Disney Vacation Planning: Kelly’s Favorite Tips

Hello Affordable Mouse fans!! This month we are talking all about our favorite Disney Travel Tips. So grab an iced cold beverage and enjoy the ride as I take you on an inside look at how my family and I make our Walt Disney World vacations affordable and successful!

Favorite Disney Travel Planning Tips (this is before you travel)

I always say that planning your Walt Disney World vacation is an attraction in itself. Planning your trip is what starts to get you pumped for the day you depart.  It is VERY important to plan your trip in advance, especially if you are a new Disney traveler. Planning helps you budget better, get more bang for your buck and feel like you got the most for the money. Do you see a theme here? Money!!!

  • Hop online and join a Disney forum- I like Intercot.com it is a wonderful community of thousands of Disney lovers that are ready to help answer any questions that you have regarding your trip. The people on these forums bleed Disney….(yes, you will find me on there too) they love to talk to you all about your trip. Don’t be shy…introduce yourself and start asking!
  • Understand the size of Walt Disney World-It is HUGE! You will be doing a lot of walking and I recommend spending some time researching a good shoe option. If you have angry feet, you may not have such a magical trip. :)
  • Make a top 5 list- My family and I create a top 5 list of things that we would like to do at each park.  This way if we are able to do more than 5 things at that park for the day…we feel like we accomplished a lot.

Favorite Tips For Choosing Where to Stay

Where you chose to stay can truly impact your vacation from budget to comfort level. The first thing that should dictate where you chose to stay is budget. Know in advance how much you are willing to spend on your vacation. A large portion of your spending money will go towards your resort.  Next, think about other trips you have taken in the past…what did you enjoy about your past vacations? What was the theme of past resorts you have stayed at? Disney has 22 resorts on property and I can guarantee you that at least one of them is ready to become your Disney home.  Here is what helps us to decide:

  • Price is HUGE! We would much rather have a longer stay at Disney in a value resort, then a shorter stay at a Deluxe resort. This is up to the family that is traveling and their travel needs.
  • As our family has grown over the years we have opted to stay at the value category which allows us to makes yearly trips to Disney.
  • Ambiance- We love being fully immersed in the Disney ambiance. For us that means lively atmosphere, whimsical decorations and a fun time!! This is why our resort of choice is Pop Century.

Favorite Touring Tips and Strategies

The way you tour the parks is solely based upon your personal needs in the parks. My family spends so much time planning before we travel; from dining, to resort choice, flights, room decorations…that we do not like to stick to too much of a schedule once we are there.  The way we like to tour is based upon what we feel like for that particular day. Here are some of the deciding factors that help us decide what to do for the day at Walt Disney World.

  • Rope Drop- We are HUGE rope drop fans. We just love seeing that early morning show and being the first people to enter the park. Don’t get me wrong…we are not normally early morning risers, but the thrill of being at the park first thing is just amazing to us!!
  • Extra Magic Hours- I know that many touring strategy books will tell you to avoid the parks that have EMH for the day. We actually do the exact opposite…we go in for the kill. :0) We find that we truly enjoy spending that extra special time in the parks. And we are always able to tackle that top 5 list during EMH.
  • Morning- I know this is a general tip. Let me tell you…if you can get yourself to wake up early and hit the parks when they open, you will accomplish more between park opening and lunch then you could all day long. By 11 AM we are ready to beat the lunch crowd and eat. By noon we are back at the resort for a catnap/swim.  Until dinner where we do it all over again. J

Favorite Disney Dining Tips

Planning dining is our favorite part of planning a Disney trip. We love to try new foods…even the kids do!! We love to research Disney menus before we make our Advanced Dining Reservations and this helps us decide where we should eat.  I highly recommend visiting Allears.net for a fully updated list of menus and dining locations.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Try something new- You are on vacation…try not to limit yourself to the same old foods that you are used to.  We love to see our kids try new things and say that they actually like it. On our last trip my daughter tried escargot in France and loved it!!
  • Make dining an attraction by choosing a location that offers a dinner show and a plethora of food. One location that my family LOVES is Biergarten. Not only do you get a show that keeps the kids entertained but they have some fun adult beverages and a full buffet that is sure to please anyone. In addition, it is only 1 dining credit if you happen to be on the Disney Dining Plan.
  • Do a little research on how to get the best snack credits. When used properly, you can get a small meal for that little snack credit that you have. We are always on the hunt for something new and adventurous when it comes time to get a snack…can anyone say “cream cheese stuffed pretzel?” Yummmmy!!!

Favorite Tips For Saving Money

Do your Disney homework. Know how your family likes to travel and research ways to have the best trip that suites your needs. My family likes to eat…so naturally we always save money for the Disney Dining Plan. I could not afford to feed them the way they like if we did it any other way. Maybe your family likes to shop…if that is the case then put a good portion of money aside that will allow you to get in some quality shopping time.  Here are some ways that we save money in the parks:

  1. All of us are on a souvenir budget….yes even me. :0) Before we leave for Disney World we go to the Disney  Store (if you don’t have one you can go online) and purchase Disney Gift Cards in the amount of money we saved for shopping.  This is a great way to hold my family to the budget and also allow them to get some things that they would like to have.
  2. Seems to be a theme but do your research. There are ways to get things at Disney for a lower cost. Just a few weeks ago Nancy posted an article all about getting great Disney staple items for less money…you can read it here.
  3. Follow blogs just like The Affordable Mouse. Disney bloggers are by far the most dedicated bloggers around…we are committed to the integrity of Disney’s name and also bringing you the best money saving information around.  Following is after all, they way I gained all of my Disney knowledge. :0)

Thank you so much for visiting with us this week. I would love to know all about your favorite tips for Disney travel.

See ya real soon!! ~ Kelly

Want help planning your Disney vacation? Find out how the FREE services of a Disney World travel agent can make it all simple…and save you time and money too!

Kelly, her husband, and three children live in the Chicagoland area. Kelly has been traveling to Walt Disney World since the age of two. She considers Walt Disney World to be her primary vacation destination. With 20 plus trips under her belt she still enjoys researching and learning new things about the most magical place on earth! Kelly began Disney Guru in August of 2010 with the vision of sharing fun vacation tips and magic with all fans of Disney World.

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This entry was posted in Affordable Disney Vacations, Disney Vacation Planning, Saving Money at Disney World, Saving Money on Accommodations, Saving Money on Food, Saving Money on Souvenirs, What to Do at Disney World and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Disney Vacation Planning: Kelly’s Favorite Tips

  1. Bird says:

    Kelly, this a perfectly rounded post. It has the basics of everything you need for the perfect trip! Well said and great post!

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