Today we are featuring Reynolds Harper as a guest blogger. Reynolds is married and has two daughters, and they are a Disney-oriented family living in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2011, Reynolds had been to Disney World so many times, friends started calling her for advice when planning their own trips. She really enjoyed giving this advice and decided to look into becoming a travel agent who specializes in planning Disney vacations. She found a great travel agency to work with, went through several months of training, and her dream became a reality. She has been planning Disney vacations since early 2012 and truly enjoys her job every day!!
Tips for planning your Disney World trip
The key to a great trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is PLANNING. Disney World has four parks, two water parks, Disney Springs (shopping and dining area), over twenty different hotels and more than 100 restaurants, so planning a trip can quickly become overwhelming! Here are some tips to help with the decision-making process:
Plan 6 months in advance
Ideally, you want to begin your planning more than six months in advance. This is because you can make dining reservations 180 days out, and at busier times of the year some of the hotels can reach full capacity. This sounds crazy, but the most popular restaurants (like Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle) can fill up six months in advance!
Stay at Walt Disney World
You get certain benefits if you stay on Disney property. If you plan to fly to Orlando, Disney provides complimentary transportation from and back to the airport. You have access to Disney’s free transportation system so you will not need a car and won’t have to worry with the hassle and cost of parking. You can add one of Disney’s dining plans to your hotel/park tickets package, which can save you up to 15% off the cost of food during your trip. Disney also runs various discounts at certain times of the year for those who stay on property, so be sure to check on those.
Pick the right resort for your family
Disney has three “levels” of hotels: value, moderate and deluxe. There are regular hotel rooms, larger studio hotel rooms, villas, suites, concierge services, and there are varying views within the different hotels. Friday and Saturday nights cost a bit more than other nights of the week. Prices will be higher during the historically more crowded times of year. There will certainly be a hotel that will fit your budget and style!
Understanding ticket options
As for park tickets, you can purchase 1-10 days of tickets. You choose between a “base” ticket which allows you to visit one park per day, or you can purchase a “park hopper” ticket for an additional cost which allows you to visit more than one park per day. There is also a “water parks and more” add-on if you are interested in that option.
Plan your schedule
Once you have all of the basics figured out (i.e. hotel, tickets, dining plan, flying or driving), you can begin planning for each day of your trip. You can book your dining reservations 180 days from your arrival date FOR YOUR ENTIRE TRIP if you are staying on Disney property. You can also book other extras like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique dress-up, Pirate’s League dress-up, dinner cruises, etc. 180 days out. You can pre-schedule three fastpasses per park day 60 days from your arrival date FOR YOUR ENTIRE TRIP if you are staying on Disney property (additional perks of staying at a Disney resort). If you are not staying on Disney property, you can book dining reservations 180 days out from the day of the reservation, and you can book fastpasses 30 days out from the day of the fastpass. This is where a lot of the researching and planning comes in, and that brings me to my next topic – HELP ME!
Get the help you need
The easiest and most stress-free way to plan a Disney trip is to use a travel planner who specializes in Disney vacations. It is free (yes, FREE) if you book your hotel and tickets through the agent, as Disney pays the agent a fee. You will not pay any more than if you had booked the trip yourself, and your agent should be aware of all of the discounts and can give you tips on everything from when to travel to advice on dining and fastpasses. Some agents, such as myself, are also willing to book dining reservations and fastpasses for you. That being said, I would love to help you plan your trip to Walt Disney World! I also plan Disney cruises, trips to Disneyland, trips to Aulani (Disney’s resort in Hawaii) and Adventures by Disney tours.
Feel free to contact me:
REYNOLDS HARPER, Independent Travel Planner for Dream Come True Vacations, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner agency
1-888-MICKEY8 ext 725
HAVE A MAGICAL DAY!!