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  • 12 mistakes we’ve all made when visiting Florida (& how you can avoid them)

12 mistakes we’ve all made when visiting Florida (& how you can avoid them)

We’ve collected invaluable tips from real people who’ve been to Florida and got the mouse ears to prove it.

They’ve shared the mistakes they made – and learned from – so you don’t have to!

 

Mistake #1: Going Big on Day 1

OK I know you’ll be raring to get out there as soon as you touch down, but try to take your first day a bit slower if you can, because the combination of time difference, jetlag & sheer excitement means you’re more likely to crash and burn.

What they said:

"Don't make plans for a big park/long day on day 1. Your body clock is still on UK time, so up at 4am and feeling tired by 7pm, especially kids, they will get tired earlier." ~ Karen Lambert 

"Don’t rush straight to the parks, relax and acclimatise for the first day, then head for the parks on day 2" ~ Su Williams 

"Don't try to cram too much into each day, as the heat is something that you get used to over a few days and it tires you out!" ~ Johann Coyle 

Mistake #2: Underestimating how big the theme parks will be

If it’s your first time going to the Orlando theme parks, you’re in for a big surprise – literally! To give you some perspective, just Disney World Resort alone is the size of Manchester

What they said:

"Do not underestimate the sheer size of Walt Disney World. The place is MASSIVE, so allow yourself adequate time to hop from park to park" ~ Andy Casoria 

Mistake #3: Taking uncomfortable shoes

I’ll say it again – the theme parks are BIG so you’ll be doing a LOT of walking. Those pointy stilettos might be perfect for the dancefloor, but you won't be dancing when you end up needing to rent a wheelchair (this has really happened!)

What they said:

"Make sure you break any new footwear in before you go" ~ Mark Lunn 

"Wear trainers, but pack flip flops for going on water rides so your feet aren't soaked all day" ~ Pamela Robb 

Mistake #4: Thinking you’ll fit EVERYTHING into 2 weeks

14 days is plenty of time, right?....

What they said:

"Don't try and do everything - you won't!! Save some things for your next trip - cos there will be a next trip, and you'll probably start planning it as soon as you get home from this one!" ~ Karen Lambert 

"No matter how organised you are you will not see everything in one trip. 8 trips later and we still haven't seen it all" ~ Jacqui Jones 

"You can’t do it all in 2 weeks and still have a holiday. When the children were younger we did largely half days. When they get tired and moany, leave the parks and go to a pool" ~ Joanne Roden 

Mistake #5: Assuming it won't rain

Despite being known as The Sunshine State, Florida does have a fair number of rainshowers, so make sure you pack that poncho!

What they said: 

"You can expect late afternoon showers almost daily in the rainy season (June - September) - although it’s still hot!" ~ Andy Smith

Mistake #6: Being totally spontaneous (aka "Winging it")

You know what nobody likes? Queueing. You know what happens when you don’t book things in advance for your trip to Florida? Yep – LOTS OF QUEUEING.

The single biggest thing everyone agrees on is that Disney World’s FastPass+ is a no-brainer for getting onto any of the most important rides – and you can book them up to 3 months before you even go!

What they said: 

"Don't stand in queues for rides - download My Disney Experience and book your fastpasses for each ride" ~ Lisa MacDonald 

"There’s a handful of Disney World restaurants that everyone wants to go to - especially the character dining - so reserve your table as early as possible to avoid long waiting times" ~ Samantha James

"If it's the theme parks you’re going for, buy tickets before going and get fastpass for as many rides as you can. The first park we went to we queued for nearly 3 hours for one ride, so made the decision to get fastpass and managed to go on everything we wanted to." ~ Hannah Sparkes 

Mistake #7: Not having at least one “Rest Day”

Long, hot days, lots of walking around the parks and a befuddled body-clock mean it’s easy to burn out if you don’t take some time to recharge. Pretty much every seasoned Florida visitor advises to factor in some down-time at the beach or the pool.

Worried the kids might get bored? Head to a water park and they can enjoy the slides while you relax in the sun.

What they said:

“My first trip in 1997 I did fourteen days of parks. I was exhausted. My advice to anyone would be 10 days at the parks and 4 days at the beach. Get some down time." ~ Marc Worthington

"I would avoid the parks at the weekends. Use these days as pool /relax days." ~ Donna Miller 

Mistake #8: Paying for Water

Most of the theme parks have water fountains where you can refill your bottle for free!

What they said:

"Take an empty water bottle and fill it at the water fountains around the parks and make use of the lockers to save carrying loads of stuff around with you" ~ Johann Coyle  

Mistake #9: Expecting parking to be free

Something a lot of people don’t consider when they’re buying theme park tickets is that parking often isn’t included. At around $20 or more per day it can really add up, so keep an eye out for tickets that include free parking!

What they said:

"If you do decide to do more than one Disney park in a day, pay for parking at the first park and the ticket is then transferable for the same vehicle on the same day. Also, parking at Universal Citywalk is free after 6pm." ~ Josh Hughes 

Mistake #10: Not Planning Ahead

If there’s one point you take away, make it this one! Sure, it’s nice to be spontaneous and go with the flow when you’re on holiday, but if you want to save yourself a lot of bother when you’re actually in Florida, you need to plan, plan, PLAN.

What they said:

"If you want to do as much as possible, don't try and wing it. Always have a plan. And a backup plan in case it rains." ~ James Plant

"Have a plan! You can always change it once you’re there, but you need to have some idea of what park you’ll go to on what day so you can book your Fastpasses" ~ Karen Lambert

"We always have a timetable of where we are going, what rides and restaurants we have ore booked so we can hit the day running. No time for “what do you want to do?" - Plan plan plan. It can bend and change but have a plan ." ~ Joanne Roden

Mistake #11: Having a lie-in

Yes I know you’re on holiday, but this is no ordinary holiday! You’ll need to get to the parks early to beat the humungous queues. Disney World & Universal even have Extra Magic Hours where they open especially for guests staying at their on-site hotels.

What they said:

"Get to the parks early- do a couple of days theme parks then a water park then next day go shopping to break it up a bit" ~ Tracey Need

Mistake #12: Thinking it’ll be a “once in a lifetime experience”

…. Because there’s no way you’ll be happy to go just once! As soon as you get back home you’ll be planning your next trip.

What they said:

"Our trip in 2006 became a costly habit and we have since visited in 2006, 2007,2009, 2011, 2013, 2015….." ~ Tracy Morris

BONUS MISTAKE: Paying for theme park tickets “on the door”

If you're visitIng Florida from the UK, it's nearly always better value to get your theme park tickets in advance. Plus you'll get the added bonus of things like booking Disney FastPass+, and knowing you've got guaranteed entry even in peak periods!

What they said:

"It’s cheaper to buy park tickets there from ticket touts".... I’m from the UK and believe me this is not the case!!" ~ Sarah Davies

Ready to start planning your trip? Use our Florida Holiday Checklist to make sure you don't forget anything crucial!

 

*Please note that comments may have been edited or shortened for clarity