Planning your December 2016 Disney World vacation

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in December 2016.  December crowds are up and down all month but it’s trending up. There are pockets of higher travel times  but a few pockets of lower crowd times. Most notably, the weeks between Christmas and New Years. You’ll see the month start a little slow in terms of crowds and increase through New Year’s Eve which is one of the most traveled days to Disney World.

December weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of December is 73 and the low is 52.  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. December is a very variable month from year to year. In our recent December trip, we had absolutely beautiful weather. Comfortable park touring weather during the day and we added light jackets after the sun went down!

Choosing your Travel Dates/Events to be Aware of

  • Various dates in Dec –  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties begin (for full details, check out Tips for this special event!)
  • Dec 1 – 31 – Epcot’s Candlelight Processional which provides a little extra holiday magic with a celebrity narrator retelling the story of Christmas
  • Dec 24 – 31 – Peak holiday season – these are the largest crowds of the entire year and crowds will be busiest. Using FastPass and planning ahead are extremely important!

Many travel dates will also include an opportunity to Magic Kingdom’s special event: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This special event is an added expense, but a fun way to get into the Holiday spirit in both November and December. Disney ends this special event just before Christmas but the parade from this special event becomes a daily show near Christmas day.

When to book dining

At the time of publication, dining is available for booking. Many of the most popular options have been booked, but pecosbillcancellations do occur. Patience is the name of the game for popular locations like Cinderella’s Table, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Ohana and more! If you’re looking for one of these headliners, continue to check on availability as it’s constantly changing!

Promotional Offers

No current promotions available for December but some should be coming extremely soon!

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in December 2016? Let’s do the math! These prices are BEFORE the peak Holiday season begins. If you’d like to experience Christmas at Disney, you’ll spend a bit more money.

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2546.46

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $3022.34. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3316.30. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3548.04

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge to have access to Magic Kingdom. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5678.76 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6962.46

The bottom line

A family of 4  have a reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some lower prices and moderate crowds!

Start planning your December 2016 vacation

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. 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!

Planning your November 2016 Disney World vacation

 

This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in November 2016. For other months…

November crowds are up and down all month. There are pockets of higher travel times  but a few pockets of great low crowd times. Most notably, the week of Thanksgiving is a very popular option. The weeks prior are less busy but this month has becoming a great time for families looking for cooler temperatures and holiday decor but still the opportunity to get away from the “winter weather” that might be at home!

November weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of November is 79 and the low is 57.  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. November is a very variable month. In a recent trip, it was 80 degrees to start our trip and then highs dropped into the low 50s during the day with wind. November is not a rainy season, but still be prepared for a bit of sprinkles during your stay.

Choosing Your Travel Dates/Events to be aware of

  • Nov 1 – 14 – Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Concludes
  • Nov 6-12 – Jersey Week (not a huge change in overall crowds, but this week will have droves of guests form New Jersey traveling to Disney due to a week off of school)
  • Nov 7 – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties begin (for full details, check out Tips for this special event!)
  • November 19-26 – Thanksgiving week (a peak travel week for 2016)

Many travel dates will also include an opportunity to Magic Kingdom’s special event: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! This special event is an added expense, but a fun way to get into the Holiday spirit in both November and December. Limited options are available the week of Thanksgiving.

When to book dining

At the time of publication, dining is available for booking. Many of the most popular options have been booked, but pecosbillcancellations do occur. Patience is the name of the game for popular locations like Cinderella’s Table, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey’s, Ohana and more! If you’re looking for one of these headliners, continue to check on availability as it’s constantly changing!

Promotional Offers

Disney is currently offering a room promotion to help save you money off of your resort stay! For full details check out Back to School offer for dates and available resorts included. This promo ends November 5th and a new offer should be available very soon!

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in November 2016? Let’s do the math!

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2285.48

Disney's Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

Disney’s Pop Century brings adults back to their childhood!

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2798.48. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $3092.44. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them $3352.26

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge to have access to Magic Kingdom. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $5022.98 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $6306.68

The bottom line

A family of 4  have a reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some lower prices and moderate crowds!

