7 Disney Trip Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Feb 17, 2021 | California, Disney, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Florida, Super Suit, United States

If you like saving time and saving money, here are seven Disney trip planning mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Whether you’re in California at Disneyland Park or California Adventure Park, or in Florida visiting Walt Disney World, these are essential.

If you want to make the most of your time in the parks and make happy memories, these seven tips will help make your trip to Disney run a little smoother.

Mistake #1:  Buying Heavily Discounted Tickets from a Third Party (unless it’s at Costco or Target)

Just don’t do it. I get it. Disney is expensive. When you’re buying tickets for a whole family, it can be tempting to want to cut corners.

There’s nothing wrong with cutting corners on your Disney budget, but you just don’t want to cut them using this method.

Disney Ticket Scalping is Both Illegal and Risky

Buying Disneyland or Disney World tickets on Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, Craigslist, or any other third-party app can be tempting. The tickets may be cheap, but they’re likely cheap for a reason. Chances are, they’re a scam.

Instead…Buy Slightly Discounted Tickets from Target or Costco

Costco has Disney ticket packages for their members that are available for purchase. At Target, you can use your Redcard to purchase Disney gift cards, saving 5%. Those gift cards can then be used to purchase your Disney tickets online or from Disney’s park apps.

Don’t Forget, Residents Can Buy Discounted Tickets

Southern California residents can buy discounted multi-day tickets for Disneyland. Florida residents are also eligible for discounted multi-day tickets for Walt Disney World. This is BY FAR the best way to save money on Disney tickets, providing the largest savings on tickets.  

Note: You will be asked to show proof of residency (usually a government-issued photo ID) at the gate. So, only buy a resident pass if your primary residence is located within the required area.

In addition to purchasing a resident ticket, another great way to cut corners at Disney is to use these 11 hacks to save money on food

minnie mouse giving smiling girl wearning frozen ears a hug and kiss

Mistake #2: Assuming You Can See it All

Unless you’re planning on spending at least two days in each park, it’s almost impossible to see it all. I’m ok with not seeing it all…it gives me a good reason to come back!

While some planning is necessary, planning every second of every day will suck all the magic right out of your vacation.

Between rides, attractions, character meet and greets, shows, shops, parades, and food, there’s so much to see, do, and taste! Go with the mindset of enjoying whatever you do see, and you’ll feel satisfied!

Mistake #3: Thinking You Don’t Need a “Must-See, Must-Do” List

Knowing that it’s impossible to see and do it all, we usually create a “must-see, must-do” list before visiting Walt Disney World and Disneyland. These don’t have to be fancy spreadsheets (but I’ve done that before, too).

Make a “Top Three” List for Each Member of Your Party

Just grab a pen and paper and ask everyone who will be joining you to name three things that they HAVE to experience. Also, have them name one or two special treat/food items that they want to try if that’s important to your family.

Having a list, even if we don’t take it with us, gives us a good idea about which attractions we want to make a priority during our day. This is especially helpful if you are traveling with different age groups. Your teen will likely have a different list than a younger sibling. If everyone gets to participate in the planning, it ensures everyone will have a good time!

Mistake #4: Expecting Your Children to be Happy All the Time

While Disneyland may be the “Happiest Place on Earth” and Walt Disney World may be the “Most Magical Place on Earth”, you can be sure that young children may be, at times, neither happy nor magical.

This unrealistic expectation was the biggest miscalculation I made when we visited Disneyland for the first time with kids–talk about Disney trip planning mistakes!

Disney is incredibly fun, but there is a lot going on. Too much of a good thing is still too much.  

Inadequate food and rest are the two main reasons my kids have meltdowns. Having healthy snacks on hand helps.  Fried foods and sugary treats are tasty but can mess with your body.  If a child needs some downtime, head back to the hotel for the afternoon, or escape for an hour to a quieter spot like Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland Park or Magic Kingdom.

Above all, expect some hiccups in your day. If you’re expecting some difficult moments, they’re not nearly as frustrating. Even if your day is peppered with a meltdown or two, your trip isn’t ruined!  We have found that the magical moments stick with everyone the longest, creating the best of memories.

happy dad spinning kids on tea cups ride at disneyland kids aren't always happy at disney - disney trip planning mistakes

Mistake #5: Not Creating a Trip Budget

As much fun as it is to say, “Who cares how much I spend?! I’m on vacation!”, lack of financial planning before a Disney trip could lead to a money catastrophe after the trip.

I love budgeting for trips. It’s just a way for us to choose ahead of time what’s most important to us! Save yourself some stress and draft a budget. If you need help getting started, check out these 9 easy steps to create a foolproof trip budget.

Mistake #6: Arriving Right Before or Right After Park Opening

As tempting as it is to sleep in while visiting the parks, you can always get the most done in the parks during the first couple of hours. Crowds are typically the lowest first thing in the morning, making lines the shortest!

It takes time to go through security and get through the gate, so we like to plan to be at the park 40-60 minutes before the park opens. With COVID, things are a little different, so 30 minutes may be adequate.  

When Disney states a park opening time, that time is the time the rides and attractions begin working. You can often enter the park up to an hour before the park technically opens! Sometimes, Disney will start allowing guests into attractions before their scheduled opening time, so it pays to get there early!

screenshot of disneyland app for common disney planning trip mistakes

Mistake #7: Forgetting to Download the Disney Park App Ahead of Time

You don’t want to forget to download the park app! If you’re visiting Disneyland, look for the Disneyland app on Google Store or the Apple Store. If you’re going to Walt Disney World, download the My Disney Experience app.

Not only can you purchase tickets directly from the app, but you can also use it to look up ride wait times, reserve dining, view menus, order food, find characters, discover parade and shows, locate restrooms, and more!

Avoid These Mistakes to Have a Magical Time at Disney

Make the best of memories on your next Disney vacation when you avoid these common Disney trip planning mistakes!  You’ll save time and money (and headaches), allowing you to focus on what’s most important.  

Have you learned from your mistakes at Disneyland or Walt Disney World?  Share them below!  Planning a trip to Disney and have a question?  Ask it!  I love hearing from my readers.


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