Disney Deconstructed | How to Plan a Disney Vacation

One of my ABSOLUTE favorite things in the whole world is Disney World. Naturally, I love visiting as much as my wallet will allow (which isn't that often since buying a house!), but planning the trip is almost as fun. Recently, a few people asked for some tips in putting together a fun, complete Disney vacation experience. This installment in the Disney Deconstructed series will cover planning your trip.

You will be able to find any of these tips on Disney blogs everywhere. They aren't original to me or my experiences. However, I thought I'd add a little of my own personal flair! Enjoy!

  1. Use the Disney website for booking your trip. There are many excellent third parties out there, but I've found the best and easiest way to get hotel, park tickets, and more is directly through Disney's reservation service. This also includes calling their toll free number (407-939-5277). If you're paying extra for someone to help you do this, I would highly recommend saving that chunk of change and do it yourself.
  2. Stay on Disney property. Whether you have a small budget or an endless one, there is something for any price range. Disney hotels are always clean and well-maintained. It helps make keep you in the Disney frame of mind, even when you aren't at the parks. There are many benefits to staying on property, one being free parking at any Disney World park. Parking is $20 PER DAY. Compare your Disney room to that of another hotel and you'll need to include that $20 savings. Another perk is the option of free transportation to any park or Downtown Disney. I love this because I hate to drive, especially when I'm on vacation. In the end, it's usually just as affordable to stay on property, especially when you take advantage of seasonal discounts.
  3. Book during a promotion! Sometimes, you can get free dining with your room and tickets. Other times, you'll be able to save up to 30% on hotel or get free days added to your park tickets. Keep an eye on the Disney Parks website for the latest deals.
  4. Skip the meal plan. TRUST ME: YOU CANNOT EAT THAT MUCH FOOD! At upwards of $65 per day per person, you'll get a snack, quick service meal, and a sit down meal. Both times I've had the dining plan, I spent more time trying to use up all our credits than actually enjoying the food. Yes, it is easy to spend $60 per person per day on food, but if you're careful, you'll end up spending less AND eating only what you need. Side story: Cal and I once had 6 snack credits and 3 quick service meals left over at the end of our trip. On the last day, we ran around trying to use our credits and took food home for the car ride. Ha!
  5. Schedule meals and attractions before you leave home. Disney has this incredible app: My Disney Experience. On it, you are able to look for dining reservations and schedule FastPasses to attractions around the park. Planning ahead for some dining and rides will save you a lot of time standing in the hot sun. Or if you're like my family, you'll avoid the whole "so what do we do next" syndrome. That's the worst!

My advice is just advice. I am no Disney law-maker who demands you abide by my every rule. However, I have found that without a plan, any vacation will lead to large lumps of time wandering around. Use the tools Disney has provided! And BE FLEXIBLE. There are A LOT of people in the parks at all times. You might get tired. Your kids might get tired. Your feet WILL get tired. Take it all in stride and you're bound to have a great time!

Next time, I'll talk about my favorite thing: DISNEY FOOD!

Thanks to Caitlin Gerres for this fab photo!