4. Decide where to stay & Book your travel
Deciding where to stay can be tricky, especially if you are budget-conscious. Staying off site can help families save money, but you’ll want to factor the cost of a rental car, parking, and other expenses into your decision. Staying on-site, however, does afford you certain “perks” that may be worth it to your family. Transportation around the entire Walt Disney World resort via bus, boat, monorail, and skyliner, is very convenient for on-site guests.
Another perk is the Extra Magic Hours- extended morning or evening park hours for guests staying on-site. On-site guests can also utilize the Magical Express shuttle from the Orlando International Airport, free of charge. If you do opt to stay at a Disney resort, you’ll find choices in three price categories: Value resorts, Moderate resorts, and Deluxe resorts. Each category offers different amenities, but they all provide high levels of theming and Disney touches throughout. Once your dates and locations are set, be sure to purchase your airfare or plot out your driving plan. If you’re staying at a Disney resort and flying into Orlando International Airport, be sure to call Disney to set up your Magical Express shuttle.
5. Talk to your traveling party & set an itinerary
There’s really something to be said for considering the needs and desires of your traveling party as you create an itinerary. While you may enjoy the idea of “winging it”, having an idea of which park you will visit each day will not only help you plan your FastPasses and dining, but it will also help you wasting time deciding which park to go to each morning. You’ll want to sit with your family or group and discuss everyone’s preferences. A typical family with children might want to spend 2 days in the Magic Kingdom and 1 day at each of the other 3 main theme parks, whereas a group of young adults may prefer Hollywood Studios (more thrills) and Epcot (food and wine!).
Get specific with your family about what each person wants to do. Prioritize each person’s “must-do” activity, because you’ll never squeeze everything in. You may also be surprised to hear from children that their favorite activities from vacations past were “playing in the room” (that new Cars toy might be more exciting than the Jungle Cruise) and swimming at the resort pool. Case in point- my little one talks often about playing a carnival game in Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland area- something we could easily do at a local boardwalk. This is common among most children, so be sure to plan in some resort time for them.
6. Get Tickets
Once your dates are set and you know how many park days you will have, you’ll want to choose what tickets make the most sense for you. Tickets vary in price based on travel dates. Do you need a park hopper, or will you visit one park per day? How many park days do you want to have? Are you late risers who might benefit from a Mid-Day Magic ticket? There are many options, and they change often, so consult with the Disney website for current offerings. Keep in mind that the longer you stay, the cheaper each park entrance becomes. The cost of adding a 5th, 6th, or 7th park day is much less than the difference between shorter ticket packages. When you purchase tickets, you’ll also be able to link them to your My Disney Experience account.