By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



How to Use yourfirstvisit.net



By Dave Shute

Welcome!

This site is designed for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World who do not know if they will ever return.

It guarantees the best possible first family visit to Walt Disney World for the least possible time spent planning!

To use this site, begin by clicking here for the Summary of Instructions.

Follow the instructions that you can, and where you can’t, click the links in the Summary of Instructions for your next best options, ranked in order!

If you are looking for something specific,

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55 comments

1 Andy & Tracey { 09.11.10 at 9:25 am }

Hello, What a great site. We are a family of five(three children of 18,15,11) planning to stay at Windsor Palms 9th April to 23rd 2011. There seems to be so much to do and see…any idea’s on where to start etc( we will hire a car). Thanks, Andy.

2 Dave { 09.11.10 at 11:56 am }

Andy and Tracey–most of what’s here is for 8 night trips. However, check out the second of the two example longer itineraries near the end of this page.

Hope this helps and have a great trip!! Dave

3 Marcia { 04.08.11 at 4:20 pm }

Hello – my family and I have gone in September the past 3 years and love the low crowds. This year we want to see the Christmas decorations. We are able to travel Wednesday to Tuesday. Do you recommend 11/30 to 12/6 or 12/7 to 12/13?? We are mostly concerned about crowds. I know both weeks fall during Pop Warner and the MK parade taping is 12/3. Any advice would be much appreciated as I am planning this trip for 3 families!!

4 Dave { 04.08.11 at 6:06 pm }

Hi Marcia!

These are really close. The absolute lightest days in your possible periods will be 11/30 through 12/2, so on that basis I’d go with the 11/30 start…

5 Kara { 06.18.11 at 12:41 am }

Hi –
Any advice for itinerary for 2 adults/2 children (8 & 10). Travel dates 12/9 through 12/16 (friday (arrive at 11am) to friday(depart at 1pm). Staying at Wilderness Lodge. Would like to include Seaworld & Mickey’s Christmas Party. Is this doable?

6 Dave { 06.18.11 at 6:42 am }

Hi Kara!

The Basic December Itinerary is a pretty close fit. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/basic-itinerary-daily-links/ You can modify it to fit your dates!

7 Kara { 06.18.11 at 8:10 am }

Do I modify it by following the schedule based on day of the week? ie. do this on Friday, this on Saturday, etc. Or do I just follow your Saturday arrival plan when I arrive on Friday. Thanks so much for all the info.

8 Dave { 06.18.11 at 11:36 am }

Kara, sorry to have been so unhelpful! Was too early in the am…

You need to do the stuff on the same days of the week, as the days tie to typical extra magic hours etc. So on your arrival day, follow the Friday evening schedule, on your Saturday follow the 2nd Saturday, then on your Sunday and following follow the first Sunday, Monday, etc. On your last Firday, follow the Friday morning schedule.

Note’s there several morings off to fit Sea World into…

Hope this is more helpful!! Dave

9 Doreen { 07.08.11 at 1:03 pm }

Hello, we are thinking of a Bus Tour that leaves Canada March 3, 2012 which allows us to have One Free Day at either Disneyland or The California Adventure. I was wondering if the California Adventure would be better suited to ADULTS/SENIORS? And what is the Must Do List for One Day?

10 Dave { 07.08.11 at 3:20 pm }

Hi Doreen!

In my judgement, I’d go with Disneyland.

I don’t have my own must-dos for either park, but you can find them here: http://touringplans.com/disneyland-resort/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1

11 Doreen { 07.08.11 at 3:43 pm }

Thank You Dave! Much Appreciated.

12 Fran Maurer { 07.21.11 at 3:03 pm }

Hi Dave,
We are frequent WDW guests in late March but are thinking of a trip Dec 28-Jan 2. We have never visited over Christmas break. We have 3 kids 11,16,and 18. Like the no alcohol atmosphere of MK for news years eve. How crazy crowded is it? Where you suggest staying?

13 Dave { 07.21.11 at 3:14 pm }

Hi Fran!!

It will be as crowded those days–other than maybe the afternoon of the 1st and the 2nd–as it ever is at Walt Disney World…on a scale of 1-10 I rank it 11. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/07/05/disney-world-crowds-in-2012-christmasnew-years-2011-2012/

I’d recommend the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower, because you can walk to and from the Magic Kingdom, which reduces time spent in transportation lines and can help in case the park closes–which is common at this time of year.

