It may sound cliché, but Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, truly is a magical place. It is the place where little ones come face to face with princesses and beloved cartoon characters, a place where adults rediscover their inner child and teenagers actually talk to their parents. But it can also be a bit overwhelming, and without proper preparation, a trip to Disney can feel like anything but the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are a few tips for making the most of your Disney vacation.
Plan well in advance
There are vacations that can be planned on the spur of the moment and those where advance planning is key – Disney World is the latter. “While it’s possible to plan a wonderful last-minute trip to Walt Disney World, ideally you want to have your reservation in place 180 days in advance,” explains Holly McGuire, CEO of Hi Ho Vacations. “Planning in advance will allow you to have the best choice in resort availability, especially during peak season.” This is key, because anytime kiddos are out of school, resorts fill early. Getting a jumpstart on your Disney vacation planning will also give you more flexibility in securing FastPass+ times and character dining reservations.
Pick the timing that works for your family
Low crowd season is becoming a thing of the past. Rather than relying on crowd calendars to choose the perfect timing, focus on visiting at a time that works for your family. “Do you want to be sure you see the Christmas decorations? Don’t want to miss Food and Wine Festival at Epcot? Maybe you want to be sure it’s warm enough to visit the water parks or use the pool. There are several factors to consider when choosing a time to visit, and the answer is not the same for every family,” McGuire says.
Use a travel planner
A trip to Disney is packed with possibilities – so many possibilities, it can seem overwhelming at times. Enlisting help from the experts will not only save you time, but it is also a great way to save money. “An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner’s [like Hi Ho Vacations] goal is to make the planning process fun and easy, and tailored to each family,” McGuire says. “We review vacation preferences, goals of the trip and build suggestions specific to individual families at no cost to them. Hi Ho Vacations is 100 percent free to all clients.”
Stay at a Disney resort
Don’t let the sticker price deter you – staying at a Disney resort is really the only way to go. As a resort guest, you receive complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, as well as unlimited transfer to and from all parks, water parks and Disney Springs. “Onsite guests have the ability to select dining for their entire trip 180 days in advance and select FastPass+ times 60 days before check in [30 days for offsite guests],” McGuire says. “Walt Disney Resorts guests also have the ability to purchase a dining plan, which if utilized fully, can save a good amount of money on meals. Not to mention you are staying in the middle of the magic – not a chain hotel next to the magic.”
Most importantly, roll with the punches. Disney can be hot and crowded, and chances are you’ll get caught in a pop-up rain shower or two, but with the proper planning, it can also be the source of your family’s favorite memories for years to come. And that ride you didn’t get to? That is just one more reason to plan your next visit.
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