How to Plan a Disney Vacation
You've been debating where to Disney vacation
When to Go
So you know where you're headed off to, but now you can't decide ''when'' to book the vacation. Disney World is broken up into three seasons as far as crowds go: peak, mid, and offseason implies that the crowds are there, but far more bearable than peak season. The approximate times of year for each season are listed below.
An easy way to anticipate peak seasons is to pinpoint any time of the year when most children are out of school; a majority are spending their vacation enjoying the most magical place on earth. So if you can pull the kids from school or it's an adultspeak season to entice more visitors as well, so you might find yourself with a great discount on hotels or dining.
Disney offers some fantastic seasonal events. From holiday exclusive parades to various festivals, there's so much additional fun that you may want to plan your trip around what appeals most to you. Here are a few of the most popular.
Where To Stay
Before you fly down to sunny Florida
, you'll need a place to stay. Disney has multiple resorts within its property, so your first decision will be whether you want to stay on site or off site. Off site accommodations encompass all nearby hotels that are independent entities from Disney ownership. Staying on site means enjoying one of Disney's resorts or a partner resort on Disney property.
Off Site Options
Staying off site will save you a good amount of money on hotel, as they usually offer great deals to entice guests to stay off property. Thankfully, there are plenty of reasonable (and deluxe) hotels outside of Disney in the Orlando area, but some are more conveniently located than others. Some nearby options include the following.
* Radisson Resort Orlando
* Gaylord Palms Resort and Spa
* Buena Vista Suites
* Caribe Royale
These are just some of the dozens of hotels in the area. Be aware that you'll also need a car for travel purposes if you're staying off property, so make sure you book the car ahead of time, and perhaps time the drive between your hotel and the different parks. You wouldn't want to miss the magic due to traffic congestion!
On Site Options
There are multiple perks to staying on site, all of which should be considered before moving ahead to buy the full package.
* ''Free Transportation'': Free buses travel between Disney hotels and parks, preventing the necessity of an expensive rental car.
* ''Free Airport Shuttle'': Disney's Magical Express is a complimentary service to those staying on site. You can board a coach bus at the airport, which will take you to your resort and also pick you up the day you depart.
* ''Extra Magic Hours'': Only guests staying on site can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, in which parks open one hour early in the morning and up to three hours later in the evening on certain days of the week.
* ''Key to the World Card'': Your room card can act as your park ticket and your credit card, so forget having to cart around a pile of cash, cards, and tickets!
* ''Package Delivery'': If you find a delicate or bulky souvenir
that you'd rather not carry through Splash Mountain, Disney can deliver your package straight your hotel room.
* ''Dining Package'': Only on site guests can sign up for a Disney Dining package to save money on food.
So, you've decided either on site or off site, but you are still not sure where exactly to stay. Disney Hotels are broken down into different categories based on budget. Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa. They also offer camping grounds
if you're looking to "rough it" while you're there. Still, there's a resort for every budget and with all different kinds of themes. The time of year you choose is going to greatly affect the price of the hotel you stay in; big holiday seasons will cost more than quiet times of year.
Value hotels are great when you want that Disney spirit without paying an arm and a leg; basic amenities and a cheaper hotel are your top accommodation priorities. Value hotels run anywhere from $82 to $169 a night, the higher prices mostly during Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Moderate hotels are more detailed in their themes and give you that soothing, resort-like feel. The prices for moderate hotels run from $174 to about $244 a night.
These hotels are for when you want to go all out and live a life of luxury during your Mickey Mouse rendezvous. Running anywhere from $300 to over $600 a night (and that's just for their lowest priced rooms!), it's an expensive choice but a truly indulgent experience.
What to Pack
Your flight is booked, your hotel is picked, but you're stumped when it comes to packing the perfect detailed suitcase
. Here's an idea of what every good Disney traveler should bring along.
Once you're in Orlando, you need to get around, right? The area is full of long highways, so to get from park to park you'll either need a rental car or Disney's own transportation if you are staying in a Disney resort.
If you have Disney accommodations, you get the added perk of free transportation around Walt Disney World. This isn't just to the main theme parks, but also the water parks, Downtown Disney shopping area, even the airport!
'''Buses''': Bus service is available at every on site Disney resort. There are designated bus stops in front of the resort's main doors (and sometimes in several other locations if the resort is particularly large) that show you where to line up for which destination. Buses run pretty consistently through out the day, and even into the early morning after the parks close, in case you get side-tracked somewhere!
'''Ferrys''': Yup, they have water transportation too. Disney really does think of everything. The main ferry crosses the Seven Seas Lagoon, which extends from the Magic Kingdom parking lot to the front gates of the park. Besides the primary ferry, there are also boat launches at several resorts that will take you to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and even Downtown Disney.
Tips for Renting a Car
If you're renting a car because you're either not staying on property or simply want to be able to travel independently, here are a few tips for car rentals in the Disney World area.
The most important piece of paper you'll ever hold in Disney World is your park tickets (besides that autographed photo from Mickey!). Park ticket options are pretty straight forward and there's plenty of flexibility depending on what you're planning. Here's some basic tips when buying tickets.
Disney has every kind of food you can imagine, and prices for all wallet sizes. Here are some tips for keeping your dining experience easy and affordable.
* '''Disney Dining Plan''': The Disney Dining Plancan be added to vacation plans for those staying on property. The DDP is offered in various levels, but the overall idea is you pay one lump sum for your stay and get enough vouchers for daily snacks and meals to cover all your needs. You won't have to break out any cash for food, unless you want something extra that isn't covered.
* '''Grocery Shopping''': Consider dropping by a backpack
* '''Daily Budget''': If you aren't doing the dining plan, you'll want to budget about $30-$80 a person each day. It really depends on how many extra snacks you'll be getting along the way and how often you'll have sit down meals as opposed to counter service.
* '''Advanced Dining Reservations''': Disney restaurants can get packed during certain times of the year. If you don't want a wait, you can actual call and make reservations 180 days before the actual dining date! It may sound crazy to book that far in advance, but for the most popular restaurants, you'll want to secure a seat as soon as possible.
The Four Parks
What to Bring
As unfashionable as a fanny pack may be, it's your best way of carrying things comfortably into the park and still having a free hand. But what to bring? Besides obvious choices like cash and your park tickets, here are some essentials to take with you.
Outside the Parks
Outside of the parks there is still tons to do. Disney has its own shopping and dining districtthat's accessible by both boat and bus. They also have a boardwalk area for more shopping, food, and boardwalk entertainment like magicians and jugglers. Beyond that, don't forget there is also:
* Disney Films
* Disney Collectibles
* Car Rentals
* Travel Essentials