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First Timer Simplified Checklist for Walt Disney World

First-Timers Simplified Checklist for Walt Disney World. Are you visiting Walt Disney World for the first time? Worried you don’t know all the ins and outs of planning a trip in 2024? Here’s your simplified checklist created especially for YOU!

As you step through the iconic gates of Walt Disney World, you’re immediately swept up in a whirlwind of color, laughter, and pure enchantment. The air crackles with excitement as you catch your first glimpse of Cinderella Castle, standing tall and majestic against the backdrop of a perfectly blue-painted sky. 

Welcome, fellow adventurer, to the Most Magical Place on Earth! Whether you’re embarking on this journey with wide-eyed wonder or carrying a heart full of childhood dreams, one thing’s certain: your first-time Disney vacation promises to be an unforgettable odyssey through a world where fairy tales come to life. 

Most recently I’ve had multiple instances of family and friends planning for their very first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While this is exciting and thrilling for them (and me!), they are also met with anxiety and worry about not understanding how everything works and what needs to be done to plan the best trip ever. 

To ease their worries and in support of helping them navigate the complexities of planning a Disney trip, I created a “down and dirty” entry-level checklist for pre, during and post-planning that hopefully helps, along with a short essentials packing list of what not to forget. 

Today, I am sharing this simple checklist with you, our loyal readers, to have for yourself or your friends and family who may be in the same boat. 

So gather ’round as we embark on a checklist adventure fit for a Disney hero! Let’s dive right in!

Hollywood Studios – Galaxy’s Edge

First Timer – Know Before You Go

  • Book Accommodations

  • Purchase Tickets

    • Buy your park tickets online to avoid long lines at the entrance.
    • Keep in mind ticket pricing is date-based and park reservations are no longer required. Depending on the time of year you are vacationing will depend on the cost of the ticket.
    • As a first timer, consider adding the park hopping option to your ticket as well. There are no longer park hopping restrictions at the parks, so you can freely move from one park to another as you like. 

Of course, all of this can be made easier by connecting with your favorite Love of the Magic travel advisor to help you plan your magical Walt Disney World getaway. Contact them today! They will help you plan every details. 

Haven’t ever planned with an experienced Disney travel advisor? Find out everything you need to know about Love of the Magic Vacation and all of the amazing benefits here! As a first timer to Walt Disney World, there is no better way to go than planning through an expert travel advisor – they truly take all the worry away!

Now back to the checklist!

  • Plan Your Itinerary

    • Research the parks, attractions, and dining options. If this is your first time, you will want to do a bit of research to understand all the options. To maximize your time, money and effort, I don’t recommend winging it. You may not need to plan down to every second, but some pre-planning helps.
    • Use Disney’s website or apps to make dining reservations and to learn more about Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane passes. Visit here for more guides and instruction on how it all works!
  • Pack Appropriately

    • Check the weather forecast and pack suitable clothing.
    • Comfortable walking shoes are a must. YES!! I have learned my lesson here. And the #1 rule, don’t go with brand new sneakers or shoes. Make sure they are well broken in.
    • Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. The sun can be piercing at times. Be prepared.
  • Prepare Documents

    • Keep all necessary documents handy, including ID, reservation confirmations, and park tickets. Most everything you need you can find in the My Disney Experience app. I’m a bit old school, I don’t always trust or like to rely on wifi and the apps, so I still print hard copies. Just a thought to have as backup…. Just in case!
  • Budgeting

    • Plan your budget for food, souvenirs, and additional expenses. This is important! Disney is expensive. You don’t want to vacation yourself into debt. Plan accordingly.
  • Health and Safety

    • Bring any necessary medications or medical supplies.
    • Familiarize yourself with Disney’s health and safety protocols.
Animal Kingdom – Harambe

Packing Checklist

  • Essentials

    • Tickets and reservation confirmations
    • ID/Passport
    • Money, credit/debit cards
    • Phone and charger
    • Portable power bank – this is helpful to have in the parks. With so much relying on the My Disney Experience app (Mobile Ordering, Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes, etc
  • Clothing