Start planning your November 2016 vacation

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. 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!

The Best and Worst Times to Travel to Disney World in 2017!

 

For all of you advanced planners, we’ll talk about 2017 Disney World vacations! It’s never too early to start planning. Whether you wanted to save up for a big vacation or you’re just looking to try your first Disney adventure with your kids, it’s always a good time to research and plan a Disney vacation.  But when to go? Timing is everything.

First, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • If I have kids, am I willing to take them out of school?
  • Do I have any blackout dates at work?
  • Are there any special events I want to attend? (i.e. Mickey’s Not to Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)
  • Do I want to be able to swim or go to water parks? (is temperature a factor)
  • Is it ok to miss a few headlining attractions due to routine maintenance?
  • Is cost a major factor in our vacation?
  • Is it ok if it’s H-O-T while we are there? Summers in Orlando can get pretty brutal)

All of these simple questions will help direct you to the best time of year to travel. As we start to talk about overall crowds and dollar values, please be aware that Disney World has become an increasingly popular destination. Yes, it has always been a popular travel destination for families, but whether it’s more international guests taking the opportunity to travel to the states or families just taking more frequent Disney World adventures, overall crowd attendance is up no matter what the time of year. If you’ve traveled more than once in the last 5 years, you’ll feel this increase in wait times and overall people milling around in the parks.

From year to year, the best times to go are fairly similar, but let’s break it down by month:

January – After you get past the New Year’s crowd which is typically gone by the 3rd or 4th of January, it’s a pretty slow time. Crowds increase during the Disney marathon which is typically the first weekend after the holidays pass. Both crowds and costs are low, however you may miss a few major attractions due to maintenance. Crowds do increase during MLK Jr. weekend as many children have at least one day off school. Weather is typically cool and you may need a light jacket. Swimming may be out. Although the pools are open and Disney pools are heated, it’s still too cold for these old bones when the highs are only in the low to mid 70s.

February – This is also a fairly good time of year. Crowds peak for the Princess Half Marathon weekend as well as President’s day weekend. Other than this time, crowds and costs continue to be low. As with January, you may need a light jacket. In 2014, the weather was unseasonably warm so off season travelers got to enjoy some warm Florida sun but in 2015, weather was unseasonably cold and jackets were a must! 2016 saw a middle ground in weather and much of the year was pleasant. The closer you get to March, the more the crowd level begins to increase. I was told by a cast member that every single room in every Disney resort was booked for Valentine’s Day last year, so if it’s a romantic destination for you, make sure you plan ahead!

fg1March – Ahhh, spring break season! While schools across the country all have different weeks for spring break, you’ll typically see spikes in crowds at last 1-2 weeks during the month. With Easter falling in mid-April next year, Spring Break season will likely start during the 3rd week of March this year but schools will never surprise me with how early spring break may fall! Weather begins to warm up at this time and very few attractions are closed during this time.  Epcot begins their annual Flower & Garden festival which runs through the end of May.

April – Spring break season continues.With Easter in mid-April this year, you’ll see peak spring break through the week of April 16th and then a drop in crowds and costs.  After spring break crowds wear down, both prices and costs decrease as the weather heats up! It’s not the lowest cost of the year, but it’s better than the peak prices! There’s a bit of a lull here as kids go back to school after spring break and before school lets out.

May – A few things to note for May travelers: the first two weeks of May are often a great time to travel in terms of crowds but it can start to get hot! Our most recent May adventure saw daytime highs in the 90s which made park touring a bit slower paced than it would be in the cooler months of January and February. Disney has continued to elaborate and extend the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival so it’s still a fun time to explore this free event. Lastly, Memorial Day weekend is a popular long weekend for guests and crowds may mildly increase during this time. Prices and crowds tend to be moderate as we get closer to the end of school year and finals. It’s a nice little window between spring break and end of school to enjoy trip! The weather is easily in the 80s and sometimes warmer, and it’s not typically very rainy. Not many attractions closed during this time.

