Yay! You have decided to go to Walt Disney World and have picked the perfect time for your family. There are still a few other steps before we can book your vacation. The next thing we need to figure out is what you want to do when you get here. It may seem like I am skipping a step – I mean we haven’t talked about where you want to stay yet . Before you can do that I highly recommend doing a little research on your must dos so we can better determine where the best place to stay for you is.
If you have been following the series I am sure you are going to see a trend here. The right amount of time completely depends on you and your family. Most websites will give you a blanket recommendation of 5 – 7 days. This may not be the right amount of time for you though. This is why using an agent is so important. Once I get to know about your travel party and your must dos I can recommend that appropriate amount of time. Here are some things to think about:
How long you should stay at Walt Disney World depends largely upon the type of trip it is. If you’re not much of a Disney fan but are taking your kids on a “once in a lifetime” rite of passage trip, how long you should stay is dramatically different from how long a Disney fan who goes over and over again should stay. Of course your length will vary a bit depending upon how much vacation time you have and if you plan on visiting non-Disney theme parks or destinations.
If it is a longer trip and you are able to I recommend building in a day for relaxation, and this is good to plug into the middle of your trip so you don’t get worn out by the theme parks. The other consideration for planning trips to Walt Disney World might be how much time to spend doing other things. You might want to do Orlando-area theme parks like Universal Studios Florida (including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), SeaWorld, or Busch Gardens. Or maybe you want to visit the beach, or visit local outlet malls…or swim with manatees. I think you get the point here there is a lot to do in Central Florida!
There’s also other stuff at Walt Disney World besides the theme parks to consider when planning how many days you spend there. This “other stuff” at Walt Disney World consists of Disney Springs, golf, restaurants, water parks, and more. If any of this interests you at all you may want to consider some extra time.
There are several factors you might consider when planning the duration of your trip:
- Amount of time available for travel – Maybe you only get a certain amount of time off OR you have a schedule that allows for a specific number of days. Great! That makes this decision easy and I can help you work on a perfect park plan for making the most out of those days.
- Budget allocation – In terms of tickets more day does not necessarily mean more money but that doesn’t take hotel & food costs into account. Maybe your budget dictates that you can only afford to stay certain number of days. We can talk about if you willing to stretch your budget into a longer trip by compromising on accommodation amenities and location.
- Time of year of your visit – f your vacation is restricted to one of the busier times, the larger the crowds the longer it’s going to take to accomplish what you want at Walt Disney World. Decide if crowd levels create a need for you to stay longer. Also check the special events calendar I posted last week to see if there are special events that may influence the length of your stay. For example, if you stay one extra day, you might have the opportunity to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Or, because you’re traveling during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, you might want an extra day at that park.
- Age/Stamina of the members of your traveling party – This is especially important for families with toddlers or multi-generational trips with seniors. Babies/ Toddlers may have limited capacity to spend in such an overwhelming environment. For seniors you my want to take things at a slower pace and extend the trip with rest days. Also if you are not early risers and are restricted to touring the parks in the crowded afternoon you may want some extra time. These considerations all need to be factored into how long you’ll need in the parks.
- Your frequency of travel to Walt Disney World – I often make 2-3 trips to Walt Disney World in a year. With such frequent visits, I know that if I don’t go on a favorite ride this time, I’ll have a chance again soon. This means that short trips are often fine with me. However, if this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or even if you only visit once every several years, then adding a few days to accomplish more may make sense for you.
- Number of “must do” attractions for your family – If your travel party is all has similar ages there may be a large overlap in their park touring interests. Maybe this is a first trip for just your toddler or preschooler and you want to focus on what they are interested in keeping the list of must-do attractions quite small. However, if you have a large age range or both boys and girls in your family, your list of key attractions may be longer. If you have to meet every princess AND ride all the mountains then you may need a longer vacation to get everyone they need.
- Distance from which you’re traveling – Most folks like to spend more of their precious time off actually enjoying their vacation vs. traveling to and from their vacation. Does your lengthy drive take a few days of your allotted vacation time? Or are you coming to Florida from somewhere like Europe, you may want to consider taking a longer visit to Walt Disney World. This keeps the ratio of travel to trip balanced in the right direction.
- Interest in non-theme-park activities –Walt Disney World is a HUGE place. In addition to the four major theme parks, there are also dozens of non-park activities: spas, mini-golf, water parks, waterskiing, parasailing, fishing, shopping, exploring the resorts, dining, dancing, shows, a tethered balloon ride, tennis, horseback riding, behind-the-scenes tours, bike rentals, and on and on. If you want to experience these types of amenities, you’ll need a longer trip.
- Interest in time for relaxation – A Disney World vacation has the potential to be both fun and exhausting. You often need a vacation from your vacation. Many folks walk five, or more miles per day just visiting park attractions – I did a consistent 13 miles per day on my last trip — maybe I could do that half marathon 😉 Consider your family’s need for unplanned downtime on a vacation. If you’d like to take a mid-trip day to lounge at the pool, factor that into the length of your stay.
- Interest in visiting other Central Florida attractions – While I’m a Disney girl at heart, I also LOVE Harry Potter. On your Disney vacations, you may want to plan side-trips to Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Your family may be interested in Sea World, Orlando’s outlet shopping, the new LEGOLAND near Tampa, Kennedy Space Center, a beach visit, or any number of other non-Disney attractions. Add time to your trip if you plan on experiencing other nearby attractions.
- Do you need time at home at either end of your trip to pack/unpack? – When I return from a vacation, I like to come home to a spotless house. For me it is important to take a day or two before my vacation to pack and clean so I am less stressed when I return. For you you may want to add a day on the end to unpack your suitcases, do all the laundry and catch up on errands like grocery shopping. Both options may impact how long you’ll be able to be at Walt Disney World.
So you can see that a blanket recommendation could be completely wrong depending on the profile of guest. Try to disregard the multitude of “self proclaimed experts on the internet and work with an agent to create the travel plan that’s right for your specific needs. Contact me if you want to start planning your vacation.