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The Top 5 Tips for Disney World First-Timers

Sept. 24, 2018
4 min read
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FastPass, FastPass+, Minnie Vans, monorails, Park Hoppers and dinglehoppers. Though it promises to be the Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney World's sprawling kingdom and complicated patchwork of programs, tickets and terms can make even the most worldly traveler yearn for the simplicity of trying to buy an AC 3-Tier bunk from Rameswaram to Jalandhar City without speaking a lick of Hindi.

But fear not: TPG is here to boil down Disney World's essential tips so that even newbies will be "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"-ing down Main Street, USA in no time.

1. Crowd Calendars Are Your Friend

Whether you're using Undercover Tourist or Touring Plans, you'll want to consult a crowd calendar so you know what you're up against. With all the festivals, marathons and other events that come to Walt Disney World, crowds can vary greatly. It's going to be busy no matter when you go, but how busy? That's what crowd calendars are for.

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2. But FastPass+ Is Your BFF

Whether you're staying on site and can book 60 days out or can only book 30 days ahead of time, you'll want to use the FastPass+ system to snag three of your favorite rides each day. (FastPass+, which you can think of as FastPass 2.0, has replaced the old FastPass system, and people tend to use "FastPass+" and "FastPass" interchangeably.)

The most popular rides won't be available on the day you arrive at the parks. Heck, some rides won't even be available 30 days ahead of time. Those long lines can be painful. Use FastPass+ wisely.

3. Take One for the Team

If you're a family of four or more, consider an annual pass for one member of your group. A five-day Park Hopper ticket will set you back $500 per person. For an extra $350, you can purchase an annual pass and get a 20% discount on most dining and merchandise, free PhotoPass downloads and free parking. And, if you can schedule a second Disney vacation within a calendar year of your first, you can get two sets of tickets for the price of one.

4. Tap, Grab and Modify!

Savvy FastPassers graduate to the next level using this technique when grabbing their fourth (and subsequent) FastPass+ selections. Tap into a current FastPass or grab whatever is available in the My Disney Experience app. Then work to modify what you've reserved to get the ride or time you really want. It's better to grab a FastPass and change it than keep searching for the perfect one.

5. Save the Magic

Disney World is a fabulous place for adults and children alike. But once you've told your kids you're going to do all these great things, they may actually expect that's what will happen, word for word.

The reality is that rides will break, thunderstorms will rain on parades and other issues will pop up. Tell your kids just part of what you have planned. Get them excited, but set expectations low enough so they can be blown away, not disappointed.

Bonus Tip

Order those picture-perfect princess dresses from Little Dress-Up Shop, as, unlike many dresses sold in the parks, they're not itchy, they're affordable and machine-washable.

A comfortable princess dress is key.

Want to read more about Disney parks around the world? Check out our other Disney guides...

Featured image by Entrance of Walt Disney World near Orlando. (Photo by Shutterstock.com)

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases