Disney World Vacation Planning Guide
Tips and advice to help you book a Walt Disney World vacation in Orlando
Looking at the size and scope of this website, you may start to think that quantum physics is easier than planning a Disney vacation. Relax, there are a few basic steps to follow that will make it easy on you and your pocketbook.
- Disney Resort hotel rooms have different sizes and capacities, so it’s important to first figure out how many people you will be traveling with, as not all rooms at all the Resorts can accommodate more than a party of four. While the first child under the age of three does not count toward the room capacity, they must be listed on the reservation.
- The Disney Resorts are heavily themed, so once you’ve figured out which ones can accommodate your party size, take a look at photos and video of the Disney Resorts to see which ones you like best.
- Budget - Take a look at our Walt Disney World Resort Room Rates list. At first glance, staying on site may seem out of reach. Even the Disney Value Resorts are higher priced than some of the surrounding Orlando area hotels which often offer enticements such as free kid’s meals. However, what you’re saving in vacation dollars may be costing you in other ways.
For example, unless you want to be held captive by an off-site resort’s shuttle schedule, you’ll more than likely need to rent a car. In addition to dealing with traffic, there are parking fees at the Theme Parks that would be included if you stayed onsite. There are so many advantages to staying onsite, such as the free Disney’s Magical Express service between your Resort hotel and the Orlando International Airport. Take a moment to see what you’ll be getting or giving up and paying for when making your decision: Disney World Resort Comparisons.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have Disney World all to yourself? We all have that dream, but the reality is that most of us are dealing with school/work schedules. The Mouse knows when most of us are free to travel, and the prices vary accordingly during the various travel seasons. While logic would tell you that “Value” Season means fewer visitors, traveling any time when school is out is going to translate to the parks being busy. Here’s another instance where staying onsite makes a huge difference. You can take advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours when staying at a Disney resort.
- Another determining factor of when you should visit Walt Disney World are the special offers and discounts that Disney releases at certain times throughout the year. Now, these aren’t set in stone, but typically Disney will offer a discount on their resort hotels or have a vacation package with free dining at certain times throughout the year. If you and your family are on a budget, then planning your visit around one of these deals can be very important.
- You’ve picked a Disney resort; you’ve chosen your vacation dates, now’s the "fun" part - what ticket/package do you select? Disney has the Magic Your Way Tickets which allows you to customize your ticket to match your vacation plans. Let's break it down:
- Start with the Magic Your Way Base Disney Ticket: Don’t look at the one-day rate and assume that you simply multiply that number by the number of park days you're planning during your vacation. The per-day ticket price decreases the longer you stay. Example: In 2017, a one-day regular season ticket to the Magic Kingdom is $110 for adults, while 5 days is $340, which comes to $68 per day. (What’s really amazing is, if you get a 6-day ticket, your cost only increases to $355. You read that correctly; only $15.00 to add a 6th day).
- Understanding the pricing of a 1-day Magic Your Way Base Disney Ticket can be somewhat confusing. A 1-day Magic Your Way Base Disney Ticket runs under a tiered pricing system. This means that a 1-day ticket will range in price depending upon whether it is value, regular, or peak season. The price of a 1-day Magic Your Way Base Ticket also depends on which park you are visiting. Essentially, a 1-day Magic Your Way Base Disney Ticket can range from $97.00 up to $124.00. For more information on 1-day Magic Your Way Base Disney Tickets click HERE!
- Think about your travel style. The Base Ticket is the cheapest, but with that ticket you can only visit one park per day. If you’re like the majority of guests, you'll want the ability to visit multiple Disney Parks in a single day. For an extra price you can add "Park Hopping." (The extra price is per ticket, not per day.) This way you can visit, one, two, or all four of the Disney theme parks on the same day.
- Do you want to visit the Disney Water Parks and/or Disney Quest? For another fee you can do just that: Water Parks Fun & More. Before paying for a feature you won't fully use - take a look at the costs of purchasing these add-ons individually.
- At this point, you have to sit down, think about all of the ticket combinations, look at your budget, and figure out which one is right for you. Always keep in mind that you can upgrade your ticket after the fact (within 14 days of first use OR before the number of days on your ticket have been used). In other words, if you regret not getting “hopping” or the water parks add-on initially, you can add it while at Walt Disney World.
- For ease of travel, you can’t beat a Disney Magic Your Way Vacation Package. For starters, every member of your family will receive a free MagicBand that, through RFID technology, becomes your park ticket, hotel key, and much more!
- There are also a few incentives added when you book a Disney Magic Your Way Package. Some are worthwhile, like the free PhotoPass picture and free miniature golf vouchers, while others are not as valuable, such as the retail discounts at some Disney Springs shops that you may not use.
Travel Agent or Planning your own Disney World Vacation
One of the more popular vacation package options is Magic Your Way Plus Dining. There are several different dining plans to choose from when you book a package stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel; the Quick Service Dining Plan, the regular Disney Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. Browse through the different dining plans to choose one that will fit your family’s eating style and budget. Purchasing the Disney Dining Plan ahead with your package will allow you to prepay for your meals. To join a discussion about the ins and outs of the Disney Dining Plan, stop by the Disney Dining Plan section of the Disney Restaurants forum on DISboards.com.
As you can see, planning a Disney vacation can be easy if you just do a little bit of research. Which park has Extra Magic Hours? Is there a special event going on? Are all of the attractions open? Is my favorite restaurant available? When can I book it? The list is endless and can become quite time consuming.
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation is different than it was 10, or even 5 years ago. With the addition of FastPass+, My Disney Experience, and everything else that goes along with planning a Walt Disney World vacation it can feel like a full time job.
This is where using a travel agent
that specializes in booking Disney vacations is invaluable. We're biased and think that Dreams Unlimited Travel
is your best choice on the market. Your Dreams agent knows all of the ins and outs of planning a Disney vacation. Tours, dining, recreation, etc, can all be taken care of in advance. Our agents can even add the information to your My Disney Experience itinerary if you’d like! They can also send you a customized itinerary to print out and take with you if you’d prefer that. In addition to your own dining reservations, touring tips and the like, the itinerary can include the Park hours, when Extra Magic Hours are scheduled, what time the parades take place and if an attraction is closed during your visit. As always, using a travel agent will not cost you anything extra.
Another advantage of using Dreams is in finding Disney discounts. If there’s one in effect when you book, great, but what if one comes out later on? Your Dreams agent will constantly check to see if you can get a better rate. They have saved their clients countless thousands of dollars over the years by doing this. Forget about Disney giving you a better price if a new offer is released after you've booked with them. While the DIS does let you know when these discounts come out, if you don’t see it right away, there’s a chance you’ll miss out on getting it. Let our experienced agents do that work for you.
There you have it, Walt Disney World Vacation Planning 101. With these basics, you’re off to a good start. For hardcore planners, there are also a ton of useful tips found here: Disney Planning
. A little bit of advance homework should make your Disney vacation what it was meant to be. A memorable, magical trip that everyone will enjoy.