Best Way to Budget for Disney

Want to know the easiest way to save money for your dream Disney trip? It’s really easy – plan ahead! It’s like a virtual layaway plan!

Let me explain….You can book Disney World trips more than a year in perfect castleadvance. This means that you can make payments, on your own terms, for over a year! All you need to get started is a $200 deposit, which is fully refundable until 30 days from your travel date. And any payments you make toward that trip are refundable as well (with the exception of travel insurance premiums). So you can pay a little each week or once a month – whatever works best for you.

Right now you can book trips through the end of 2018. Sometime this summer, Disney will release bookings through the end of 2019, in case you really want to plan ahead! (And with the coming Star Wars Land set to open in 2019, you just might want to plan really far ahead!)

Another reason planning ahead saves you money – I watch for discounts that will save you money. If you already have a trip booked, I automatically apply that discount to your trip, assuming there is availability, which means you’re first in line on discount release days. And it costs you nothing to use my services when you stay at a Disney resort. Disney knows that planning a trip can be overwhelming so they pay me to assist you without passing that cost on to you. I help you determine which resort, park ticket, dining plan, etc., will work best for your family’s needs.

If a Disney cruise is what you’re planning for – you can book those even further in advance. And Disney rewards cruisers who plan ahead. Disney cruises are priced similarly to hotel rooms – the more full the sailing becomes, the more expensive it is to get a stateroom.

So, what are you waiting for? Bet you didn’t know it could be this easy! All you have to do is contact me – fill out the no-obligation quote request form, email or call me. Whatever works best for you! I promise to make planning your Disney trip simple – all you have to do is pack a bag!

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email, call/text 501.772.3137 or send a FaceBook message! REQUEST A NO-OBLIGATION QUOTE: Request a Quote

Aren’t You Glad it Wasn’t You?

Friends, today has been a DAY. A not-so-magical kind of day. And it’s only 9 a.m. I’m sure you know what I mean – I’m having an “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” kind of day. The kind where, by 9 a.m., you’re ready to call it, climb back in bed and sleep until tomorrow kind of day. And it’s days like today that would make you really happy to have a travel agent who specializes in Disney working for you.

Technology can be such a magnificent thing. It can be your friend – when it wants to be. This morning started like most others – I got up at 4:45 a.m. so I could be online to beat the rush to book the dining reservations my clients covet at the earliest possible hour (5 a.m. 180 days from the first day of their trip.) I should have known it was going to go poorly when I realized I was out of Diet Dr. Pepper at 4:45. It’s my coffee people and I need it.

Despite the lack of caffeine, I fired up my laptop, sat down with my clients’ reservation plans all mapped out and ready to go and right at 5 a.m. I pushed the “Search” button. And It. Didn’t. Work. So I kept trying. For an hour. At which point I promptly called the dining reservation line when it opened at 6 a.m. to book reservations by talking to an actual person (the horror!) I waited on hold. For a long time. And then I got disconnected. So I got back in line on hold. And proceeded to get the kids out the door, drove them to school and decided to make a quick stop at Walgreens to grab some Diet Dr. Pepper to get me through the morning.

Only there was no Diet Dr. Pepper at Walgreens. Clearly it’s the apocalypse y’all. Get your supplies and seek shelter! So I sulk back home – all the while I’m on hold, listening to the cheerful Disney soundtrack I have memorized. I finally got through to Betty who cheerfully helped me get all my clients reservations taken care of. Over THREE hours after I started the process.


Get the woman a Diet Dr. Pepper!

The lesson to walk away with here – this could have been YOU! If you aren’t using a travel agent like me (and why wouldn’t you since it’s FREE??) you would have been the one rolling out of bed to book your dining reservations and waking up to this craziness. Since you probably have your own job and your own children to tend to, wouldn’t this have been a dreadful way to start planning your trip? Let me take away all of that stress! All it takes is a phone call or an email to get started and then you don’t have to worry about ANY of this. And your day can be MAGICAL!

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email, call/text 501.772.3137 or send a FaceBook message!
GET STARTED HERE: Request a Quote

Disney Trip Planning – Where Do I Start?