See this for more on the Contemporary http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/06/06/review-disneys-contemporary-resort/ for more on Bay Lake Tower, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/09/13/review-bay-lake-tower-at-disneys-contemporary-resort/ and for more on park closures see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/30/park-closings-at-walt-disney-world/

14 Anne { 08.29.11 at 4:55 am }

Hi Dave, what a brilliant website!:) We are hoping to travel from the UK (2 adults, 2 children age 4 and 2) in 2012. It isn’t our first visit, and I hope that it will not be our last – we LOVE Disney and Orlando! If I can ask your advice please… We are a little tied with dates, as we have annual passes that expire 29 Apr 2012. We have also found discounted flights that run until 31st March 2012. With this in mind,I have been looking at flying either 25th Dec (I know, who does that?!but its cheaper!) and experiencing for the first time the Holiday Season which looks amazing at Disney, or alternatively a two week stay from 25th Feb to 10 March..? I imagine Christmas at Disney would be heaving but we would hopefully see some of the wonders before the 3rd Jan and then have some quieter time. I am hoping the 25th Feb is after the busy time of Presidents Week but before the Spring Break arrivals so a good time to go? Is end Feb/early March a good time to go in terms of crowds and the weather getting warmer so the children could get in the pool?
Any advice much appreciated, thanks.

15 Dave { 08.29.11 at 6:43 am }

Hi Anne, and thanks!

Of your possibilties, I like the Feb/March dates. You will miss both the Presidents Day and (most) of the Spring Break crowds. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/07/11/disney-world-crowds-in-2012-spring-break-2012/

It’s not predictably as warm as you would like. Temps still vary quite a bit at this time of the year–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/high-temperatures-year-round/

The Christmas season at WDW is wonderful…but not for those dates! Disney’s full Christmas program is in place by the Friday after Thanksgiving, so I suggest you do an eatly December experience in a future year! See this for more: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/05/29/christmas-2011-at-walt-disney-world/

Hope this helps and have a great trip!! Dave

16 Anne { 08.29.11 at 7:28 am }

Thanks Dave, thats a great help (and super speedy!) 🙂 Bearing that in mind, if we paid a bit more for flights would you say weeks 16th-30th April were better weeks? What would that be like in terms of crowds, would Spring breakers still be about? Thanks again, Anne

17 Dave { 08.29.11 at 9:49 am }

Anne–I much prefer those April weeks if you can afford them–crowds will be a bit lower, my crowd forecasts are more reliable then (Spring Break is very hard to forecast) and the weather will be much more likely to be terrific!

See also this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/23/the-most-comfortable-time-to-go-to-walt-disney-world/

18 Anne { 08.30.11 at 8:18 am }

Thanks Dave, very much appreciated. 🙂

19 Dave { 08.30.11 at 8:48 am }

Delighted to help!

20 Tara { 08.31.11 at 10:19 am }

Hi, Your site is amazing and a huge relief to me – my friend said his (non-working) wife spent 6months planning their trip and I almost scrapped the whole idea!

I have studied your weeks to visit but we are pretty restricted with my husband’s work and school holidays. We’re coming from the UK for 2 weeks with 6yr old twins. Price not an issue so it’s really only about coping with the weather and crowds – my realistic options are summer holidays 23 Jly – end Aug 2012 or taking my kids out of school from mid June (only ranked 1 place better), early Sept (hurricanes) or mid Nov (we want swim weather) . Is it really worth taking my kids out of school or shall I just go with Jly/Aug?
Any advice welcome, thanks!

21 Dave { 08.31.11 at 1:31 pm }

Hi Tara and thanks!!!

As late in August as you can manage has a lot going for it. Crowds go down at the end of the month, and it’s definitely pool weather! The downside is that the peak of the hurricane season begins in late August. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/chance-of-cyclonic-storm-affecting-florida/

Late June would be more crowded, but avoid the peak of the hurricane season.

Mid November (avoiding the first full week and the week of Thanksgiving) would be my recommendation. While the swimming cannot be guaranteed (though I’ve seen plenty of 6 year olds in the heated pools in 60 degree weather!) crowds will be lower than any of your other options (other than the very last week of August), and I would trade crowds for swimming any day.

For more on winter weather see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/pool-days-november-through-february/ and this http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/high-temperatures-year-round/

Hope this helps!! Dave

22 Siobhan { 10.25.11 at 11:48 pm }

Hi Dave- Wonderful website! We will be in Orlando the week of Thanksgiving, mainly for Universal this time, but want to go to see the Christmas decor at Disney. Will it seem as festive if we go the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving, or are Christmas decorations kept under wraps until after Thanksgiving?

23 Dave { 10.26.11 at 8:52 am }

Hi Sioban and thanks! The Christmas decorations are added beginning early November, so you should see lots of wonderful stuff Monday and Tuesday!

24 Linda { 10.30.11 at 2:28 pm }

Hi Dave,

Just found this site by accident and I love it. I am trying to plan a 1st time holiday to Disneyworld for me and my 2 grandsons aged 10 and 15. I have two dates available 5th – 19th May 2012 or 2nd – 16th June 2012. I would prefer the 1st option but wondered which two weeks would be best for the weather? When it rains how long does it rain for and how heavy? Also, would my grandons be allowed to go on the water shutes without me? Thank you

25 Dave { 10.30.11 at 2:40 pm }

Hi Linda and thanks for the love!

