“I see the Disney World castle! I see the Disney World castle! Mommy, you promised us you’d take us there someday.”
These are the words that come out of my children’s mouths every time we start a Disney movie. When they see that glowing castle, all they see is magic. And despite the tragic accident that happened at Walt Disney World last week, I still believe that it’s the most magical place on earth.
Even though the Husband and I haven’t yet figured out when we’re going to make good on our promise to take our kids to Disney World, I’m already starting to look for tips to make the best of it. Thankfully, my friend (and fabulous website designer), Janine has been to Disney several times with her own girls.
Luckily for you and me, she’s here to share her best tips for planning a Disney World trip…and right through the Disney website. I can’t wait to try these tips out so someday my kids can actually say they saw the Disney World castle in person, and not just on a TV screen. (P.S. – I’m sharing some fun and easy July 4th decorations over there today, so don’t forget to go check that out. too!)
Over a year ago, I was sitting at my cousin’s dining room table, when she told me to, “Ask Captain Mickey” for advice.
See my cousin’s husband is the Disney World travel guru as they have vacationed there pretty much annually for the past few years. My husband and I were finally contemplating taking our two young daughters to Disney World, who were 4 and 5 years old for the first time.
We had waited as we wanted to make sure they were at least old enough to make some real memories that they wouldn’t be hopefully forgetting.
Well, my cousin had been telling me for a few months to indeed reach out to her husband. We were finally in his presence and it was now or never.
So, I finally took her up on the offer. That evening, he gave me a crash course in booking a Disney World family vacation directly through Disney’s own vacation website.
At first, I was a bit overwhelmed and not sure I could do it even after he walked me through the process. Also, I never would have thought to book it directly through Disney, but he assured me it was quite simple and the best way to make plans if vacationing at Disney.
I must share that I will never forget that cold, January winter afternoon that I sat down and began to easily navigate the Disney vacation website to book our first trip.
Honestly, it was the easiest trip I ever booked and the website literally walks you through step-by-step.
From there, I was hooked as it was the best vacation for our family ever and guess what?
I did it all over again this year and as my cousin recently told me, I graduated with honors from all I have learned from Captain Mickey and Disney’s vacation website.
So, I am here to break it down easily for you today as to what I learned…
1. Booking the Disney Hotel Experience-
Disney has three different resort categories ranging from the least expensive (value) to moderate and also to deluxe (or high end). At first, I was thinking of doing one of the value hotels, but soon learned that you could vacation at the lower end of the the deluxe resorts and get so much more for your money, but still vacation at a reasonable rate at Disney.
See at a lower end deluxe, such as The Wilderness Lodge (where we stayed), you get a deluxe hotel experience, but for a much lower rate than the higher end deluxe accommodations, such as The Polynesian. One of the big perks of staying at a deluxe resort is being able to get to and from the parks faster as the buses for the value hotels fill up much quicker as they have many more rooms with many more guests staying at them. But at the deluxe resorts, most have less rooms and therefore less guests traveling to and from the parks.
2. Going with the Package Deal –
Although, the package price may seem overwhelming, trust me if you are staying on Disney ground, go for the package deals as this truly allows for an overall Disney vacation experience from start to finish.
This package price includes food, hotel and even park passes, which are base passes, but you can even also add on park hopper passes (which allows your family to visit more than one park daily) or water park fun, too.
3. The Low Down on Disney Dining –
OK, I know this may seem excessive to some, but for the amount of money that food costs on Disney grounds, you are really better off taking a Dining Plan. There also are five different dining package levels, including Quick Service, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Deluxe Dining Plan, Disney Premium Plan and Disney Platinum Plan.
Honestly, we have stuck to the second plan with the Disney Dining Plan and had more than enough food to cover our family of 4 daily, as this level allows all in your vacation party to have one quick service meal, one snack and also one table service meal daily for every day you stay on Disney ground. Again more than enough food to go around and we even had food vouchers at the end of our trip that we cashed in for items in the resort gift shop.
4. Add the Memory Maker for More Magical Photo Fun –
This is an added bonus extra you can pay for that allows you to enjoy unlimited downloads of PhotoPass, Character Dining and attraction photos. Simply put at each attraction, ride or dining experience you attend, you can get your family’s pictures taken by Disney Nikon Camera persons.
They take the picture and then they scan it to your magic band, which is a simple band you wear for your whole trip that has all your travel plans on it. When your trip concludes, you can link up the photos taken on your account through this method and download them to enjoy forever. Again, might cost more, but trust me most definitely worth it for those moments you might not be able to catch with your own camera.
5. Choosing Airfare to Match Your Disney Vacation Plans –
Once you have the whole trip planned, you can also add airfare directly on the Disney site and not have to worry about even leaving Disney’s site to book airfare separately at all. It is truly such a convenient experience and even allows you to automatically link your airfare to your Disney vacation package. Believe me when I say not having the concern or worry of linking outside flights is a huge bonus feature that the Disney vacation website offers.
6. Add more with Magic Express/Included transportation –
With booking directly through Disney and staying at a Disney resort, you are entitled to a reservation for Disney’s Magical Express service.
Essentially, you can thus begin your vacation the moment you step off the plane at Orlando International Airport, because this lets you bypass baggage claim and avoid the inconvenience and cost of driving or finding ground transportation. Instead, you can ride from the airport to your Disney resort of choice in comfortable motor-coach transportation and have your bags delivered directly to your room.
Also, you have included transportation with buses and/or boat rides or even the monorail to certain the Disney theme parks depending on what resort you stay at.
Plus, you can also enjoy a complimentary ride back to Orlando International Airport on your Resort check-out day.
Seriously, this is so convenient and such a nice added on feature for all Disney resort vacationers. Also they are very easy to find, convenient and use, as well.
So there you have it 6 easy steps to booking a fun-filled Disney World family vacation. But now that the trip is booked, the next steps that will need to be followed up with, include choosing your dining experiences, which is usually allowed 6 months out of your trip, plus choosing your Fast-passes for rides 90 days out of your trip. But don’t worry, Disney emails you when you are allowed to do this and also walks you through these vital steps, as well. In essence though, these two extra steps can only be dealt with in a certain timeframe out from when you will be indeed vacationing Disney World.
But other than that you are all set to make your own Disney World magical memories with your family.
As they say in Disney World, “Have a magical day now!”