Planning a Trip to Disney World – part 1

I love Walt Disney World. It would be my choice destination for a vacation, and we would go more often but as those of you have gone (and stayed on property) know, a trip to Disney World in Florida is not a cheap, or even for that matter, a relaxing vacation.

35984130069Disney World is in Orlando, Florida and consists of four different theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhon Lagoon), a mini-golf course, four regular golf courses, a sports complex and a mega-shopping/entertainment center (Downtown Disney) in addition to fishing, sailboats, canoes, water skiing and whole bunch of other activities. There are 20 on-site hotels and numerous ones in the area. We always like to stay “on property” as it keeps you in a “Disney Bubble.”

My husband’s first trip was on our honeymoon. I had been numerous times as a child as my grandparents lived in Florida, which allowed us to go every so often. My husband and I went back for our five-year anniversary and had plans to return every five years. Then right before our 10-year anniversary, my son Jase was born. So instead of going in May or June like the previous two trips, we waited and went in December when Jase was 19 months old. His second trip wasn’t until Lexie came along. When she was 21 months and Jase was 4, we made another trip in December. (That is a wonderful time to go – great weather, low crowds, and it is decorated for Christmas.)

DSCN3051Our last trip was in May 2012. We had planned to go as soon as Jase got out of kindergarten. But a month or so before we went, my husband lost his job and decided to start his own business. He didn’t feel he could be away from his new endeavor so my mom stepped in and went with us. But my husband felt left out so we are planning a trip at the beginning of June 2014. We picked this time mainly because we will be at Disney during their Star Wars weekends.

Most people who have been on a Disney World trip know that there really is a lot of planning involved. Those newbies are often overwhelmed by the sheer size of Disney World and all it has to offer. So I wanted to write just a few tips to get any beginners pointed in the right direction.

1.) Buy or check out a guide to Disney World – This is a good way to get an overview of everything offered and is even helpful for those who haven’t gone in a while to find out about the new attractions or other changes. Both the Official guide or any of the unofficial guides are good. I personally like The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.

Another good option is to check out AllEars.net.  You can find some great information there but do verify pricing or menu items listed with the actual Disney website.

2.) Visit the Disboards This is a good resource for information that is coming from people who love Disney. You can learn A LOT from these people. But I will warn you that there are some “hot” topics that you will want to avoid such as how to cheat the system. There is no way to list all the “hot” topics, but it won’t take you long to find them.

3.) Make Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) – If you want to eat in a restaurant in Disney World – especially one that features character interaction – then you will need a reservation. Do not expect to walk up to a restaurant and be shown to a table. Many restaurants are booked months in advanced and the chance of a walking up and getting a table for the most popular places is very slim. Disney opens reservations 180 days BEFORE you arrive. DSCN2988I know, I know – how do you know which park you will be at that far in advance? This is why I said you NEED to plan. The hardest reservation to get is Cinderella’s Royal Table where you get to eat in Cinderella’s castle.

If you are interested in other activities such as an appointment for your little princess at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (a hair/nails and make up place for girls 3-12 years old) or a Pirate Adventure for your little pirate, then you will also want to make appointments for these in advance.

I have barely scratched the surface of the things you should know before you go. There is still Fastpass +, Photopass +, Magic bands and a whole lot more. I will be writing about visiting Disney World over the next few months as we plan our June vacation.

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