June – June of 2015 saw a HUGE influx of travelers throughout the month (moreso than previous years with 8-10/10 crowds each day) with a bit of a dip in 2016. This may be related to some new attractions opening in late June that had guests delay their arrival date to explore the new offerings. Early in the month, the unofficial event “gay days” is held in one of Disney’s theme parks. It does increase the crowds of that park specifically, so be aware as you start to plan.  Along with increase in crowds comes increase in prices and heat. The summer months can be sweltering. Although June is not that bad, the remainder of the summer is hot, hot, hot!\

July – It’s one of the most popular times of year to travel to Disney. I can’t say that I’ve been there in July, but it’s a hot! Plan for an afternoon rain shower which is often welcomed in the humid Florida weather. It provides some relief. Fourth of July weekend is even more costly than the standard summer pricing. Crowds continue to peak during this month. Take a break from the parks and enjoy a water park!

August  – As summer ends, the crowds begin to dwindle. By the middle of the month, crowds resume their normal 5-6/10. The weather is still hot and you often have a pop up rain shower. Don’t be scared if you see a 30% chance of rain every day. No special events throughout the summer, and August finishes that trend. Toward the end of August, you’ll see value season pricing as back to school season really ramps up (even before Labor Day weekend). If your kids don’t return until after Labor Day weekend, this may be a unique time of year for you to travel!

September – After Labor Day passes, the some really low crowds and prices settle in. School is officially back in session and it can be somewhat rainy. The weather is still typically very warm (especially earlier in the month). By mid to late September, Epcot is geared up for the International Food & Wine Festival which runs through midNovember. September also brings Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This special ticketed event at Magic Kingdom closes the park early and allows guests to enjoy a special themed party where costumes are not only allowed, but encouraged. Plus, meet special characters appear throughout the park and lines are incredibly short. This even runs through the end of October. Great discounts and special offers are typically available September through mid November. This is often the time of year with the best promotional rates as it continues to have the lowest attendance. Over the last two years, the end of September has trended up in crowds with the addition of many schools adding a fall break to their school schedule. The last of September has become a much busier time of year.

October ­– October has become the “new summer” in terms of crowd levels. Without the heat of summer, days off of school for Columbus day, the draw of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, and Halloween festivities, it’s a huge draw for crowds. 2015 saw an astronomical spike in crowds over the previous year and 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year again. This can also be attributed to later fall breaks for schools across the country. There still appears to be a pocket of time at the end of the month around Halloween that gives a little reprieve on overall crowd levels. Weather finally begins to cool again after a long, hot summer. Temps will very likely still remain in the 80s, but it’s not as humid.

November ­– The phenomenon known as “Jersey Week” happens in early November. Schools in New Jersey have a week long break in early November inflating crowds. This isn’t a huge jump in crowd levels, but it’s a factor in making your plans. The first week of November often has lower crowd levels as Disney removes all of the Halloween and Fall decor and starts to set up for the Christmas season. You’ll see shorter hours in Magic Kingdom as the transformation happens literally overnight. For families with little ones, it’s a nice way to enjoy comfortable temperatures, and allow them to see fireworks shows without staying way past bed time!  Additionally, Veteran’s Day is often a day off for students (November 11) PLUS the Wine & Dine RunDisney event. Between this time and the week of Thanksgiving is a great time to travel as crowd levels begin to dwindle.  As it gets closer to Thanksgiving, crowd will peak. Discounts stop the days surrounding Thanksgiving as it’s often another peak travel time with multiple days off of work and school. Discounts typically resume the Sunday after Thanksgiving and continue through mid December. Watch for Christmas decorations as Halloween items are removed. Around this time, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party also begins. Similar to its Halloween counterpart, Magic Kingdom closes early for special events and characters culminated with a holiday parade and fireworks.

December ­­- The last month of a year is a mixed bag of crowds and costs. The first Tips and Tricks for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Partytwo and a half weeks finishes up the Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. Decorations remain throughout the theme parks and resorts through the remainder of the year (and through the first few days of January). After the second full week of December, crowds begin to increase as families take their holiday vacation to Disney World. It’s the highest crowd levels of the year, and the prices match. Wait times during the days surrounding Christmas and New Years can often be measured in hours instead of minutes. While it’s a magical time of year, it’s not the best time to go the most magical place on earth. Around Christmas and New Years, no room discounts are available.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Can you believe we can already price out and plan your adventure? 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!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. 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!

Why your SECOND Disney World Trip will be one of the best!

So you’ve made it through your first Disney World vacation. Congratulations! Do you feel like you just barely survived or did you feel like you had the time of your lives? For my family, the first trip (whether it’s a first trip as adults, first time planning myself, first time with grandparents, or first time with kids) wasn’t always the greatest. Things don’t go as you’ve planned even though you’ve likely been planning for anywhere from 3-12 months! So while I’m nearly positive your first Disney World experience was magical, you’ve probably learned so much which is why your second trip is going to be the absolute best. WHY?

Because you know the parks! Not like the back of your hard, I can navigate through Magic Kingdom without a map or tell
you the countries around World Showcase off the top of my head, but you have a general idea of their size, and a general idea of where many of the attractions are in each of the parks (especially family favorites).

Because you know what you like! Whether your first trip was just a little long weekend taste or a 7 night extravaganza, you know a little bit about what you like. You’ve probably found a favorite attraction, a favorite theme park, and perhaps a favorite restaurant. You know things you want to do again and maybe a few things you won’t do again (which is all part of truly enjoying the parks!)

Because you know what you missed! Do you feel like you missed something something in the parks? Whether it was an attraction on your “hope to do” list or maybe a show that you just missed? It’s something to add to your do list in Disney World. Maybe an attraction was under refurbishment during your previous stay and you weren’t able to experience it at all through no fault of your own. Or MAYBE it was pouring rain and you didn’t get to have the full experience of the Magic Kingdom parades.

Because there is always something new! Disney is always innovating. Just this summer, there are more than a handful of new things. You could travel to Disney World every 6 months and see something new and different. That’s the great thing about Disney parks. You’ll never have the same exact experience twice even if you plan it out that way. Even if you just returned home from your last Disney World vacation, your next trip will see no less than 5 new things on your next trip – Rivers of Light and the Awakening of the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, Updates to Soarin’ and a new Frozen attraction in Epcot, upgraded Star Wars fireworks and the first Olaf meet and greet in Florida in Hollywood Studios, and a new stage show in Magic Kingdom. Can you believe that all of that magic is coming in one year? In 2017, you’ll see all things Pandora, the World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom as well with multiple new attractions!

Because the magic is real! You very likely got a little taste of Disney’s magic in your own little way, but now you know how

The pure JOY on this little girls face is why we continue to travel to Disney destinations!

The pure JOY on this little girls face is why we continue to travel to Disney destinations!

to create the magic yourself. The magic is real and being in the middle of it at a Disney World resort is amazing. I’ve lost count on how many Disney World adventures I’ve been on between family trips and training/business trips and no matter what the circumstances, it’s magic. My last trip was work related and we were surprised with my friends Minnie and Mickey right before we were dismissed AND I got a front row seat for Festival of Fantasy parade. You can also open yourself up to the magic a bit more than you may have the first time around. Hug a character, pose with a princess, or (gulp) get matchy shirts!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Whether you used an authorized Disney vacation planner on your first vacation or not, the second time around is almost more important than the first! Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. 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!

Everything you need to know about your Disney World MagicBands!

MagicBands

As part of MyMagic+ and staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort, each member of your party will receive a MagicBand. Regardless of age, each member will be able to customize their very own (even babies and under 3 year olds who don’t require tickets!) This small wristband feels like a rubber/plastic composite and an RFID chip inside. In the last several months, the material the bands are made out of has changed making it a more breathable and lighter! These little guys are adjustable (similar to how a baseball cap is adjustable in the back with little plastic snaps) and have the ability to make a really small version for tiny wrists. Disney truly does thing of everything.

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

So your trip is booked and it’s time to customize your MagicBands, now what? Once logged into you’re My Disney Experience (MDE) account and your reservation linked, you will have access to your MagicBands. Use the drop down on the right and choose MagicBands and Cards.

You will have a list of all of your guests and get to choose a color and a name or nickname for each person. Color choices include: red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange, purple, or pink. You may also enter a name or nickname which is a maximum of 9 characters including letters, numbers or spacing. Your choice is case sensitive. Feel free to be creative! The nickname on the inside of the band isn’t used for anything – the name that appears on your reservation will be what pops up on the cast member’s screen when scanning your band. BUT, get creative! Family of 4 want to be Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Daisy? You got it! There’s no limit to your levels of creativity here! Names will also be imprinted on the inside of each band. Once you are done with your customization you need to confirm your address and mark them as DONE. This important step will save all of your changes and keep you from getting all gray bands! You are also welcome to choose the same color as another member of your family!

You’ll get a countdown of how many days you have left to customize your bands, but typically goes into customization 30 days prior to your arrival and ships shortly after that via  USPS mail.  Delivery comes in a plain brown box, so if you’re keeping a secret from your kids (and bravo to you!) just follow the package delivery to make sure you get the mail that day. The return address does say it’s from Disney, so it’s not completely anonymous!

Opening your MagicBand package

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

While I’m an adult, Disney always makes me a kid at heart, so watching and (im)patiently waiting for their arrival even though I’ve received more than 10 separate MagicBand deliveries!

Taking it out of the packaging is incredible (get it?) The inside packaging is also really well done and exciting as well! Each MagicBand is labeled by the name or nickname you chose during customization. While we only have two, it looks like that specific packaging could fit up to 5 in each. if you have a larger party, you’ll receive more than one box full.

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

I took my band out to try it on for size. Trying to make the snaps work with one hand was somewhat difficult, especially for this mama who does things with one hand all the time (a baby typically in the other). Once I finagled it on my wrist, the fit felt pretty perfect! I’m used to wearing a watch, so it didn’t feel much different. After I wore it around the house for awhile, made dinner, hung out with the baby, who seemed very interested in the band on my wrist as well as the box.

I decided to pick up the inside packaging and there was a little pamphlet discussing all the capabilities while on Disney property and a warning for those with pacemakers. If you booked your Disney vacation as a package (minimum room + tickets), you’ll also receive souvenir luggage tags with a corresponding Disney character on it. These tags are DIFFERENT from your Magical Express luggage tags which are sent via separate delivery.

After your vacation, they are yours to keep. They will remain linked to your My Disney Experience account unless you deactivate them or mark one as lost or stolen. They will remain available for use for the next 2-3 year and are reusable for future vacation! By booking an on site reservation on a Disney resort, you will receive a new band for each reservation so if yo lose track of your bands between trips, you can always receive a new set. If you don’t want to keep them, Disney will recycle them for you. Ask a Cast Member at your resort for more details.

In more recent times, Disney has also allowed those of us that travel more often to decline a MagicBand if they identify that there is an active band associated with your account. I’m a collector, so I’ve yet to decline a band yet! I usually bring 2-3 with me when we travel so I can color coordinate as well.

So what does my MagicBand do and why do I need one?

  • MagicBands are your new Key to the World and they do a whole lot more than the old system. You can:
  • Open your resort hotel room door
  • Enter the parks each day (if you have linked park tickets to your account) – it will also hold special event tickets
  • Access your FastPass+ selections (for guests that have linked park tickets to their account and made FastPass+ selections prior to arrival)
  • Link any photos you take on property to your My Disney PhotoPass/Memory Maker account
  • Using your Disney dining plan credits
  • Make purchases around Disney property. By setting up a 4 digit pin prior to your arrival or at check in, you don’t even need a wallet in Disney! . You’re just a wave away from payment! Parents, don’t worry, you have to enable charging privileges for your children.
Even babies love MagicBands!!!

Even babies love MagicBands (and how they grow so fast!!!)

Arriving at the Orlando Airport & Boarding Disney’s Magical Express

Make sure your MagicBands go in your carry on luggage. You’ll need them to access your Magical Express (Disney bus taking you from the airport to your hotel). Once you arrive at the airport, head straight to the Magical Express and you will be sent to your first line of your Disney World vacation! This is a great opportunity to put on your MagicBands. Once your bus arrives, each band will be scanned before you are allowed onto the bus. Remember, Disney will take all your luggage straight to your room, so this process makes getting to resort even faster! Remember, plan for about 75-90 minutes from arrival time at the airport to arrival at your resort. It could be less and the bus ride seems to go fast while you enjoy the welcome from Disney characters!

Arriving at your resort hotel

Once you arrive at your resort, find the correct line to check in: 1. online check in if you checked you in online prior to your arrival or 2. the check in/check out desk which is available if you did not do online check in. One of the very nice cast members will help walk you through the process of check in, confirming all of your contact and billing information as well as using your MagicBands to pull up your reservation! Once your room is ready, you’ll be asked to tap your MagicBands to your door. If you’re staying club level at one of the deluxe resorts, you’ll be asked to tap each MagicBands to your door to register them as a club level guest. You may also have received a direct to room notification if you completed online check in and you can head right to your room and bypass the front desk!

Heading to the theme parks

Once you are checked in, you are able to use your park tickets and dining plan! Whether your room is ready or not, you can head to the parks (another benefit to arriving early in the day!) If you are driving to the park, the driver will need to present his or her MagicBand at the gate to prove your stay inside one of the Disney resort hotels allowing you free parking! You’ll find one of the many MagicBand scanners in the park, mostly noted by the giant Mickey Heads! Hold your band to Mickey’s head as it reads the RFID chip. Once that’s done, choose one of your fingers to put on the finger scanner. You’ll need to use the same finger every single time afterwards. This will turn Mickey’s head green and you’re off to enjoy your first attraction! If there are any issues, you’ll get a blue flashing light and to be asked to try again.

Using your FastPass+ reservations Your FastPass+ reservations will be available via your MagicBands. Each attraction that has FastPass+ capability will have the same Mickey Heads at their FastPass entry. Hold your band to Mickey to wait for the green light. You are unable to arrive prior to your FastPass+ time, but you are given several minutes of grace period after your reservation time ends (I tried 20 minutes late which was too long). For suggestions on making your FastPass+ reservations or what attractions are available, review the most up to date FastPass+ strategy for Disney World Resort Guests.

Extra Magic Hours

What if I’m taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours? It’s different for morning and evening hours. For morning magic hours, only Disney hotel guests are able to enter the park early. You’ll need to show your MagicBand at entry only. For evening hours, one member of your party will need to show your MagicBand for scanning at the entrance to each attraction available during extra magic hours. A cast member will ask how many is joining in your party as you enter to save on scanning each and every time!

Charging to your MagicBands

When you do online check in OR check into your resort, you will be asked to set up a 4 digit pin to allow charges via your MagicBand. The pin can be different for each adult or the same for each member of your party. Additionally, based on age, some children will not be allowed charging privileges at all. Some older children may be allowed to charge with parental permission (they’d need access to the pin as well). If you don’t want your children to purchase anything, that’s ok too.

Dining Plan Credits

If you elected to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your package, your dining plan credits will also be on your MagicBands. Your MagicBand will be scanned to use your credits. As always, your remaining credits will be listed at the bottom of your receipt.

Taking Photos/Memory Maker

Each photographer is now armed with a scanning device. So take as many photos as you’d like, enjoy the benefits of Disney’s Memory Maker package! After you are done with your photos, the photographer will scan one MagicBand and the photos will be instantly added to your account! Again, easier than trying to keep track of another card along the way of your entire vacation!

What if I’m staying at 2 separate Disney hotels/resorts or have 2 reservations because of 2 discounts?

