Did you know that over 157 million people visit Disney theme parks each year?
Of course, the epidemic has distorted those numbers since 2020, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccinations in place and life slowly returning to normal, now is the perfect time to start planning your Disney World vacation.
What should I know about my upcoming Disney trip? Where can I meet Disney characters? What are the best park attractions and where to stay on vacation?
We’ll cover that answer and more, so keep reading below!
1. Where to Stay at Disney
Central Florida has more than 450 hotels with 121,000 rooms, not to mention Airbnb and other private vacation rentals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options, especially if you’re traveling during peak season or holiday season.
You may want to avoid Disney Resorts because you think they are too expensive for cheap hotels outside. But consider this: All Disney hotels offer free shuttles to all Disney parks. This will save you $25 per day on parking, not to mention car rentals.
Budget-conscious travelers can also consider Pop Century and All-Star resorts, or camp out at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. If you want to show off, book a stay at Polynesian Resort, Yacht Club or Grand Floridian.
Signing up for Disney Vacation Club can save you big money at some of the best park resorts. If you are interested in Disney Vacation Club real estate, your best bet is to rent a DVC from the DVC Shop.
2. Investigate parks and park attractions
There are 49 unique rides across four Disney World theme parks and shows, shops and other attractions. (This doesn’t include all the cool new stuff from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge!)
You won’t be able to experience everything after a few days, so you need to do a lot of research in advance.
For example, are you traveling with small children who do not meet certain height restrictions? Are you an adrenaline junkie who wants to experience the most intense riding? Or is someone in your party prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia?
Certain rides are included on the “must-do” list, while others can be safely skipped. Families with young children can plan plenty of time at Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, while older kids have more time at Hollywood Studios.
If your party is adults-only, you can spend more time exploring Epcot’s cultural and scientific attractions. Meanwhile, animal lovers will want to make the most of their time in the animal kingdom.
3. Create a (loose) daily itinerary
With all your research, you’ll want to come up with a rather detailed game plan for each day in the park. You don’t put too much into the fact that there’s no room for spontaneity, but you don’t want to “wing” either.
Start by making a list of “must have” shows and rides at each park. If possible, plan to do it early the day before the line gets too long. Download the Disney app to keep track of your current wait times and plan the best walking route around each park.
It’s also a good idea to check park opening and closing times, as well as special events that may affect your visit. For example, Magic Kingdom closes early for events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Some rides may be close to maintenance work, so check in advance to avoid disappointment.
If you have no choice but to visit Disney World during high season, we recommend adding the FastPass+ option to your ticket. Just remember that you need to book your ride time in advance!
4. Buy tickets and book them ASAP
Speaking of scheduling in advance, let’s talk about buying park tickets. One-day tickets are staggering, so you can actually save money by planning a longer Disney trip.
The more you buy your park tickets in advance, the more you can potentially save. You can also save money on off-peak trips, such as:
- Mid-January to early March
- Late August to late September
- Early to mid-December (between Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Popular spots like Character Breakfast fill up quickly, so book as soon as you know your travel dates. The same goes for dining at popular restaurants like Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Hollywood Studios, Ohana Buffet at Polynesian Resort, and the sumptuous Victoria and Albert’s at Grand Floridian.
5. Florida Weather Planning and Preparation
If you’re planning a Disney World vacation in a cold climate, be prepared to be shocked when you arrive in Orlando. The weather is hot, humid and sweltering almost all year round, with temperatures soaring to 90 degrees even in winter.
Bring light, breathable clothing such as shorts, t-shirt, tank top, baseball cap or sun visor. Sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen are essential even in winter. If you’re visiting in December or January, you may need a light jacket, but you probably won’t need anything heavier than that.
Bring only the most comfortable shoes and make sure your shoes are not spoiled. The average visitor walks 10-12 miles every day, and nothing ruins a trip like a big blister on their foot. Choose a pair of well-worn sneakers or sandals and get ready to hit the pavement.
Other packaging essentials include a refillable water bottle, a cell phone charger, and a small backpack or fanny pack to carry your belongings.
Bonus tip: take your time rest If you are visiting during your Disney trip, especially during the hot summer months! Getting enough rest and staying hydrated can make the experience even more magical.
Start planning your Disney World vacation today
Whether you have kids or little ones at heart, nothing can put a smile on your face like a Disney World vacation.
However, planning a Disney World vacation takes a bit of effort and prior consideration. Use the tips above to ensure a safe, affordable and memorable Disney trip!
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