So, life became a little ho-hum, and you’ve decided it needs to be more hi-ho. Naturally, a trip to the most magical place on Earth is in order! But before you pack your pixie dust, there are a few things to keep in mind. Let’s start with the 5 Things you MUST DO BEFORE Booking your Walt Disney World Vacation!
* A Walt Disney World vacation can be overwhelming to plan – but don’t panic! I’m here to help make the process more Splash Mountain and less Hollywood Tower of Terror! This post is the first in a series of my absolute favorite Walt Disney World vacation tips and tricks. Let’s go through the process step-by-step and get you ready for the vacation of a lifetime! *”
1. Check Crowd Calendars
For most people, the options for when to take a vacation are limited, but there may still be a bit of flexibility. That’s where crowd calendars come in super handy. Most of these amazing calendars are easily color-coded to help you tell when crowds are lightest. Lighter crowds often correspond with lower room rates and other special discounts, so these can be the least stressful times of year to visit for many reasons.
Even if you aren’t able to plan your trip around a time when the crowds are light, these calendars can help you prepare mentally for what you will be walking into. Those of use who tend toward the socially anxious side of things – raises hand – can use them to brace ourselves for the amount of people we’ll be forced to rub elbows with.
I used many different crowd calendars when planning our trip, but my hands-down favorite was this one from WDW Prep School .
If the crowd calendar says your dates will be incredibly busy AND you’re not able to change them, DON’T PANIC! Our last trip was during one of the busiest weeks of the year, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the ease with which we were able to navigate the crowds by having planned ahead! Look for a post on how to beat the Walt Disney World crowds coming soon!
2. Investigate the Resorts
There are more than 25 places to stay on the Walt Disney Property! Searching through all those can be overwhelming, but narrowing down the options is easier than you may think.
The resorts are broken down into price point: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas. Value resorts are the most affordable. They have bright theming for the kids, and offer fewer amenities than their more expensive counterparts. Moderate resorts can offer more theming, extra bus stops, and better amenities. Plus, they are significantly less expensive than the Deluxe resorts. Deluxe resorts are the cream-of-the crop, meaning they are more expensive. These resorts offer more exclusive amenities, and are closer to the parks. The Deluxe Villas are every bit as grand as the Deluxe resorts, and also offer a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, a washer and dryer, and more.
My personal favorite resort is Port Orleans Riverside. It’s a moderate resort, but you are able to get a preferred room for not much more per night than many of the Value resorts. You can also reserve a Royal Guest Room, which is an elegantly themed room designed for your family’s visit with Princess Tiana. These rooms are great for princess lovers, but they aren’t overtly feminine, so everyone will love them! I’ll tell you much more about this wonderful resort in an upcoming post!
3. Decide if Character Dining is for You
Character meals can be a HUGE part of the Disney experience, and there truly is something for everyone. From princesses, to Mickey and friends, to Disney Junior characters, if you love a character you can probably have a meal with them somewhere at Walt Disney World. These meals can get expensive, however, and some require a deposit to book a reservation. Also, as with most Table Service dining at Walt Disney World, these book up to 180 days in advance. You definitely need to make an Advanced Dining Reservation if you want to eat with royalty, folks! It’s important to determine whether or not character meals are something your family will want to do, and if so how many, in order to set a practical and reasonable budget for your trip.
4. Set a Firm Budget
It’s easy to go overboard in planning a Walt Disney World vacation. It’s SUPER IMPORTANT to set a limit on what you can afford to spend and STICK TO IT! If you’re hitting the Magic Kindom this year, you can easily estimate the cost with the planning features on the Walt Disney World website. However, next year’s prices and packages have not been released yet, so you’ll have to get creative to estimate those. Since you’ve already narrowed down your hotel choices, you can check out this list from MouseSavers to get an idea of what your room choices would have cost this year. These prices tend to change every year, and there is no guarantee that your guesstimate will be accurate, but this will help give you a good starting point for your budget.
Watch for an in-depth Budgeting for Walt Disney World post coming soon!
5. Do We Tell the Kids?
This is my last pre-booking tip. Decide whether or not you are going to tell your children immediately or surprise them later. Do you want them to open a “We’re going to Disney!” gift on Christmas morning? Or do you want to wait to tell them until you leave for the airport? We told our daughter almost a year in advance of her first trip. I would have loved surprise her on Christmas morning, or at her birthday party before we left, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to keep it a secret! I don’t want you to have the same regrets, so trust me here and give this one some thought!
There you have it – my 5 Things To Do Before Booking your Walt Disney World Vacation!
Is there anything you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments!