Don’t Make These Mistakes When Attending a Convention in Disney World

Disney World is not just for play – a lot of work goes on there, too! And we don’t just mean the hard-working Cast Members. Actually, a LOT of conventions, business meetings, and other gatherings take place at the parks and resorts.

Disney World Entrance

So, your company has announced that the next convention is going to be at Disney World! Once the cheering dies down, you’ll have to get started planning your trip. Don’t worry – we’re here to help you out. We’ve got lots of tips and tricks to help you have the best time in between all of those meetings.

It is frighteningly easy to mess up a Disney World vacation. There are a lot of elements to juggle, and the timeline and necessary reservations are unlike most other trips. So how can you avoid the common pitfalls and create the best possible vacation? We’ve got everything you need to know right here.

Magic Kingdom

This post is split into 3 different sections, with each being a very common mistake that we see people make when planning a trip for the first time. As most people who are going to Disney World for a convention aren’t necessarily big Disney fans who plan annual vacations there, it’s most important to get a good handle on the basics.


Let’s start out with one of the most common and dangerous mistakes: not understanding the Disney timeline.

Mistake #1: Not Knowing the Disney Timeline

Planning a Disney vacation is not the same beast as planning other vacations. You’ve got to get reservations EARLY if you want to eat at the best restaurants, and no, that doesn’t mean 2 weeks before your visit. The most convenient hotels also fill up quickly, and don’t forget about park pass reservations! Here’s a rundown of the timeline you should follow as you plan:

As Soon As You Know When You’re Going:

The first thing you should do when you find out that your company is going to Disney World is book your hotel. There are 3 different categories of hotels in Disney World: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. The value hotels are of course the least expensive and also tend to be the most heavily themed. For example, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort has buildings themed to The Little MermaidFinding NemoCars, and The Lion King, with larger-than-life statues of Disney characters all around the resort.

Art of Animation

You’ll have a few more perks at the Deluxe hotels, which are the most expensive options. But guests at the Deluxe hotels can take advantage of Extended Evening Hours, meaning there are certain days when you can stay late in EPCOT or Magic Kingdom (or sometimes Disney’s Hollywood Studios). See the full schedule for Extended Evening Hours here.

Disney’s Yacht Club

You can also choose to stay in a non-Disney hotel, some of which are still on Disney property. For example, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are owned by Marriott, but because the hotels are on Disney property, guests at these hotels enjoy some of the same perks as guests at Disney-owned hotels (like free transportation to and from the parks).

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts

The best time to book a Disney hotel room is ASAP. The closer you get to the time of travel, the fewer options you’ll have and the more expensive they’ll be. It’s best if you can start looking at rooms and prices about 10 months in advance, but you should still have plenty of wiggle room if you book at least 6 months in advance.

Click here to see the BEST Disney World hotels for 2023.

Variable — Generally, 3-6 Months Before You Visit:

You will also need to get park tickets and Park Pass Reservations. You do need BOTH of these in order to enter any of the theme parks. Disney World park tickets range in price from $109 to $159 per day, depending on when you’re visiting.

Animal Kingdom!

Park Pass Reservations are free to make once you’ve purchased a ticket. You’ll need to select which park you’re going to visit on each day of your trip and reserve your spot at that park. You cannot enter the theme park without a reservation. Most of the time, these reservations don’t fill up until about a week before the dates, and during the slower seasons (like February and September) they might not fill up at all.


However, we’ve seen park reservations fill up WEEKS in advance for the more popular times of the year. Your safest bet will be to make these reservations as soon as you have your tickets and know where you want to go on each day.

The 2023 Park Passes You Need to Book NOW

60 Days Before You Go:

This is when you should book your dining reservations. This is NOT when you should start researching dining and just begin to consider where you want to eat — you should have done all that before the 60-days-out window hits. That’s because you can start making reservations exactly 60 days before your trip, and the most popular restaurants fill up within MINUTES.


If you want to have a big dinner with lots of colleagues at a very nice restaurant, you’ll need to be quick to reserve your spot. Get up early on the day that reservations open for your trip (again, 60 days before you visit) and make those reservations immediately. Note that anyone staying at a Disney-owned hotel (or one of the Good Neighbor hotels nearby) can make reservations for their whole stay 60 days before the first day of their vacation. Anyone else will need to make reservations for each day 60 days before that individual day.

Space 220

Waiting until just a few weeks before your visit to look at dining reservations will severely limit your options. Our favorite places to go — like ‘Ohana, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen, and Steakhouse 71 — will not be available at that point, especially for a large group of people (although you can keep checking just in case some other parties cancel!).

The BEST Disney World Restaurants for Large Groups

Mistake #2: Going to the Parks Without a Game Plan

You’ve got all of your reservations lined up, with a great hotel and some awesome dining plans. So now all you have to do is show up, right? Unfortunately, no.

Main Street U.S.A.

Well, let us clarify: you CAN just show up, and with your park ticket and passes you’ll be able to get into the parks and probably have a great time. But the best way to really maximize your time and get full value for what you paid is to do some extra planning.

Extra Reservations

There are some activities in the parks that require advanced reservations or planning. For example, special tours like the Wild Africa Trek in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or the Behind the Seeds Tour in EPCOT require reservations.


You’ll also want to study up on Disney World’s system for skipping the standby lines, which is called Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes.

