First-timer worried about Disney letdown

Jen D

DIS Veteran
Mar 16, 2001
I'ms a first-timer (practically-- visited MK in 1977 at age 7, Epcot on a school trip in 1984, and have done Disneyland the past two summers, but for all intensive purposes WDW will be a new thing for me.) I'm planning this vacation like crazy, scraping and saving, reading every guidebook, living on DIS, lurking in RADP, you name it. We're going in September (me, dh, and our 4-year old) and I feel like I am so desperate for a vacation that my expectations are getting unrealistic.

Anyone experienced letdown? I just remember planning so much for my wedding that the whole thing was this crazy tense blur and I couldn't even relax until the third day of our honeymoon. I don't want that to happen again! Any suggestions? I am beginning to think maybe the answer is going cold turkey from guidebooks and DIS boards!

Plan what you can but then when you get there, relax and let the Disney magic take you. It is, after all, a vacation! September will be great as the crowds will be low and lines won't be as long. Don't get upset if the plan doesn't go exactly like you have it lined out. It is, after all, a vacation!

I don't know how long you will be there or when you might get back again. I've found that the reason that I enjoy it so much is that I just plan on going back as often as possible and I don't worry if I see this or that, I just go and have fun. If I miss something this time, I'll get it next. Disney World isn't going anywhere. It will be there when you get back. Take your time and see what you can. It is, after all, a vacation!

As you well know, a 4 yr old is going to get tired and probably cranky. When that happens (or before) stop and take a nice long break or go back to the hotel and relax for yourselves. You don't need to do that "one last ride" before taking the break. It will still be there when you come back from your break.

Enjoy yourselves and remember that it is, after all, a vacation!! ;) :cool:

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and, all the work and planning for one day, Ha!
On past WDW vacations, I've had that let-down feeling on occasion, but, it doesn't last--I didn't want those events to spoil the whole vacation! Some things I've planned for didn't live up to my expectations, but other things did or were a pleasant surprise.
You are smart to plan & familiarize yourself with as much as you can--then, you can roll with whatever may happen and alter you plans as needed. There's less chance of feeling let-down if things don't happen like planned.
I take a "break" from the planning once in awhile, because it can get all-consuming, LOL!
Oh yes, with two young kids, I still do alot of planning. My DH thinks I spend too much time on WDW planning, but, I'm driven to find as much out as I can--can't stop myself until things are firmed up/commitments made! Once I get the best airfare/travel, hotel room, priority seatings, park info, (burned out by then), I start to relax alittle, and just focus on the daily plans/things we really want to do.
When we get to WDW, we usually end up cancelling a couple of priority seatings because we decide to to something else that works better. I still like to have something planned/reserved--you can always cancel it.
It can get overwhelming sometimes, but, also alot of fun & challenging to put together your WDW vacation! :D


<font size=2 color=RED>SEPT. 2001 - <font size=2 color=BLUE>ALLSTAR/MOVIES, POLYNESIAN & <center>BEACH CLUB!</center></font>
Relax!! I'm worse than you and I'm going for the 4th time! For your first time though, just go with the flow! It's hard to pre-plan your first trip, entirely. Leave that for another trip! There is so much to see and do that planning, too much, on your 1st trip will not seem like a vacation at all! Out 4th trip, in June, is the 1st time I've planned anything ~ PS, day-plans, parks, etc.! This Board is great with info, though!

Don't think of it as your wedding day ~ that was only 1 day! and, with major planning! WDW is Bigger Than that!! More time, more parks, more to do than your wedding day!!

You will enjoy everything you do, whether you plan it or not!

Let Down doesn't happen unless you allow it to!

This is major $$, make sure you go with a "mind-set" and, you'll be fine!

Happy Disneying!!

to WDW is going to be like your first (only after being there as a child).

Due to the fact that when visiting Disney at an early age, (I visited for first time around age 5) all primary memories of vacationing at WDW was just based on pictures inside photo albums and little snapshopts of some remembrances that manage to stay with you. All the indepth planning and budgeting were done by parents/caretakers so the only thing we had to think about as a kid was just relaxing as well as having a good time with family and visiting Mickey.

But when returning as an adult, the experience takes on a whole other dimension because of all the steady "work" that becomes involved in getting to Disney. There has to be decisions made about how much money to save/spend, what hotel to stay at, how many days to travel, modes of transportation, which restaurants to eat at, what things to pack, when to go, how much to buy souvenirs ......etc. (and list can go on and on).

As these necessities are dealt with seemingly over and over again, there can be a feeling of restlessness and letdown as you put it that sets in. There also is an added factor of the sheer growth and size of WDW being what it is today rather than what it used to be years ago. The entire park now has so many options as far as rides, shows, attractions that sometimes it can seem almost overwhelming at just the thought of deciding what to take part in.

I experienced a sense of being frazzled also when returning back for the first time in 1991 after having been gone during many years. It helped a lot to refamiliarize with myself with the parks (purchased a guidebook) and just to commit myself to coming up with just a basic itenirary. We picked out all the things that were 'definitely' a priority for us to see in touring the parks while there but at the same time just decided to go with the flow.

