Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ultimate Walt Disney World Planning List

Why yes blog readers..this is yet another Disney post! Seeing as how I think about WDW multiple times a day, there is bound to be a once a week (minimum) blog post about the Happiest Place on Earth.

Here are a few tips and tricks to planning the perfect WDW vacation.

1. Try to plan your trip AT LEAST one year in advance. - Obviously airfare is impossible to plan this far in advance, but everything else Disney related can accommodate your plan ahead attitude! This is especially important for those ADRs (advanced dining reservations) that you need to make exactly 180 days in advance. The dining possibilities are endless and research needs to be done before you start calling 'The World to make your reservations.


2. If you are bringing children be sure to grossly outnumber them with adults - This is especially important if your children are under the age of 10 (ish). WDW offers many activities and fun things for adults to do. Since you are paying so much money make sure to plan some adult time, you will not regret it. Not to mention that the parks are much easier to handle when there are more adults than children.

3. If you choose not to stay on property, at least make sure that your hotel is within one mile of the WDW resort. - Orlando traffic is brutal. It's very much like LA in that no one walks there. The closer you are to 'The World, the better your commute and the less time everyone spends in the car getting cranky.

4. Do not expect to do everything all in a one week trip. - This is where people go majorly wrong. You have to go in there with a bit of perspective. Even the person that goes once a year never gets everything done in a one week trip. There is just way too much to do. Make a list of "must dos" and let everything else come as it may. You want to enjoy your vacation, not rush around like a crazy person.

5. Soak in the sites. - The Disney Company is a stickler for details. So when you are waiting in an hour line, take a look around...soak up your surroundings..even find some hidden Mickeys! My favorite part of WDW is the details and that there is always something to look at.

Hidden Mickey
6. People watch! - People watching is one of my absolute favorite things to do at WDW. So many people from so many walks of life all decked out in their Disney finest! I actually plan my outfits for the people watchers...gotta give them something to look at!

7. Eat at 50's Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios. - Seriously, you will not be disappointed by this dining choice!

8. Drink your way around the world in Epcot. - This is where having a baby sitter comes in handy!

9. Early Fall (after the kids go back to school) is the best time of year to go. - Late September/Early October = Prime Disney visiting time.

10. Get a free personalized map. - Disney has a free service (shocking, I know) that offers you a free, personalized map of the whole resort. Go here for more details.

11. Dining Plan - This topic really requires a whole 'nother blog post but here is the gist of it - If you plan on not renting a car and spending all your time on property, then the dining plan is probably for you. If you are renting a car and plan on venturing off the reservation at all, the dining plan is NOT for you. I will explain more in a future post...

12. Don't get fooled when Disney offers a "free dining plan." - Nothing is free in Disney..NOTHING!

13. Do not be afraid to ask a cast member for help with ANYTHING. - CM's go through extensive training to answer to your every whim. They are extremely knowledgeable. Not to mention that each and every one of them has a unique story as to why they started working for 'The Mouse. Some of my favorite Disney books to read are the ones written by former CM's.

14. Be prepared to walk A LOT. - Not just in the parks..but in the parking lots and all over the resorts. Although the area isn't really a "walking" area. The separate resorts are huge and require a lot of walking within them. Not to mention that Epcot has the biggest parking lot in the world. There are trams for the lots to whisk you from your car to the main gates, but there is still a lot of walking involved.

15. Start early and always (ALWAYS) take a mid day break. - This is the single most important Disney World tip I can give you. Even if you don't have children, take the break! That Florida sun is hot hot hot and by 12-1pm everyone deserves a mid day siesta. It will make your trip so much more enjoyable!

16. Take advantage of Disney's PhotoPass. - Disney's PhotoPass is a great system. WDW has photographers posted up at various photo hot spots to take your picture. Once they take the picture they scan it onto a gift card type thing and you go on your merry way. Once you get home, you log onto Disney's PhotoPass system and see what pictures you want to buy and which ones you never want to see again. Now, of course this is expensive so my tip to you would be this - Take as many pictures as you possibly can, and buy the CD/digital download package. It's a flat rate of $165 and it gives you every picture on your PhotoPass card. The reason why I say to take as many pictures as possible is because this rate is the same if you have three pictures or if you have 103 pictures. This is actually one of Disney's better deals.

17. You can not go wrong staying on the Disney property. - I will admit that I was one of those people that didn't think it mattered if you stayed on property...until we stayed at Disney's Old Key West when we went in October. Let me tell you, the experience is unlike any other.

18. Rent DVC points. - Okay, so this is one of Disney's best kept secrets and sort of hard to explain so try to stay with me. As some of you may know Disney has the Disney Vacation Club. What this is, is sort of like a timeshare. You can only buy "stock" at their most deluxe level resorts. Obviously this is tres expensive. BUT there is a loophole. The way the DVC works is on a points system. Every year, DVC members receive a certain number of points and if at the end of the allotted time period they don't use their points, they loose them. So DVC members can go through legit third party business to sell their points to non DVC members. (Still with me?) That's where you can benefit. For example a room for the week at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas through the Disney website will cost you $2196. The same room through a DVC points rental agency will cost you $1218 for the week. It's almost too good to be true, but I can attest that this is a legit thing. It's how The Mister and I were able to afford such a deluxe resort for the week. The catch is this - You have to book VERY early. Sometimes as early as 11 months for the better resorts around the busy time of year. It is non-refundable AND you have to pay in cash upfront. Sorry for the wall of words. It's just so hard to explain. We used and had absolutely no problems with it. It is even certified by the Better Business Bureau!

Happy Planning!

Does anyone have any other planning tips they would like to share?