I LOVE Walt Disney World. I love it so much that I made it a huge part of my business. But not everyone feels that way. There are so many people who return from their trip vowing never to go back because of the cost or crowds – but that is likely because they made one or maybe even ALL of these mistakes.
Walt Disney World has changed so much over the years. For better or worse, the internet has brought us so many resources for planning your Disney vacation (I think it is better, but I am biased). When Disney fans site first started sharing tips and tricks they all told you to visit in October when it was less crowded and it is now one of the most crowded times of the year. You can have a wonderful vacation no matter when you start your planning but the earlier you book the more likely you are going to be able to get what you want. You also will be able to avoid vacation planning overwhelm by spreading out the planning stages.
Click here to read my blog When to Book your Walt Disney Vacation and also to sign up for my free WDW Vacation Planning Workbook.
The right resort can completely upgrade your entire vacation. But you can’t simply ask what the best resort is and book it. Each of Disney’s 30+ resorts (and the hundreds of off-property resorts) are tailored to specific needs so what is the best one for your family. There is way more that goes into it than what I can fit in a paragraph but you need to start by considering your budget, travel style, and family’s interests. Transportation options are a huge deciding factor for me, but your priority maybe the pool, kid’s activities, or restaurant options.
Click on the link to read more about selecting the best resort for your vacation Disney World Onsite or Offsite – What is Best for Your Vacation?
Once you start planning your trip, everyone will come out of the woodwork and tell you you have to eat here or your trip will be ruined if you don’t get a reservation there. But some of the hardest to get reservations aren’t the best dining experiences. To avoid fighting for an overrated dining reservation start by considering your likes and making your decisions based on that, not what someone who doesn’t know you told you you should do.
Here are some Alternatives to Popular dining.
Head to any Disney Planning Facebook Group and you will quickly find a divide as deep as the sharks and the jets between people who love or hate the Dining Plan. While I personally love the plan and add it for most of my trips, it may not make sense for you. It is impossible to know whether or not it is a good choice without doing a little bit of math. I recommend waiting to add the dining plan until after you have made your dining reservations. Once you have those then add up the average cost of the meals you plan to eat and compare it to the dining plan. Make sure you consider the alcoholic beverages, two snacks, refillable mugs, and the convenience of the plan.
Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?
While I don’t think you should make a full-time job out of studying crowd calendars, I do think you should do a little bit of research on typical crowd trends. Know the basics… crowds are the lowest in the morning so if short lines are important to you get to the park before it opens so you can hit the ground running. Knowing which attractions rarely have a wait, will keep you from using Fastpasses or the valuable morning hour on something you can ride later.
This was my cardinal mistake for many years. I used to plan my itinerary to the minute and be extremely upset if things didn’t go as planned. If it is your first time you will easily underestimate the amount of time it takes to get from place to place so you will want to avoid visiting more than 2 parks in a day. You also want to be cautious about how many dining reservations you make in a day. You don’t want to spend all of your time eating and not enjoying the attractions and entertainment. I found that for our family is it best to plan 3 attractions we want to do in the morning, take an afternoon break or plan a long lunch and plan 3 attractions in the afternoon – we look at everything else as a bonus!
Let’s face it, a Walt Disney World vacation is not cheap. But Disney is a business and they know you are on Disney property and if you forget something or find you need something you didn’t consider they are going to charge you for the convenience of getting it quickly.
They know it is Florida and you will get stuck in a thunderstorm with no other options, so they are going to charge $20 for a poncho. You can avoid this premium by buying disposable ponchos from Amazon or the dollar store. You save so much money, you can recycle it when you are done and save yourself from carrying around a wet poncho. Other items you should purchase before you go: cell phone power bank, hand sanitizer, cheap sunglasses (that you don’t care if they get lost or broken), click sharpies, autograph book, and sunscreen.
If this is your first time visiting Walt Disney World, or you haven’t been in the last 10 years you really should consider having a little bit of help. You don’t know what you don’t know after all. The great thing about Travel Advisors specializing in Disney is that many work solely on commission so for the same cost as booking directly through Disney you get personalized advice from an expert (I have graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge AND visit Walt Disney World 3-4 times a year) and hours saved from the black hole of internet resources among many more benefits.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
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