by Nikki Miller, guest contributor and Travel Consultant
The children have been begging you for months, or years, to go to Disney World. You decide it is finally time to plan a great family vacation to see that famous mouse. After a brief internet search, your head is spinning, and you feel like you need a Masters Degree just to understand the new lingo related to Disney World! It’s no wonder since Walt Disney World (47 square miles) is larger than the City of Portage (35 square miles) and contains 28 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 4 golf courses, 2 water parks, and an entertainment district!
Here are some of my tips to make planning a wonderful family trip to Walt Disney World a little easier.
1. START PLANNING EARLY
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World takes time. If you can, allow at least 6 months to prepare for your trip. Dining Reservations at Disney World open 180 days prior to your check in date and if you want to enjoy a meal with your favorite characters, you need to plan early. Those Disney Princesses keep a very busy and full appointment book! Disney Resort guests can also begin reserving their FastPass+ Reservations 60 days prior to check in. FastPass+ allows you to select 3 attractions and times per day to reserve your spot and decrease your wait time.
2. DECIDE WHEN TO GO
Everyone wants to go to Disney World when there are few crowds. Be prepared that whenever you visit Disney World, others will be there, and a lot of them. If possible, try to visit at times of the year when school is in session. The busiest times of year to go to Disney are between Christmas and New Year, Spring Break (March through April) and also summer months.
3. KNOW THE BENEFITS
There are many benefits to staying at a Disney Resort. Every day, one park opens early, or stays open late, for Disney Resort Guests only. Only Disney Resort guests may use the free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport- Disney’s Magical Express. All Disney Resorts offer continuous transportation between all resorts and theme parks. With all of the transportation provided by Disney you won’t need to spend additional money on a car rental.
4. READY THE KIDS
If you have never taken your family to a theme park before, prepare the kids. Warn them about waiting in line. Make sure you research a little about the attractions and inform your children what they will be like. If your child has any fears, (bugs, loud noises, or the dark), a little preparation can go a long way. Many of the thrill rides at Disney come with a height requirement, and nothing puts a damper on the fun more than learning too late that someone isn’t tall enough to go on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or other rides they have had their little hearts set on.
5. SAVE MONEY WHERE YOU CAN
Everyone wants to avoid spending extra on his or her trip. One way to do this is to make sure you bring as much from home as you can, to avoid paying higher prices while on vacation. Make sure to bring 99¢ ponchos from home. You may bring soft-sided coolers and food into Disney World. It’s very easy to pack nonperishable food in your suitcase and then eat breakfast in your room. (This saves money, as well as time in the morning as one group can eat while the other is getting ready). Other great items that should be on your packing list are: sunscreen, diapers, formula, sunglasses, hats, autograph books, and over the counter medications. Flying and don’t want to pay for an extra bag? There are many services in Orlando that will shop for you and deliver your order directly to your resort. Their fees are often much less than the cost for checking an extra bag on most carriers.
6. PREPARE FOR WAITING AND WALKING
Be prepared for long waits and lots of walking. You will discover very quickly that there are many lines at Disney World and some move faster than others. It’s a great idea to keep a few activities prepared for the kids while waiting in line (I-Spy, Hidden Mickey Books, etc). The average guest at Walt Disney World Resort walks between 6-13 miles a day. If your child has already given up a stroller, it might be a great idea to rent one for this trip. Strollers are a great place to give the kids a break, as well as store your bags. Strollers may be rented directly from a Disney Park, or for a better value, rent from an offsite stroller company that will deliver directly to your resort.
7. USE AN AUTHORIZED DISNEY VACATION PLANNER
A vacation planner that specializes in Disney World can be your best secret weapon. These planners work with you to customize a vacation to your needs. They have first hand knowledge of Walt Disney World and can help find the right resort and touring plan for your family. They handle all of the legwork, research, and reservations for you. They will even keep an eye out for future Disney World Promotions and apply them to your reservation to save you money.
Guest Contributor Information
Nikki Miller is a travel consultant from with CrusingCo.com and MouseEarVacations.com and resides in Portage, MI. Her goal is to make sure that every family that visits Disney World is prepared and creates magical memories that will last a lifetime. Nikki has taken over 30 trips to Walt Disney World and is looking forward to her next Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy in 2015