I truly believe that our first trip to Walt Disney World was a complete miracle. If you read our Why Disney Minority Report article, you already know that growing up my family and I never made it to Walt Disney World though we did go on many other family vacations).
Not only did we not make it to the pinnacle of all family vacations, but no one I knew went to Walt Disney World. No friends, no cousins, no neighbors. All we knew it was too expensive. We heard that every time we asked if we could go. “IT’S TOOOOOO EXPENSIVE!!!” It was so ingrained in my inner psyche that when I had my own kids, I planned on waiting until they could decently diagram a sentence and had learned all of their multiplication tables before we took them to meet the mouse. Luckily God loves me enough to always do more than I can ever imagine.
I still remember the day my sweet cousin Donyel called and asked if we would like to go on our first trip to Walt Disney World with her and her family. My pessimistic reply was, “Sure if we were rich!” (Pray for me y’all!) Then she proceeded to change my whole entire life, literally!
She said she had a timeshare at another popular vacation destination that she would trade out for Walt Disney World if we wanted to go. Since it was already paid for, we wouldn’t have to pay anything. (Insert me passing out here!!!) I protested that we could at least give her something but she wouldn’t hear anything else about it!
She wasn’t done either, y’all!!! She said, “I get a super great deal on our tickets because of my military discount so I can help you all out with yours.” (Insert me crying like I just won America’s Next Top Model!!!)
In case you too passed out let me recap: we paid absolutely ZERO dollars for our accommodations and didn’t have to pay for all of our ticket costs either!!! Yes, my cousin is better than yours (at least most of yours, I bet)! Not only was this going to be our first trip to Walt Disney World, it was also going to be the cheapest trip to one we’ve taken to date!
It goes without saying that we jumped on that blessing, packed our bags and hightailed it down to Orlando as fast as our little feet would carry us. In our excitement and ignorance, we did zero research! I didn’t even read an article about anybody’s first trip to Walt Disney World like you’re doing now! We perused a few websites the week of and on the way down in the car, but that’s was it.
See, growing up we used to go to Six Flags over Georgia just about every year. So in our minds we figured it would be something like that. HA! No shade intended, because I absolutely do love going to Six Flags but Six flags is not Disney World!! Please learn from me y’all! Don’t show up all excited for your first trip to Walt Disney World thinking you’re going to see the whole park in one day like Six Flags. You can’t even come close to seeing and doing everything there is to do in the Magic Kingdom in one day, let alone all four parks!
In spite of all the things we didn’t know, we still had the BEST TIME EVERRRRR!!! Just walking onto Main Street gave me life! Seeing the castle made all my little girl inner dreams come true and seeing Doc Mcstuffins for the first time made me shed real tears y’all (yes, representation does matter)!
I remember the day we walked into the Magic Kingdom that first time. I was smiling like I was debt-free and had just lost 20 pounds. Fast pass+ or not we were just happy to be there! We may as well have been skipping around holding hands saying, “We here everybody! Hey! We made it!”
While we were over the moon excited, we had absolutely no game plan. We didn’t even know where all the different rides were located. We got a map and struck out towards our first ride. Needless to say when we got there the wait was 72 hours! Ok, maybe not 72 hours but 180 minutes may as well be three days to me because I CANNOT do it y’all!
Undaunted, we made it to Tomorrowland and decided to hop on Stitches Great Escape (the worst ride Disney ever made in my opinion) because the line was so short. While we were in line we saw a line right next to us moving faster than we were. So cluelessly, we asked the friendly Cast Member, “What’s that line for?”
Fellow Disney fam, whoever said what you don’t now can’t hurt you was a liar from the PIT OF HELL! Not knowing that Walt Disney World has some of the longest wait times of any amusement park in the entire world…that hurt. Not knowing that there is a system in place to bypass said longest wait times on earth…that hurt like getting kicked in the face! Not knowing said system is 100% FREE….. that wasn’t just hurt. That was….Stand back, I’m going to be sick!
We might have been clueless, but we’re fast learners. We politely said excuse me to all of the people in line behind us (which weren’t many because that ride totally sucked!) and went directly to the Fast Pass+ kiosk and proceeded to book our first ever fast passes!!!
From then on it was all she wrote! We immediately got on our phones and started looking up more details on how the Fast Pass+ System worked. While we did still miss out on some rides, we didn’t stand in another long line for the rest of our vacation. We booked what we could for the remainder of the trip and all the ones we missed we vowed to book early enough to ride next time.
In my on the way down to Florida research, I found out you had to make meal reservations ahead of time, especially if you wanted to do any character meals. We called the Disney Dining reservation line and they helped us secure a time to eat a buffet breakfast because it was the cheapest option and was still available. We were soooo excited! Our girlies would get to see all of their Disney Junior friends: Handy Manny, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Princess Sofia and, our favorite, Doc McStuffins at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios!!!
When I say we’ve eaten at our fair share of restaurants, trust me we’re from ALABAMA! We all love some food round here! While I may have eaten at a few buffets in my life, nothing prepared me for Hollywood and Vine. The characters, the sing-a-longs, the dancing, the food! Seriously, my hubby and I had just as much fun as our toddlers did! So much so when we were stuffed to the gills and all played out, my hubby and I looked at each other and said, “We HAVE to do this one more time before we leave!”
We called the dining reservation line again and they were able to get us in for another breakfast at The Crystal Palace, where we had an equally amazing time with Winnie the Pooh and all our friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
Since our first trip to Walt Disney World in 2014, we’ve been back every year! We haven’t missed a single one and can’t imagine what life now without Walt Disney World would be like for us. You may have that favorite restaurant that is your go to. If you can pick one place to go, that’s it. It’s always good and they never let you down. Would you starve if you could never go again? No, but you just might shed some tears. That’s Walt Disney World for us. It’s our favorite restaurant, our favorite hotel, and our happy place all rolled into one.
We try our very best to enjoy every single day that God gives us together, but Walt Disney World is our something to look forward to. Thanks to my sweet cousin Donyell, we were able to see that a Disney vacation was in fact possible for our family. And not ten years down the road either, but now!
We ran home, crunched the numbers, and to our amazement we actually could afford to go to Walt Disney World all on our own with a plan in place. We figured out which resort we could afford, how many days we could stay, and which Disney discount to go after to save us the most money.
Our hope is that by you reading the series of super fortunate (and just a few unfortunate) events that made up our first trip to Walt Disney World, you too will see that a Disney vacation is a real possibility for you and your family.
(Check out our article on How to Afford Going to Walt Disney World to learn how we made our first trip to Walt Disney World a reality.)
Do you have a funny first trip to Disney story? Or were you an uber prepared Disney Jedi Master? Or are you still planning how to make your first family trip a reality? We’d love to hear about it, tell us in the comments below.
Thanks for stopping by!