Planning a Disney vacation can seem like a full time job. We started planning ours well over 180 days before our trip. So I thought I would share some of what I have learned through the process with all of you. Because... really... it is the happiest place on earth! Planning can be half the fun... if you do it right.
My first tip.... use a travel agent.
Not just any travel agent - an authorized Disney Planner. Why? For starters... Disney likes to release different discounts and deals throughout the year. But they won't be released until the season before the one they are releasing for. So if you are going in the spring you can expect discounts to start appearing in the winter. Many of us like to book much farther in advance and hope for a discount (you can always cancel if a discount doesn't appear and you were counting on one to make the trip happen). Obtaining that discount is now your travel agents job. They get to do all the work, research, and phone calls to Disney to get you the best price. This can be complicated and can even involve changing resorts in order to get the best deal or the most for your money. An authorized Disney Planner will know the ins-and-outs and have far more experience to offer you.
Tip number 2... stay on Disney property.
I know... sometimes looking at the cost for a night in a Disney hotel can be scary. But Disney has three different levels of resorts to help you work within your budget (value, moderate, and deluxe). Staying on Disney just makes the magic stay with you 24 hours a day. Disney likes to make staying on property appealing... so they do some great things for their guests staying at their resorts. Magical Express is one of those things. This is transportation from the airport to your resort. They get your bags from baggage claim and deliver them to your room. You need that when traveling with kids! Disney also puts a lot of thought into their hotels. From the food to the room decor you feel like you're in Disney. And by staying on site you get early access to booking your Fast Passes and you get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.
Tip number 3.... do your research.
So many people tell me they just want to wing it and enjoy their vacation. I totally agree. But those two things don't really go together. Having a plan will make things go much more smoothly and help you to avoid missing out on things you would really enjoy. You have to be flexible and go into it expecting things to change. But knowing what things you really want to see and do ahead of time is crucial. And don't forget to make ADR's (advanced dining reservations) for any restaurants that you would like to eat in. Character meals are a must for our family!
Planning a Disney vacation is time consuming, but in the best possible way. Leave the stress out of it but take the time to do it. Read some blogs, check out a Disney planning book, and ask people questions. I have been to Disney many times and every year I am learning about new things I never knew before. I keep reading and exploring and each trip gets better!