So you want to take the family or group of friends to Disney? It can seem daunting to coordinate it all and make sure you are getting the package that works best for your group. As a Travel Magician with World of Magic Travel- it’s all in a day’s work! It’s basically my hobby AND my job! But for someone who isn’t planning these trips every day, here are 10 steps to keep in mind to help you plan.
- Decide who’s on the “guest list”– One of the first things to consider is who will be coming. If you have a group of friends make sure you know who is serious and who isn’t! A lot of people “dream talk” about Disney vacations so make sure you know who is who. Same goes for family. If you’re taking your kids and your mother in law expresses interest find out if she’s really willing to take the trip, take time off work or even room with you.
- Budget– Keeping room assignments and resorts and meal plans in mind, how much are you able to spend? Are you going to pay cash, use a tax return or charge the trip? It’s not the fun part of the planning but it’s a MUST. *Hint* By using a Disney Travel Agent you give someone else the budget and they can play with the different options for your package so you don’t have to spend the time and energy on it!
- When will you go?– Have you always wanted to see the Christmas decorations or attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Do your kids have an extra break or long weekend in February that would make the perfect travel time? You will also want to consider crowd forecasts. If you don’t want a huge crowd or longer wait times you will want to go in the off-season.
- Resort selection– I’m a firm believer in staying on Disney property and taking advantage of the transportation system and fully immersing my family in all things Disney. Does that sound like it’s up your alley? Would you prefer to stay at a lavish Deluxe resort or is a Value family-friendly in your budget? If you are renting a car or planning on doing activities outside Disney you may consider staying off-site at a Good Neighbor property.
- Your agenda– How many days in parks are you planning on doing? Do you want the ability to Park Hop from one to the other? Are you visiting any other destinations such as Universal or Kennedy Space Center? The number of days you want to do activities versus “free days” spent relaxing at the pool or shopping are something to consider. Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish in addition to your budget you can start thinking about how long your trip will be. *Hint* Make sure you know how much time everyone can get off of work before you decide on this!
- Flying versus driving– There are many option and ways to get there. Most people that aren’t Southern natives chose to fly to save themselves travel time and for convenience. What fits into your budget? Flights often aren’t always available if you book your Disney stay early on. They can always be added closer to your travel date so don’t fret if you can’t establish your flights upon booking.
- Add ons– Will you be using the Memory Maker for your Walt Disney World trip? Is it worth the extra money to have all your pictures taken in the parks in one place for one price? Are you going to do any water parks or Disney Quest days? Are you taking advantage of Disney’s Magical Express to get to the resort? Have you read up on travel insurance and is it something you feel you would like to take advantage of? Do you need a stroller or wheelchair? Are you bringing one or planning to rent one?
- Dining Options– Some chose to go with a dining plan for ease of budgeting so you don’t have to plan out how much to spend each day on food. Some prefer to pick and choose sit downs versus quick serve as the days progress and don’t want to be held to a meal plan’s categories. Does your family want to experience Character Dining or any shows? Do you just want to grab meals quick and have more time for attractions or is the sit down experience something you desire? Think about your group and their preferences when deciding on this, especially when traveling with small children. It can make or break your food experience on your trip and you want to have a great time! If you have to make Advanced Dining Reservations (recommended for all sit downs) make sure you know your 180 day date to be online to register (or have your Travel Agent online for you!)
- Register on My Disney Experience– This is accessible via the internet or smart phone app. This product allows you to select Fast Passes, access dining and your reservation information. You can modify many things here including selection of Magic Bands and use Online Check-In. *Hint* Another benefit to staying on property is choosing Fast Pass + selections in advance, make sure you have your date to log in and chose your favorite attractions!
- Packing!– The BEST part of your pre-trip checklist! There are many resources online for thorough packing lists and recommendations for things to bring with you. Will your family be bringing snacks for the room? Do you want them delivered by a grocer or shipped right to the resort? There are many options! Do you have sunscreen, hats and misting fans? What about your matching Mickey shirts? Make a list and check it twice. Fortunately you can manage to find most things you may have forgotten right on property but you might pay slightly more than you would have at home. Leave yourself some space for souvenirs to come home in your luggage. Don’t forget those Magic Bands or park tickets!
As a World of Magic Travel Magician I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation! I love nothing more than a checklist and making sure my clients have the best trip of their lives! Contact me today via email or follow me on Facebook!