We actually stayed at 2 different resorts so had 2 MagicBands each. Our first resort reservation had our hotel and park tickets and the second was a room only reservation. We were told to formally check out of our first resort (instead of leaving the reservation open through the end of the day). When we arrived at the second resort, we were told that both sets of bands would work for both the resort entry as well as the park tickets. We brought both sets of bands with to the park that day and the cast member was correct! We were able to use our new bands to continue our park tickets.

My review of MagicBands

I really enjoyed using our MagicBands! We used them for everything. I never had to worry about digging in my bag for my Key to the World card to get into the park or grab my credit card to pay for anything (especially as we toured World Showcase in Epcot). We never had a problem throughout our entire trip getting into our hotel room, accessing the parks and our FastPass+ reservations, charging at quick service or table service restaurants, etc. It was a great overall experience with no snafus! I’m excited for others to try this upgrade to Disney technology!

Related posts:

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. 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!

How to make the most out of your Disney World summer vacation!

disney world summer vacation

It’s finally spring, even though it doesn’t feel like it here in the Midwest. With summer vacations right around the corner, here are my tips and tricks for beating the heat this summer but still having an absolutely AMAZING time!!

1. Get water for free. Ice water is free at all quick service locations, even if you don’t buy anything else. Disney understands that the sun is hot in Florida and they’d much rather have hydrated guests then ones going to the hospital or leaving for the day because of heat related illness. Feel free to ask for a cup of water at any time of year, but it’s most common in summer. Many guests don’t like the taste of Orlando water so bring some Mio, Crystal Light Packets, etc. For us sometimes this isn’t enough (my husband is the water monitor for our family to ensure we are staying hydrated, so we order water from a delivery service and bring bottles with us into the park).

2. Know the park hours and arrive early. Check Disney’s website before your arrival and plan ahead. Arrive before park opening (rope drop) and head for the major attractions first. Make sure you know which park has extra magic hours and if you can’t get there at 8 am, go elsewhere. Remember, crowds get longer faster on EMH mornings. You’ll regret arriving at 11. If you have park hoppers, try and take advantage of those parks with extra magic hours to enjoy the parks before it gets hot out. If you’re going to add the park hopper, consider the water park fun and more ticket as well (it’s less expensive than a single day water park ticket and you can enjoy the parks for more than one day).

3. Schedule your FastPasses appropriately. There are a few different schools of thought – use FastPasses in the early portion of the day and then add more as the day goes on vs. leaving your scheduled FastPasses for mid-day. You may want to escape the heat in mid-day and you don’t want to be married to a park just for FastPasses (especially popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or meeting Anna & Elsa that you won’t be able to change!) For a full rundown of FastPass strategy and best use, check out one of my most popular posts!

4. Use water rides to your advantage. Water based attractions often have long lines during the hot sun of the afternoon. It’s a great cool off and utilization of one of your FastPasses! Think Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain.

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Kid’s Splash area at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

5. Take a break. The hot sun between noon and 3 can be exhausting. Regardless of the time of year, plan on taking a break. Whether it’s a nap or a swim, make sure you don’t wear yourself out. All Disney resorts have uniquely themed pools and if that’s not enough, hit the water parks!

6. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Don’t be a hero! You don’t need to do every attraction, even on a short vacation. You’ll be exhausted, hot, and cranky. You can always come back again 🙂

7. Don’t let the rain chase you away. Pack some ponchos and enjoy the free cool off! Don’t forget an extra one for your stroller! Plain on rain almost every afternoon in late summer based on humidity alone. Almost every single attraction stays open in the rain, so don’t let it ruin your day. The exception would be lightning in the area or torrential downpours!

8. Don’t forget the sunscreen. PLEASE don’t forget the sunscreen! Nothing will ruin vacation like a horrible sun burn and not wanting to head back into the sun. Apply in the morning, reapply throughout the day! Between sweat and water rides, you’ll need it. Spray sunscreen is very easily applied.

9. Bring your own water. Yep! It’s allowed 🙂

10. Make sure your feet are comfortable. Get some moisture wicking socks and comfortable shoes with good soles. A bad blister or bad shoes can be a damper on your vacation.

