As I mentioned back in October, we are planning a trip to Disney World in Florida. We will be there during the first week of June – as soon as the kids get out of school.
Since my last post, we have booked our airfare – non-stop flights on Southwest both ways – and we have booked our resort package. As I said before, we prefer to stay at a Disney hotel, so we are immersed in the “Disney bubble” during our stay.
When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Disney World, my grandmother paid. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We loved it. In fact, we stay there each time we go. We have had no desire to try one of the other 20 on-site resorts.
For those of you traveling to Disney World and looking at staying on Disney’s property, they offer resorts at three price levels – value, moderate and deluxe. With each move up to a higher priced resort, your amenities get better. For the budget-conscious families, there are values with over-the-top Disney themes. The moderates and deluxes still have a Disney feel but without going overboard. Rooms get bigger, and you gain more dining and recreation options as you pay more for your resort. The location of the deluxes are always the closest to the parks. The Caribbean Beach is a moderate level resort closest to Epcot.
Now in December we went ahead and booked our package, which includes our resort stay and park tickets. You can of course find deals outside the Disney website for both tickets and hotel, which can save you some money (but not always). We, however, have always just bought from Disney so that everything is ready for us when we arrive. Now Disney is not running any promotions for June yet, but I will be watching for them this month and will call and have any room discounts they offer applied to our reservation. That is one good thing about Disney, they make it easy to adjust an already existing package.
The reason we went ahead and booked our package is that our 180 days before our trip was fast approaching. As I mentioned in the last post, at 180 days before your trip, you can make dining reservations. If you have a package booked, you can actually make your reservations for the first 10 days of your trip at your 180-day mark.
So on Dec. 6, I got up early and logged in online to make our reservation to eat dinner at Cinderella Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom and our Donald’s Dining Safari breakfast in the Animal Kingdom.
We also never miss eating at the Sci-Fi Dine In (pictured to the left) at Hollywood Studios, and since we are going during the last weekend of Star Wars weekends, I needed to get that reservation as soon as possible as Hollywood Studios will be busy.
Now this isn’t to say that you can’t book your dining reservation later. You don’t HAVE to plan six months in advance where you want to eat. But if you want an extremely popular place or a character dining experience, you need to book as soon as you know where and when you want to eat. If you wait until you are at the theme parks, you will most likely find yourself turned away from the restaurants. Restaurants at the resorts may have same-day reservations but again, any of the really popular place (especially during peak vacation days such as the summer, spring break, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) will be booked in advanced.
Also at our 180-day mark, we booked the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom for Lexie. (There is also a location in Downtown Disney.) We have her princess makeover appointment in the afternoon before our dinner at Cinderella’s castle. I am sure she will love it. For Jase, we have him set up to become a pirate at Pirates League during the same time.
During Christmas week, we received a personalized package from Disney to get us excited about our upcoming trip. It certainly worked on Jase who excitedly read the whole brochure and kept coming to tell me all the things we could do with our magic bands. The package included the brochure and a Mickey flash drive.
The flash drive takes you to a website where they discuss magic bands (colorful bands that allow you to enter your room and the theme parks) and fastpass + (a system where you can book rides at popular attractions without having to stand in line). Of course both of these items are new to Disney with testing beginning this past summer. These two programs are still in the test phase and many changes have happened over the past months. This is one reason I stay on the Disboards to keep up on all the changes. You just have to ignore the Doom & Gloom group who are balking at changes to the Fastpass program. So far I am looking forward to the changes and we have already customized our magic bands though they will not ship to us until May.