We all want our vacation to be as magical as possible. We crave for that picturesque moment in time at the Disney parks where everything comes together and our memories there give us fuel to face the struggles of a rough day at home or work. Saving for this trip has been a grueling task, but you’ve got all of your ducks in a row and now it’s time to book it! How many days do you stay? Which resort will you choose? What time of year do you go? So many variables! By now, someone should have told you that you can’t possibly do everything in one trip (and that’s correct). If you’re all about hitting the hot spots in the parks and trying to cram everything into a five day excursion, you can’t really enjoy all of the bells and whistles that a lot of returning guests come back to experience. With that being said, here are a few things to consider while planning your trip and here’s…
Some easy ways to save.
If you pick a resort with a great pool, maybe there’s no need to go to a water park. If you get the quick service dining plan, maybe there’s no need to bring any extra food with you. I always present the option that you could add more days and ditch the table service dining plan since there are so many counter service options available (and if you know what you like and where to look, it can work out great for you).
The table service dining plan charges children aged ten and over like adults and this upsets many potential guests who would select this plan because it’s a larger amount of money (and the children will be eating the same amount). 2016’s price plans were just released. If character dining or specialty dining is not an item on your “must do” list, then stick with the quick service dining plan. If you only have one table service restaurant you really want to experience, it might make more financial sense to just pay for that as a one time, out-of-pocket expense than switching to a whole new plan (pro tip: don’t forget 15-20% for tipping on top of any extras (like alcohol) you’ll have to pay for, which is not included in your dining plan-it adds up fast. Also, Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort and Tusker House at Animal Kingdom have the best variety of foods compared to other buffets).
You can also eliminate the park hopper option if you intend to spend more days on your vacation as well, then there’s no rush to get in line for a bus (that you just missed) to watch a fireworks show or get to your advanced dining reservation located in another park (pro tip: with FP+ attraction selections still only allowed for one park per day, it’s harder to justify park hopping). Don’t be afraid to use a FP+ option for a fireworks viewing spot when you are staying more days, because you’ve already experienced the attractions on your “must do” list and it’s something that is important to you. Staying more days really helps with the stress because it gives you…
More time to relax.
How do you plan to spend your vacation anyway? Personally, I don’t want to cook, clean, or worry about things going wrong. Taking a day “off” from a park in the middle of your week might seem wasteful, but it is also very helpful. You’ll be walking a lot and your tired toes need a break, especially if you have a blister already (pro tip: don’t wear new sneakers into the parks and pack some moleskin!).
An afternoon at Disney Springs and your resort’s pool can give you that extra jolt of energy you need to tackle the next day. Doing nothing at all is underrated as well. Order a pizza from your dining hall (pro tip: don’t order from those credit card scammers that place fliers under your door). Planning a day off is also very helpful if there’s a huge storm in the area and you need to “switch” days. Just to be clear, you can’t logistically do this if you have a reservation somewhere in a park (and plan on transferring it to another day) or have purchased the water park option and end up spending all of the non-rainy days during your vacation at the four main parks.
In the unfortunate event that someone in your party becomes sick, having an extra day of recuperation can be a vacation-saver. I’ve taken a day off many times and just like playing “bus roulette“, you’ll never regret the oh-so-hard way of replicating the ol’ “let’s just wing it” mantra you used to be able to get away with before FP+ kind of took over the whole planning process. Saving money (on tickets) by taking a day off in the middle of the week gives you more options, like a little extra cash for souvenirs, but you can always use that money to…
Make the Memory Maker work for you.
It doesn’t matter how many days you stay, the Memory Maker stays the same price. You get more bang for your buck when there are more pictures and videos of you, your friends, and/or your family. They can all get linked with your magic band through the My Disney Experience App and they can even share some of the cost (if they like you enough). Our last little trip resulted in 121 photos + videos (about 20 professional stock photos included) from the Memory Maker in 5 total days at the parks. That’s 24 pictures + videos per day. If you ride an attraction twice that has a video capture, the end result will be two different videos with the same introduction.
Go up to every Photo Pass photographer and take a picture, even if you don’t feel like it you’ll thank yourself later. If a character meet and greet queue is short, get in line (pro tip: think of a good pose beforehand). How cool will it be if every photo you download ends up being less than a dollar? Just be aware, the Photo Pass photographers are not at the character dining locations. Speaking of location, that reminds me…
Location, location, location!
Time is money, so travel time is fairly important. The All-Star resorts are the farthest away from civilization (located in the Animal Kingdom area) and it seems like you’re always waiting on a bus. If you despise traveling to your destination and figure to spend most of your time in the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT parks, factor that into the decision on which resort to you’re going to stay at. There are plenty of resorts in the EPCOT area where you can walk through the International Gateway into the World Showcase or you can always take the monorail if you plan to visit the Magic Kingdom.
If you’d rather browse through the shops during a stroll on the Boardwalk instead of a marathon walk at Disney Springs, this might be the resort area for you. If mobility is an issue and you’d like to access the monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, a resort on the monorail line might appeal to you. If you want a tranquil place to call home for a few days and don’t mind walking around, the Port Orleans resorts are the perfect place for your travel party and they’re very close to the Magic Kingdom.
It’s really up to you.