If it was something that we happened to miss, then we put it on our "to do next time list" on our return trips to WDW (also gave us something to look forward to). Another thing that we realized that due to WDW's vastness, it is totally impossible to see/do everthing in a week or couple days vactation. So, we realized it was o.k. to pass on certain things because there would be other furture trips no matter how far down the road (if wanted/managed to save).

This approach allowed us to be in the moment and enjoy our stay more without being bombarded with the 'what if' thoughts. Given the array of choices available at WDW, it easy for everyone at some point to fall into the trap of feeling like they have to plan the perfect trip or all is totally lost. It can be really a test of patience and sheer will when dealing with all of the seemingly endless trip ideas that you want or need to iron out before arriving.

I also find it useful to remind myself that vacation is fundamentally about having 'fun' and not to stress too much especially about the little things. I hope this helps and your trip will be an awesome one for you and your family!
Thanks for all your long replies to this somewhat existential topic. You are right, the planning itself adds a difficult element-- I'm partly worried about saving enough to pay for the trip by September! It just seems so far away and I just want to be there NOW, so the waiting gives me time to wonder if this is worth the $$$. That's hypothetical-- yes I want this vacation!

Believe it or not, I'm not a worrier by nature. It's just my impatience that is doing this to me. I really need a vacation.
my 2cents worth...

-do plan very well, but be flexible enough to change plans when it makes sense.

-expect crowds and waits, and you'll be pleasantly surprised when you don't have these
(even the3 lines are entertaining...I'd rather be in line at WDW than at a party here!)

- that mid day swim/nap/rest time...I find this key to a great time!

-Kids at WDW seem to take their cues from their parents. Cranky parents/cranky children. Happy parents/joyful children. (Of course, this MAY be a case of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg". Our fam of 4 has it's ups and downs, but they're all UPS at WDW!

My own experiences tells me that the biggest factor in how good a time you have is your own state of mind or personality.

There are those times when because of my own mood, I could only see the bad going on around me (most of which I made up myself).

If you can remember that you are on vacation and the little things don't matter that much, you will have a blast.

Just relax and enjoy your vacation.

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<FONT color=darkblue size=2>Feb 1995 - Caribbean Beach</FONT>
<FONT color=cadetblue size=2>Feb 1997 - Port Orleans</FONT>
<FONT color=darkred size=2>Nov 1997 - Offsite</FONT>
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<FONT color=darkmaroon size=2>Nov 2001 - All Star Movies / Dolphin</FONT>
I am actually posting under my DW's name...

We went as sort-of first timers for our honeymoon in '97 (neither of us had been there as adults without parents. We planned a fair amount and as everyone else has said, just "went with the flow". For our last trip in October of 2000, my DW planned EXTENSIVELY, and i began to think that the trip couldn't possibly live up to her expectations, but that trip was even better than the '97 trip. We had our plans and we tried to do as much as we could, but we relaxed more and enjoyed the suprises that each day held!

As for the money, plan on more than you think and if you don't spend it, use it to start saving for your next trip back to the World. Your time will be here before you know it, so plan what you can and when you arrive, let the Magic take its course!!
Like you've heard so many times before--RELAX! Although I myself enjoy the planning part, I also love the fact that you can change your mind once you're there! I plan a priority seating every night just in case. But I have often canceled them to squeeze something better in. I just like to know I have someplace to go and not wait long to get in. Just remember that whatever plans you make are just that-'plans'. At least you'll have them to fall back on. Have a ball planning! It's half the fun for me and should be for you too! :cool:

Contemporary 1974
Port Orleans 1997
Disney's Yacht Club 1999
Offsite 2002
I understand what you are talking about. When I went to DisneyWorld for the first time 10 years ago, I was so desparate for a vacation, planned extensively and while I had a great time, I really wore myself out.

Five years ago, I had the opportunity to tack on a couple of days in DisneyWorld after a sales conference. I was alone and certainly didn't have the luxury of seeing everything so I had really no expectations, it was the best time. I picked the things that I wanted to see the most and let everything else go. Moreover, because I didn't have to be somewhere on schedule, I had so much flexibility. I met some great folks in line for the Tower of Terror and went to the Wilderness Lodge and shared by PS with some strangers, they even treated me to dinner as a thank you. It is those kind of things that you just can't plan for, but really make your trip.

I am planning to be back again this year in mid-May and while I have done extensive planning for the trip (it is have the fun). I have also allowed down time and went again with the approach of what is the top 10 things for everyone and then after that, let everything else go to experience the fun.
It's funny, the first time I went to Disneyland was two years ago-- my daughter (then about 22 months old) and I were accompanying my husband on a business trip in LA. We had nothing planned, but I said, "what the heck, while he's working I'll take the kid to Disneyland." The extent of my planning was reading the paragraph in my "Frommer's California" and looking up the opening time and directions on the website. I had the most terrific day, I was amazed! I only rode kiddie rides, of course, since it was just me and the tot, but that didn't matter, we had such a great time. I was totally sucked in by that Disney "thing"-- the service, the care that goes into the place. We stopped for a hot dog for lunch-- and in the seating area, a man played Disney songs on the piano, and the crowd was singing along. The whole day was amazing. Of course, when I told everyone I had been, they couldn't believe I had fun even though I hadn't ridden a single "E-ticket" ride. We did do Dumbo about four times, though. And this was in JULY.

