Planning your Disney vacation is almost like the start of the vacation itself. Going through restaurants, deciding which Fastpasses to get, what color Magic Band you’ll use; they all add to the excitement that soon you’ll be in the most magical place on Earth. Before you get to that stage, however, there are a few things you must know before you start planning your Disney vacation.
8. Your Budget
Yes, the most non-magical component of your trip must be dealt with before you do anything else. Knowing what your budget is before you start planning will outline the decisions you make for the rest of the trip. It determines how long your stay can be, what hotels you can book, and how much you’ll be able to spend on souvenirs. Decide on a number and stick to it. Check out “24 Tips For Doing Disney on a Budget.”
7. Special Offers
A great way to work within your budget and get the most out of the trip is to check the Special Offers that can be found on the Disney websites. Discounts on tickets and hotel stays along with free Dining Plans are offered during select times of the year. Knowing when these special offers apply and for which hotels, as sometimes they can limited, can help you decide when to travel and where to stay. Without this information, you could be planning to spend more than you need to.
6. Anticipated Weather
While you won’t know months in advance exactly what the weather will be like for your trip, you should have an idea of usual weather patterns. For example, how cold it can get in the winter and how hot in the summer, or when hurricane season hits. Some months tend to be rainier than others. It’s good to know before you plan so you can be prepared and choose a time of year that works best for you.
5. Special Events
If you’d like to see something different besides the usual attractions and shows, Disney Parks offer special events like the festivals in Epcot, the Christmas and Halloween parties in Magic Kingdom, or Star Wars Weekends. Dates for these events are announced throughout the year in advance so you can schedule your trip for a special occasion. The parks tends to be busier during these time periods, but these events draw crowds for a reason.
4. Hotel Amenities
Before you book anything, take the time to browse through all your hotel options. Learn the difference between a Value and a Moderate or a Deluxe versus a Deluxe Vila. If you don’t plan on staying at the hotel for very long, a Value Resort would work for you. If you plan on spending more time there, or would like to cook your own food, you’ll need to choose one of the more expensive resorts. It’s also a good idea to look at where each hotel is located if you plan on visiting one park more than the others.
3. Transportation Options
You have a few choices on how you can get around the parks once you’re on Disney property. Buses can provide transportation to and from every hotel and the parks. Some hotels also offer boat and monorail services. It’s important to know how you’ll get around from place to place so you can account for travel time. There’s also the option of renting a car which comes with an additional cost and parking fees. However, you can utilize Disney’s free Magical Express bus service to and from the airport and avoid having to drive your entire trip. Know before you really get into your planning how you’ll be getting around. Check out “Boats, Monorails and Busses Oh My! 4 Things You Need to Know About Disney Transportation.”
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2. Extra Magic Hours
For those staying on Disney property, guests have access to Extra Magic Hours that allow them to be in the park before opening or after closing. Not every park has Extra Magic Hours every day, so it’s important to know which ones you’d like to take advantage of and when the hours are offered. Then you can plan which park to visit on which day of your trip.
1. Renovations and Closures
The number one thing you must know before you start planning is the renovation and attraction closure schedule. This information can be found on a number of websites including the Disney Parks Blog. If there’s a particular attraction you have your heart set on riding, but it will be under routine maintenance and closed while you’re there, you’re out of luck. Knowing ahead of time allows you to plan your trip around these closure and ensure you can experience your favorite attractions. This also applies to hotels that are undergoing expansions or general renovations and might have construction noise during the day.
Do your research before you start picking dates and Fastpasses. You can certainly have a spontaneous Disney vacation once you’re there, but knowing what to expect can save you from some unexpected costs and some unwanted frustration.
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