I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.

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I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
I go to the Disney parks all the time. Kari Becker
  • I'm a travel planner who books Disney vacations, and I've visited the theme parks over 40 times.
  • You don't have to spend all day, every day in the parks, but it is best to get there early.

I've been to the Disney parks over 40 times, so I've truly done it all.

As a travel planner at Marvelous Mouse Travels who specializes in Disney destinations, a big part of my job is to make recommendations about how to plan an epic trip - including advice for what not to do.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make at Disney World.

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School breaks are one of the worst times to take a Disney vacation

If you have any flexibility, don't schedule your vacation during school breaks.

Holiday weekends, spring break, and winter break will always bring the biggest crowds to the theme parks.

Disney doesn't really have many low seasons anymore, but avoiding these highly popular times will give you more freedom to explore the parks with fewer crowds and less expensive tickets.

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You don't have to spend all day, every day at the parks

I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
Enjoying the pool at Port Orleans Riverside. Kari Becker

The theme parks are a big part of the Disney experience, and I love spending time there. But there's so much more to do on the property.

I recommend taking a day off to lounge by the pool, resort-hop, shop, or play a round of mini-golf.

When we go to the parks, my family also usually takes a midday break to rest and relax - it is supposed to be a vacation, after all.

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My clients always complain about their Disney trips being too short

As with most theme parks, the longer you stay the lower your daily ticket and accommodation costs are going to get.

If you're already paying to travel to Disney, do yourself a favor and stay a few extra days.

The biggest complaint I get from clients is that they didn't stay long enough. A week is the ideal amount of time to truly experience Disney World.

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Overplanning your trip can make you miss out on some special experiences

I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
You have to allow room for surprise character interactions and experiences. Kari Becker

Some planning is absolutely needed to have the ideal Disney World experience, but you shouldn't be overplanning.

You don't need to schedule every moment of your day or have every detail organized. Make a general skeleton of your daily agenda - with dining reservations and a list of must-do rides and attractions - but make sure to leave room to enjoy the spontaneous fun.

If you're on too tight a schedule, you'll miss all the good stuff, like unique character interactions and new surprises.

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Park-hopping isn't great with young children

The park-hoping ticket option allows you to visit more than one park per day for a discount. But unless you're only staying for a very short time, there are few reasons to park-hop with small kids.

It's just an unnecessary added expense that you probably won't make the best use of if you're pausing for afternoon naps or breaks.

But as children get older, or for adult trips, park-hopping offers more flexibility in planning.

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Sitting down for 3 full meals at the park is going to eat away at your time

I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
Character-dining experiences take even longer. Kari Becker

If you want to dine at table-service restaurants, you'll need to make reservations in advance. But eating three sit-down meals a day at Disney World will take up way too much of your time.

Many table-service experiences can take one and a half to two hours from start to finish, so you wouldn't be left with much time to experience the rest of the parks.

One table-service reservation a day is usually a perfect respite from the hustle and bustle without overcrowding your schedule.

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The later you get to the parks, the more crowded it's going to be

My number one theme-park tip is to get there early. Getting to the parks at opening, or even before, gives you a huge jump on the day.

You can experience so many attractions in the first few hours of the park opening as crowd levels are much lower. But by midday, the crowds usually significantly increase.

Disney Springs is not to be missed

I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
Head over to Disney Springs for a day of fun. Kari Becker

Disney Springs has so much to offer.

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Head over to grab a delicious lunch at one of my personal favorites like Homecomin' or Frontera Grille. Pick up some souvenirs at the massive World of Disney store. Check out the hundreds of sets and amazing displays at the Lego store. Or, just enjoy some snacks while you bask in the Florida sun.

Don't forget to ask if your favorite attractions offer 'rider swap'

Rider swap is a great service when traveling with young children who aren't tall enough or don't want to ride certain attractions. But not enough people know about it, and they can end up wasting time in lines.

It allows one parent or guardian to wait with the child while the rest of the party rides. Once the first group returns, the waiting adult can go without getting in the back of the line.

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Just ask the park employee at the front of the ride if it's available.

Staying off-property might save you a few bucks, but it's not going to be as magical as staying at a Disney resort

I'm a travel planner who's been to Disney World over 40 times. Here are 10 vacation mistakes you're making.
The beautiful grounds of the Polynesian Resort. Kari Becker

Staying off-property can save you money, so it has its perks - I've stayed off-property many times. But if you've never stayed on-property, you're missing out.

There are a number of practical benefits, including location, transportation, room charging, and Magic Bands, but the biggest perk is the extra Disney magic.

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There's something completely different about staying in a Walt Disney World resort. From the theming to the employee interactions, it's an adventure that should be experienced at least once.

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