The holidays are almost upon us, and maybe you’re hoping to get in a trip to Walt Disney World before the end of the year. Or maybe you are looking forward to a vacation next year, or beyond! I’m a planner, and I LOVE to plan, so I’d like to share with you some tips for planning, paying for, and enjoying your next Walt Disney World vacation, whenever that might be!
- Some Disney Addicts who are seasoned travelers to “The Most Magical Place on Earth” wouldn’t dream of beginning the planning process without viewing the latest Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD. These DVDs are available free of charge and sent to your home. They are updated each year, so they always contain the most up-to-date information on events, attractions, resorts, and dining.
- But maybe you’re a Disney lover who likes to highlight, dog-ear, and carry around the latest guidebook. There are more available than I can count! Check your local bookstore, or visit Amazon to find titles like: “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World,” “Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World, 2014,” or “PassPorter’s Walt Disney World, 2014.” There are books available for first-time guests, for those searching for luxury, those with children, and much, much more.
- If you’ve viewed the DVDs and read the books, and you think you have a handle on the way you’d like to plan, you might just need a place to organize that planning. You can find tons of Disney planning spreadsheets and pages to create your own planning binder, or you might just come up with your own system. If you don’t know where to start, try typing Disney planning spreadsheets into Google. You’ll be amazed!
- And if you’re not a planner, or if you just don’t have time or know where to look for all of this information, you can contact a travel agent who can help organize and do the footwork of planning for you, to create your perfect vacation. The services of travel agents are free, and they typically offer itinerary planning, reservations and booking for lodging and dining, ticket or package purchases, and discount monitoring – meaning that they will stay on top of the great deals being offered, and if one comes along that will help to make your vacation a better value, they will be sure you get it!
- One great way to save money as you pay for your Walt Disney World vacation is to buy and use gift cards for payment. Sound confusing? How can buying gift cards save you money? Well, if you have a Target RED debit or credit card, you can save 5% on the purchase of Disney gift cards sold at Target. If you have a membership at Sam’s Club, you can also buy Disney gift cards in multi-packs of 3 $50 cards, and you’ll typically pay $142.98, offering a savings of roughly 5% as well. After that savings you can use the gift cards to pay on your vacation balance. You or your travel agent can call Disney and give them the gift card numbers which will apply the gift card amounts toward your balance. **BE SURE** to hold onto your gift cards even after you’ve paid with them. If you need to cancel for any reason, Disney will need the gift card numbers.
- Disney Visa cardholders get o% financing for 6 months on some Disney vacation packages. If you have a Disney Visa card, you will also save 10% on some merchandise and on dining at select locations, as well as 15% off special guided tours and some additional experiences like carriage rides or horseback riding at Port Orleans and Fort Wilderness resorts, and 15% off on spa experiences at some resorts.
- The Disney Vacation Account works like Christmas Club savings accounts at some banks. At this site, you can estimate the budget for your vacation and plan ways in which you’d like to save. You can have the money placed into the Vacation Account from your credit or debit card weekly, every two weeks, monthly, or you can do it manually as a “one-time” deposit anytime you want as many times as you want. The online account allows you to track your progress toward your vacation goal, and when you’ve reached it, you can use the account to pay on your vacation balance. Another perk of this account is that for every $1000 you save and use for a vacation, you will earn a $20 Disney gift card.
- Part of the planning process will include customizing your Magic Bands. These bands are rubberized bracelets with an RFID chip (not GPS) which serve as your room keys (if staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort), park tickets, can be used to pay for dining (if you have a credit card linked, or if you’re using the dining plan), and for select purchases. In your MyDisneyExperience app on your smartphone or online, you can choose the color for each Magic Band, and choose a name which will be inside each band. Then enjoy the freedom of not having to carry park tickets credit cards, etc.!
- Planning now also includes choosing your FastPasses prior to your visit. FastPass+ information will be stored on your Magic Band as well as in your MyDisneyExperience app. You begin with 3 FastPasses per day, and once those have been used, you can get more by going to a FastPass+ kiosk in the parks.
- Enjoy dining at locations and of types you might not try in your everyday life. Dining reservations are made in advance as part of your planning but the actual dining experience is part of the fun of a Walt Disney World vacation. Character meals and dinner shows, quick service, and dining reservations that include access to special viewing areas or seating for fireworks, or other events are available.
- Special tours like “Behind the Magic” or “Keys to the Kingdom” will enhance your vacation. Be sure to take advantage of seasonal events as well, like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or Epcot’s Food and Wine, or Flower and Garden festivals.
Are you a planner? Do you have more/other tips? Share them with me!
I’m Jeri and I’m a Disney Addict! I’m also an independent travel agent with World of Magic Travel Services, the preferred travel agency of ChipandCo and DisneyAddicts. I’d love to help you plan your next magical Disney vacation. Contact me for a free price quote at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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