Walt Disney World & World Travels

Planning a Disney Trip

Posted on: June 13, 2010

Thinking it’s time to take the kids to Disney World?  Easy right?  Of course, but this isn’t just your run of the mill trip, it’s Disney World.  There’s a lot of planning to do.    You have to research the resorts….and the different types of resorts: Deluxe, Moderate, Value and Deluxe Villas.  What time of year should you go, and how much of a difference does that make in price?  What about crowds?  If I go at a lower priced season, should I upgrade my resort?   Then once you pick your resort or at least resort type; you think about when & how long of a trip.  What kind of tickets (Magic Your Way Base Tickets or Park Hoppers) and do you add the water parks or not?  Oh and then someone at work mentioned that their cousin just got back from Disney and had some special dining thing.

That’s about the point that many people decide their kid doesn’t really need to go to Disney World and they’ll  just go back to the beach for their annual family vacation.

Don’t give up on the idea of that magical Disney vacation!  It’s a special trip, and deserves to be planned carefully but it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.  There are tons of books available at book stores & at libraries.  Of course there are roughly a gazillion Disney fan sites with information.  My recommendation with the fan sites is that like all things in life, moderation is the key.  A little bit of info is good, but too much can make you insane.   Of course, I always recommend finding a travel agent that specializes in Disney travel.  Check around, you’re not likely to find a difference in price (Disney trips cost the same booked direct through Disney or through an Authorized Disney Travel Planner) but you want someone that is a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge and has a lot of experience planning Disney trips and personally traveling to Disney.

With my clients, I like to start with the vacation planner that Disney sends out.  I show them the different type resorts, and the individual resorts in the categories.  If they love to fish, want a calm but pretty resort, not too expensive; I might focus on Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.  This Moderate Resort even has a good old fashioned fishin’ hole.  The client that wants queen size beds, nice restaurants, maybe a fitness center and wants to be close to the parks would be a perfect fit for a Deluxe resort.  Now we just find the one that appeals the most.  It really comes down to personal preferences, a great resort for 1 person may not be the right fit for another.  This is your vacation, pick the resort that fits you (not your cousin, or next door neighbor).

Next we’ll work on when to travel.  Most of the time, you’re going to have a specific time of year in mind because that is what works best for your schedule.  As a Disney travel planner, I’m going to help find the best deals available at that time and the least crowds for you.  If you’re interested in certain events, I’ll make sure that you don’t miss out on Star Wars weekends or the International Food & Wine festival by a day or week.  If you’re considering several different times, I’ll be able to identify the pluses & minuses of each for you.  For young children, going in the early/mid fall (after school has started) or early/mid-spring (before school gets out) are great times to go.  The crowds (and prices) are lower, and the weather is very comfortable.  Teenagers generally can’t miss as much school due to exams and High School athletics, so you may have to go at a busier time of year.   You may think that going in July will be awful, but it can be a great time to take teenagers.  Teens love to sleep in, we all know it so it’s easier to work around it.  The parks will be packed with small children during the day and it will get hot.  The parks tend to empty in the evening (especially after a rain storm) and the parks are generally open late (sometimes until 2 or 3am), the perfect time of day for teens.  My point is, even if you’re going during the busiest week of the year (Christmas), there are ways to plan your days so that you can enjoy your vacation, not be miserable.

Once the resort and dates are picked, the real fun begins.  This is when you start looking at park schedules and making your dining reservations.  I know what you’re thinking, “we don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight, how do I know what I’m going to want in 180 days?!”   One of the the things that helps me with that, is the idea that this is a special meal; not just Tuesday night dinner.  Knowing that you’re going somewhere where you’ll be eating with Cinderella or at an African Lodge makes a big difference; at least for my family.  I like to look at the park hours and start planning which day(s) I want to go to each park.  Then based on that, I start making the advanced dining reservations.  I  know that if I do want to eat with Cinderella or have dinner at LeCellier in Canada at Epcot; I need to make those reservations 180 days out.  These are popular places, and with the popularity of the dining plan you can’t just walk up to most restaurants and expect to get a table at all, let alone without a 2 hour wait.   There’s that Dining Plan again, the one your cousin mentioned after their trip.  Disney offers several dining plan options.  These dining plans allow you to pre-pay for your meals while you’re at Disney World.  It’s a great way to budget your trip, and it’s convenient.  I’ll write about the dining plan details in a seperate post.  Once I get the “most important” reservations made, I fill in the rest of the schedule making adjustments as needed.

Having someone that has been to Disney World multiple times and knows the parks & resorts to help you plan your trip will make it much easier.  Just remember, this is a vacation, not work!   Do the proper planning before you go and then relax & enjoy your magical vacation.

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