You’re going to Disney World!!!
Ok— so you’ve made the decision to take the plunge and bring your crew down to meet “the Mouse” this spring break. But what do you do next? And, how can you navigate the overwhelming machine that is Disney and make sure you get a well-planned, relaxing vacation that won’t break your bank? Here, Jaime Troiano of MickeyTravels delivers the lowdown on Disney vacation planning to make sure that you and your family make the most of your Mickey time.
So you’ve decided to do the spring break thing— when do you book?
Book as soon as you can! The earlier you book, the better chance you will get your ideal Disney resort and room category. Additionally, dining reservations open up 180 days before your travel date and some of the more “in demand” reservations will be swept up early.
On property or off-property?
I always recommend staying on the property to be able to really experience the magic of Disney. With Disney’s value, moderate and deluxe hotel options, there are price points that will meet everyone’s budget. Additionally, Disney resort guests will be able to start booking their FastPasses (which allow guests to wait in a shortened line for some attractions) 60 days prior to their travel date (vs. 30 days for guests not staying on the property).
How do you sift through the huge number of on-site hotels and choose the best one for you?
Disney has so much to offer in terms of lodging. I recommend enlisting an authorized Disney travel agent to help you determine the best resort for you based on your price point and travel needs. Each hotel is unique with its own vibe as well as different dining options, pool layouts, and proximity to each of the four theme parks. Your travel agent will know the “ins and outs” of each property and be able to save you hours of online research.
How many days do you really need to get the full Disney experience?
I recommend at least five days/four nights, as this will allow you to see each of Disney’s 4 theme parks and still have some time to relax at your resort hotel. However, if you do have the time, a full week is ideal. That may seem like a lot of time with “the Mouse,” however a few extra days will allow you to feel better about doing less and relaxing more. It will also allow for a few extra days worth of FastPasses, which means less time standing on line. That’s a win!
Dining Plan? Is it worth it?
The advantage of using the dining plan is that it can offer some savings and I love the simplicity of not having to think about your meal expenses while on vacation. To make the plan even more enticing, it now includes some alcoholic beverage options. However, the value it offers depends on how your family likes to eat while on vacation. If you have older kids who are going to eat a real meal or hit the buffet, it is a definite “yes.” If your young ones only eat off of your plate at dinner, it might not make sense. Again, I would reach out to your travel agent to discuss the options and they will be able to guide you.
Do we need a car?
No. Disney has a fantastic transportation system of shuttles, the monorail, and the new Skyliner (coming in the fall of 2019) that connects the parks and resort hotels. Additionally, with Disney’s Minnie Vans (operated by Lyft) and Uber, why deal with parking when you can get dropped off wherever you want to go?
Spring break = crowds — what can we do to avoid them as realistically possible?
I always recommend arriving before the parks “officially” open as the first hour tends to have the lowest crowds of the day. During that first hour you will be able to ride a few of your favorite attractions without a long wait. I’d then recommend setting up your FastPasses to start an hour into your morning so that when the parks start to fill up you are able to avoid the longer wait times.
Should you do a Park Hopper Ticket?
Personally, I love the park hopper as it gives guests the flexibility to enjoy the parks earlier in the day, go back and relax by their resort pool when the parks are at their peak, and then return to a different park at night for a meal or a nighttime/firework show. However if you are traveling with very young ones who will be asleep early, it might not make sense to pay for the ticket upgrade.
What about families with kids of varying ages— how can you make it work for everyone?
The best part about Disney World is that it really is a vacation for everyone! It's easy to see how the little ones will be starry-eyed by the magic of Disney but there is a lot for teens (and tweens) too -- including roller coasters, picture spots, dance parties, mini golf, fireworks shows, bowling, shopping and, of course, EATING. I also recommend taking the time to explore Disney’s two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). What teenager doesn’t enjoy a day splashing around a giant wave pool or careening down a water slide?
Been there. Done that. What else can we experience?
Right now, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is where the action is! In the summer of 2018, Disney opened Toy Story Land, which features two new attractions… the Slinky Dog Dash coaster and the Alien Swirling Saucers. Coming in the fall of 2019 is the Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars-themed land. It will feature two new attractions including a simulator where you'll fly the Millennium Falcon.
Maybe not as well known are Disney’s Enchanting Extras, which are unique experiences for those that have already experienced the parks. These include surf lessons at Typhoon Lagoon, dessert and firework parties, nature treks at Animal Kingdom, behind the scenes and VIP tours, firework cruises, and much more.
How does the “My Disney Experience” app work and can it keep me organized during my stay?
The “My Disney Experience” app is Disney’s itinerary planning application where guests can book lodging, purchase tickets and make dining and FastPass reservations. The mobile version is so handy while you're in parks as you can quickly access your reservations, as well as look up park hours, maps, show and parade times and my favorite -- attraction wait times! You can even use it to order ahead at some quick service restaurants so that you don’t need to stand in line for your food.
The Pickup Line is pleased to feature Disney expert Jaime Troiano -- more on Jaime below. To subscribe to our daily newsletter for moms visit www.thepickupline.net.
Jaime is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with MickeyTravels, a Platinum Level Agency. She aims to create magical Disney vacations for her clients through handling everything from resort and cruise recommendations, itinerary planning, as well as making dining and FastPass reservations. The best part is that her services are free! Jaime can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.