11. Know where to go for some air conditioned attractions. Indoor character meet and greets and theater shows are two of the most popular. Theater shows often seat a large number of people at once so crowds are often low!

12. Dress appropriately. Wear light layers, loose fitting clothing, and breathable material to keep yourself cool.

13. Cool off in a bathroom. Sounds strange, but they are air conditioned and it makes a big difference as you’re getting overheated! For families with younger children, check out the baby care centers. These are additional areas to allow you and your kiddos to cool off. They are popular, but it’s a nice little break!

14. Check out a water park. I know this got mentioned a few different times throughout this post, but they are incredibly fun! I couldn’t believe how much fun we had as adults rolling down the slides and family rides. Even during the heat of a 90 degree day, the lines aren’t incredibly long! Check out a little bit more on Disney’s Blizzard Beach:

15. First opportunity for some of Disney’s newest experiences. This spring and summer there are SO many new things popping up:

  • Frozen Ever After and the opening of Arendelle in Epcot
  • Reopening of Soarin’ in Epcot: Soarin’ Around the World
  • Rivers of Light and extended hours in Animal Kingdom theme park
  • All things Star Wars in Hollywood Studios – an amazing new Stage show with favorite Star Wars characters as well as an enhanced fireworks show each evening.
  • Evening events in ALL four parks for the first time ever! It’s going to be the best summer ever!!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. 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!

Planning your September 2016 Disney World vacation

 

Are you looking to travel to Disney World in September of 2016? This guide is specifically designed for you! It’s all about the month of September and what you need to know!

The rest of the year is coming soon. (See already completed January 2016, February 2016, March 2016. April 2016, May 2016, June 2016, July 2016, August 2016)

September brings the return of value season at Disney. Crowds are the lowest at any point of the year at the beginning of September and then slowly begin to build throughout the month. Looking specifically at crowds, this is the absolutely best month to go to Disney World as rarely do crowds get over a 3 or 4 out of 10 each day. In 2015, there was a bit of a shift and increase in crowd over previous years trends. Many experts believe that this was a fluke year. Toward the end of the month, you may see an increase in crowds with many school systems going to a week long fall break (and with all school breaks come guests flocking to WDW!)

September  weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of September is 90 and the low is 72/  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. Stay hydrated during hot days! Make sure you pack your sunscreen, take frequent breaks, and take advantage of your resort’s pool. This is also the beginning of fall hurricane season. If you are planning on traveling, adding the optional travel insurance might be a good option! Plan on rain during your stay. It’s often a welcomed feeling given the high temps.

Choosing Your Travel Dates

Below is the predicted crowd calendar for September 2016. Not bad in comparison to many other months. The most green you will see in any month throughout the year.

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Disney World Special offers for September

Early fall offers are typically released on mid or late Spring (think late April or early May!) I’ll be back to update as more information becomes available!

Free dining is something on everyone’s mind. To get my take if free dining will happen and to be notified of any future promotional offer, visit Free Dining 2016!

Refurbishment

  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas at Wilderness Lodge refurbishment (large scale changes similar to 2014-2016 Polynesian refurbishment)
  • Flying Fish Cafe (through Sept 30)

When to book dining

Disney allows their resort guests to book dining reservations for their entire trip 180 days from their arrival, a benefit that will give you a leg up to get some of those hard to make reservations. If you don’t have a reservation or are staying off site, you can make any dining reservation 180 days prior to your arrival, but don’t expect some of the best places to have prime time offerings! Click the chart below to enlarge to see what your magic number is.

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in September 2016?

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2081.10

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2692.00. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $2964.64. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room, their vacation would cost them $4203.52

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled for all of 2016 (and through part of 2017), they want to try out the newly renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $4680.24 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $5919.12.

Remember, these are all non-discounted prices, so there is some potential to fit in more magic at a lower cost!

The bottom line

September is some of the most off peak time you can travel to Disney World!  A family of 4  can have very reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some of the summer-like activities like Water Parks, Disney’s Pools, and clear skies!

Start planning your September 2016 vacation

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. 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!