Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The Dis Part 1: Planning Your Trip to Disney World
So you are thinking about a trip to Walt Disney World? Yahooooo! This is definitely one of those trips where the planning is part of the fun. There are so many great resources out there it can be a little overwhelming so I am here to help!
Check back for the rest of this series in the coming weeks:
Part 2: The Build-up (Fun ways to build the excitement leading up to the trip. Think: Printable Vacation Countdown Paper Chain)
Part 3: Packing & Planning (Tons of ideas to help you KIS –keep it simple– and make sure you are prepared. Teaser: Buy glow sticks at the dollar store before you go!)
Part 4: At Last... The Mouse! (Apps and other things to help you make the most of your time at THE DIS!)
So let me give you a little background. My family and I have been very lucky to have visited Disney many times over the years. There is no ONE way to do this vacation but I will share with you what we do and has worked for us. You will find your own way! 8:) <---- that is a smiley with Mickey ears by the way.
On or Off WDW Property?
We ALWAYS stay on the Walt Disney World property. Whether we are going budget or all out, we find the convenience and ease of staying "on property" is totally worth it. For us, not having to drive a car, the free transfer from the airport on the Magical Express, the beautiful facilities and the non-stop magic of being in a Disney hotel seal the deal for us. Even if you are planning to go somewhere else (say Sea World), it is easy to hop a cab or a shuttle.
Budget or Fancy Schmancy?
We have stayed at the All-Star hotels and Pop Century (on the "budget" end of things) and the Beach Club and Boardwalk (on the "fancier" end of things) and a few in between. We have always been impressed with our accommodations no matter where we have stayed. We have also been in rooms that needed a little love both at the budget resorts and the fancy one. One way to avoid this is to take a look at see how recently your hotel was refurbished (if you do not see your hotel on that list, search that site for the name of your hotel and the word "refurbish." For example, "Boardwalk refurbish.") Also if you get to your room and it is not everything you hoped for, ask to be switched to another room and tell them why. Customer service is WDW's strong point and you shouldn't settle for anything less.
How to Book
I have always made reservations through the Walt Disney site but have friends who have had good luck booking with a travel agent. Add yourself to Disney's email list to be alerted when they have special packages and deals. (Click here, scroll to the bottom right and you will see a place to sign up for updates!) If you are flexible about what time of year you can go you can get some amazing deals. One time my sister got the Disney Dining Plan for FREE for her whole family. Score! Different times of year cost less than others. For a quick look at the ups and downs of each resort's pricing schedule (for 2013), go here.
Renting at Disney?
Yup! You can actually "rent" points for a stay at WDW from Disney Vacation Club members. My mom is a DVC member and when she isn't going to be able to use her points, I help her rent them to family or friends. I cannot give this option a higher recommendation, particularly if you are traveling with kids. By staying in a DVC villa, you get a ton more bang for your buck. Even if you stay in a "Studio," you will have a mini kitchen which is perfect for making breakfast and snacks. All villas larger than a studio have full kitchens. To look into renting points I recommend David's Vacation Club Rentals. To have groceries delivered to your villa I recommend Garden Grocer. They will also purchase alcohol for you. You just put what you want in the comment section when you order. They will call you to go over your booze selections and to collect payment. For some reason it has to be separate from the groceries. TOTALLY worth it so whatevs. Even though there is a delivery fee and you need to tip, it can save you some big bucks!
Ok, I think that is probably ENOUGH for you to think about for now. 8:) Let me leave you with a short list of my all-time fave WDW websites. Proceed with caution: they are loaded with info. Just remember to enjoy yourself and do not let yourself get stressed out. Some people get so dramatic and it cracks me up. It is vacation! And you are going to Disney, BABY!
Must see sites:
1. All Ears Net (if I had to only pick ONE site, this would be it. The photo galleries alone are AMAZING. Every possible photo you can think of is there. The bathroom in a 2 bedroom garden-view Villa at the Beach Club? Yup, they've got it.)
4. David's Vacation Club Rentals (Be sure to scroll down a little on the main page. There is some good info that will give you a good idea of what this renting thing is all about.)
p.s. Happy to answer any questions. Just write to me here or on Facebook! Also let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see me cover in parts 2-4!
p.p.s. Ready for Part 2? Ready, set, gooooo!