Disney is one of the most magical experiences a person can have in their lifetime. We all grew up watching Disney movies, wearing Disney paraphernalia, buying Disney toys, and some of us have even had the ultimate Disney experience by going to the parks. As we get older we still have a place in our hearts for the joy and happiness that Disney has brought to us over the years, and now it is time we pass that excitement onto our children or grandchildren. We think about taking them to Walt Disney World in Florida to hear their laughter and see their smiles as they ride the rides, eat giant turkey legs, and meet their favorite Disney characters. Unfortunately, for most people a rush of anxiety hits almost immediately after all these wonderful thoughts. The anxiety of how much will the trip cost, how am I going to entertain them for a week, which parks should we do, where to eat, dining plan or no dining plan, etc. Yikes! The amount of questions that floods one’s head is way too overwhelming that most people decide not to plan a Disney experience or put if off for a while.
Eventually, one has to start planning a Disney experience for the kids. My advice is to jump in with both feet because I am here to tell you how to make it less stressful. Yes, less stressful because there is no way to take all the stress out of planning a Disney experience for the family. However, you can make it less stressful and enjoy the vacation as much as the kids will.
Like any vacation you should definitely start early. Disney has a lot of properties, restaurants, parks, and experiences and if you don’t start early you could miss out on some spectacular offerings. For example, most people start a year or 18 months in advance once they have figured out when they want to go. The best place to start is to pick which resort you would like to stay at. There are so many great resorts that will cover all of your family’s needs including: budget, pools, themed rooms such as the Princess themed rooms, or great restaurants right in the resort. Once you have narrowed down your choices of which resort to stay at, you are a quarter of the way done with the planning.
Next, people consider how many days they want to go to the parks. Most people stay 7 nights or 8 days so I always recommend a 7 day park pass. This way if your flight gets there early on day 1 you can hit the parks, especially the Magic Kingdom since it is open late, sometimes 1am. Even though you are staying on Disney property you don’t have to do just Disney. Universal Studios and Sea World are close by and on a rainy day the Crayola Experience is a great way to keep the kids occupied. However, you would need to rent a car, book a service, or call a taxi cab. Once you have considered which parks you want to do you are now another quarter of the way done!
Let’s talk about dining. In the good old days you used to be able to go into any Disney restaurant and get a table. Things have really changed when it comes to dining at Disney. You can start making reservations for your dining 180 days prior to your first day of arrival and for an additional 10 days of stay. Some restaurants are so popular that you if you don’t call at midnight on the 180 day you may not get a reservation. Getting tables for larger parties is even harder so picking where you want to eat and making those reservations close to the 180 days will surly get you a table. When it comes to dining you also have to consider whether or not you want to add a dining plan to your reservation, which can only be done if staying on property. The Disney dining plan is great if you plan to do a lot of nice sit down meals or character meet and eats, as these are costly. The dining plan also helps if you don’t want to constantly be pulling your credit card out of your pocket. It is already paid for, but make sure to understand how many meals are included with your plan. If you miss a meal you will not receive a refund. If you plan on doing a long weekend in Disney then I would not recommend using the dining plan. Once you have figured out where to eat and if you want to add the dining plan you done with another quarter of the planning. 75% of your Disney vacation is planned!
The last part of your Disney planning experience is your day by day itinerary. If you have never been to Disney before this can be quite a challenge. There are so many great rides and shows to see in each park but it is impossible to get to do half of them in a day, especially when there are long lines. When planning this part you want to plan with the family. Let your family tell you want they want to do. This way you can incorporate one thing from each family member into the day and everyone is happy. Once you have an idea of the itinerary don’t forget to get on your My Disney Experience 60 days prior and reserve your FastPasses for those rides.
Great! You are pretty much done now. You only have to show up and enjoy your time at Disney. One thing to remember is that sometimes thing don’t go as planned but that is ok. There will always be something else to do. The kids will not be disappointed by their Disney experience at all and will be talking about all the great memories for weeks after the vacation.
On a side note. Our agency now offers day by day planning for those who do not want to or have the time to plan their entire Disney experience. We have put together itineraries to fit all families and we will even put together your my Disney experience. We do charge an extra fee for this service but this will elevate even more of your stress of planning an amazing Disney experience.
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