The purpose of this post is to show you all what our expectations were and then the actual reality after getting to Walt Disney World. Our expectations were most likely very similar to some of yours and we hope to better prepare you for your Disney World adventure.

Disney World Magic Kingdom Castle

Crowds and Time Management

To begin with, let’s talk about what is probably the biggest expectation of most peoples minds. The crowds. Ok, so we expected to see large numbers of people and expected to be waiting as a result. But let me tell you, Disney World is a whole other ballgame. I have been to many large theme parks and understand that you must have patience with crowds. Patience will be your best friend in these parks.

We spent 4 full days in all 4 Disney World parks. And I really do mean full! The second day we spent in the Magical Kingdom, we were there over 12 hours. We were there from open to close of the park and still did not get to see and do everything. This was typical of every one of our days in each park. Time management will be more important than ever during your stay. There are simply too many people and crowds to see and do it all. We are certainly not the most organized people but we did have a pretty solid plan each day. Was our preparation perfect? Of course not, but I do feel that we were able to maximize our time each day.

This brings me to my next big point. Fast Passes. For the love of God, buy fast passes! Pay extra and the time you save will allow you to do so much more during your stay. I cannot stress this enough. We used one of our fast passes for a ride that had about a 3-hour wait in the standard line. We were on the ride in less than 10 minutes! Look into travel centers and ask about discounts, a lot of the time a travel agent may know something that you do not. That person may even be able to get you a discount that includes fast passes!

The last thing I wanted to touch on before we move to the next point is the Disney world app. So we had absolutely no clue about this app until we were booked with Disney. Luckily a friend of ours brought it up and so we downloaded it and damn am I glad that we did! This app will tell you your exact location in the park along with all the attractions, shows, restaurants and so on. Not only does it show you where they are but also how far away you are from them, as well as how long wait times are and whether or not attractions are closed or not. This app saved us hours of time and we were able to plan our stay in the parks much more efficiently because of it.

The one drawback to it is that it is a huge battery suck. Because it is such a large app that requires your location on when you wish to use it, it will drain your phone down before your day is over. So just take a charger with you and plug in and charge when you can.


Ok so for some weird reason, maybe this being Disney World, we expected the public transportation to just fall into place. Let me tell you now, this is not the case. There are buses, boats, and monorails that will take you to the parks. And if you’re feeling brave you can take your own vehicle into the parks. But all of these transports run on schedules and they go literally everywhere in the 30000 acres that make up Disney World.

All I’m saying is if you plan to use public transportation, know what the schedules are and where to access the transports you need before you get there. Otherwise, you could end up in the wrong place in the middle of the night after you have already walked over 12 miles over the day. This is exactly what happened to us on our third night there. It ended up taking about an extra hour for us to get back to our RV and crash for the night. That’s somewhere you do not want to be, so plan ahead a bit.

Now I’m not saying you have to be that person with a binder full of your entire schedule, nailed down to the minute, during your stay. Just don’t be the person wandering around the buses asking if they are on the right bus every ride. Have a plan and maximize your time there, because you will find that time at Disney is extremely limited. Plus you will have a much better stay that doesn’t feel as hectic.

What to do

All the way up to arriving at Disney World we pretty much expected the park to be nothing but attractions and rides. Disney world makes up 40 square miles! So it’s pretty naive to think that’s all that is there.

Outside of the 4 theme parks there, there is also a water park, many resorts, and Disney Springs. So each resort is just that, a resort. You could very easily spend your entire days on the resorts. They have very nice pools both indoor and outdoor. There are bars and clubs on some of them, and so much more.

I am pretty limited with everything available on every resort. We stayed in the RV park there, Fort Wilderness. Just in Fort Wilderness alone, there is horseback riding, pools, musicals, archery, horse-drawn carriages, pony rides, wagon rides, boat rentals, bike rentals, volleyball, hiking, and many other things. Really there is too much to do there! We easily could have spent our entire 4 days in the RV park alone.

Disney Springs is pretty much an outdoor shopping mall with a “downtown” sort of feel. Of course, you can find every sort of Disney merchandise you can think of, but also many bars and restaurants as well. There are many themed restaurants, waterside bars, and even a movie theater.

All the access we had to all of these things would have taken us weeks if not months to do it all. So once again, having a plan and using your time management skills is essential while in Disney World.

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Below I will summarize and give you a sort of “toolkit” of necessities for Disney World.

  • Patience with crowds
  • Buy fast passes
  • Use time-management skills
  • Download the Disney World app
  • Know your transportation schedule and access to them
  • Have a plan in place
  • Explore everything that is offered if you have the time

Now I understand no two people are the same and that one person’s expectations could be completely different than the next. But I do feel that by applying at least some of those points above, your Disney experience will be vastly improved.

Want a few tips on making travel with kids easier? Grab our family travel survival guide.

posing with fancy nancy disney world character meet


Disney World: Expectations vs Reality