All vacations require some advanced planning, but for a Disney newcomer, it can be difficult to know just what to plan for. In order to get the most value out of planning a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s good to know what details you absolutely don’t want to miss.
One of the first steps to getting there is figuring out what type of Disney World park tickets you need. There are 5 different types of park tickets offered for the Walt Disney World Resort, all varying in accommodations and price.
A basic single day, single park ticket. The base ticket will get you in to one of the four Disney theme parks for one day. The Magic Kingdom park ticket is priced slightly higher than the other three parks, though only by a few dollars.
The next step up, this ticket option allows you to choose anywhere from 2 to 10 day packages for a single theme park per day. The Multi-Day Tickets are designed to save you money. The first two days are regularly priced (roughly $94/day), but once you hit a third day, the cost of each day is discounted. Day 3 drops to $91 a day, Day 4 to $73, and so on.
Park Hopper Option
The name says it all – this option is available to add on to any Base Ticket or Multi-Day Ticket, and allows you to enjoy same-day access to any of the four WDW theme parks. For an additional $60 per ticket, it’s a great addition allowing you the freedom to really move about the World as you please.
Water Park Fun and More Option
This add-on offers a certain number of visits to other select WDW locations depending on the length of your stay. For example, a 3-day ticket allows 3 visits, a 4-day ticket allows 4 visits, and so on. It should be noted that a 1-day ticket allows 2 visits.
Memory Maker is a new service that gives unlimited photo access to pictures taken by Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers. Instead of purchasing individual photos, Memory Maker gives you digital access to all PhotoPass images taken throughout the duration of your vacation.
Disney’s newest invention: the Magicband. An amazing, waterproof wristband that holds a (Mickey-shaped) sensor and acts as your room key, park ticket, allows you to charge food, access Fast Pass+ and Disney PhotoPass. It’s basically your magic wand for the trip.
You’ll receive this little gadget if you stay on property at a Disney Resort hotel and is the easiest, fastest way to gain access to all of Walt Disney World’s services. For some FAQs on Magicbands, click here
It’s no secret that Walt Disney World is laden with great dining, but with its surplus of amazing restaurants also comes an overflow of people trying to get into them. Most people only go to Disney World once in a blue moon and want to get into one or more of these incredible eateries, and with the off season becoming shorter and shorter, certain strategies need to be employed to ensure you can get a seat in the restaurant of your choosing. Make sure you have your best vacation and get a dining reservation in Walt Disney World.
For assistance with booking your dining reservations call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) or try the online reservation system for any restaurant of your choosing.
When I think of a Walt Disney World vacation, I can’t imagine doing so without staying on the beautiful property in one of the Disney World Resort hotels. With over 25 resort options to choose from, you get a fully immersive, magical experience, and there are tons of perks to staying on property, and there are tons of benefits to staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Here are just a few of awesome perks to staying on property:
Includes free, in room wi-fi, high end restaurants and spas, multiple pool locations, and world-class Disney service!
Extra Magic Hours
Affectionately known as EMH. This perk is the best! It allows on-site guests with theme park admission to arrive up to one hour early or stay up to three hours past closing time on certain days. You can find specific EMH times here.
Disney’s Magical Express
Free transportation to your hotel from the Orlando International Airport so you don’t have to drag your tired, traveled self into a shuttle or cab. Your luggage will be transferred directly to your room and check-in services are available. To find out more about Magical Express, click here.
Free shipping of park merchandise directly to your resort room. Great for those who don’t want to carry around your souvenirs all day!
Go in the Off Season
Disney World goes through a series of “seasons” throughout each calendar year, and each season determines a variety of factors from crowd levels to room rates. The seasons are the Value Season, Regular Season, Summer Season, Fall Season, and Holiday Season.
Value Season runs from January 1 to February 11 after the lull of the holidays. This is when room rates are at their cheapest. Demand is lower at this time of year since people don’t typically take vacations.
*Note the runDisney marathon events take place in January, so the parks are not as quiet as they once were during this time. Marathon weekends have their own “seasonal” rates, however, Jan-Feb is still considered one of the slowest times of year.
Regular Season is from February 12 to the end of April, though it excludes Easter weekend. Any holiday weekend during this time will see an influx in guest traffic, so rates will go up. The holidays during this season are President’s Day, MLK Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter.
Summer Season or Peak Season is from May to September. It’s pretty apparent that this is busiest time of year when most families are on vacation since kids are out of school. These months always see the highest crowds, and rates are at their peak.
Fall Season is from October to the third week of November (right before Thanksgiving). While it’s not peak season, this season also sees particularly high guest counts, especially with the addition of the Halloween parties. You will definitely find some lower crowd days and rates, particularly on weekdays, but expect to find high volume weekends. This is not a bad time to book a vacation (and the weather’s great, too!).
Holiday Season runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This season is second only to the summer when it comes to crowds. While it’s amazing to experience Disney World during the holiday times, it will be crowded, and the high supply means rates will be high, too. My recommendation is to visit during this year one time to experience it, then go during the value seasons (if you can) for any following trips.
*Note: While summer is the busiest all around season, Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year to visit the parks
Disney FastPass+ is a system that allows you to reserve access to the most popular rides and attractions in all four Walt Disney World theme parks. With Disney FastPass+, Walt Disney World resort hotel guests can book their reservations for attraction times up to 60 days in advance, while all guests not staying on Disney property can book up to 30 days in advance. You can reserve up to 3 FastPass+ reservations per day in one theme park, and have the flexibility to change or cancel your reservations at any time using the MyDisneyExperience app. You can also use any of the FastPass+ kiosks in the parks to monitor, change, or book FastPass+ reservations.
Each FastPass+ selection is set up in one-hour increments. For example, you might reserve Splash Mountain for 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., so you can enter the FastPass line on this ride at any time during this hour interval.
This can be a bully of a planning detail, as Walt Disney World is, in fact, an Entertainment Company. However, there are some recreation venues in addition to the theme parks that require some planning.
The primary location for this type of recreation is Downtown Disney, a district of world-class dining, shopping and entertainment. The attractions that require advanced arrangements include DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, La Nouba by Cirque De Soleil, many of the concerts at House of Blues or show times at AMC Movies 24 at Downtown Disney.
If you have a little prince or princess, you may be interested in Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a magical salon that transforms any little girl or boy into a princess or pirate. Different packages are offered, and can be booked up to 180 days in advance. Guests must be between 3 and 12 years of age and can expect the magic to take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the package. To book, call (407) WDW-STYLE or (407) 939-7895.
There are many factors such as crowd levels, time of year, or the size of your party that can affect how far in advance you should plan your Disney vacation. Let me know in the comments below some of your best Disney World planning tips!
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Marie Watson saysSeptember 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm
Suzanna, thanks for mentioning how important it is to plan in advance for your Disney vacation. I also really appreciate that you explain what to plan for. My husband and I want to take our kids to Disney World this year, but I want to make sure we have enough time to do everything. We will have to make sure we take your advice and think about what time of year will be best for us.