My family and I headed down to Walt Disney World this November, and based on a recent Facebook conversation, I realized many of you are eager for Disney tips related to planning a vacation there. I’m excited to share with you what we are learning as we go through the fun (and also overwhelming) process of booking everything, packing our bags, getting ourselves down there (it’s an 8 1/2 car trip for us…too expensive to fly!), and then figuring out how to make the most of our time while we are there.
This Isn’t My First Rodeo…Sort Of
I grew up about 6 hours from Walt Disney World, so it was close enough that by the time I was in college I had been a total of 6 times. But I haven’t been back since 2000, and I’ve never been at all when I have had to be in charge of children. I always WAS the kid! So while I know exactly what to expect in some ways, a lot has also changed (Fast Pass+, the dining plans, and lots of new rides) and instead of doing back-to-back Space Mountain visits, I’ll be doing back-to-back Little Mermaid rides. And I’m SO excited about taking my girls, you guys. One of the best things about being a parent is getting to relieve childhood through play with your children. And there’s no place on earth more magical than Disney World…I’m about to get to be a kid again (at least for stretches of time) for a whole week!
Fair Warning: Disney is Expensive
I’ve never had to pay for a Disney vacation, before (though I did pay for my own tickets the last time I went) so I get to experience that joy for the first time. ;-)I want to be clear with you guys about exactly what I’m paying for, and what I will be partnering with companies to review and/or promote (just like always!). My husband and I have been saving up for a Disney vacation since the month after our oldest was born, and she’ll be 5 in a few weeks. So we’ve been saving up for 5 years to do this. And it’s a good thing, because we’re footing the bill for our tickets, hotel, food and gas. If you haven’t been saving for half a decade, like me, don’t panic. Your trip doesn’t have to look like mine, and your budget may not be the same as mine, either!
In future posts I’ll be sharing a breakdown of our budget so you can see all the details. I’m not being sponsored to write about this process, so we’re talking about money that I’m choosing to spend. That’s an important distinction for many folks because you might be wondering if I would have booked this exact trip if it had been coming out of my own pocket. Wonder no more, because it is! 🙂
Tip #1: Where to Start When Planning Your Trip
When you are ready to start planning a trip to Disney (12 months out or less…but not less than 6 months, ideally) the first thing you need to do is get in touch with a Disney travel agent. Disney travel agents are paid for their time by Disney, and they are paid whether you book a ridiculously expensive and indulgent trip, a super budget-conscious trip, or no trip at all. There is truly NO PRESSURE from them to make a purchase, and that is awesome! I have been working with Leanne Phelps and I very highly recommend her. She has a lot of great ideas and she can get you a wide variety of price quotes based on your family’s needs. She has also vacationed at Walt Disney World (and been on a Disney cruise!) several times and has personally stayed at several properties, and this gives her some great insight into what to expect at various hotels, as well as how to maximize your time in the parks. If you are getting ready to plan a trip, reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her Tiffany from Stuff Parents Need sent you. I only get good karma for the referral, but I’ll gladly take it!
You can actually plan out the exact same trip that a Disney travel agent will plan for you, and the price tag will be exactly the same (so again, there is NO upcharge for using an official Disney travel agent). Since it is a free service, I can’t say enough what a difference it makes to take advantage of it. I’ve got someone watching out for any Disney promotions that come up, searching for character dining for me, making the reservations we want in a flash, and on standby to help me navigate the world of Fastpass+. She’s there to help all along the way, not just with ordering tickets and making hotel reservations. What an awesome service!!!
What Do You Want to Know About Disney Vacations?
My next post is going to talk about the package we selected, and the cost breakdown for us. I’d love to hear what else you want to know about when it comes to planning a Disney vacation. Or perhaps you have been, yourself, and have some tips and tricks that you’d like to share. I’m all (mouse) ears!