So you’ve decided you want to visit Disney World? Congrats! Disney is a great vacation destination for the young and old a like. However, for first time visitors, planning a trip to Disney can be overwhelming. There’s so much to see and do that it can be heard to figure out where to even start your planning. Before you book your vacation ask these eight questions:
1. What time of year do I want to go?
The first thing you have to ask yourself before planning a Disney vacation is what time of year you want to visit. There are pros and cons for going at different times and there are lots of factors to consider including weather, crowd levels, and events going on. For example, at Christmas time the parks are all decorated and the weather is mild, but there are heavy crowds. Whereas in January the parks are less crowded, the weather is nice, but the parks tend to close earlier than normal because its slow season.
2. What is my budget?
The next piece to consider is what your budget is. Are you looking for to go all out or do you have a more modest budget? Depending on time of year, resort, travel expenses, how many people are in your travel party and ticket options prices range. Before planning your trip is sure to figure out how much you would like to spend so you know what your limits are.
3. How will I travel there?
For many guests, there is significant travel involved in getting to and from Disney. Flying and driving are the most popular options but only you can determine which option is best for your family. Some guests like the ease of flying into Orlando International Airport and being picked up by the Magical Express while others prefer to drive and have their own vehicle available. Both options have pros and cons so be sure to weigh your options carefully.
(Side note: in order to use the Magical Express you must fly into Orlando International Airport and be staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.)
4. Where do I want to stay?
Once you have figured out when you are going, how much you wish to spend, and how you will get there its time to think about where you will stay. Many guests choose to stay on property to take advantage of Disney transportation, the Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours (extended park hours for resort guests only), and being right near the parks. While other guests choose to stay off site. To accommodate every guest Disney has three tiers of resorts: value, moderate, and deluxe. If you are looking for a simple room to sleep the values are great options. If you prefer a bigger space or are traveling with a party of five, consider a moderate or deluxe hotel. Disney owned resorts include transportation, food and beverage offerings, pools, use of the Magical Express, and Extra Magic Hours.
5. What ticket package do I want?
Disney also offers different ticket packages for you and your family to enjoy the parks. There are two types of tickets: base tickets and park hoppers. Base tickets will allow you to visit one park per a day. For example, if on the first day of your trip you go to Magic Kingdom you cannot leave and go to Epcot without buying a separate ticket. Park hoppers allow you to travel from park to park without buying another ticket. Park hoppers are an additional cost, but if your family plans to do multiple parks a day it is definitely worth it!
6. Should I get the dining plan?
Another thing to consider is the dining plan. If you’re stay at a Disney resort you have the choice to add a dining plan, which gives each person in your travel party a set allotment of meals and snacks which are prepaid for. This is a great option if you eat a majority of your meals on property because you just use your magic band and then you do not want to carry cash or cards. There are three dining plans- the Quick-Service Dining Plan, the Standard Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. The quick-service plan gives each person in your party a resort refillable mug, two quick-service meals, and a snack each day. This is a good option for guests who do not plan to do table service meals. If you plan on eating at table service locations you should consider the Standard Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan. The Standard Dining plan gives each person one quick-service meal a day, one table-service meal a day, one snack a day, and a resort refillable mug. The Deluxe Dining Plan gives each person three meals (quick-service or table-service) a day, two snacks a day, and one resort refillable mug. None of the dining plans include tips so be prepared to pay tips with cash, card, or room charge. Different guests have different needs, so be sure to think about how much and where your family plans to eat.
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7. What restaurants should I make reservations for?
If you choose to use the dining plan, or pay for meals out of pocket at table-service locations you’ll need to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s for short) for the locations you which to eat. There are tons of table-service locations, making sure there is something for everyone. For guests staying at Disney resorts these reservations can be made 180 days out. But don’t fret if you can’t get the location you wanted! Cancellations do happen so check back if you didn’t get the one you wanted.
8. What FastPass reservations should I make?
While you can’t book FastPasses until your sixty days out (for resort guests), in my opinion, it’s never too soon to think about what attractions you’ll FastPass! If you’re a first time guest you may not know what each attraction includes so be sure to read or watch Youtube videos so you know what to expect, especially if traveling with children. Another thing to keep in mind is height requirements if you have children, you don’t want to book a FastPass for your family if not everyone can ride. Each guest with a park ticket gets three initial FastPasses a day, which you can make online, through the My Disney Experience app, or at the parks. Once you use those three you can make more FastPasses one at a time.
While planning a Disney trip can seem overwhelming by thinking about these eight things you’ll have a perfect trip planned in no time!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
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