You might think that since we’re not far from our southerly neighbours (yes, it has a “u”!) planning a trip to Walt Disney World wouldn’t really be all that different for us Canadians. Although some parts of the planning process remain the same, there are actually a number of additional things for Canadians to consider when planning a trip to visit Mickey and friends. Here are some tips to help you navigate your planning:
Keep an eye on the exchange rate
The Canadian dollar is not at its best at the moment, nor has it been for years. This means that whatever price tag you see on Disney’s website, you can add a significant amount on to that to get your price in Canadian dollars.
So what can you do about it? It’s not like we have any control over it! No, but we do have control over when we make payments. I have taken to watching the exchange rate (and even going so far as to read dollar forecasts online) and making trip payments when the Canadian dollar is better than usual. Although this might seem a little ridiculous, every little bit makes a difference. Disney vacations don’t come cheap — so when you’re looking at paying an additional third of the price again, you do what you can. You should also keep in mind that your credit card company is going to take an additional fee (probably around 2.5%) for foreign exchange. Make sure that you’ve accounted for all of this in your budget.
Disney knows that when we look at their prices we’re doing the math to figure out how much it will actually cost us. They still want us to visit, so lately it’s fairly common to be able to get Canadian Resident Offer ticket pricing. This basically helps to counteract the exchange rate issues that we’re up against. Usually this is the way to go if you’re a Canadian resident, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
One notable one (which may never happen again — thanks, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) is when free dining is offered. It’s also important to note that free dining is not necessarily offered to Canadians at the same time as US residents, thought it often coincides. Always compare (or have your travel agent compare) all of your options to see which will be the best for you. You do need to prove that you’re a Canadian resident to take advantage of the ticket offer, so remember to bring your passports with you for your first park visit.
Track flight prices
Unless you’re up for a long drive (hey — some people are), you’ll need to figure out how much you’re willing to pay for your flight to Orlando. I suggest spending some time familiarizing yourself with what a “good” price looks like from where you want to fly out of or finding out from someone who knows. Then you can purchase your plane tickets when the price is reasonable.
To be clear, as someone who has spent a lot of time looking at flights to Orlando, I can tell you that the price varies wildly; you could save yourself up to $1000/person by booking at the right time. This is partly based on how far away your travel dates are, how much availability there is on your desired flight, what airport you’re flying from, and quite a little bit of who knows what. There are all kinds of flight tracker apps out there these days that will do this for you, you may be thinking; unless you’re traveling from one of the major airports in Canada, these will be next to useless. They may not have enough data from your closest airport (or in my case, the three closest airports) to be of any help to you at all.
Especially if you are traveling during the winter months, I highly recommend purchasing trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Goodness knows that if you’re reading this and you’re from The Great White North you know that not only might your flight not be able to take off on its scheduled departure date, you might not be able to even leave your house to get to the airport. This is one of those “better safe than sorry” things, along with travel medical insurance. Check to see if you already have medical coverage, and if you don’t, you can purchase it for the length of your trip for a pretty reasonable price. Like all types of insurance, you hope you never actually need to use either of these, but it’s 100% worth it for your peace of mind to have them, just in case.
Consider staying on property and doing the dining plan
This one is definitely a personal preference thing. Some might argue you could save more money by staying off property. I would argue, however, that you’ve traveled a long way and deserve to have everything taken care of for you. No need to drive, no need to cook, no need to worry about how much things cost (anymore). I really like having transportation taken care of and having everything paid for in advance.
Then, when you want the most expensive thing on the menu you order it, because you’re actually getting your money’s worth out of the Disney Dining Plan instead of worrying about if you have enough money. Remember that pesky old exchange rate we talked about earlier? It could create a lot of uncertainty and stress, but it’s not your concern anymore if you’ve already paid for everything — yay! Now all you have to worry about paying for are your souvenirs (and you could buy gift cards for those ahead of time, too).
Get your clothing when you can
This probably seems like an odd one, but bear with me. This is probably not as big of a deal for adults, but as a mother of a toddler, this is a crucial point. In Canada, we have very different weather throughout the year, and therefore we have very different clothing that we wear. Depending on when you’re planning your trip for, the clothing you’re wearing during that season may be drastically different from what you want to wear in Florida, because you are mostly likely planning to go there to escape our eternal winter and be warm. This might not seem like a problem, but like I mentioned before, if you have a child who no longer even remotely fits in their summer clothes and stores up here in the north are not yet selling summer clothing, you may be in a pickle. If you’re unable to plan ahead and make sure you’re prepared for this eventuality, you might need to do some online shopping or figure your way around this one creatively.
Take advantage of your ability to withstand “cold”
While you’re in Walt Disney World, wandering around in your shorts and tank top, you may notice some people wearing long pants and shirts. Clearly, they aren’t from Canada. I recommend using this difference in temperature tolerance to your advantage. It’s a “cold” day in Orlando? All the better for you. It still feels tropical compared to the -30°C weather you just came from, right? (That’s -22°F for you Americans reading along.) This might make your park day less crowded, or at the very least allow you to ride some awesome rides (maybe several times in a row) when others won’t even consider it. The same is true early in the morning or later at night when, again, it’s “cooler.” When you see that 5-minute wait for Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids because it’s “chilly,” hop on and have fun!
Splash Mountain, Magic Kingdom
Do any other Canadians out there have tips that you think others should know when planning their trip to Walt Disney World? If so, please comment below!
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