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“We’re going to Disney World” it seems so simple, that is until you try to start planning. “Where do we stay, what are hopper passes, do I need dining?” These are questions I hear daily and why having a knowledge travel agent can make the difference in your vacation experience. If you’re thinking of planning a trip to Disney this blog is for you, so let’s get started!

The first thing your family needs to decide is dates and the more time to plan the better. I recommend booking at least 8 months in advance, if possible, this way when dining reservations open at 180 days prior to check in you get the cream of the crop. If your kids aren’t in school yet and can afford to miss a few days then skip the Holidays. Typically January through February and mid September til mid December, minus Thanksgiving, are Disney’s slowest and least expensive times. Ride times are their lowest and most times you can walk on the ride of your choice and trust me it doesn’t get any better than that!

Your next selection is a resort, with almost 30 of them broken down into four categories (Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa) and the ability to sleep up to 12 people, Disney has a resort unique to each family. While the main difference between the categories is price, there are a few other factors that should weigh heavily in your decision. Transportation is a key factor because of the amount of valuable time it can consume during your vacation, so if you are only at the parks a limited time it may be worth the money to invest in a Deluxe resort. The size of your party also impacts your resort choice, Disney now offers Deluxe Villas that sleep as many as 12. The resorts’ theme should also be considered, from sports to Victorian there is a resort to fit every family style while still being budget friendly. For those wanting an extra level of service, some Disney resorts offer Club Level suites and rooms with concierge service and keyed access lounges. Here is a table to show a little more detail about each resort category.

Category Value Moderate Deluxe Deluxe Villa
$ $$ $$$ $$$
Sleeps Up to 4 (some 6) Up to 5 Up to 6 Up to 12

(13 with infant)

Bed Type Doubles Queens

(Except Caribbean Beach)

Queens Queens
Dining Quick Service Quick & Table Quick & Table Quick & Table
Transportation Bus Bus Bus, Boat Monorail or Walk

Now that you have selected dates and a resort, let’s talk park tickets. Disney offers multi-day tickets either “base” or “park hoppers.” Base tickets only allow you to enter one park per day, where hopper passes allow you to enter more than one park per day. As a resort guest you are able to utilize “Extra Magic Hours” so if you decide to start your day early in Epcot and then head back to your resort in the afternoon to rest or swim so that you can go back to enjoy the Magic Kingdom in the evening, park hoppers are the way to go. For some families one park per day is enough and the hoppers aren’t necessary. Disney also has two water parks (Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon) for your family to enjoy, so plan an extra day if you can!

Last, but certainly not least are Disney’s Dining Plans & Packages and with five different ones to choose from there is one that fits into every budget. Dining at Disney is much more expensive than people realize, but the plans can save you money if you utilize them well. I love these plans personally and for my clients because they are easy to use, flexible and allow you to know how much your vacation is really going to cost upfront. If you family is just going to eat quick, counter meals then the Quick Service Plan is for you, but if you would like one table or character meal each day then Plus Dining Plan is better for your family. If you like the Plus Dining but want more meals and options The Deluxe Dining Plan offers your family 3 meals and 2 snack credits per person per night with no designation to quick or table service. This means you can eat all three meals table service if you wish or 1 quick and 2 tables. Additionally Disney also has The Premium and Platinum Plans which are hybrids of dining and entertainment to make complete packages. They offer 3 meals a day with no credit restrictions and 2 snacks, but add recreation, tours, spa treatments and one-of-a-kind experiences. As you can see there is a plan for every family, as agents we will help you decide which one fits your families’ needs the best.

I hope I have answered some of your questions and made your search a bit easier. If you are ready to book your first or next trip to Disney I would love to help you. As I mentioned earlier my services are always FREE and of course there is always extra pixie dust included, because I have to save some of my secrets for my clients. Please email or call me at 1-800-670-4312 Ext. 144 to get started today!

Here’s to making magical memories together!

Courtney Burnside