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.

Transportation Options
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.

Dining Options
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.

5. Now comes the fun part! Once you’ve booked your trip, then it’s time to start looking at dining choices, ride options and entertainment opportunities. It’s easy to get excited and put the cart before the horse and start planning your dining choices before you have even booked your trip. But to take advantage of early access to dining reservations, you need to get your trip booked before looking at all the fun places to eat! You can begin making your dining reservations up to 180 days before your trip and that date is key for securing reservations at popular restaurants like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s and Be Our Guest.

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!

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email me at, call/text me at 501.772.3137or send me a FaceBook message! REQUEST A NO-OBLIGATION QUOTE:

When To Go To Disney

perfect castle“When is the best time to go to Disney World?” The million-dollar question. And of course, the answer is, it depends.

One of the things I assist my clients with is deciding on the right time for their family to go to Disney World. And that time is different for every family, which is why there is no one perfect answer on the best time to visit Mickey.

There are a few guidelines that I like to use to help people narrow down their choices:

  • Can you take your children out of school? If the answer is yes, then that opens up a whole lot of possibilities! Halloween and Christmas are both magical times at Disney. Mid-October is a great time if you want to get in all the Halloween and Food & Wine Festival activities. And the first two weeks of December have all the magic of Christmas – the giant gingerbread houses, the Christmas party, the Spectacle of Dancing Lights – without the enormous crowds.
  • Is your priority low crowds? Then early September, the end of January and the end of February are great choices. In September, you have to be prepared for afternoon rain showers. And in January/February, you have the risk of it being on the chilly side. These dates are also when it is likely to be less expensive.
  • Do you have to go when kids are out of school? Then you’re looking at peak travel season, so planning is KEY. With proper planning, visiting Disney World during peak season does not mean you will spend the entire time waiting in line! Let me help you plan your trip so you’re not the family at the front of the park looking at the map arguing over which direction to go. If you have to choose between Spring Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Summer, here’s my two cents: Spring Break or Thanksgiving, then Summer, then Christmas if you absolutely must. But know that Christmas is going to be crowded.

No matter when you travel, we can work together to create a magical trip! Have an opinion or favorite time to visit The Most Magical Place On Earth? Share it with us in the comments section!

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email me at, call/text me at 501.772.3137 or
send me a FaceBook message!

The Down-low on the Disney Dining Plan

DiningPlanOne of the most misunderstood things about a Disney trip is also one of the most popular, especially when the word FREE is in front of it. That’s right – the Disney Dining Plan. I’m going to break it down for you, into easy-to-understand chunks.


What Is It?
This perk is offered as part of a package to guests staying at one of Disney’s resorts and can save a family as much as 20 percent on their meals, so when it comes to using your pennies wisely, be sure to take a look at the Dining Plan details. One of the plan’s many benefits is that it gives you the ability to control, on the front end, one of a trip’s most unexpected expenses – dining. You have the ability to “pre-pay” for most of your meals before you ever step foot inside Mickey’s playground.

The Lingo
When reading about the Dining Plan, you will see the words Quick Service, Table Service and Snack, as well as the abbreviations QS and TS.

A “Quick-Service Meal,” (aka QS) is where you place your order and walk to the counter to retrieve it and then find a place to sit. Quick-Service locations do not take dining reservations. The exception to this is a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom, which is considered Quick Service, but the meal is brought to your table.

A “Table-Service Meal,” (aka TS) is where a waiter will take your order and bring your meal to you. These are the restaurants that you plan for in advance by making reservations. Character meals are also Table-Service meals. In an ideal world, I would make these reservations for you at the earliest possible date, which is 180 days prior to your trip date.

A “Snack” can mean many things – examples include a Mickey ice cream bar, a Dole-Whip, or a box of popcorn.

What’s Included
There are actually five dining plans, but for the sake of simplicity, we are going to focus on the three most popular options: the Quick Service Plan, the Standard Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining Plan.

