When people think of Disney many people don’t even want to go. They hear about what a nightmare Disney World is – It is too crowded – It is too expensive. This may be the case if you want to just show up, purchase tickets at the gate and have absolutely no idea of what you want to do when you get into the park.
I remember going as a kid and being able to ride Big Thunder Mountain over and over without having to get off. My family liked Hoop-De-Doo so much we booked again for the next night. We ran around Canada without another soul in sight.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that anymore. There is no slow time. There will always be A LOT of people in Disney World, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go and have a GREAT Time! You just need to do a little research and a little planning. With new technology you can plan your parks, your dining and even when you want to ride certain attractions in advance. For those of you who are overwhelmed by everything you need to do, don’t give up! Here at As You Wish Vacations we will walk you through five easy steps to make planning easy!
- Decide When To Go – I can’t tell you how many people ask me when the best time to go to Disney World is. Honestly, there is no best time to go. With all of the Disney planning sites out there, there is no slow season. Disney also tries padding slower times with special events to get more people in the parks. We will talk more about choosing the best time for your family next week but some of things you need to consider are your budget, kids’ school schedules, weather and events.
- Decide What You’re Going To Do When You Get There – I know it seems like we are jumping the gun but trust me, you need to do some research before you go any further. There is so much to do, and every family does Disney a little different. Depending on the parks and attractions you want to visit, you may find certain hotels and resorts are much more convenient. Knowing what you want to do will also help us determine how long you should stay. Disney World itself has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and a ton of other activities. Then there is the rest of the Orlando area. Do you want to spend some time in Universal Studios or Sea World or Legoland or Busch Gardens or the Outlets? We need to determine the type and length of Disney Park ticket you are looking for. This is why I encourage my clients to schedule what I call an intake call. This call will help me get a feel for your family, your vacation style and your priorities.
- Decide Where You Want to Stay – First you’ll have to decide whether to stay at an official Disney resort, or at a nearby “off-property” resort. When I say off-property this means that it is not a resort owned and operated by Disney. Some are quite close and a small handful are physically on Disney owned land. Others say they are near Disney property but that could mean miles and miles from the theme parks. We will talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each in an upcoming video. You can have an excellent vacation staying either on or off property.
- Decide where you would like to EAT – This is always my favorite part of any vacation but especially my Disney vacation. There are over 300 restaurants on Disney property alone plus hundreds more in the Orlando area. Reservations for all Disney table service restaurants is strongly recommended. For some of their more popular locations and character meals you want to book those reservations far in advance. The booking window for ADRs or Advanced Dining Reservations as Disney calls them opens 180 days in advance. There are a handful of dining experiences that typically book that full sixth months in advance but there is a no-show penalty so people are cancelling reservations all the time so with some persistence and flexibility you can usually get in. This is one of the advantages of booking with an agent we will make the ADRs for you as soon as the window opens or as soon as you book if it is within six months and I will check daily for any reservations we weren’t able to get. Once we find out availability and what your meals look like we can discuss if a dining plan would be a good option if you did not already add it when you were booking.
- Decide Which Attractions You Want to Experience – This will determine which park you go to on what day and a very loose schedule for what attractions you will visit. A few years ago Disney introduced FP+ which is free for all Disney guests. It allows you to schedule in advance your must do attractions to save you time in line. One of the perks to staying on Disney property is that you can make your Fastpasses up to 60 days in advance the booking window for all other guests opens at 30 days. There are many attractions that offer FP+ which don’t typically acquire long lines so it is important to understand the popularity of attractions so that you can use your Fastpasses to truly optimize your time in the parks and of course I can help you with that. Once we know what times we were able to make your Fastpasses for I can then make recommendations on the order you should approach the other attractions to avoid the crowds. A lot of people plan their days down to the minute which can get a little crazy. I definitely think you need a plan so you aren’t wasting time in the middle of the park with the map out deciding what to do next but I think flexibility is really important.
If you are booking through an agent the quoting process begins after Step 3. If I get a really good feel for your family during the intake call it is just checking availability and finding the best value for your budget. If you just want to get going and want to see some pricing before an intake call I usually start with three options at varying price points. We can then narrow down based on availability and budget. There will be a few rounds of quoting multiple options until we find the right fit
So Those are the 5 steps to planning a disney vacation! Now pack your bags and have a Magical Vacation!