So you want to go to Disney? YAY! Of course the first thing you do is Google “Disney World” and immediately see there’s a great big world of Disney out there! So you go to Disney’s website, right? And there you see all the magical things you can do – eat in Cinderella’s Castle, watch it snow on Main Street at Christmastime, see the best fireworks shows in the world! And then you start to panic, because you realize that planning this trip can be overwhelming – resort choices, park passes, dining reservations, FastPass ride reservations, OH MY! Suddenly you don’t know where to even begin. So, my friend, I’m going to give you some handy tips to get you on your way to the Happiest Place on Earth.
1. Call a travel agent who specializes in Disney. (Me! Me! Me!) Disney World is a vast entity and is constantly changing. You want an agent who visits Disney World regularly and who stays up-to-date on all the changes and how they could affect your trip. When you work with me, we build a trip full of magical memories to help make your family’s Disney dream vacation become a reality and it doesn’t cost you anything to use my services! Disney knows planning can be overwhelming, so they pay me to work with you without passing that cost on to you. So you pay the same prices booking through me as you would booking with Disney yourself, but you get all my expertise and I do all the work for you!
2. The first thing you will need to figure out is when you want to travel. Traveling when kids are in school is your best bet when you are looking for low crowds and the best rates. If you have to travel during peak season, then you need to decide what factors are more important to you – cost, crowd levels, how hot it will be, etc. Check out this chart for a general idea about the best times to visit. Crowd Calendar
3. Once you pick when you want to go, then you’ll want to pick where you want to stay. There are lots of benefits to staying at a Disney resort, and you can read all about those on a previous blog (Benefits of Staying on Disney Property). There are 4 different categories at Disney resorts: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. There is more to think about when choosing a resort than just the cost. Below are a few factors to consider when choosing your resort:
Room Size and Bed Type
How important is elbow room to your family? A typical Value Resort room is 260 square feet and standard rooms can accommodate 4 people. There are a few Family Suite options at the Value Resort level that will accommodate 6 people. A key difference between Value Resorts and the rest are that Value Resorts have double beds instead of Queen or King bedding options. Moderate Resort rooms are about 314 square feet and sleep 4-5 people, while Deluxe rooms are 344-440 square feet and accommodate 4 or 5 people. The Deluxe Villa Resorts have Studios, and 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom villas for up to 12 people. All of these rooms can also accommodate one additional child under age 3 in a crib.
Using Disney’s transportation makes getting around the parks easy and hassle-free. Each resort has different modes of transportation and can affect how much time you spend waiting or how far you have to walk to get to a bus stop. The Deluxe Resorts on the monorail loop are the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, and the Polynesian. This means you can hop on the monorail at the resort. The monorail will take you directly to Magic Kingdom or Epcot and is the fastest way to get around Disney World. The Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary are the only resorts with walking paths to the Magic Kingdom. The Boardwalk Inn and the Beach and Yacht Clubs have a walking path to the entry of the World Showcase area (the International Gateway) of Epcot. These factors make these Deluxe Resorts the most convenient options.
All resorts have bus service to the parks. The larger resorts will have more people, which could mean more time spent waiting in line for buses. Of the Value Resorts, I prefer Pop Century because it has a dedicated bus line and only makes internal bus stops. The All-Star resorts make stops not just within the resort, but also at the other All-Star resorts as well. Traveling by bus is the only mode of transportation available at the Value Resorts. All of the Deluxe Resorts feature additional ways to navigate the property – either by boat, monorail or walking paths. Some of the Moderate Resorts feature boat access to some areas as well.
If you are wanting a resort that offers a table-service meal, then you will want to look to the Moderate or Deluxe Resorts. The Value Resorts have only the Food-Court option. Moderate Resorts have the Quick-Service Food Courts, as well as a causal dining restaurant. The Deluxe Resorts feature the most options with Quick-Service dining, character dining options at many of the them, as well as room service and at least one table-service option.
All of the resorts have pools. The Value Resort pools do not have water slides, while the Moderate and Deluxe Resort pools have water slides and splash pads.
4. Next you’ll need to decide whether you want the dining plan, what type of ticket you will need and how many days you will need tickets for. A good travel agent can help you with these decisions as there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer for any of them.
Obviously there’s a lot of information to think about when planning a Disney trip! You can get lots of advice from friends, but that advice will be what worked for their family. Why not get with an agent who can help you decide what will work best for your family? I’d love to lighten the planning load for you!