Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Disney World: How to plan the perfect Disney Vacation

 I feel like I sound boastful when I say that we know how to plan the perfect Disney World vacation, but after multiple trips, a sister who was a Disney Travel Agent and now being Disney Vacation Club members, we do know the ins and outs by now. If you type "Disney" in my search bar to the left, you will get quite a few past Disney posts. 

For those of you who asked about the Disney Vacation Club or DVC, it is Disney's version of a timeshare. Now, before you cringe at the thought of 30-50 years of Disney parks, know there is more than what meets the eye. I was totally against purchasing a timeshare with Disney at first. But my husband did some research and there is a whole lot more to offer. You buy a certain amount of points that you are alotted each year. You can use those points towards your Disney stay. Don't want to go to Disney Parks? It's good at a TON of other places all around the world. Like hundreds! We can go to Hawaii or Paris or Italy or Norway even!! Any hotel that has partnered with Disney...and there are A LOT!! So we bought that a few years ago and we calculated after visiting Disney 7 times, it paid for itself. And now we have it for 50 years. You have to pick a main base home. We picked the Grand Floridian since it was newly done and they were offering the full term of 50 years. Best part? If we don't want to go or get sick of using it in this way, we sell it. So that is a little background on that.

So, if you saw on my Instagram Stories, our villa was AWESOME! We had a separate bedroom with king bed, large walk in closet, a full kitchen with stove, dishwasher - the whole nine yards. A shower the size of a room with soaking tub and even a tv inside the bathroom mirror! All of this was at the Grand Floridian villas. Our extended balcony view wasn't bad either.  I didn't take many photos of it but you can see it HERE. I believe you can even pay a bit more for a view of the Magic Kingdom so you can watch fireworks from your room. I don't think we would pay for this villa out of pocket every time we went to Disney, but because of the DVC, we are able to do it effortlessly. We've also stayed at quite a few others including regular rooms and all have been awesome. Our other favorite is the Beach Club Resort. We love that we can walk to Epcot from there and we would do that every evening for crepes in France. You can also rent these points from people who own if you don't want to make the commitment of buying a DVC membership. I think it's called DVC Rentals from David's Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals.

I had a few questions from people and I thought I would answer here. One was above, about the DVC. Other questions were, how do we plan our trips and how are do they seem so flawless and enjoyable!?

First off we start planning our trips months ahead of time. I use the website (You can also call and book with a rep if you aren't familiar with everything). It really doesn't take me very long to plan it now that I've done it once or twice. We pay attention to the dates that Disney gives us when we can book fast passes and dining reservations. I literally waited until 12am on the date we could book fast passes so that I could get us on the Avatar: Flight of Passage....which I am SO happy I did because that ride was AMAZING and the standby line didn't get below 2 hours the entire time we were there. It's important to book the new and popular rides and restaurants early on. I've said it before and I will say it again, the best Disney trip is a well planned out Disney trip.

There are a few of different ways that you can buy park tickets. There is what is called a day hopper pass that lets you visit any park on any given day during your stay.  You can visit 2 or more parks in one day if you like. We typically do that but this year we knew we were only going to go the parks for 6 out of the 8 days we stayed and so we bought passes to visit JUST 1 park per day for 6 days. You can pick the park but you are only allowed one park a day. This is cheaper than the hopper passes and if you have your days all planned out, why not do this? My point is to check out all of your ticket options to save money. Kids under 3 are free.

Another thing that we always buy is the meal plan. THIS IS WORTH IT. If you use it to your advantage. We buy the meal plan that allows you 1 sit down meal, 1 quick service and 2 snacks a day. The meals also include one alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage with it and usually a dessert as well. We use our sit down meals at the best restaurants that have the most expensive foods. Be careful because some restaurants are 2 points instead of 1 point so that uses up 2 days of sit down meals. On the website that I book through,, it tells you how many points there are at each restaurant and you can filter accordingly.
We also use our quick service meals and snack points at the more expensive places. Don't buy a banana for a snack when you can buy a $6-8 snack at Epcot...that type of thing. With that said, there is usually 1 meal a day that we still end up paying for and we generally pick breakfast so we grab a cheap parfait, bagel or something of that nature and pay out of pocket. That way, you aren't spending a fortune on top of your meal plan. One year we bought the biggest meal plan which is 3 meals a day with snacks....we COULD NOT even use all of this. We ended up giving snacks away at the end of our trip. (And going home feeling bloated lol) Trust me on using the lesser meal plan . It's not worth it price-wise to buy the larger meal plan unless you plan on eating at ALL of the high end restaurants every single day. If you are a newbie, you can call Disney Dining 1-800 number and ask them any questions you might have. I personally think that booking your dining restaurants is easiest to do online.

ALSO, you might want to take advantage of Garden Grocer. This is a grocery store that you can order food online and have them deliver to your hotel room. We did this for some late snacks or if we didn't have a dinner/breakfast planned. If you don't want to spend a ton on meals, eat some breakfasts in the room before leaving. Also, we buy 2 large packages of bottled water to bring with us since I'm a water snob and won't drink tap ;) We drink a lot of water. Buying waters in the park is so expensive!! Like $3-5 a bottle. So do yourself a favor and at least have waters delivered. Even with the delivery charge, it's cheaper.

Overwhelmed yet?

If you haven't been to Disney, you do not know the magic of "Magic Bands" the colorful and waterproof bands that let you do EVERYTHING at Disney. This includes getting off of the plane and getting onto the Magical Express which is the bus that takes you from the airport to the resort, checking in and opening your hotel door (skip check in at the desk), using your meal plan for food, buying anything additional (it links to any cc you wish) and lets you get into the parks as well as using your fast passes. We never bring a single wallet, cash or card with us. Just our licenses. We leave the rest locked up in the hotel safe. When you purchase your stay at Disney World, they send them to you a couple weeks before your trip- you just need to make sure that you select them online under the Magic Bands tab. The coolest thing is that you get to choose the color and they add your names on the inside. They are adjustable and you can pop the smaller piece out to fit little wrists. They are also reusable so we have about 6 each of these now. And you can now take the middle parts out with a screw driver to interchange and mix colors. We haven't gotten that fancy yet ;) But I do match them with what outfit I'm wearing ;)

My tips for going to Disney World with younger kids are to get a stroller that lays back. Check the weather right before you leave and pack layers. Plan out in your calendar which days you will go to which park and plan your dining options according to that. If you are a first timer, dining in the parks is the easiest option. But if you want to be adventurous, you might want to experience dining at another resort like the Polynesian's Dinner Show, Spirit of Aloha, or the Grand Floridian's Citricos, which we did this year! Every resort has a few restaurants and Disney Springs has a bunch too. Check for special events such as after hours magic, festivals like the Flower and Garden Fest or Christmas Celebration, Dessert & Fireworks shows and more. Another huge thing for us is what time of the year we go. The busiest time in Disney is Christmas and July. We always go in early March because the weather is always favorable and we beat spring break when the parks can be packed!! This year we had one week without spring break and one week with spring break and you could tell the difference with busyness in the parks. Fall is great too but we find it is rainier during that time. Last tip, get a battery pack for your phone! Between photos, video and using the app your battery can die really quickly. I love the Mophie. It doubles as a protector case.

Tomorrow, I am going to leave our itinerary here for you guys to see how I planned our trip this year. I'm splitting this into 2 posts since this is pretty lengthly already. Mind you, all of this was done months before we left. When we got on that Magical Express, we did nothing but enjoy the magic of Disney. No really, it's magical there!  I highly suggest downloading the Disney App. You can also see wait times, map and hours to every park and ways of transportation to each Park. You can view EVERYTHING from there and I live by this each time we go. Also I will leave you a list of my favorite restaurants and the rides that you should get a fast pass for.

For now I will leave you with some of our favorites.
Here is a list of the rides that I think are worth using Fast Passes for: Note that there are some rides the little ones can't go on but Disney offers a rider swap so that you can ride with older kids, adults or yourself and then swap with your spouse so that they can ride, without waiting. I rode with Scarlett first and then Ty would ride with her again. It's great because Scarlett got to ride 2 times!! One last thing to note is that they allow you 3 fast passes per day. They only allow you 1 of the most popular rides per park in one day, so be aware of that. Once you use those, you can get more through the app!

Magic Kingdom:
7 Dwarf's Mine Train
It's A Small World
Thunder Mountain
Splash Mountain
Peter Pan
The Jungle Cruise
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain (roller coaster)

Frozen Ever After
Buzz Light Year's Space Ranger
Test Track
Living With The Land

Animal Kingdom:
Flight of Passage (Hands down the best ride in all of Disney)
Na'vi River Journey
Kilimanjari Safari
Kali River Rapids
Expedition Everest (roller coaster)

Favorite Restaurants: (Keep in mind we haven't even tried 1/2 of the restaurants in Disney World but these are the ones we liked that we have tried.

Magic Kingdom:
Cinderella's Royal Table
Be Our Guest
Crystal Palace (breakfast)

Le Cellier Steak House
Rose & Crown Pub
Garden Grille
Coral Reef Restaurant
Pinocchio Haus (quick lunch)
Nine Dragons
Tokyo Dining
Crepes De France (snack shop)

Animal Kingdom:
Yak & Yeti

Hollywood Studios:
Sci-Fi Diner

Disney Springs:
Earl of Sandwich (sandwich shop)
Wolf Gang Puck's DiningRoom

Boardwalk Joe's Marvelous Margaritas
Big River Grille

Grand Floridian: 1900 Park Fair, Citricos, Beaches Pool & Bar Grille (Quick lunch)
Polynesian: Ohana, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Pineapple Lani (snack shop)
Beach & Yacht Club Resort: Beaches & Cream Soda shop (quick meal), Yachtsman's Steak House
Animal Kingdom: Boma, Jiko, Sanaa

I'll post our whole itinerary and photos very soon! Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for all your comments & kind words!! I reply in the comments section so check back if you have a question :) xo