11 Do’s and 1 Don’t when Planning a Trip To Walt Disney World
As Maria would say, or sing, in the Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…So you have decided to go to Walt Disney World, and you are excited about the prospect of visiting this magical place but are pretty intimidated with the planning aspect of it, after all the Walt Disney World property encompasses 40 square miles, same size as San Francisco and it includes 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a large shopping/dinning/entertainment area, 19 resorts, and fun to last a lifetime. So in this article I will attempt to give you a clear and compact list of things to consider and what not do when planning a trip to what Walt called “The Florida Project”.
1.-DO: Have a budget
Sit down and crunch numbers, this will be the most important part of your planning because with a clear number you will make all of your decisions. Things to consider when making your budget are:
-Time of year. When you can come is pretty much determined by your vacation time, but if you are pretty open, the seasons at Disney will range from Value (lowest crowds), Regular and Peak (highest crowds) The prices of accommodation and tickets will vary depending on the time of year you are coming.
-Transportation to Orlando. Be it via plane, train or automobile. Check airline offers, if traveling by car remember to budget for gas and food along the way.
– Stay on site or off site. Yes staying on property has a lot of perks, like transportation to and from the airport, transportation to and from the parks, extra magic hours. But if you are on a low budget staying off site is not bad, there are plenty of hotels of various price range that are close to Walt Disney World, also if you are a large group look into renting vacation homes, sometimes you will end up saving money using them. Just remember if you are staying off site to budget for a car or Uber/cab fare, and price of parking at the parks.
-How many days are you visiting?
-What type of ticket to get? Depending on the days you are visiting determine which park(s) you want to visit and if you want to visit more than one park on the same day (park hopper) Rule of thumb here, the more days you visit the parks the less expensive your ticket will be. As of right now Disney World offers one day/one park tickets all the way to 10 days.
-Budget for meals, souvenirs, stroller/wheelchair rental and extras. This will largely depend on your preference but a quick service meal, including non alcoholic drink and dessert can run at around $22 per person, of course table service meals are more expensive. You know you or your kids will want something from Walt Disney World so plan accordingly and always have extra money for any emergency that can occur.
A clear budget is very important; it can make or break your vacation. If you have a good grasp on your finances and what you can and can’t spend it will make your trip more enjoyable. And now that you know how much you can spend, how to get to Orlando, where to stay, the fun part begins.
- DO: Make a Plan.
My first recommendation is to sit down with your family or if you are traveling solo, and now that you know how many days you are staying ask which park(s) do I(we) want to visit? There are a plethora of sites that can help you have an idea on attractions, entertainment and dinning at each park. I always recommend going to the official Walt Disney World site, if you are traveling with kids check for height requirements. If you are not sure about a specific attraction look up reviews or maybe videos of them to give you a clear idea. Let your kids have a say, they will be happier if they know they had a voice in the decision making.
DON’T: Over Plan.
This is a mistake that many people make, you spend all this money on your trip, and of course you want to cram as much as possible during your day. This can create very grumpy behavior, even by midday from kids to adults.
3.DO: Pick 3 attractions/entertainment in each park you are visiting
These will be your priority. The rest will be icing on the cake. Plan around your fastpasses, remember to include time for meals.
4.DO: Use the fastpass system.
If staying on site you can buy your ticket early and make your fastpass selections 60 days prior to your trip, if staying off site you can buy tickets early and make your fastpass selections 30 days prior. For this you will need to create a free account on Disney World.com or download the My Disney Experience app. Once you have bought your tickets you add them to your account to be able to make fastpass selections.
5.DO: Make Dinning Reservations
It doesn’t matter if you have your tickets or not, if you are set on dinning at one of the very popular table service make sure to do so by the date that reservations open. Some of these are very hard to come by, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, or Be Our Guest or Chef Mickey’s. Most table service restaurants open reservations 180 days in advance, so make sure to check your dates.
6.DO: Be Flexible and Have a Plan B
Things happen, like rain or an attraction unexpectedly closed, don’t let these things ruin your time, just go with the flow and move to something else.
7.DO: Know your Kids
Who better than you to know what your kid likes and dislikes. Plan accordingly. Don’t make them go on an attraction if they are crying or very scared, know what they like to eat and plan for it. If your child regularly takes a nap they will need one at Disney as well. If your child is not used to walking miles and miles a day, bring or rent a stroller. Grumpy, sad kids lead to grumpy, sad parents.
8.DO: Take time to Take it easy
Be it a non-park day, a midday park break or just 15 minutes of sitting on a bench, this will recharge your batteries.
9.-DO: Take advantage of the first hour
Most days all of the parks officially open at 9am. That first hour is golden, if at all possible be at the park 30 minutes before opening and you will be able to accomplish a lot.
10.DO: Check the official calendar regularly
Walt Disney World can add hours to the evenings or even open the parks earlier depending on crowd expectations. Make sure that after having your days planned, to go back on a regular basis and check the operating times. They have also added nighttime shows, like a second Fantasmic! Or Rivers Of Light as late as a day before or day of.
11.DO: If staying on site take advantage of Extra Magic Hours
Especially the morning EMH, like that first hour of park opening, this will be the best time to ride attractions with minimum wait. Not so much evening EMH.
To sum up: Have a clear budget, a clear plan but don’t over plan and take time to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.
For the next blog post I’ll be talking about visiting the parks with babies and small children.
See you real soon…Julie