The most popular plan is the Standard Dining Plan, and this is where you get the most bang for your buck. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 1 Quick-Service Meal
  • 1 Table-Service Meal
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

The Deluxe Dining Plan is for the family who wants to really concentrate on all the great food there is to eat at Disney World. I don’t recommend this plan if you are planning a short trip or if you don’t want to sit down and eat at a Table-Service restaurant at least twice a day. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 3 Meals (any combination)
  • 2 Snacks
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

Last is the Quick-Service Dining Plan. The Quick-Service plan is for the family who is on the go and doesn’t intend to sit down and eat at the many Table-Service restaurants Disney offers. This plan includes the following for each person over age 3, for each night of your stay:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals
  • 1 Snack
  • Refillable Drink Mug (for use at your resort only)

What’s Not Included:

  • Gratuity (this is automatically calculated for parties of more than 6 people)
  • Items that are in souvenir cups or containers
  • Special Dining Events, such as fireworks dessert parties

How It Works
Here’s the nifty part of using the Dining Plan: how you use it is really up to you! You will get “credits” for each of your meals. So 1 Table-Service Meal = 1 credit. The same is true for Quick-Service Meals and Snacks. All of your family’s credits are loaded into your account when you check in. You can begin using those credits the day you check in and they are valid until midnight the day you check out.

Some restaurants and dinner shows, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table or the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, use two Table-Service credits. So if you have a 6-night stay, after eating at one of those restaurants, you will have 4 credits remaining.

It’s easy to keep track of how many credits you have used and how many you have remaining. At the bottom of your receipt, there is a tally of how many credits you have left. And we will make reservations for the Table-Service meals before your trip, so really all you have to keep up with are the Quick-Service and Snack credits.

You can use your credits however you like until they’re gone. So if you want to have two Table-Service meals one day and two Quick-Service meals the next day, you can. If you want to use a Snack credit on a muffin for breakfast – knock yourself out.

It is important to know that while more than 100 of the restaurants at Disney World do accept the Dining Plan, there are some restaurants that do not. And you can always choose to pay for an extra Table-Service meal out-of-pocket if you wanted to have an extra.

Want to know if the Dining Plan is a good fit for your family or do you still have questions? I’ll be happy to answer them! Shoot me an email at or send me a message on my FaceBook page by clicking on the link on this page.

HOW TO CONTACT ALISON: Email me at, call/text me at 501.772.3137 or
send me a FaceBook message!

Yes! My Services Really Are FREE! Here’s How…


blue balloonsSo you see that my services are free to you and you think, “This sounds too good to be true.” But it is true! Using me to book your trip will cost you the exact same price as booking directly through Disney yourself!

See, Disney knows that planning a trip there can be overwhelming and researching it can be time-consuming. After all, it’s the size of San Francisco, has about 27 resorts, and if you Google it you’ll find about 182 million entries! Obviously, saving you all this time and effort is in Disney’s best interest, so they pay my commission without increasing the cost to you.

So, what can you expect from me for free? A lot! For starters, I specialize in Disney vacations, which means I go through the College of Disney Knowledge program annually, have yearly training events and on-site visits and have first-hand experience to guide you through the process. Sure, you can ask your friends for advice and get opinions of works best for their family. I can offer insight specific to your needs!

Additionally, once you book your trip, I watch for any discounts that might reduce the cost of your trip. Should one become available, I am up at the crack of dawn working to get that discount applied to your trip.

Speaking of getting up early, I also am booking your dining reservations the minute your reservation window opens 180 days from your trip. And I help you book your FastPasses (sort of like ride reservations) as soon as possible, 60 days before your travel date.

I also offer advice on the best time to travel; help you select the resort that will best meet your needs; whittle down the list of dining options; navigate the technology that will make your trip planning seamless; answer your questions so you don’t have to do any research; and assist with any last-minute needs. Pretty much all you have to do is pack!

Already booked your Disney trip and wishing you had my help? If you booked with Disney directly within the last 30 days, I can “takeover” that reservation and work with you to create a magical experience at Disney’s expense. If it’s been longer than 30 days since you booked but you still need some guidance, give me a call – I can do itinerary-only planning for a fee.

Ready to start exploring your options? Get with me for a quote! Email me at, call me at 501.772.3137 or request a quote here: