have some snacks on hand, especially if you’re someone who won’t specifically be scouting out food stalls for menu items during your stay.

Country Bear Jamboree

(Image credit: Disney Parks)

I’d Do Two Days At Magic Kingdom And Miss One Of The Other Parks

Epcot’s ongoing construction and the recent closing of the Frozen ride kept my family from that side of Disney World during my stay, but I spent plenty of time in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. After spending a day in each park with my wife and four-year-old daughter, I can earnestly say I would’ve skipped out on one of those parks for another day at Magic Kingdom. 

Speaking as someone with a bias, in that I went with a Disney princess-obsessed child, there was plenty to do at Magic Kingdom and not so much in comparison at the other parks. Magic Kingdom boasts an impressive 23 rides, most of which are rooted in Disney’s most classic movies. It’s also home to the Cinderella Castle, the Dapper Dans, Main Street USA and a place where a bunch of hillbilly bears have sung country tunes since the park’s opening

Hollywood Studios has the new hotness and can’t-miss-rides and experiences, but with only nine of them, you’ll run out of things fast (especially if Olaf gets knocked over). Epcot, as mentioned, is a work in progress at the moment, and Animal Kingdom is more about seeing the animals than anything (sometimes closer than you’d expect, particularly if snakes are involved). If you’re someone who doesn’t frequent Disney often and think you have to see all of the parks when you’re here, I get it. With that said, I ended my time at Disney wishing I did more at Magic Kingdom and felt I did about all I could everywhere else. Overall I have few regrets and enjoyed most everything, but would certainly do things differently if I return in the future. 

Disney World is always changing, and if you’re not someone who frequents it often, it’s valuable to check out what’s new to the park before booking that trip. Also, be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for more happenings at Disneyland as well, and other relevant theme park news. 

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.