1. Use a travel agent. Seriously…It costs NOTHING and gives you the peace of mind that your whole vacation is taken care of, including reservations, dining, getting your trip booked, etc. Even those of us who know a lot about Disney use them! It just makes it easier and less stressful knowing an true expert has helped us out.
2. Websites. Ours at The Affordable Mouse is pretty awesome and packed with ideas. I love looking on the Disney site too. Another good one is the Disney Blog. We also enjoy looking on TripAdvisor at the pictures of the resorts, but don’t take the reviews too seriously, some people are very picky and complain!
3. Guidebooks. I love to read up on EVERYTHING about Disney before I go, even though we’ve been a ton of times. There is always something new to try, and to see. I go to the library and borrow the latest books (all 2014 books are already out with all update information) and if there is one I really love, I may buy it. Read about your resort, read about the parks and rides and what your family may like to do. Read, read, read!
4. Plan your itinerary. Your travel agent can help you. The websites and guidebooks can help you. Or you can figure it out yourself. Whether you plan every minute or have a loose schedule, it’s a good idea to have a rough game plan of what you want to see and do.
5. Think about your feet. Buy comfy shoes. Start walking. If you and the family aren’t used to walking miles a day, work that into your schedule now. You need to build up endurance to go go go all day! Make sure your new shoes are broken in BEFORE your trip. I really love these shoes because I love wearing sandals, but my feet have to be comfortable. The past two trips we’ve taken I have worn these and my feet never hurt!
6. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. This is good travel advice over all. Of course your vacation will probably go smoothly, but be ready for some things just in case. Pack essential health items, or you’ll be paying a lot in the parks/resorts for them. Things like pain killers, meds for kids, bandaids, sunscreen and aloe, blister kits, sewing kits and tummy meds (we like Tums, GasX and Pepto – we eat a lot on our trips and our stomachs can’t always handle it) and don’t forget the drammamine or bonine for those of you who get motion sickness!
7. Book ahead! All you need is $200 to book a trip to Disney this year! Then, you can pay it off as quickly or slowly as you wish, as long as it’s paid in full by 45 days before your trip. We love doing this! It makes it easier not saying goodbye to all that hard earned cash all at once
8. Know the weather. Florida has great weather year round, but keep an eye on the weather patterns for the time of year you are traveling. If you are going November – March, it does get a little chilly some nights in Disney (one year we had to buy hats and gloves, it was so cold!! That was in December!) Pack accordingly. It can get really steamy in the summer, so keep that in mind. Bring a bathing suit for all seasons! Ponchos or umbrellas are a good idea too, rain doesn’t usually last long but it can be intense!
9. Budget. How much are you setting aside for souvenirs? Are you on the dining plan? If not, you’ll have to save a chunk for meals and snacks. Make sure you account for water, or have some delivered from Garden Grocer (our favorite!) Make sure you have a plan for where your money is going, and that your travel party is aware of it. It’s helpful to give kids their own budget!
10. Special events and Extra Magic Hours. Are you doing any special events like a dinner package or shows? Check the times on shows and events, and days which they are occurring. Some events cost extra, so keep that in mind. If you aren’t doing any special events, try to plan around them so you don’t get caught up in the crowds! Know the Extra Magic Hours (EMH) before you go, these are the times that parks open early or stay open late for resorts guests. We love using these to maximize our time in the parks!
Overall, I like to do as much planning ahead of time so that we aren’t stressing out about anything on our trip. We can concentrate on being together, having fun, and seeing as much as we can. It really pays to plan ahead!
Tina works full time as a school counselor in an elementary school. She lives close to Baltimore, MD with her husband Dave and her 13 year old stepdaughter, Ashley. They also have a furry family member, a cat name Frodo, that keeps life interesting in their house! Tina began visiting Disney World as a child with her family, and now her, Dave & Ashley take a trip to the World every year. She considers herself a Disney “fanatic” and once her family is finished one trip, she is already planning their next one. Tina loves to find the best deals, even in the busy seasons (she can only go when schools are off!) and loves sharing those deals & tips with anyone and everyone! What Tina loves most is the magic of WDW, it makes her feel like a kid again. She hopes that every family has the opportunity go to the World and experience the magic for themselves because it has a way of reminding its visitors that dreams do indeed come true! Read more of Tina’s work on her blog A Not So Bland Life, where she writes about home decor, cooking, couponing, traveling, and and of course, Disney!