Part 1: Research & Booking your trip to Walt Disney World
In November 2016 our family went on a trip to pay homage to the Mouse. We planned an awesome 5 day 4 night trip for 2 adults, 2 kids (ages 6 & 2.5) 1 teen (age 17) and 2 grandparents (who well, could have been considered teens themselves; they went on so many rides). This only represents our trip; there are tons of suggestions out there on the internet.
Have fun and enjoy the planning. Do not let it overwhelm you, as it can easily, but enjoy talking to friends, family, hunting thru blogs and talking to the people behind you at the grocery store. Everyone will have had a different trip, but take all the pieces and create your own. I created a Pinterest board and my mother-in-love and I had a bit of fun pinning all the ideas, must dos, and suggestions to it.
Do your homework there are always packages out there. We researched online at AAA and Disney direct. We went with AAA cause they had better pricing. We booked flights separately as we used our credit card points and frequent flyer miles. If you book your flights separately be sure to give this information to your travel agent as they are able to link your itineraries together. This will eliminate any gaps, or misinformation between your travel and your Disney experience.
You will only have access to booking the Disney meal plan when you book your room and tickets. You can’t add it on later, so know if you want this option. We took the meal plan and it worked well for us. It’s a sit-down, quick service, and snack each day. We had a small soft cooler and zip lock bags and squirreled away food that wasn’t eaten within the meal time for later. Think college days in the mess hall. All transactions are done thru your magic bands for meal plans and room charge purchases (i.e. bottle of wine at dinner, meals not covered in the Disney meal plan, souvenirs etc.) Sometimes the meal plan is free depending the time of year you are booking. If we had gone a week later they were offering it as a promotion.
There are never discounts on park tickets (only FL residents) I’d say just get passes for every day. Even if you spend a whole day at the hotel pool, you can go into the park for dinner and fireworks. I think it would be hard to pick which day you’re doing fun in the sun poolside and not buy passes that far out without a weather report. There is one park that is open late each night. It rotates so grab a schedule and plan from there. For us the Park Hopper was a must. This additional charge isn’t cheap but allows you to go between parks within a single day. We would go to one park for the day and than cross over to another for dinner and fireworks.
We booked our flight for early in the AM. We left our house at 4am and arrived in MCO at 11:30am. We were in our room at the hotel by 1pm. We took advantage of the Disney Magic Express which is the free bus service from the airport to your hotel. With this service your luggage is handled by airport employees and than Disney Cast members (they aren’t called staff or employees). You won’t see it or have to pick it up in the airport upon arrival. They do say it can take up to 3 hours from your arrival time to when your bags arrive in your room. We chose to take naps and unpack taking time to get settled before we hit the parks. We had dinner early at our hotel at 5pm and went strait to the late night park for fastpass+ rides, character meetings, and fireworks. Worked well for us. It was a week day so the fireworks started at 9pm and we were back at the hotel and in bed by 10:30pm. Where we all crashed.
Learn some fun facts about the time of year you’re planning. Mickey Mouse’s Birthday is November 19, 1928. What type of weather or crowds are expected? What holiday will the park be decorated for? If in November you can get an awesome Christmas card photo without a lot of work. Arriving at the same time as Santa? Ship your items already wrapped via Amazon or set up delivery for your hotel. All deliveries are held at the luggage room so you don’t have to worry about little people walking in on them at the wrong time.
Remember this trip, if it’s your first time, can be overwhelming so seek help, support, and enjoy the process and excitement. Happy planning and by the time you get home you’ll be in love with Mickey Mouse and planning when you can go back!
Additional blog posts and more coming soon…
Part 1: Research & Booking
Part 2: Time to Plan & Book your Fun
Bonus: Special Adventures
Part 3: Time to Shop things I purchased ahead of time…
Part 4 Time to pack/hunt; things I brought from home…
Part 5: Final Countdown
Part 6: Here We GO!
Part 7: Playing in the Park
Part 8: Memories & Lessons Learned