The May dates will be much better, not likely to be as hot or rainy, and much less crowded. See this for more:http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/20/2012-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/

You may have to enter the waterpark with them, but you won’t have to go on any rides with them!

26 Lori { 01.31.12 at 8:25 pm }

We are planning on a trip to Florida Feb 23-Mar 2. I have 5 days for Disney and 2 days for Sea World. Which days would you recommend to go to which parks. We have been there 4 years ago and my kids are 8 and 9 now. Our favorite is MK and AK. I only bought the magic your way. Not hopper. We want to avoid the crowds Feb 24. Will the 25 th be really
Crowded too? Should we go to Sea World that day? We also want to see the electrical parade in MK. What would you
Recommend?
Thanks !
Lori

27 Dave { 02.01.12 at 8:09 am }

Hi Lori!
The parks will be very crowded through the 25th. Sea World will be best the 26th or 27th. For the other parks, and focusing on the 26th and later,
Avoid MK the 27th, 28th, and 29th
Avoid HS the 26th and 29th
Avoid AK the 27th
Avoid Epcot the 1st and 2nd.

28 Rita { 02.22.12 at 12:58 am }

Hey Dave,

My Husband and I (50ish) and my son and his wife (30ish) have already booked a condo in Kissimmiee and are looking to see as much as we can during our short stay (May 5-10th). We would like to spend a couple of days at WDW and are leaning towards a day in the Magic Kingdom and another day at Epcott. Since we’re all newbies I’m wondering if you can give us any advice as to the “must sees” for adults? Just a note: my husband does have some difficulties walking/standing for long periods and is one of my main
concerns. Any other suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks….R

29 Dave { 02.22.12 at 6:39 am }

Hi Rita!

For the must-sees, see the right side of the image on this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

There’s no great answer for yuor husband other than renting a wheelchair or scooter…you can do this at the park or ahead of time…

30 B { 03.12.12 at 2:37 am }

Hi , I need your assistance please. I am from South Africa , i have a 11 year old boy and a 6 year old girl and my husband and i would like to take them to WDW. Their holidays are from 23rd June – 25 July , they break again from 28 Sept to 07 Oct and again from 07 Dec 2012 to 10 Jan 2013 . Please can you advise , the best times to travel there for a week as well as where exactly to stay , and dining options to choose (all not to expensive but yet to get the Disney experience) ? i know you have already given some advise to others but i donot understand everything . Lastly < please advise on what not to miss out on ….thanks a million 🙂 B

31 Dave { 03.12.12 at 1:22 pm }

B, all your quesitons are answered on this site. Start with the home page and work your way through by topic! http://yourfirstvisit.net/ is the home page…

32 B { 03.13.12 at 3:29 am }

Thanks a mil .. B

33 Dave { 03.13.12 at 6:37 am }

🙂

34 Kim { 03.19.12 at 11:17 pm }

Hi Dave. Great site. My 2 kids (aged9&11) and my husband are heading to Florida on march 29 until April 13. Can you advise us as to the least busy dates we might find during this period. And if we had only two days – can you advise us which venues we should target. We all love nature. Thank you very much!!

35 Dave { 03.20.12 at 6:38 am }

Hi Kim–your time is one of the two or three busiest of the year at WDW. There are no good days, but the best will likely be the 29, 30, 31 of March and then, perhaps, the 12th and 13th of April.

You should go to the Magic Kingdom, and may well find it worth two days–most people do. After that, given the ages of yuor kids, either Hollywood Studios or the Animal Kingdom is your next best bet…

36 Shef { 04.30.12 at 6:54 pm }

Hi there. Question: My family is 2 adults (my husband and I) and 2 girls age 7 and 5. We booked the polynesian but then found out my parents (in their late 50s) want to join for the week. What do you suggest for accommodations? we like poly b/c of convenience/monorail but we would want either 2 separate rooms or a 2 bdrom condo/villa. Seems that the beach club villas are sold out already!! Anything else? I feel like there are not that many choices for us?

37 Dave { 05.01.12 at 1:53 pm }

Hi Shef, see the material that begins here for my suggestions: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/20/deluxe-options-for-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/

38 Nancy { 06.15.12 at 8:00 am }

Hello, We are planning a trip to Florida Jan 4th through the 12th. I havent booked anything yet. I am waiting to see if Disney will be having any special offers at this time. Do you know if they typically do?

39 Dave { 06.15.12 at 9:55 am }

Hi Nancy, that period has been commonly discounted in the past few years. No guarantees, but it’s possible!

40 Jen { 08.15.12 at 11:42 pm }

Hi Dave, going to WDW for our first visit in 2 wks, staying at Pop per your recommendation. Is there one place that’s better than others for buying souvenirs ??? Downtown ?? Thanks for this site !!

41 Dave { 08.16.12 at 6:55 am }

Hi Jen, while DTD has the biggest selection of souvenirs, you’ll find huge souvenir variety in every park as well, particularly in MK. So I’d not make a special trip to DTD for souvenirs…

42 Janet { 08.28.12 at 12:32 pm }

Dave – We are planning a family vacation November 4 – 11 with our grandchildren ages 5 (boy) and 4 (girl). We were thinking of spending 2 days at Disney. What park would you recommend for their age and do you think 2 days is OK? Can we get an itinerary?
Thank you for your time.

43 Dave { 08.28.12 at 12:56 pm }
44 Amy { 10.20.12 at 11:53 am }

Dave, my husband and I are taking our 8yo son for his third time and our 5yo daughter for her first visit 11/24-12/2/12 and staying at the Poly (first time here). We’ve never been that long before and are excited about how much we will be able to do. We have 2 nights in the middle of our trip and are trying to decide how best to use them. On wed 11/28 we are breaking away to see Harry Potter World, but planning to be back that afternoon on thursday we will be at Hollywood studios most of the day. we will have already done fantasmic and MVMCP and thinking of maybe staying around hotel one night to eat at ohana and the other night maybe hoop de doo v./cir.d.s. ?? never done any of that but want to know what would be best use of our time and most enjoyable. any suggestions?

45 Dave { 10.20.12 at 1:20 pm }

Hi Amy! I’d save Cirque for when your daughter is a little older, and target either Hoop or a free night with nothing scheduled…

46 Carrie { 10.24.12 at 10:11 am }

Hi Dave, my family has both 8:10am and 8:45am adr’s to Crystal Palace when MK opens at 9am. We’ll be heading there this April 2013. I want to cancel one of those times sooner than later to be courteous to others. Will we miss rope drop either way, even with the 8:10 reservation? How long does a typical character breakfast last. I’m not looking to rush through especially since it seems like the only way to meet characters without waiting in long HOT lines.

47 Dave { 10.24.12 at 12:58 pm }

Hi Carrie, you may be OK with the 8.10. The meal will take 45 minutes to an hour, but since it’s a buffet you can shape the time yourself…Try to arrive at the turnstile right at 8 so you can back to Crystal Palace ASAP

48 Carrie { 10.24.12 at 2:21 pm }

Thanks that is helpful. I’ve been hearing/reading different reports as to how to get to an early adr. Some say a taxi is a must and other say that the buses actually begin running ~6:30am regardless of which park has morning magic hours. Do you have any experience with this?
thanks again.

49 Dave { 10.24.12 at 2:27 pm }

Carrie–the day before your ADR, check with your hotel lobby concierge (assuming you are at a WDW hotel). The concierge will tell you when and where to pick up your bus! They do begin a special set of buses early for 8ish ADRs–dunno if it’s 6.30, but connect with the concierge and all will be well!

50 Joe { 12.31.12 at 10:32 am }

Hello, we are planning a visit the first week in March with three kids ages 3, 6 and 8. What would your recommendation be on where to stay? We thinking the cabins at Fort Wilderness, or maybe a one bedroom villa at the Wilderness Lodge? Any thoughts on either of those as far as convenience with three kids…thanks so much!

51 Dave { 12.31.12 at 2:01 pm }

Hey Joe, Fort Wilderness is incredibly inconvenient unless you have a car…There’s only a few villa resorts with one bedroom villas that you can book 5 into, and WL is not one of them. The most convenient of them is Bay Lake Tower–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/09/13/review-bay-lake-tower-at-disneys-contemporary-resort/

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52 Joe { 01.05.13 at 12:47 am }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for your reply. We had called about the 1 bedroom villa at WL and did find out we can’t stay there with 5. Bay Lake is booked and we really wanted to be able to use the boat transportation or monorail so we booked a room at the Polynesian. A little nervous about a single standard room with three kids but they said room sleeps 5. Do you think this would be ok? Do you recommend putting in a request for a certain building or area of the Polynesian?
Thank you very much for your help,
Joe

53 Dave { 01.05.13 at 7:43 am }

Hey Joe, you’ll be fine at the Poly. However, some buildings there are even better than others. See the bottom of this page for specifics: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/19/review-disneys-polynesian-resort/

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54 Missy { 03.05.14 at 12:41 pm }

Do you have any information how the rider swap works? Can it be used along with fast pass?

55 Dave { 03.06.14 at 8:26 am }

Missy, I don’t have a post on rider switch because I focus on older kids, but yes, you can use it with FP+. Here’s Disney’s page in how it works: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/rider-switch/

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My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2017 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.