Wednesday, February 24, 2016

So you want to go to Walt Disney World... | Creating Your Magical Getaway

Let's set the scene: You've sat down with your family. You've discussed where you want to vacation. You've decided on Walt Disney World. Now what? Take it from a girl who has been MANY times, there's a lot more that goes into planning a Disney trip than just booking a hotel and buying tickets. Trips like this are expensive, and you want to get it right. So, I'm here to help!

No, I am certainly not claiming to be an expert. There are so many people with an immense amount of knowledge that I don't have. I do, however, know just the right amount to give you this "Disney for Dummies" rundown. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing the basics. I'll be letting you in on how I plan and more importantly, WHY I plan the way I do. We'll talk resorts and tickets and fun extras, dining and events and transportation. Hopefully by the end you'll be equipped with the tools you need to plan your own magical getaway, and THAT is exactly what I'm hoping.

So, you want to go to Walt Disney what?

Now You Budget

Here's the thing about Disney, they offer just about everything and that leaves you with some decisions to make. How long should we go? Where should we stay? What ticket options do we have? What about dining? Luckily for you the Disney Website is fully equipped for you to play around with your choices. You can input various dates, choose from their 25 resort hotels, pick various ticket packages, and even add on extras then total it up without having to spend a dime. Also, if Disney is running any kind of promo or discount this will be factored into your calculations through their site. My suggestion? First decide how much you're willing to spend, then pick options based on your budget.

Resorts, for starters, are grouped by price point. You have your top tier Deluxe Villas and Resorts, then Moderate Resorts, followed by Value Resorts and even Campgrounds.  If you're looking for minimal cost, go with Value. If money is no object, shoot for Deluxe. I tend to float in the Moderate category and have been beyond pleased with everywhere I've stayed so far. Thinking of staying off-property? I won't tell you not to, but I will say there are SO many perks to staying on Disney property. Not only do you get complimentary transportation to and from the parks from any of the resorts, but you also receive customizable Magic Bands (these hold your tickets, room keys, extras you have purchased, and have the option of adding a CC for paying for things throughout the World), AND you get access to Extra Magic Hours (additional time before or after the park closes, only available to Disney resort guests). Long story short, we always stay on property. Always.

[**Side note, places we have personally stayed: Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs, All-Star Music, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Next on the list: Port Orleans French Quarter]

Next, you have your ticket options. You really get more bang for your buck with the more days you go. For example, a 1-day Magic Kingdom ticket currently runs $105 before tax for ages 10 and up. But a 2-day ticket is $96 a day, 3-day is $91 a day, 4-day is $76 a day and...well, you see where I'm going with this. When deciding on tickets ask yourself these questions: Will we want to go into the parks on Check-In day? Will we want to go into the parks on Check-OUT day? Are we going for an amount of time where we should schedule a day off? Will we want to utilize Park Hopper? Park Hopper, for those who don't know, is a handy little add-on that takes your ticket from a "One Park Per Day" ticket to an "Any Park You Want At Any Time Of The Day" ticket. For a flat rate you can basically visit all four parks in one day for your entire trip. We always get Park Hopper added on.

So, resort and tickets are decided upon. Now for the extras.

Want to have your meals taken care of during your stay? Disney offers three different dining plans to suit your needs. I enjoy getting a dining plan because it takes out the guesswork of having to budget food costs into the money we take.

Want to own ALL of the photos taken of your group by Disney photographers, PLUS ride photos and videos? All available for you to download? Add on the Memory Maker package! Now no one has to be left out of your pictures, nor do you have to awkwardly ask a stranger to take a photo for you.

You can also check for any special events that are taking place during your stay, park tours, extra experiences for the kids (Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique and Pirates League) and dessert parties.

Done and done.

Now we BOOK!

$200 down holds your reservation and your trip doesn't need to be fully paid for until 30 days before. Disney has even found a way to make the financial planning and saving side of things a little easier with the Disney Vacation Account. This is a Disney run Savings Account. Set your goal and it breaks down how much you need to save and deposit each week, two weeks, or month to meet your goal. You even have the option of setting up automatic deposits from a checking account!

So there you have it, the basics of planning a Disney trip. If you found this helpful, want to add your own tips, or are just excited about your own upcoming trip, let me know in the comments! I ALWAYS love hearing from you awesome readers. Thanks for joining me during this super special editorial! Stay tuned for MORE Disney related fun!

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