Expedition Everest Lightning Lane

Keep in mind that this is some more advanced planning — many people find Genie+ to be complicated and a bit difficult to use at first. However, we have some great resources for you if you want to give it a shot!

Using this tool can help you save a lot of time standing in line if you’re willing to shell out the cash for it. Genie+ costs $15 per, person per day on most days but can go up depending on the time of year, and allows you to make reservations throughout the day to skip the line at most rides. Individual Lightning Lanes are for the most popular rides that are NOT included with Genie+. Skipping the line at these rides usually costs between $7 and $15 per person. But we have seen them go up to $20 per person.

Snacks and Dining

You don’t need reservations to eat at the fast food-style restaurants and snack stands around the parks. These places will have walk-up counters where you can order and pick up your food. It’s great to do some research on these ahead of your trip so that you know where to find the BEST food and treats during your trip (you don’t want to get stuck with mediocre burgers when you COULD be having a stellar meal).

Check out our favorite fast food-style restaurants in Disney World here.

Some of these restaurants will have the option to use Mobile Order. That means you can use the My Disney Experience app on your phone (which you should download before you get to the parks) to order and pay for your food, and then you can skip the line of people waiting to order and head straight to the counter to pick up your order once it’s ready!

Mobile Ordering pick-up stations at Connections Cafe

You can choose a pick-up time for your Mobile Order, so we recommend ordering earlier in the day (maybe while you’re waiting in line for a ride) so that you get the pick-up time you want.

Disney World Transportation

Before your visit, you should also do some research on Disney transportation. If you’re at a Disney-owned hotel or Good Neighbor hotel, there will be free transportation to and from the parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. This transportation is usually buses, although some hotels also use the Skyliner, Monorail, or boats.

Disney Bus

Although the transportation is usually pretty reliable, we’d recommend having a backup option just in case you need to get somewhere quickly. You don’t want to be late for a meeting just because a Disney bus wasn’t available right when you need it.


A good backup option is to use Lyft or Uber. There are pick-up locations at the hotels and parks for rideshares, and being able to fall back on this option will give you an extra safety net.

5 Simple Planning Tips to Know Before Your Disney World Trip

Mistake #3: Underestimating the Physical Demands

The final mistake that we see being made ALL the time in the parks is when people underestimate the physical demands of a Disney World trip. We know that strolling around Magic Kingdom, riding Haunted Mansion, and eating junk food don’t sound like strenuous activities. But you’d be surprised.

Magic Kingdom

The Disney World parks are BIG, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking during your trip. Just walking around World Showcase in EPCOT one time will have you walking over a mile. And that’s not even counting the rest of this park, nor the walk from your parking spot to the gate! So you’ll need to take a few precautions to make sure you’re not miserable during your vacation.

Pack Great Walking Shoes

If you need to dress business casual for this trip, you may want to throw a pair of really comfy walking shoes into your parks bag that you can pull out and quickly change into once you arrive at the parks. Or get a nice pair of tennis shoes that will double as both stylish and practical — just make sure that you break them in before you go to Disney World.

Disney World Vans

Showing up at EPCOT in kitten heels or Oxfords might seem like a good idea, but we promise you’ll regret it within the hour.


Whether your trip is in January or July, you’ll need to hydrate the whole time. As we mentioned before, you will be walking a LOT, and the variable Orlando weather means it could still be 72 degrees in the middle of winter.

Our FREE Water

We always recommend bringing a reusable water bottle into the parks, but remember that all quick service restaurants (the fast food-type ones) will give you free cups of water upon request.

Prepare for the Crowds

You’ve probably heard that Disney World is a popular place, right? That’s definitely true. Depending on the time of year, the parks could be absolutely packed with people. If you’re the type of person who needs their personal space, you should mentally prepare to be a bit uncomfortable, at least during some parts of the day and in some parts of the parks.


For example, if you’re going to get to the parks right when they open, you’ll be part of a big crowd of people all rushing to get inside. It can be very uncomfortable for a while, but then the crowd will get inside and disperse, and you’ll be able to breathe again.


You can’t really avoid the crowds all the time — unfortunately, this is just a part of the Disney experience. You CAN, however, find places to escape them if you need a breather! Some of our favorite escapes are Tom Sawyer Island in Magic Kingdom, the back of the Morocco pavilion in EPCOT, and the Tree of Life trails in Animal Kingdom.

Find over 15 secret walkways to BEAT the crowds in Disney World.

Now you’re ready to have the best Disney World vacation when you visit for your upcoming convention! If you want even more planning tips and guides, check out these posts for additional information:

And for even more help with planning for your vacation, check out our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. We’ve compiled all of our BEST tips and tricks from years of Disney World travel into one eBook that you can download to your tablet or smartphone and take with you! We’re offering our readers 25% off with code WDW2022.

Take the DFB Guide with you to Disney World!

Don’t forget to keep following along with the DFB Blog, because we’ll bring you all the latest news from the parks along with extra planning tips and Disney hacks.

10 Disney World Restaurants Every First-Timer Should Have On Their List

Planning a Trip to Disney World? We’ve Got Everything You Need to Know

What questions do you still have about planning a Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments!

The post Don’t Make These Mistakes When Attending a Convention in Disney World first appeared on the disney food blog.