Friday, September 23, 2011

Planning Tips for Disney World

I leave for my Disney trip and reunion with my CP roommate in about 6 days, and since my trip is so close I wanted to talk to you guys about planning a Disney trip. It's really not as complicated as it seems. I'll walk you through what we did step by step.

1: Decide to go. (Pretty obvious, haha)
2: Decide when to go:

This step for us meant figuring out what we wanted to do. We decided we wanted to plan our trip around Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Then I looked at the special offers on the Walt Disney World website, and got together a few price quotes. The Disney World website makes getting prices very easy. We decided to go to a party in September in the hopes that those parties would be less crowded, and because there was a "$69 dollars a night until the end of September" deal going on at the time. After looking at the Disney World events Calendar, Michelle mentioned wanting to go to the Food and Wine Festival as well (which starts on September 30th) and so that put our trip at the very end of September.

And that's basically what you want to do to decide when to go. Look at the events going on in the area and see if there are any you're just dying to go to, and then check out any promotional offers the resort has going. Usually they have a few going on in early fall because it's their slow season. You also want to decide if you want to go during peak season or off season. There are advantages to both. I prefer off season because it gives you more time in your schedule due to shorter lines.

3: Decide on your budget:

Quote prices for all your options. I like to get a quote for my dream vacation (the most ideal trip you would want to take), a quote for a more reasonable vacation, and then a quote for an economy vacation (cheap). Once we had quotes for each it was easier to figure out what we could afford. Michelle and I went for economy this time around. Which basically means: short stay at a value resort with no meal plan or water park tickets.

When you prepare your quotes make sure you plan for travel expenses and food while you're there. Forgetting those could throw your budget way off. Do a little research on which airlines would be the most sensible for you or make sure to check on current gas prices and calculate how much gas money you'd need.

A food budget is a little easier. This is when you decide if you want to make any reservations, and if so where, and then factor in the prices that Disney will have listed on the restaurants summary page. We decided on reservations at two places and I found the estimated per person price on Disney's website. I usually try to plan for ten dollars above the price they give, just in case. If you don't plan on any reservations and just want to eat cheap then please remember you're going to Disney. Disney is not "cheap" in the normal sense. Plan at least $10 dollars for every meal, just in case. If you come in under budget then that's great! You'll have more money to spend on souvenirs, but you want to be positive that you have your meals covered.

(Personal tip from me: Get a kids meal. They come with plenty of food, and are half the price. Plus, you don't want to eat anything too heavy while you're out playing in the parks in the hot sun. A light satisfying lunch is the way to go, and kids meals are the perfect solution for that. They usually include a main entree, a side (usually fruit), a drink, and a dessert. Trust me, it's plenty.)

4: Decide how you want to book your vacation:

You can book a couple of different ways. You can use a travel agent, you can book a vacation package with the resort itself, or you can still book through Disney but buy your tickets and book your room separately. There are advantages to each of these.

A travel agent will know all the special promotions and may have access to discounts that you can't get any other way. Plus, they can often help you stay within your budget.

A vacation package is perfect for families. It will include special perks (a t-shirt voucher at Planet Hollywood, discounts for mini golf, etc.) and allow you to keep all your reservations together (which means less paperwork to keep up with). Often times for vacation packages Disney will link your park tickets with your room key which will make your ticket easier to keep up with as well. Packages can also include Meal Plans which will (if you learn how to work it right) help to make your meals more affordable.

For college students or people on a shoe string budget I recommend buying your tickets and booking your room separately. There are two reasons for this: 1) The extra perks that come with the package cost extra. (Yes you do technically pay for those perks). 2) This makes it easier to plan. (One person doesn't have to pay the bill and then count on other people paying them back.) You can each buy your own tickets and make your own travel plans this way. (Be careful with Magical Express though. Your group will have to be arriving on the same flight for all of you to take advantage of this free resort service.)

5: Once you've made your final it! (again pretty clear)
6: Don't forget to book a flight if you need one!

Don't wait too late! The sooner you book the more affordable it will be. Airlines give discounts to people who book in advance. The closer you're trip is the more expensive airfare will be.

7: As the trip gets closer make sure you have all your reservations confirmed and your travel documents in one place.

I suggest having a binder with all of your e-mail receipts and confirmation numbers in it. I have one ready to go for my trip. All of my necessary documents are inside it (including my Magical Express booklet and Photopass card that I was sent in advance). Pack it in your carry on and keep it with you. This will make it easier when you're picking up tickets from will call or checking in at your hotel.


Never be afraid to act like a kid. That's what the Disney Parks are all about! That's what Walt himself wanted for every guest! Be as silly as you want! Ride your favorite attractions over and over! Meet all your favorite characters! Never feel like you're "too old" or "too cool" for Disney. That attitude will take all the fun out of your trip! Let go and be a kid! That's truly the ONLY way to enjoy Disney World!

And those, ladies and gents and variations there of, are my tips for planning your Disney World vacation. I hope I helped somebody out there in some small way. And if you have any further questions feel free to let me know on my Tumblr. I'll be happy to answer them there!

That's all for now! Until next time, have a magical day!

No comments: