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 Summary of Instructions.
Follow the instructions that you can, and where you can’t, click the links in Summary of Instructions for your next best options, ranked in order!
This site is designed so that first time family visitors don’t need any more information than what it presents. But if you do, or are just curious, the websites below are wonderful.
BASICS FOR THE FIRST TIME FAMILY VISITOR
- The Walt Disney World Instruction Manual at yourfirstvisit.net. Everything you need in one easy and fast site
- disneyworld.com the official site…
- Official Walt Disney World Calendar page park hours, events, and Extra Magic Hours, next six months.
- It’s easier to work with the individual park calendars. To view a day–for example, to figure out if and when Fantasmic or Wishes is on that day–go to the individual park’s monthly calendar and click within the date you are curious about.
- Len Testa and Bob Sehlinger’s TouringPlans.com, the unofficial site…
- easyWDW.com is a neat, often hilarious site, with a great community. It covers a lot of the same terrain as this site, but in some different ways, and not focused on first-time visitors. Best is the crowd calendars and park recommendations
- Steve Soare’s Walt Disney World Entertainment show schedules for current week
- Deb Wills’s AllEars.Net tons of information on almost any Walt Disney World topic
- The weekly Walt Disney World Park Update on MousePlanet.com (see below) is mostly too geeky for first time visitors but in the middle of the page almost always has great information on upcoming ride closures, hotel renovations, and such.
- Mary Warings’s MouseSavers.com additional indispensable money saving ideas, and more
- DISboards.com discussion board where you can get basic and advanced questions answered
- Undercover Tourist has lots of cool stuff to offer, and is one of the few reliable sources of discounted theme park tickets
- Pinterest fans should start with Linda Steven Jones’s Great Walt Disney World Tips
- A great site for resources and discounts for military families is MilitaryDisneyTips.com.
OTHER GREAT DISNEY WEBSITES
- Dad’s Guide to WDW, like easyWDW.com, covers much of the terrain of this site but with a different spin, and without the first-time focus. As with easyWDW, I don’t agree with everything, but Carl’s site is well worth checking out
- Dan’s OrlandoInformer.com has lots of good stuff, and is particularly strong on Universal
- Sarah and Tom Bricker’s Disney Tourist Blog–varied but good stuff, especially strong on dining and photography
- MousePlanet.com Like AllEars.Net above, but with more news.
- Jim Hill’s jimhillmedia.com eclectic news about the world of Disney and related topics
- Lou Mongello’s disneyworldtrivia.com–great trivia, and lots more
- The official Disney Parks Blog
- WDW News Today –Daily news and information about Walt Disney World
- WDWDailyNews.com–News and other material on all things Disney
- PassPorter.com’s Message Board Community
- The Daily Disney, a site hosted by the Orlando Sentinel
- The Disney Blog, with news and such
- Steve’s TikimanPages for all things about the Polynesian Resort
- Buzz2001’s Unofficial Coronado Springs Resort Website
- John Schunk’s Leave it to Genie, for help planning your trip
- Matt Hochberg’s Studios Central–all things Hollywood Studios
- The Disney Food Blog –all kinds of reviews and other fun and useful stuff about food and dining at Walt Disney World
- Spanish Disney fan site: Parques Disney en Espanol
Hi. I’m James Ivan. I’m an affiliate marketer for shop Disney (the official Disney store). I sell Disney merch from Shop Disney, Walmart, and Amazon. Can you please add my site to your list of Disney fan sites? The link to my site is below. Thank You for your time. https://jamesivan754190956.wordpress.com/shopdisney/
We wanted to add notesfromneverland.com into the recommended list. Some of their reviews were very helpful when we were trying to decide which hotel to stay at.
Thanks Mark. I will consider adding it–that page of my site needs a SERIOUS update.
Thanks for the list! I’d add http://MagicGuides.com to your list. They have a free crowd calendar and some tips/tricks, secrets pages, etc. that may be helpful to first time WDW vacationers.
i just want to recommend http://www.bestluxurytransportation.com as a Car Service in Orlando Fl, good rates and nice vehicles. 100% recommended
I don’t know if anyone here knows about this site, but my husband works for the police and they have a special site where officers can log in and get great discounts on Disney tickets as well as everything else in Orlando. Even cheaper than Undercovertourist! We use it every time we go and they ship for FREE. They even have a office next to Walt Disney World. This is the site and info.
log in: POLICE
I hope this helps!