    • Comfortable clothes for warm weather
    • Light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings
    • Swimsuit if your resort has a pool
  • Accessories

    • Sunscreen
    • Hat or cap
    • Sunglasses
    • Poncho or umbrella (in case of rain)
  • Footwear

    • Comfortable walking shoes
    • Sandals or flip-flops – although I have this on the list, I highly recommend you not wear flip flops or sandals to the parks. Typically, they just aren’t as comfortable as sneakers, andI have seen one too many toes get run over by ECVs and it’s brutal to watch. Steer clear of it if possible.
  • Miscellaneous

    • Backpack or tote bag
    • Autograph book and pen (for character meet-ups)
    • Portable snacks and water bottles
    • Ziplock bags (for storing wet items or snacks)
    • Camera or smartphone for photos
  • Optional Items

    • Disney-themed clothing or accessories
    • Glow sticks or light-up toys for evening parades

During Your Trip

  • Arrival

    • Arrive early to make the most of your day. 
    • Take advantage of early entry. Every park opens 30 minutes prior to the stated park opening time for those staying at a Walt Disney World resort. 
  • Park Navigation

    • Pick up a park map and schedule upon entry. These are also great souvenirs. I always collect one on my way in for the day.
    • Use the My Disney Experience app for real-time updates and navigation.
  • Attractions and Shows

    • Prioritize must-see attractions and shows.
    • Arrive early or utilize Genie+/Individual Lightning Lanes to minimize wait times.
  • Dining

    • Make reservations in advance for popular restaurants. If staying at a Walt Disney World resort, dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance of your trip. See here for more.
    • Consider dining at off-peak hours to avoid crowds.
  • Character Meet and Greets

    • Check the schedule for character appearances. The My Disney Experience app has all of this information, so check the app throughout your visit for up-to-date information.
    • Arrive early to meet popular characters.
  • Rest and Hydration

    • Take breaks throughout the day to rest and hydrate. This is very important. Especially in the hazy, extra hot days of summer.
    • Take a break at your hotel and take a swim during midday (the hottest part of the day)
    • Use indoor attractions or shows to escape the heat. A great time to do some souvenir shopping is in the middle of the day. The stores tend to be less crowded and it’s definitely a great way to cool off.
  • Souvenirs

    • Allocate time and budget for shopping.
    • Consider purchasing souvenirs towards the end of your trip to avoid carrying them all day.
    • Don’t forget to use Merchandise Mobile Checkout for ease and convenience.
  • Evening Entertainment

    • Check the schedule for fireworks, parades, and nighttime shows. These are a MUST for first time visitors. I’m partial to Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom. I highly recommend you see this one of the nights you are visiting.
    • Secure a good viewing spot in advance. Depending on how close you want to be to the castle and how busy the park is, you should plan to find your spot about 45 to an hour prior to show time.
  • Safety

    • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Yes, it’s Disney, and it’s super safe. But things happen. You are responsible for your own belongings. Don’t leave valuables unattended or in a parked stroller. Take everything with you.
    • Follow all safety instructions and guidelines.
Animal Kingdom – Kilimanjaro Safari

After Your Trip

  • Reflect and Review

    • Take time to reminisce about your Disney experience. Share feedback and reviews to help future travelers.
  • Organize Souvenirs and Photos

    • Sort through your souvenirs and photos. This is the most fun! I take tons of photos and it’s so much fun to look back and recreate the memories. It brings so much joy and happiness!
    • Create a scrapbook or digital album to preserve memories.
  • Follow Up

I hope you found this helpful as you start or continue to plan the most amazing and magical vacation to one of the very happiest places on earth. Safe travels!!

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Are you ready to plan your vacation? It’s so easy!! Click here for your FREE Quote! A Love of the Magic travel advisor will get back to you as soon as possible so you can start planning today!

Marnie Raimondo
Marnie Raimondo
Hi there! I'm Marnie, Disney blogger and writer. My passion is helping people plan magical Walt Disney World vacations. I love sharing Disney tips and advice based on my personal experiences from many, many magical trips over the years. I hope through my writing I can help you navigate your way through Disney news, the parks, dining, resorts and so much more! Happy planning!
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