It’s the time of year everyone starts thinking about summer and vacation. The weather is cold (at least by me), the days are short, and the next paid day off of work for most people isn’t until May. Planning a vacation is definitely a good way to get rid of those winter blues.
The first Disney trip is a big deal. Whether it’s the first time going as an adult and planning yourself or the first time for your kids, each experience is different and deserves specialized care! While many of my general tips and tricks apply to all Disney guests, here are some that are especially for those first time travelers!
- Travel off peak when possible. September – early November is really the best time to go to Disney! The weather is still warm, crowds are low, and prices are low as well. Disney often offers free dining or discounted dining promotions during this time so you get more for less. Free dining continues to be the most popular promotion Disney offers and there’s a reason they choose specific seasons to offer this great promotion.
- If summer or spring break is your only option, don’t sweat it. You can still enjoy Disney while when crowds levels are higher.
- Plan ahead. Once you have your dates, get them secured. Discounts can ALWAYS be applied at the time a new promotion is released. It’s just a phone call away. Packages require a $200 deposit to book and is 100% refundable 46+ days in advance, so if things change, no problem.
- Work with someone that knows Disney. You will save time, money, frustration, and stress by working with a travel agent. I’m always here to help if you have general questions or are looking to get your Magical experience started! I’ve found that once a person starts with a good travel agent, they continue to use him/her for future trips or refer friends. That’s a really good marker of a great person! You should not be another page in the book!
- Try at least one sit down restaurant. Your feet will thank you and it’s fun to get a different experience and a break from the go, go, go atmosphere of Disney.
- Use FastPass+ to your advantage. Whether you have base tickets or park hoppers, make sure take advantage to all the free things Disney offers as part of their package. Book all allotted FastPasses.
- Children under 3 are free! If are thinking about Disney travel in the near future and your son or daughter is under 3, think about travel sooner rather than later. Children under 3 years of age are free. Free park tickets, free dining at buffets, and are able to eat off your plate at other restaurants. They also don’t count toward the total guests in your room . For a family of 5, this is huge. Once you hit 5+ in a room, you lose many hotel options.
- Children under 10 cost less! Once again, if you are going to travel in the near future, 9 years old and 10 years old make a huge difference. At 10, kids are considered Disney “adults” and pay adult prices for food and park tickets. You will save quite a bit of money by traveling before (or near) the age your child turns 10.
- Tell Disney (or your travel agent) about any celebrations. This includes everything from first visit to birthday, graduation, anniversary, etc. Anything you can think of. Even if travel doesn’t fall specific on a birthday or anniversary, you can still celebrate at Disney!
For all Disney Tips and Tricks, please see these previous helpful posts:
- Disney World Tips & Tricks: Time Savers, Money Savers, and more!
- More Disney World Tips & Tricks: More Time Savers
Talking Disney World to someone is sometimes like a foreign language. And if you check message boards, there’s acronyms all over the place. Here’s your Disney Dictionary reference guide in one handy place! Even Disney veterans will find some of these useful with the MyMagic+ roll out!
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). These reservations can be made 180 days in advance to your travel dates. For best availability, book as soon as you know your dates.
Cast Member (CM). A Disney employee. They are available to answer questions and help you while on vacation.
Disney Magical Express (DME). The Disney transportation system that takes you to and from the Orlando airport. Reservations must be set up prior to your arrival. The Magical Express gang will even pick up your checked baggage and bring it right to your hotel room.
Downtown Disney (DTD). Located on Disney Property, Downtown Disney offers great shopping, dining and entertainment options. Bus and limited boat service is available from all Disney resort hotels. Downtown Disney buses do not have direct transfer to any Disney park!
Extra Magic Hours (EMH). Bonus park time for Disney resort guests. Extra Magic Hours come in early morning or evening varieties and allows 1-3 hours of extra park time per day. Evening magic hours are a great way to ride popular attractions with shorter lines. Not all attractions are available during this hours, so make sure you know before you go!
FastPass+ (FP+). FastPasses allow you to “skip the line” and see the hottest Disney attractions. Disney’s New FastPass+ system allow you to schedule arrival times up to 60 days before arrival at Disney. These reservations are dynamic and can be changed at any time! If you get stuck in another line or want a break, make changes in real time. You are allowed up to 3 FP+ reservations per day. These are 100% FREE and park of your admission in the parks. These reservations are limited to one park per day.
MagicBands. Part of MyMagic+. They are a literal Band (think LiveStrong bracelet) made of soft material. You are able to customize each member of your family’s bands by color and name or nickname. You are able to choose from: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, or gray. Names can be up to 9 characters including numbers, letters, and spaces. Bands are mailed to your home prior to your arrival at Disney. Uses include access to Disney Magical Express, hotel room key, park ticket access,
Memory Maker. An exciting new way to get all of your Disney photos taken on attractions and by PhotoPass photographers in one place. This is something that can be added to your package prior to your departure. You are able to view, print, and order photos online after your vacation.
Mickey Mail. Your Disney travel documents. If you are working with a travel agent, you will receive them from the travel company. If you are booking solo, they will be mailed to your home. If you do not have your documents 7 days prior to your departure, contact Disney or your travel agent.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP). A special ticketed event on selected days in September and October. This is held at Magic Kingdom. Special parades, events, plus shorter lines at Magic Kingdom attractions are all available. You also get to see Hallowishes, Disney’s themed fireworks show. You will need a ticket to Magic Kingdom AND a ticket to the party in order to gain entry to this event.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). A special ticketed event on selected days in November and December. This is held at Magic Kingdom. Special parades, events, plus shorter lines at Magic Kingdom attractions are all available. You also get to see Holiday Wishes, Disney’s themed fireworks show. You will need a ticket to Magic Kingdom AND a ticket to the party in order to gain entry to this event.
My Disney Experience (MDE) A web and smart phone application that allows you to keep all your reservations in one place including resort, ticket, dining, and FastPass. This is also where you customize your MagicBands. You can also check in to your hotel online prior to your arrival.
Quick Service Meals. Also known as Counter Service meals. These are restaurants that allow you to look at a menu, order your food, and find a place for you to eat. These locations do not accept reservations and can be likened to a McDonalds or Burger King (often with better food though!) This can range anywhere from burgers and sandwiches to pizza to authentic dishes from Morocco, Mexico, or Germany!
Snacks. This is a Disney Dining Plan Term. Disney has a snack symbol for those utilization of snack credits. These can be used on anything from a bottle of water all the way up to a Venti (large) drink at Starbucks. Know what you can get and use the credits to your advantage! You can easily make a meal out of a snack credit.
Table Service Meals. Sit down meals that allow you order off a menu and a server will bring you food. These restaurants suggest advanced dining reservations and many will not be able to accommodate walk ups.
180+10. This term refers to dining reservations. It’s something that’s somewhat difficult to explain so try and follow! 180 days before your arrival, you can book your advanced dining reservations. The +10 refers to the number of days into your trip you can book your dining reservations when staying on Disney property. For example, you are traveling December 1-14. 180 days before December 1 comes around. You can book dining for December 1-10 at that time. This saves you time and gives you a leg up on others by booking hot ticket locations before it’s available to the general public.
Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!