Hey Dave. We are going to disney from June 16-20. We are staying at the art of animation resort and are driving. We have the park hopper and plan on doing all the parks and mk twice. What days would you recommend going to each park and would you recommend using disney transportation or driving?
Hi Natalie, how old are your kids? The parks I’d recommend will vary based on whether they are say 9 or so vs 5 years old…
Yes , we are staying on site. Our flight gets to Orlando at 1:40 pm on the 20th
Hey Chrystal, those dates you want to avoid HS on Sat, MK on Sun, AK and HS on Mon, Epcot on Tues, AK on Weds, and MK on Thurs. MK will be best Tues and Weds, AK Sun and Tues, HS Sun, Tues and Weds. Epcot will be fine any day but Tues.
We are having a short trip this time arriving on April 20th, late afternoon, and staying 5 nights with 4 full days. I know the site shows this as a great week to go for low crowds, but I was still wanting to get your opinion if we should avoid certain parks on certain days or if you recommend certain parks on any day. We will have park hopper. It’s a family trip with 4 adults and 2 children ages 10&6. Also, if we are still able to get a reservation to Be Our Guest, would you recommend lunch or dinner. Thank you so much!
Hi Chrystal, are you staying on site? That will affect my day recommendations. Be Our Guest only takes reservations for dinner, and likely booked up for those dates in early November–but you can try! At lunch, it’s counter service with no reservations, and waits for lunch recently have been up to an hour…
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Hi, we are arriving oct 30- thurs nov 8 and staying in the Kissimee area in our friends rental home. Doing the mickey’s halloween party on wed oct 31 and want to do AK one day, mk one day and Hstudios one day. Wondering which days of the week are best bet for lower crowds. Have an autistic 12yr old, an adhd 9yr old and a 2 1/2 yr old. They can get sensory overload so want to space out a bit. Any tips for the jedi training academy, will be the last chance for my avid 12 yr old fan to have a crack at this as 12 is the age limit so don’t want to miss out. Thanks!
Hi Lori, in the first part of your visit the best MK days are the holiday party days–the 30th, 31st, and 2nd. The next best MK days will be the 6th and 7th, but this is during “Jersey Week” (which begins the 4th but gets worse as the week goes on) so the parks will be more crowded. See https://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/02/jersey-week-at-walt-disney-world/
For AK good days are the 30th, 31st and the 1st. The week after, the 6th thru 8th will be best.
For HS, any days other than the 3rd and 5th will be OK.
I’m sorry but I don’t track the Jedi Academy. See this: http://www.studioscentral.com/jedi-training-academy-sign-up
Dave, we have resevations for art of Animation June 2013 in the standard room for 4. Problem, a regular bed is unconfortable for 2 of us weighing over 230 each. Can 4 get a family suite at Art of Animation? How much for 3 adults and a 5 year old 06/08/13 through 06/14/13
Hi Joanne, sure you can, but it’ll be more than 2x as expensive–for nightly prices, see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/2013-art-of-animation-resort-room-rates-season-dates/
If all you need is two queens instead of tow fulls, consider Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter, or Port Orleans Riverside–while having less kid appeal (and much less space!!) they are around $140 a night less expensive than a family suite at AofA. You can find links to these three here: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/10/28/the-moderate-resorts-at-walt-disney-world/ (on that page you’ll find links to tow other resorts too–ignore them as they don’t have queens…)
Dave, That is disappointing about probably not being able to use pool at SSR. Maybe we should go to the Buena Vista Palace Spa instead which says they have a special pool just for spa guests. Do you know anything about that one? Is it within walking distance of DTD?
Also, what do you think of the Discovery Cove swimming with dolphins adventure for our day off from the parks? Is it worth the hefty admission price if one has dolphin swimming on one’s bucket list? I am afraid that cold temps in December could put a damper on what might be a nice adventure the rest of the year…
Thank you for your valuable input!
Hi Joan, so sorry but I don’t have a fact-based conclusion on either…the Spa does not look to me to be within walking distance, but that’s partly a matter of how far you are willing to walk–see this: https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&q=buena+vista+palace+spa&fb=1&gl=us&hq=buena+vista+palace+spa&hnear=0x88e77fa180893ba7:0x343f3c6dd8504844,Doctor+Phillips&cid=0,0,14018918389182201061&ei=N5xAUMSzGoa09gTbqIDwBw&ved=0CNsBEPwSMAA
Dave, Thanks for the heads up on Santa’s location! Another question: We are thinking of going from POR to SSR for a spa package. While there, we would like to have lunch by the pool and swim at SSR. I know pool hopping is generally forbidden at WDW, but do you think they would allow us to do this as part of our spa day?
Joan, you are welcome! If I had to bet, I’d say they won’t let you do it…just as they don’t let people at other resorts visiting their restaurants swim in their pools…
Hi, Dave! I read somewhere that the MVMCP price used to include a photo with Santa. There is no mention of that in the info and tickets I just received. Does this mean they charge for this photo now? Where do we go to get it and is there usually a long line? Is it the same price as other photos taken by Disney photographers? And are the Disney photographers stationed throughout the park on MVMCP night? We especially wanted one good night photo in front of holiday-lit castle. Thanks!
Hi Joan, I don’t know if it used to, but it doesn’t now, and I’m pretty sure the only place at WDW you can get a photo of your child with Santa is in the American Pavilion at Epcot. There should be plenty of Disney photographers on duty!
Dave, My buddy and I will chuckle over my early a.m. reservation “vigil” when we are enjoying our holiday meal at BOG! Now can you please share more with me about rooms to request at POR? It was not our first choice but we needed a moderate price resort with free disney dining. We decided to upgrade to a River View Royal Room since as seniors we plan to spend a fair amount of our “downtime” at the resort and hope the Magnolia Bend section will be a peaceful retreat from the parks. But I read a comment you made to another traveler about the new Royal Rooms being in the least accessible buildings…I believe all the Royal Rooms are in Oak Manor and Parterre Place, right? Should we request the Oak Manor since it looks closer to bridge and services than Parterre ? And if we are in one of front two “wings” of building with a river view, will we be even closer to bridge or do we have to go all the way to main part of building to get to stairs/exit? Never stayed there before so trying to figure this all out from resort map…Thanks!
Joan–yes, request Oak Manor–although the difference will be 3-4 minutes of walking, at most.
Your river view may not make it shorter. My recollection is that the elevators and stairs are central in the buildings–see also the material lower on this page: http://www.portorleans.org/magnolia-bend.php
Thanks again to your timely advice, Dave, I nailed down my last December ADR for Be Our Guest. It only took one hour of hanging on between 4–5 a.m. PST, listening to It’s a Small Small World as I tried to nap until the agent came on! So here is our projected itinerary for two Senior Princesses staying in a Royal Room at POR: Day 1: arrival at POR & dinner at Boatwright; Day 2: Epcot EMH, early dinner at Le Cellier; Day 3: Animal Kingdom EMH, Osborne lights at HS, dinner at Kouzzina; Day 4: MK EMH, then see decorations at Grand Floridian and High Tea at Garden View (cash); Day 5: Epcot LateMH, dinner candlelight processional package at Les Chefs de France & Illuminations; Day 6: No Park Saturday. Drive to Cape Canaveral Beach and eat off property; Day 7: Gospel Brunch @ House of Blues (cash), then dinner at Be Our Guest MK and evening @ MVMCP; Day 8: HS, dinner at Mama Melrose’s w/ Fantasia Package; Day 9: breakfast & depart. How does this look to you, Dave? Are we hitting the holiday highlights for adults with this plan?
Joan this looks great, sorry you had to be up so early to get BOG!! But you got it!
Dave, So the Osborne Lights is not a specific show like the Candlelight Processional but instead a continuous musical/light display from 6 p.m. on during the holidays? Are they on until closing time, even during extra magic hour nights? Thanks for helping me understand so I can make my res at Kouzzina for right time. Do you have any experiences at this restaurant or any other restaurant recommendations on or near the Boardwalk? Our big criteria is that it only take one table service credit!
Joan, you’ve got it right! There’s a kickoff ceremony and then it runs continuously. There’s lots of options on or near the BW, but none really knocks socks…Kat is as good as any…