Do Disney Right...Tips that Save Time, Money and Tears
Planning your Disney trip can be overwhelming, especially if it is your family's first time visiting the park. Disney can be a magical experience, but if not planned properly, it can also be very stressful. I have planned countless trips to Disney, my family and I experience many happy memories even during the holidays. However I teamed up with Disney expert and travel extraordinaire to provide you with the best possible tips, and we guarantee if you follow our tips and organized agenda you will be skipping right alongside Mickey and his gang.
There are many things to plan for your Disney trip so that is why I put together my planning guide which helps you make the most magical experience out of your family’s Walt Disney World vacation. Theses are some tips that I have learned along the way while planning many trips to Disney World. However, if this is the first Disney trip or even your third I would strongly recommend going with a knowledgeable Disney expert. Cassandra is one of the best in her industry and you can find her credentials and contact information below.
The first thing you want to think is what time of year should I plan my trip?
1.Deciding when to visit: (Best times of year)
A great time of year is mid-November through mid-December (except the week of Thanksgiving). The weather is usually cool (you may need to pack some sweatshirts), the Christmas decorations are up, lots of special events, and the crowds are usually moderate.
Another great time of year is the second week of January through mid-February. Crowds are smaller and you’ll find the temperature cooler. However, you have to keep in mind that many of the rides may be closed for refurbishment. The first week of January can be busy due to long holiday vacations. The Walt Disney World Marathon takes place at this time of year as well which can attract large crowds. Avoid any holiday weekends.
First three weeks of May is also a good time of year. The weather is warm in May, but not unbearable, like mid-summer. This time in May is usually a little cheaper and not as crowded. Memorial Day weekend will be more crowded, but often not as bad as you might expect.
Late August and the entire month of September (even Labor Day weekend), is extremely hot, and this is usually peak hurricane season. When we went during this time of year, we took afternoons off and visited the Disney water parks so our kids could swim.
Anytime, you visit Disney during major holidays is when the parks attract significant crowds! My advice would be to stay away from holiday weekends, or any major holidays for that matter. Also, keep in mind during major holidays prices increase significantly.
2. Where to Stay:
The Value Resorts are the most economical hotels at Disney. They are the All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, Art of Animation and Pop Century. I have stayed at all of them and personally, we love the Pop Century.
The prices can range from $96 to $191 a night depending on travel dates. Suites are more expensive.
The moderate resorts are Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, Fort Wilderness Campground and Fort Wilderness Cabins. I have stayed at the Fort Wilderness Cabins, and the Caribbean Beach Resort.
$182 to $315 depending on travel dates.
The deluxe resorts are Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club Resort. I have never stayed at the Deluxe Resorts, but we did a character breakfast at the Polynesian and it was a great experience.
$325 to $3k+ depending on travel dates.
Some other things to consider:
Value resorts only offer a cafeteria-style restaurant. What we usually do instead is the character breakfasts (I will give my recommendations a little later), or we make reservations to sit down restaurants at the actual parks.
All the resorts have pools and have outdoor areas, but the considerable difference is that the value resorts do not water have water slides and the moderate and deluxe resorts do have water slides. The value resorts pools are very nice though, and this is another reason we personally love the Disney Pop Century Resort, their pool is my favorite out of all the value resorts.
One of our favorite things is to watch Disney movies under the stars. Most, if not all the Disney Resorts have movies under the stars. My personal favorite for this is Disney’s Beach Club Resort. You don’t have to be a guest at that resort, and you can still enjoy the movies. At the Beach Club, the movie screen is literally on the beach, just off the Boardwalk area. You can’t miss it! To find out the movie times, stop at the Concierge Desk at the Beach Club, or ask at the front desk of your resort.
Art classes at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Being the most animated resort on property, Art of Animation offers free animation classes at various times. These are free, and open to everyone! What a fun way to spend the afternoon, out of the Florida heat and enjoying a free animation class!
All resorts provide transportation to the parks and to other resorts either through bus service, monorail, and even ferry.
All resorts provide merchandise delivery from the parks to the room.
3. Planning your days:
Planning your days out with an itinerary can help you stay organized and allow you to make reservations for dining. Getting an idea of which days, you are going to be in what park can also help you minimize your time spent in lines by planning your fast pass for the more popular attractions.
Which rides should you plan on using the Fast Pass: But first what is fast pass?
Disney FastPass service allows you to reserve access to select Disney Theme Park rides and shows before you even arrive so that you can spend less time in line and more time enjoying shows, character Greetings, and parades and let’s not forget Disney’s many spectacular fireworks shows.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Storytime with Belle
Peter Pan Flight
Thunder Mountain Railroad
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Pirates of the Caribbean
Fantastic - This is probably the best show at Disney (In my opinion)
Frozen Sing a Long
Toy Story Mania
Tower of Terror
Rock n Roller Coaster
Beauty and the Beast show
Finding Nemo show
Lion King Show
Kali River Rapids
4. Our top 3 Character Meals
Typically you save when you do a bundle deal with Disney, especially the Disney Dining plan. There are also different times of the year where Disney Dining is free.
Usually, with any sit-down reservations, I always like to recommend either Breakfast or Dinner, and then we typically do a fast meal for lunch. The following our my favorite Character Breakfasts. As soon as book your trip, you should book your dining reservations as soon as possible - they book up fairly quickly.
1. Chef Mickey, it’s located in the Contemporary Resort. This our favorite breakfast to do before we head into the Magic Kingdom, they also offer lunch and dinner. They have all the classic characters from Mickey and the gang. We usually plan this breakfast before we spend the day at the Magic Kingdom.
2. Crystal Palace is located inside Magic Kingdom. If your little ones are fans of Winnie the Pooh and his gang from the Hundred-Acre Woods, they will enjoy the Crystal Palace.
3. Tusker House is located inside the Animal Kingdom. Join Mickey and the gang while getting ready for a safari and an all-star breakfast.
5. What to pack in your Disney bag…….
1. Ponchos - Florida weather can be kind of unpredictable, meaning in one second it can be sunny and then without warning it can start raining. So, my number one item to get ahead of time and pack in your Disney bag is a poncho. Ponchos are available at most dollar stores. Yes, they sell ponchos all over the park. However, I can guarantee you will not get one for $1.00.
2. Smart Phone External Charger – We all use our smartphones to take pictures. How many times have you gone take a picture and your phone is dead…..anyone? Well, you would hate for that to happen and miss one of those magical moments because your battery was dead.
3. Hand Sanitizer – I love Disney but there a ton of cooties to go along with all the magic. Door handles, ride handles, railings, seats you name it - OH MY!
4. Wipes – This is a no brainer, especially if you are traveling with kids.
5. Spare clothes – My son does not like walking around in wet clothes, and this can save you a trip back to the hotel.
6. Sunscreen – This is always a good thing to have in your Disney bag; sun poisoning can easily spoil any vacation. Reapplying can avoid this.
7. Coloring Book and Crayons – This item can be purchased at the dollar store and can great for downtime and keeping your little ones occupied.
8. Autograph book and pens – This comes in handy for all your character breakfasts. They sell this all over the parks, but this can be a DIY project decorating the cover of any small notebook from the dollar store.
9. Bottled Water – It’s no secret that Florida is very humid so you want to make sure that everyone has bottled water with them so they can refill in any of the restaurants.
10. Spray Mister – This comes in handy as you are waiting in line for rides, waiting for a parade to start or even a show especially if you are in the direct sun!
6. Freebies at the Park -
Depending on what time of year you are going to Disney, let's face it, it can get really hot. One thing that you want to take advantage of is the free- complimentary water at all dining locations.
Also, take advantage of the magical express service from the airport.
Are you celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Let's not forget the celebration pins.
I hope my guide helps you and your family have the most magical vacation.....
Let's face it. Disney can be very overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. One thing that I do not recommend is booking your trip on your own it's your first time, I would recommend bringing in an expert, so whom do I recommend? Cassandra Doyle's from Must Love Travel.
Cassandra is a first-class Disney expert who will make your experience as Magical for you as it is for your family. When planning your trip to Disney, you want to make sure that you get the most out of your experience, and Cassandra is the Mouseketeer that can get that done for you.
She is one of the top Disney travel agents in her industry that has a proven track record and awards, and she has helped hundreds of families. She has even landed a spot on the local news station providing giving away all her best travel tips. You can find Cassandra here.
I hope my guide helps you and your family have the most magical vacation.....