Disney World Tips & Tricks: 20 do’s and don’ts from Disney veterans

 

  1. DO get to the parks early. At least 20 minutes before park opening. You’ll get to experience 2-3 attractions before your breakfast digests. Sometimes you get lucky and the park opens before the post time giving you even more opportunities before the rest of the crowds get there.
  2. DON’T go to the park with early morning magic hours, unless you are arriving before park open and you have park hopper passes. These parks tend to be more crowded than the others.
  3. DO go to the park that had extra evening magic hours the night before. Historically, crowds are lower.
  4. DO plan out your dining. Know where the best quick service restaurants are and make advanced dining reservations for table service restaurants. Make your reservations as far out in advance as possible to guarantee the best locations and times.
  5. DO work with a travel agent your first 2-3 times. They know the ins and outs of Disney, are able to give you specific hints and time savers.
  6. DO know when discounts are available. A travel agent can give you a good idea of historical data and the type of discounts offered. Free dining is usually available September – early December; room discounts are almost always available the remainder of the year with varying percentages. Use the discounts to your advantage and play with the numbers to save yourself the most money!
  7. DO NOT travel to Disney World over Christmas and New Years. Parks are extremely crowded with the longest wait times (sometimes up to 4 hours!). In 2013, Magic Kingdom parking lot was totally full and only allowing select guests to enter.
  8. DO travel at off peak times. Weather is cooler, parkers are quieter, and prices are lower. You are also offered better incentives.
  9. DO plan ahead! Discounts are typically available around 3-4 months before travel dates. At the beginning of the year, lesser discounts are available 2-3 months in advance. The sooner you can book your trip, the better. You are always able to change the discount if you get a better deal closer to your trip.
  10. DO check for PIN codes. These are personalized, exclusive discounts and include % off rooms or free dining. To check if you have one available, call Disney and select your dates and then ask if you have a PIN attached to your account. The worst the cast member can tell you is no!
  11. DO set a budget and DO factor in travel costs with your budget. You are always able to modify your Disney reservations (46+ days out from your trip) at no cost if you’d like to upgrade or remove options from your trip.
  12. DO NOT stay in the parks all day. Even adults need a little break. Enjoy your resort’s pool, take a nap, have a long lunch. You’ll burn yourself out in no time if you try and stay from park open to park close.
  13. DO look into the dining plan. Know what each plan includes and if it would be cost effective for how your family eats. Ask your travel agent to do the math for you based on your favorite types of restaurants or Disney restaurants you want to try. I don’t try to upgrade people to the dining plan if they will save money paying out of pocket. Sometimes the sticker shock is hard up front, but showing them the math makes the most sense!
  14. DO know that you have to pay tips for Table Service meals are not included in the dining plan. You will likely pay an addition $75- $150 out of pocket depending on your length of stay.
  15. DO NOT waste your money. Purchase the right number of days of park tickets, know how to use your dining plan credits, and know what the park hopper option vs. the water park option will get you. If you only want one day of water park passes, it may be in your best interest to just purchase a day pass at your arrival at the park.
  16. DO look at more expensive resort hotels. While the cost is greater, your travel time is greatly decreased! Locations like Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary give you monorail access to Magic Kingdom and one quick transfer over to Epcot. Resorts such as Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk are all within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Wilderness Lodge is also a short boat ride away from several resorts and Magic Kingdom.
  17. DO NOT take the ferry to the Ticket & Transportation Center or to get to your car. It’s a huge bottle neck and REALLY slow!
  18. DO know when parades are scheduled in each park if you are trying to get in or out of a park, to a reservation, or to when to ride some more popular attractions.
  19. DO wear comfortable shoes. It doesn’t matter if you wear flip flops at home. 8-10 miles a day for 5-7 days (or more) will kill your feet. Between blisters and sore feet, you’ll wish you brought something different! DO bring flip flops in case there is rain. DO bring an extra pair of shoes in case your first pair gets wet or you get a blister. The change may help save your feet.
  20. DO enjoy yourself. DON’T stress out if plans don’t go as you hoped.


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!

Disney World Tips and tricks: More time savers

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So you want to take a Disney World vacation in 2014. Now where to stay?

With 29 on property resorts to choose from, how do you decide? It’s the age old discussion of time vs. money. Typically resorts with multiple modes of transportation or those that are very close to the theme parks are more costly. It’s no surprise that the Deluxe resorts are located in close proximity to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. One of the major questions I ask my clients outside of budget constraints is what’s more important: time or money.

In Disney, you can save time and spend a little more money on your “home” location or you can save a little more money and spend a bit more time in transit. Depending on your resort and location of that resort, you can spend an additional 15-30 minutes either waiting for or riding the buses. Taking your own vehicle could knock off some of the waiting time), however you will still have to walk or wait for parking lot trams to take you to the front entrance of the park.

Melissa’s insider tip: If you have the funds and are willing to spend a little extra money, especially on a first trip or a trip with little ones, I would suggest staying at a resort close to Magic Kingdom or Epcot. This will help save you from additional lines and any travel confusion using your own vehicle.

New Discounts available to general public on Monday

That’s right, a new discount is available to the general public as of Monday, January 6th. A sneak preview was given to all Disney Visa card holders. For the details, check yesterday’s blog post. For those value hunters, a 5-night Disney World vacation for 2 adults and 2 children can be less than $500 per person. This includes 5 full days of park tickets (one free thanks to Disney!) While booking is available via the web, sometimes the system is difficult to navigate and can be confusing. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether you have a discount (or the best discount) applied for your vacation package. Your other options: call Disney or contact a travel agent to do all of your heavy lifting. Obviously I’m a little bias towards option #2!

Disney sent a reminder e-mail to all travel agents reminding them that January and February are the busiest times of year on their phone systems, especially with a new special offer. Those who already have their vacation packages booked must now call and have the offer applied to their account which leads to long wait times and bogged down web servers. It’s not uncommon for Disney’s servers to have intermittent outages which can be extremely frustrating to new and seasoned users alike.

Melissa’s insider tip: Let a travel agent (especially one who works specifically with Disney) help you book your dream vacation. We can often provide insider information and ensure that you are not only getting a discount, but the best discount that Disney has to offer. If additional discounts become available, we will continue to save you money.

When NOT to travel to Disney World

It’s common knowledge that the time between Christmas through New Year’s is a busy time at Disney World. For my knowledge, I commonly review my Disney apps which show current wait times in the Disney parks. On New Year’s Eve it was common to see wait times in both Magic Kingdom and Epcot in the 2-4 hour range. Yes, FOUR hours for Test Track! To me, that doesn’t sound much of a vacation or a fun experience.

Melissa’s insider tip: Be aware of peak travel windows. For the best times to travel, check an earlier blog post. If you have the ability to stay away from peak travel times such as Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving (and the week leading into Thanksgiving), and the majority of the summer months, you will save time AND money! And we all know time is money.


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!