I am not going to abandon planning-- it will make my trip better-- but I think it is obsessing me a bit too much. There is life between now and September! :rolleyes:
Keep planning and dreaming! When you get to your hotel room, tape your computer generated itinerary (you do have one of those don't you and you did remember to bring some tape right, lol, we did!!)on the back of the door then......forget everything!!!! :D

When you get to Disney, every plan you had will either fall into place without any effort or they will fly right out the window. Either way, you'll see that it doesn't matter! Every day is a new day! You may never feel that let down feeling. I haven't and it's been three years since our last trip! I just keep planning and dreaming for 2003! Keep on doing what you're doing knowing that you will have a good time no matter what!

Have a great trip!

[This message was edited by Saffron on 04-22-01 at 10:26 AM.]
Actually my very first stay in Disney World at the Contemporary Towers was the best time I had in all the times I went. Not that the other times weren't good, but that first time was the most memorable and fun.t I made literally no plans at all. Back then (1976) you could do that and still get into a restaurant with out waiting more than 10 minutes. The only park back then was the MK so we did not go nuts trying to fit everything into our measly 3 nights. :(

Disney World kept growing and we kept adding more nights to our stay. Then PS had to be invented so you could eat...which made planning essential to your trip. :(

Planning can be half the fun as long as your flexible when you get there.

My biggest letdown is having to come home and all the planning is over, the trip is over, and all though there's no place like home...I sorta like hanging round OZ a little longer. :D

Unpacking and doing the dirty vacation laundry is also a big bummer :(

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I can't imagine it is even possible to be let down at Disney. Once you get there, your excitement and the pure magic will convince you that it exceeds your expectations! Have a great trip! :cool:

1996 CBR
1997 Off site
2000 DL
2001 Off site
Upon checkout at WL Im planning on reserving next years trip. We (9yr son) and I usually do the same trips year after year so even if husband does not want to come back with us next year son and I will.
I have been invited on a trip this summer with somes friends who have never been to WDW. They know that I have been many times myself and they are looking forward to having someone along who can show them around...It's a comfort thing.

That being said, I had some concerns that, having listened to me rave about the place soooo much, their expectations might be too high. This is especially true when I know that it is a big deal for them to scrimp and save for something that they really consider a once-in-a-lifetime trip. (I chuckle here because I recently took my umpteenth Once-in-a-lifetime-trip. ;)

Trying to keep things in perspective, we had a very fun conversation the other night about setting the right expectations. Having just watched the fun, but shamelessly brain-washing vacation planning video, my friends joked that they expected nothing less than a completely soul-altering, nirvanah, bliss-at-every-moment, "so this is an epiphany" type of trip.

Not out of the question BUT, SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER....At some point in the trip you will probably...

...stand in the wrong line (you know, the one that doesn't move as fast as all the others) someone you find disagreeable

...see many someones you consider 'stupid' way too much for water too hot

...step in something objectionable

...smell something offensive (hopefully not what you just stepped in)

...wait too long for a bus

...miss something you want really wanted to do up too late for a show

...feel out-of-sorts


...feel bad for someone you see who may be less fortunate than yourself something you don't like (or over-eat many things you do like)

...see something you like but can't afford

BUT, accepting this before you go, you will also probably have the time of your life. It is like no other place I have ever been (not that I'ver been everywhere. :) I guess these are those small things you're not supposed to sweat. (oh yeah, and you will sweat.)

One thing you read about a lot on these boards is the "escape from reality" quality or WDW. Absolutely, but we are all still human. (I truly hope this doesn't come across as "soapboxy". I've just been-there, done-that.. and survived.)Consider your planning as part of this reality check.

This could make a fun game though... anyone else have some reality checks that, when it comes down to it, don't mean that much
How about:

...forget to pack something you really wanted to bring with you

...forget to bring something home with you (I forgot my car, house and office keys and didn't realize until the day I was due back at work lol)

Great list Don!
1) plan on having a good time.
2) follow the plan,
3) if the schedule get in the way see 1 & 2 above

the real magic is in interacting with other guests and CMs and can't be put on a schedule

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I finally figured out why I am worried about letdown, and it isn't really then planning. It's reading DIS and RADP, and (don't take this the wrong way) and reading all the rapturous reports from all you Disneyphiles! I loved Disneyland, I love Disney movies, I know what to expect here. But the sheer *passion* a lot of people I have met here have for WDW is a little intimidating-- I just wonder- maybe I'm not the type of person who will be swept away. I can be kind of a cynic sometimes! (And again, I adore DL, so that is probably nonsense.)

Also, (and this is a more legitimate worry) I am concerned my dh won't be into it. He's pretty ambivalent about the trip and the planning, although he enjoyed DL too. I hope he isn't down there wondering what the heck we are spending our money on.

On the bright side-- our tax refund came today, and it covers about 70% of our trip expenses! Whee! So some of the money worries are subsiding.


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