Friday, August 12, 2016

Planning your first Disney trip or thinking about planning one?

We are about 30 days until our next Walt Disney World vacation, and I thought I would share some of my Disney tips with you while it is all fresh on my mind =)

I am a Disney fanatic, but by no means an expert! These are just the things I like to do to make the most out of our family vacations. I could go to Disney yearly-if not more than once a year- but my Hubby has me on lock down to every other year. LOL

To start your planning, you need to decide what Walt Disney Resort is best for your family. Maybe you don't want to stay on property, but for us, it is the only way we will go! We enjoy all the perks and benefits of staying on property. By staying on property, you can enjoy perks like
~The Magical Express (when you get off the plane at MCO airport, it takes you directly to your Resort)
~My FAVORITE perk is that they take care of your luggage for you!! You put a Magical Express tag on your suitcases before you leave... so when you check into your flight to Disney- the next time you see your suitcases is when they get DELIVERED to your hotel room!!! It takes a couple of hours... but it is oh-so-magical!
~By staying on property you also have bus services from your resort to each of the Theme/Water Parks.
~You can also take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan, which again- is something we never go without.
~By staying on property- you also get an extra 30 day jumpstart on making Fast Passes. We will talk about that in a bit ;)

We are a family of 5... so that limits our room choices. Most are rooms for 4. When we were a family of 3- before the Irish Twins came... we enjoyed the Value Resorts!!! We stayed at All Start Movies a couple of times... and with rates starting around $90 a night.. it's a bargain!

Now as a family of 5... our absolute favorite place to stay is The Cabins at Ft. Wilderness!

The Cabins and all the activities they have at the resort, without traveling to any of the Theme Parks, could be it's own vacation!!! There is SO much to do there! We rent a golf cart and zip all around the resort. They have an amazing pool, horseback riding, grocery store, restaurants, arcade, Hoopdeedoo Musical, and a nightly bonfire with Chip & Dale!!

After you have your perfect resort picked out and booked... these are the next things you should do to ensure a magical time.

Decide which theme park you want to go to each day of your trip. There are LOTS of touring websites and crowd calendars to get an idea of what parks to go to on which days. My favorites to follow are Touring Plans (which is one you pay for) or easyWDW.
There are 4 main theme parks.

There are also 2 Water Parks if you would want to include those in your plans!

You will also need to decide if you just want a single day ticket, or the Park Hopper. The single park tickets allow you into 1 park each day. The Park Hopper allows you to go from park to park. So you can start your day at Animal Kingdom and end it watching fireworks at Magic Kingdom!! With the little kids, we don't Park Hop. We just get single day tickets... but I think this will be the last year for that. They are getting old enough to go from morning to night and place to place!

Once you have a general plan laid out... plan your Dining! Restaurants open for reservations at 180 days prior to your trip... and there are some that are HARD to get, even if you call/go online at the 180 day mark!!! There are 373 ( YES-THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE) restaurants between resorts and theme parks. It's just those hard to get ones that make it stressful.

One of our favorite lunch spots (and hardest reservation to get!)
Be Our Guest inside Magic Kingdom.

Do you feel overwhelmed yet?!? LOL!!!
TRUST ME!!!! I was SOOOOOO overwhelmed the first time planning Disney!

After those 2 things are done... you can breathe for a bit! hehehe. The next thing you will have to do is plan your fast passes, but that is not until 60 days prior to your trip!
What it a fast pass you say? A fast pass is a time slot you "reserve" to go on a ride. In our family, we all pick our top favorites and go from there. Each park has certain rides for us that are a must, so that is where we start. Epcot and Hollywood Studios is broke down into tiers, which means means you pick one from the top tier and 2 from the bottom. You get 3 per day... but once you use all 3, you can log onto you Disney App and try to get a 4th for the day. Below is a pic I found online, and it has been my go to forever. It has the height requirements as well as the tiers of the fastpasses.

So I hope you are not feeling stressed out about Disney Vacation Planning! This is just a very rough guide of bullet points of important dates when planning a Disney Trip! We like to book about a year in advance. Get all our plans laid out on paper... Then that 180 days for dining reservations is our first countdown mark... it makes it feel like you are getting closer... then once you hit that 60 day fastpass point... It's so close, you can start to smell Main Street USA <3 Please let me know if you have any questions... I would love to help you out!!

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