Planing Advice From A Disney Fanatic Family – A Continuing Series Post #1
I Love Disney!! My Kids love Disney!! My Grand Kids Love Disney!! (John likes Disney). We are annual pass holders and we go often so often I couldn’t even count the number of times we have been over the years. It is my happy place and for me it is truly the most magical place on earth. Now having said that I can tell you that things can go sour pretty quickly if not planned well. The objective of this series is to help you avoid some common planning mistakes so your experience will be as magical as advertised. We have also enlisted the kids and grand kids to help us write this in order to have a multiple age group perspective for you.
Really think about what are the most important Disney attractions for you and your family
Ok, so this is really important. The most common mistake we see people make is that they plan for x amount of days and think they are going to be able to cram everything in and see it all in those days. People rush around from morning to night trying to get their moneys worth, trying to do everything in every square inch of the parks. Stop NO!!! This is Disney in Florida people. Lines can get long, the parks are huge, it is extremely hot, it is humid, you are tired, your feet hurt and your kids are exhausted and they are now cranky and crying. Does that sound like fun? Not to mention that the Walt Disney Resort area has so much to offer that you couldn’t see it all in a month much less a week of what is supposed to be a vacation.
First make yourself a 3 column list. Things your family must do, things your family want to do and lastly things your family might want to do if you have time. Now once you have that list you need to decide how many days of vacation you will be vacationing at Disney. I know that this may be predetermined by how many vacation days you have off work etc.. but this is an important decision because you need to plan for what my family calls chill time. The best way for me to describe chill time to you is the moment when your family starts to get cranky and tired, then it is time for chill time. Chill time can be an afternoon relaxing at the resort hotel pool (and the pools at the Disney resorts are amazing) it can be a boat rental at Disney springs or it could be as simple as going back to the hotel for a nap. Whatever your family would enjoy the most as long as you are off your feet and if it is summer, cooling off, then that is chill time. If you haven’t planned for chill time then something or multiple somethings need to come off that to do list.
Picking a Resort Hotel
If this is a Disney vacation then keep it all Disney and stay at one of their resorts on property or in the Disney Springs area. It just saves time and no one does Disney better than Disney. They have resorts for every budget. (The All Star Movies Resort, which is one of their value resorts, is one of our favorites when we take the grand kids). But how to pick which resort can be a challenge. They all sound great right? Well of course you have to start with your budget and stay within it but there are some other things to consider too. For instance the age of your kids, which parks you will be going to the most and what activities the resort has that match your family’s interest. I said earlier that when I have the grand kids we like to stay at All Stars Movies Resort. We choose it because of the pool, the food court and because it’s a value Resort it leaves us with extra money to spend on the grand kids. When it’s just John and I, we like the convenience of the Wilderness lodge Resort, it’s closer to the Magic Kingdom, and the method of transportation to the entrance is a fun little boat ride. When my son and daughter in law go without the kids they choose either the Dolphin or the Swan resorts because they are both convenient to a back entrance at Epcot which is their park of choice when without the kids. Now in the summer time we like to go to the Disney water parks and when we do we usually stay at one of the Hilton Hotels in Disney Springs which is a Disney Partner Hotel. Those Hotels are within walking distance to the Disney Springs complex and closest to the water parks. (But you should know that staying at a Disney Springs Partner Resort will add more time to the time it takes to actually get you into and out of the Magic Kingdom as the actual Disney Resort transportation drops you off closer to the main entrance). But then We all also like the Boardwalk Resort as it has a great pool and an old style boardwalk theme on the water, with shops, clubs and restaurants. Like I said it is a hard decision because all the resorts have transportation to all the parks and to Disney Springs and they are all pretty cool. So take your time and have fun choosing!!
I know you are probably thinking … Shoes? what do shoes have to do with planing my Disney trip. Well you will know if you wear the wrong ones!! Every time we go to the parks we see bleeding ankles or people who can’t walk another step due to the blisters on their feet. Please don’t wear untried and untested new shoes to walk what will seem like a zillion miles. Bring your most comfortable shoes that you have in your closet. I don’t care how ratty you think they are, no one cares. And if someone does look down at your shoes they are probably thinking that they wished they had worn their ratty comfortable shoes.
PLANNING YOUR SPENDING
For me, every bit of money I spend at Disney is well worth it. Life is about making memories and the joy Disney brings myself and my family is priceless. But I am not going to lie to you, it gets expensive and whatever you think your budget is, you better add to it. But there are some ways to cut cost. For example, if this is a Disney only trip and you are staying solely on Disney property then consider cutting out a rental car. Disney provides transportation from your hotel to just about everywhere on Disney property so all you need is transportation to and from the airport and that may even be provided by your hotel. So check on that when booking your stay. Disney also offers a meal plan option in your package and that can help cut down meal expenses. One other thing I thought was kind of nifty on one of our stays was if we opted out of housekeeping at the resort we got a $10.00 Disney gift card. Hey 10 bucks is 10 bucks and you can still ask for towels etc… I don’t need my bed made everyday.
Set up your my Disney account and get the App
This is a must. By setting up the My Disney account and having the app on your phone, all your reservations and park information will be at your fingertips. You can make dining reservations, get fast passes, see maps of the parks showing wait times at all the attractions, and much more. You even have an option to download Disney Park games on your phone which can come in handy with impatient little ones in long lines. Now since I mentioned fast passes, let me tell you a pro and con about them. Pro of course is shorter wait times at your must see attraction. Con is that the most popular attractions you have to book up to 2 weeks in advance and now you are on a fast pass schedule and have less flexibility. There are just some rides that you have to book fast passes for because wait times are over an hour and a half long. Play with your app in advance and check wait times for your must do rides, if you find the ride you must do consistently has long wait times then you will know that you will need to book a fast pass for when you are there.
This is the end of series #1 but stay tuned for more. Like I said we are a Disney family and we have about 48 pages more in draft form right now!! Yikes that is a lot of editing!!