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Are you traveling to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort for the first time? Congrats! You’re about to embark on a memory-filled vacation that will surely be full of magic. First-time visits are like nothing else. Taking in the castle for that first look, eating your first Mickey ice cream bar on Main Street, donning your fist pair of Mickey ears, and of course getting that first hug from the main mouse himself—these are the makings of core memories!

Of course, plenty of first timers go into the process looking for guidance, and we’re here to help. I’ve rounded up my top tips for guests making that inaugural trek to the most magical place on Earth!

1. Plan early! This is one of the first things I tell clients. There are so many benefits to getting your travel plans sorted as soon as possible. I can often get clients the best rate possible when they book as soon as packages are released. Plus, I can set you up on a payment plan, so you can pay your vacation off over time instead of all at once. And you get your pick of resorts! It’s such a disappointment when a client comes to me with their heart set on a specific resort, only to find it’s already booked solid. Early planning opens up a world of possibilities!

2. Use a travel planner! It’s probably no surprise that we recommend working with an experienced travel planner specializing in Disney travel, but you might not know why we think it’s such a crucial tip. The average family spends 38 hours putting in research to book their vacation. When you work with one of our talented Genies, we do all that homework for you! We have years’ worth of insight and skill that we put into creating a proposal that best fits our clients’ needs. Does your child love Olaf? We can tell you exactly where to find him. Do you have special dietary needs? We have tips on the best places to eat. We’ve got the inside knowledge on events, crowds, showtimes, coming attractions, new promotions and more. Plus, the cost of your vacation is already baked into the price, so you’re actually paying for a travel planner whether you receive that support or not!

3. Don’t try to do it all. It can be an easy tip to forget, and I totally get it. There is so much to see and do at the Disney theme parks, and the urge can be very real to get as much done each day as possible. But then what happens? You get burnt out and return home only to realize you need a vacation from your vacation. My advice? Plan in that downtime. Disney hotels have some fabulous pools and you’ll definitely want to take advantage. I also love encouraging clients to visit Downtown Disney at Disneyland or Disney Springs at Walt Disney World; both are shopping, dining and entertainment venues that you don’t even need a ticket to enter. And I also advise clients to take the opportunity to “resort hop,” which means visiting resorts you’re not actually staying at in order to try some of the restaurants, shops and lounges on offer. Whether it’s a full day off in between your days at the parks or a long afternoon break before returning for some rides and fireworks at night, a break from the parks can do wonders for your vacation.

4. Also, try to remember that Disney visits are not a one-size-fits-all situation! Maybe you have a friend who visited during a certain time of year and thinks you should do the same. Or maybe your cousin stayed at a specific hotel and insists it’s where you should stay as well. When we start planning with a new client, our main focus is listening to their needs. We ask thoughtful questions and take into account your group size, your preferences, the age range of your travel party and more to tailor a plan that we hope delights! Are you a foodie? A thrill seeker? Want to relax at the spa or experience a behind-the-scenes tour? We eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, and we use our rolodex of knowledge to customize every plan for every client, every time. It’s not anyone else’s vacation but yours, and we always put you at the center of our focus.

5. And finally, I can’t emphasize this enough—take time to soak it all in! I always send my clients off with a reminder to pause and smell the roses. You’ve put in the time to organize this amazing vacation, you deserve to sit in the little moments and really feel the pixie dust. Some of my favorite Disney moments have been sitting on a bench, sipping a cold drink, watching the magic take place. These are memories that you will keep with you always!

If you’re hoping for even more advice for your first visit, don’t hesitate to talk with your travel planner! Discussing Disney is literally our favorite thing to do, and I know I always feel best when I know all of my client’s questions have been answered. Now it’s time to get out that packing list and start daydreaming about your flight to Neverland…you’re almost there!

Ready to Plan a Vacation?

Friend Like Me Travel Co. helps busy families just like yours plan the vacations of their dreams and provides services completely tailored to you and your needs.  Click below to get started and one of our Genies will be in touch!