Anyone who has ever planned a Disney vacation before knows how overwhelming it can be! Disney world is crowded, busy and expensive and knowing the ins and outs of this magical land can make the difference between a magical vacation and the disappointment of a lifetime!
If you’re a first time Mouseketeer then have no worries! I’ve got you covered.
When to go:
If you do not have kids or don’t mind them missing a couple days of school than you want to avoid off school seasons. The best recommended times are early Fall when class is back in session, January-Mid March ( Skip the Spring Break crowd) and during extremely hot months ( sometimes August can be a best buy time due to high heats!)
Another thing you need to consider when choosing a time besides your own availability is what you plan on doing during your vacation. Are you interested in Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Magic Kingdom)? Maybe International Food and Wine Fest? Maybe you’re planning on Christmas shopping or going for a Birthday! Knowing what your ideal time is will help you determine your game plan for conquering the crowds.
Remember that although these events are amazing ( Halloween-Christmas at Disney is the dream) these events are normally more crowded and more expensive as they charge a rate to attend the parties on top of the park rate. My recommendation is to give it a try at least once in your life (Maybe Oct 30th-November 5th to experience a bit of Halloween and Christmas), if you don’t enjoy the parties or the crowd then continue to go during off seasons to have a more relaxing Disney escape.
How long to go for:
No one can get the full experience of Disney in one day so there are many things to consider when planning how long your vacation should be. For example, financially are you able to swing another few nights. This is important to consider when you are a working individual especially if you are on an unpaid holiday. Missing work days and spent extra money can bust your bank account. Since we don’t want this we have to consider a number of things:
1. How many parks do you want to visit?
2. What other events do you want to attend in Florida at this time?
3. Do you have vacation days/savings?
4. How long can you receive off at work?
5. How long can your kids or family be away from home for?
6. How long is your travel to/from Disney
I recommend spending at least 7 days in Disney for first time visitors. This gives you the chance to experience all the parks if you wish as well as shopping, the beach and the other benefits of being on vacation with time for leisure.
Where to go (Parks):
Be sure to price the difference between the day passes. For example, their is very little difference between the 5 day and the 6 or the 6th and the 7. Sometimes paying the extra (Sometimes $10 or so ) can give you the opportunity to go back to the rides you’ve enjoyed or to shop and eat at other places (Believe it or not, 16 hours at Disney doesn’t give you near to enough time to do all that you want too!)
DO NOT purchase your tickets for Ebay or other “discount” sites. Do your research ahead of time and if you are unsure of where you are purchasing from then always choose the safest option and go to Disney’s site or purchase at the parks or hotel.
The extra cost (which is very little) is better than losing out on fake tickets.
Where to stay while you’re away:
Hotels can make or break your vacation and your bank account. Some hotels in Disney cost over a $1000 a night (and higher ) Don’t be caught up in the glitz and the glamour, staying at one of the discounted Family hotels is perfect for the first time traveller.
I recommend looking into the All Star Movies/Music resorts for somewhere inside Disney on a budget. Try checking back and forth on expedia.ca to find the best price. These hotels have free shuttle if you are not driving ( or saving the trouble of parking) and free airport shuttle as well.
For a higher end hotel in Disney than you can check out the Polynesian or Floridian, though I recommend you stay somewhere in the middle, try the Dolphin and Swan. I’ve stayed there before and the service was wonderful but the hotel was a little outdated for the price!
For a hotel outside Disney there are certain criteria that I always keep in mind:
1. Is there a shuttle, a shuttle fee and good times for the shuttle
2. Airport shuttle
3. Pool, wifi and breakfast (free or not)
4. Can you get a discount on a hotel site (expedia, travelocity etc.)
5. Will you get more bang for your buck?
These questions will get you started on eliminating hotels and will make it easier to choose which is best for you!
Hope this post has helped all you Disney travellers a little in planning your vacation. More travel tips and posts to come!