Posts on Mix In Some Magic may contain affiliate links, which I earn a small commission from. These are provided for your convenience at no price increase to you and help me provide you with great content.

Posts on Mix In Some Magic may contain affiliate links, which I earn a small commission from. These are provided for your convenience at no price increase to you and help me provide you with great content.

Planning a visit to a Disney park is a big deal! Here are 22 rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks. Maybe this is your first trip and you want things to go as smoothly as possible. Or maybe you’ve visited before but just want this next trip to run a little more smoothly. Either way, you’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into your vacation and you want it to be perfect. I totally get that. I want it to be perfect for you too! So, I’ve put together a list of common rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks.

I’ve got an episode on my podcast about Rookie Mistakes To Avoid at Disneyland. Make sure you check it out!

I’ve made every single one of these errors(and many more) in the past and learned from each of them. So, take a little advice from me and learn from my mistakes. I promise these tips will have you on your way to a magical Disney vacation!

If you’re trying to decide when to visit, I’ve got a whole post here about the very best times to visit the Disneyland Resort. I’ve also got a complete guide to planning for Disneyland that walks you through the step-by-step process. You can find it here.

I’ve got a podcast episode all about rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks! I’d love for your to listen! You can find it here if you listen to Apple podcasts. It’s also available on your favorite player platform. Just search for Mix In Some Magic.

Rookie Mistakes To Avoid At The Disney Parks

Let’s get going! Here are rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks.

Surprising Your Kids

Surprising your kids with a Disney Resort vacation seems like a great idea. However, it can also back fire on you! Some kids need time to process things and surprising them with a vacation can be stressful for them. Not to mention disappointing for if you don’t get the reaction you’re hoping for. Of course all kids are different, maybe your kids will be fine.

We surprised our kids a few years back and one of our children was very excited, one was unsure about the idea and our oldest was stressed by the whole idea of dropping everything and leaving for Disneyland right away.

If you think your child might not handle a surprise well, but you’d still like to surprise them why not surprise them a week before the trip? That might go over a bit better than a surprise right before a long flight or drive. I’ve also found that anticipation of the trip is one of the most fun parts and kids really enjoy it. If you’re looking for a fun Disney parks countdown, this one is my favorite!

Paying Full Price For Park Tickets

Discount Disneyland tickets

This is probably the top of all rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney parks. Please don’t pay full price for your park tickets. Everyone likes to save money! Why not save money on your park tickets? There’s no reason to pay full price. Discount park tickets are available.

My friends at Get Away Today are an official Disney partner and have the best prices around! It’s rare to find legitimate park tickets at a discount, but their tickets are always discounted off of the gate price. They have the best deals! I’ve been using them for over 15 years and I know that you’re going to love them! They have amazing customer service and they also have great deals on hotels! If you buy a package through them you can use code MIX10 to save $10. Find them here.

Staying On Property

Staying on property is a great choice if your visiting DisneyWorld. If you’re visiting Disneyland thinking you must stay on property is one of those rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney parks. Staying on property at Disneyland is incredibly expensive. You can find reasonably priced hotels all around Disneyland and many of them are even closer than the on property hotels! My point is, don’t think you have to be staying on property to have a great time.

I like to stay at a hotel within walking distance of Disneyland. This can save you valuable time. Parking in the Disneyland lot, waiting for the shuttle and riding the shuttle take quite a bit of time! Plus, it’s so nice to be close at the end of the day. You can can just walk back to the hotel and get yourself and your small children into bed. You can read my hotel reviews here.

Buying A Park Hopper

Many first time visitors automatically buy a park hopper ticket because they’ve heard it’s the only way to go. While park hopping is a great option for some people, I don’t recommend it unless you visit often. Park hopping is expensive. It’s an extra cost you just don’t need if you’re trying to save money. Plus, there’s so much to do in each park you can easily spend the entire day in one location. I suggest buying a 1 park per day ticket and enjoying everything each park has to offer one day at a time.

Not Having A Plan

Not having a plan is a big rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks. Having a basic plan is so important and can really save you time during the day. I’m not suggesting that you plan out every second of your visit, but a basic plan will really come in handy.

How will you start your day? What rides are most important to you? Are there any characters that you’d like to see? Ask your group those questions so you don’t find out 5 minutes before closing that your daughter’s one wish was to meet Cinderella! If you need help, I have a free basic itinerary that I update monthly here. I also make custom touring plans. You can find them here.

Not Bringing A Stroller

Yeah, your kid is 3 or 4(or 5 or 6) and they’re great walkers. You think they’ll be fine. You’re pretty sure that they won’t need a stroller. You are wrong. Your great walker is going to be exhausted by 10am from walking all around the park and then they’re going to start falling apart. You want to avoid this. Keep you kids in the stroller as long as possible! This will save your sanity and their little legs. Plus, you’ll be able to move quicker between attractions and have a place to store all of your stuff. If you decide not to bring one, you can always rent one later at the entrance for a fee.

Not Making Dining Reservations

Dining reservations are not required everywhere. There’s lots of locations that you can order from at any time during the day. Check out my favorite quick service options here. However, if there’s a sit down option that you’d like to dine at, you will most likely need a reservation.

Reservations can be made 60 days in advance on the Disney website. So, keep that in mind as you’re making your plans. If you’re unable to get a reservation or forget, you can check with the restaurant when you arrive. Sometimes they have a walk up list available.

Sleeping In

There’s lots of vacations where sleeping in is acceptable. If you’re looking for low wait times on the most popular attractions, Disney is not one of them. The first two hours after the park opens have the very lowest crowd levels of the entire day. So, skip sleeping in and take a break later in the day when things get busy. Or, head back to the hotel early for a good nights rest. Whatever it takes to be there bright and early! I recommend arriving at least 60 minutes before park opens.

I recommend trying to “rope drop” the parks if possible. I’ve got tons of information about rope dropping at Disneyland here. Rope dropping the wrong attractions can really throw off your day, so It’s on my list of rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks

Forgetting To Bring The Basics

Packing for a trip is a big job. I get it. You’re bound to forget something and Disney will probably have it for you to buy, at a high price. I’ve created a list of top things to buy on Amazon before your trip so you don’t forget anything. You’ll save money and time! You can find it here.

Not Using Genie Plus

Genie plus is the new system that replaced the old Fastpass/Max Pass system. Genie Plus allows you to skip the regular line and use the “lightning lane” on select attractions. This is a huge time saver and the best way to skip the longest lines. You can find out more information about Genie Plus here. It is an additional fee. $25 per person per day and includes photo pass.

Not Using Rider Swap

A top rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney parks is not using rider swap. Rider swap is available for guests that have a small child or children who cannot ride on certain rides. You can have an adult wait with them while the rest of your group enjoys the ride. Then, the adult waiting with the children and swap places and ride the attractions(along with 3 other guests).

This is a great system so that no one misses out! To take advantage of rider swap, simply tell the cast member at the front of the line that you’d like to use it and they’ll give you further instructions. I have a post or ride height requirements that really goes into detail about how to use rider swap. You can find it here.

If you have older kids(ages 7 and up), who don’t mind riding on an attraction alone, consider using the single-rider lines. They are time savers!

Pushing Children Past Their Limits

Some young children are scared of some of the attractions. I’ve learned from experience that pushing(or forcing) children to ride on something they are frightened of can really back fire and derail your day. If they are afraid to go on the big roller coaster, it might be best to skip it this trip and try again when they’re a little older. Be mindful of your child’s limits and respect them. This will make for a happier day for both of you.

Not Using The Disney App

The Disney app is filled with amazing things! Make sure you have it downloaded on your phone. You can check wait times, mobile order food, find characters, browse menus, join virtual queues and much more! It’s such a valuable resource.

Not Mobile Ordering

No one likes long lines! You can skip the lines for food completely by mobile ordering your meals. You’ll do this on the Disney app. On the app, you can order and pay for your food. When it’s time to pick up, make your way to the restaurant and push “I’m here” on your app. Cast members will begin preparing your food and will notify when it’s ready. Then, you can pick it up from the window without waiting in line! It’s the only way to go! You can utilize mobile ordering when dining at a quick service restaurant. I have a list of my top quick service dining picks at Disneyland here and at Disney California Adventure here.

No Rest Day For Longer Visits

If you’re visiting the parks for 4 or 5 days, consider planning in a rest day. Going hard for days on end is a rookie mistake to avoid at the Disney parks. You’ll be exhausted and it’s hard to have fun when your group is falling apart. A built in rest day to sleep in, swim at the pool, watch a movie or just hang out will be incredibly helpful and really worthwhile. Rest days can really help everyone feel more rested, relaxed and ready to take on the Disney theme parks again.

Skipping Smaller Rides

I know some guests are tempted to skip the little rides and only hit the show stoppers, but this is a mistake. Some of the very best, most popular rides, the jewels of the parks, are the smaller rides. Don’t skip them! You won’t be sorry.

Being Frustrated By Crowds

No one likes crowds. Many people try to plan their vacations when crowd levels are lower, only to show up and find lots of people and long lines. The thing is, Disney is always crowded. Sometimes it’s a little less than others, but it’s always crowded. Don’t let this get to you. You can still have an amazing time at the parks even with crowds. You can find my tips on surviving crowds here.

Not Having A Well Packed Park Bag

You never know what your day will bring, so it’s important to be prepared. I’ve got a list of everything I bring with me to the parks right here. I think you’ll find it helpful! My bag is a little bit like Mary Poppins bag! It’s got just about everything! I like to be prepared for any situation when I’m visiting Disney parks.

Wearing The Same Shoes

Bring a couple different pairs of shoes and switch them out each day. That way, your shoes aren’t rubbing on the same spots. This will help with sore feet. Make sure all the shoes you pack are comfortable and broken in. Wearing a brand new pair of shoes to Disney is never a good idea!

I often bring a pair of sandals to switch into for part of the day. This gives my feet a break from tennis shoes and helps with soreness. Plus, no wet tennis shoes on the water rides!

Not Taking A Midday Break

Disney days are long. A break is a really good idea to keep people feeling their best. For some people, a break will mean heading back to the hotel to swim or take a nap. I don’t like to leave the park if I can help it, so our family takes a break inside the park. We ride the train, see a show, play on Tom Sawyer’s Island or just sit in the shade with a treat for awhile. Taking some time to decompress is worth it!

Trying To Do Everything

Disney is a big place. One of the top rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney parks is trying to do everything. It’s just not possible. You’ll just make yourself and your group miserable if you’re running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to check things off your list. Have a plan and do what’s most important to you, but be flexible and realistic.

Having Extremely High Expectations

Unrealistic expectations is probably one of the top rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney Parks. It’s easy to build up your vacation in your mind. It’s going to be amazing and perfect, just like the ones you see on social media. Next thing you know, your husband is mad that he spent $26 on churros, your daughter is crying because she doesn’t want to go on Haunted Mansion and your son just peed his pants.

No vacation is perfect. In fact, you’re going to have a moment where you wonder why in the world you ever wanted to go on vacation. This is normal. It’s part of every trip. Embrace it, move past it and let it go. You won’t remember it later when you look back. All you’ll remember are the hugs, smiles and laughter that are sure to be the biggest part of your vacation.

I know you’re going to have a great time on your Disneyland vacation. I hope you found my list of rookie mistakes to avoid at the Disney parks helpful! Follow me on Instagram for the latest news, Disney tips and lots of Disney magic. Please check out my podcast too! I think you’ll love it!

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