Recently I got up one morning and, as I usually do first thing, grabbed a cup of coffee and fired up Facebook. And it dawned on me – at any given time I most likely know at least one person who is currently visiting Walt Disney World. And that is awesome; it makes you feel like you’re there yourself between visits. And then I thought some more and realized most people don’t have this kind of relationship with a resort. Believe it or not, there are people who have never been to Walt Disney World, or will go once and that’s it. You may even know one or two of them. And the question is: what do you do with these people? You could shun them. But maybe they have other redeeming qualities, or they are family and you’re forced to keep them around. You could encourage them to vacation at Walt Disney World and offer to help with the trip planning (maybe even buy them a copy of the Unofficial Guide and send them to www.touringplans.com). Or you could bring them along on one of your many trips a year. This is what I did in March when the stars aligned to allow a good friend of mine to join a couple of princesses for Half Marathon Weekend. He hadn’t been in 30 years. 30 years, people. EPCOT Center (much less Epcot) wasn’t even done then. For all intents and purposes, I had found a Disney virgin and it was time to do something about it.
So maybe you also have a person like this in your life and are thinking of asking them along. First ask yourself, why do I want to invite this person? Good reasons include honestly wanting your friend to have a good time and share in your love of Walt Disney World. Bad reasons include wanting to prove a point to naysayers who mock your many trips and threatening to leave them on it’s a small world until they pay up that $20 they’ve owed you since college. But let’s say you’re in the first camp. How is planning this trip different from a trip with Disney vets? For one thing, a lot of things you take for granted may be a big surprise to your traveling companion.
WDW is expensive. Sure we all know this, but after a few trips your ideas of what is “reasonable” may have started to change. The idea of paying $12+ for a counter service lunch starts to sound normal. And $30 for a dinner entree? That’s just what stuff costs, right? But before you even get to eat, you need park tickets and a hotel room. Many of us have annual passes, so we don’t even think anymore about that portion of the budget. Here is a reminder – an adult week-long park hopper is going to set you back over $300 right out of the gate. And that doesn’t even include any side trips to the water parks or extras like golf (mini or maxi). As far as hotel rooms go, even I recognize the ridiculousness of paying the same amount or more for a room in the Hawaii longhouse at the Poly as I have for an ocean front room that’s *actually in Hawaii.* Be mindful of everyone’s budget and priorities.
OMG look at all those people
WDW is crowded even when it’s not “crowded.” My trip was during a 4-6 crowd estimate on the ever-helpful crowd calendar. Several of us WDW vets (people who have seen things no one should ever have to see) were talking about how light the crowds were during our trip. My friend was like “are you kidding? this is ‘light crowds?’” People who haven’t developed coping techniques yet may find the throngs of people somewhat unnerving. Go early in the day or late in the afternoon – and use those touring plans and fastpasses to catch the attractions you really want to see. Even the closest of friends are going to run out of things to talk about in the 120 minute queue for Soarin’. If your traveling companion says something about crowds on a fairly light day, do like I did and take him on a stroll through Fantasyland at 1PM. Just for kicks of course. I have a feeling that vision will haunt his dreams for awhile. Yes, dear, that is what we mean by “crowded.”
We’re going to do it all!
No, you’re not. You may be tempted to try to fit every “must do” attraction into your trip for your friend’s sake. Think back. Remember all those families you have seen disintegrating right before your eyes around 6PM in the Magic Kingdom. They thought they could do it all too. Just because you’re a pro doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Allow for down time and don’t be afraid to leave stuff on the table. If you have a good time, there’s always the next trip.Here are some of the things we DIDN’T do in a 6 night trip to the world:
- Ride Space Mountain, Expedition Everest or Toy Story Mania
- Eat more than one table service meal
- See Fantasmic!
Try something new
Say you go to WDW multiple times a year. I bet there’s something you have either never tried or haven’t done in awhile. On this trip, we went to a Braves’ spring training game at ESPN Wide World of Sports and played mini-golf at Winter-Summerland. And it was great. Other things you could try are tea at the Grand Floridian or resort recreation like watercraft or bicycles.
Splurge on something just to show how cool a trip WDW can be
Accommodations were my big splurge this trip (thanks, DVC!). We had a Treehouse Villa at Saratoga Springs and a savanna view villa at Kidani Village. I really wanted to pick resorts with a big WOW factor and the treehouses and Animal Kingdom Villas fit the bill. You could also splurge on a round or two of golf, spa treatments, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, or a meal at Victoria and Albert’s depending on everyone’e interests.
Don’t set expectations too high
Sure, you love the place, but it’s just not everyone’s bag. My friend was an absolute trooper. He let me drag him from him from park to park and sat through very serious discussions between the princesses about Vinylmations and pins we were looking for without rolling his eyes once (that I saw). He heard several conflicting theories on the best place for last minute Illuminations viewing. He learned about the TTC and the TTA, why you need ADRs even if you’re just using the DDE and not the DDP, and the best way to get from SSR to DTD to WWoS, and took it all in stride. In short, he was a dream to travel with. You may not be so lucky. Have back up plans in place if it looks like your traveling companion isn’t having a good time, and (take a breath here) be prepared to leave to Disney bubble if need be. Some people can’t take the Magic 24/7. Just be ready.
Have you taken a newbie lately or do you plan to in the future? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.