Military Members And Families
Disney has the best discounts for anyone actively serving in or retired from the military. You can purchase deeply discounted 4-and 5-day tickets as well as discount hotel rooms on-property. In particular, the Shades of Green on-property resort which is for military members and their families only. Rates are based on ranking but you can find them as low as $70 a night and many include free breakfast.
Evaluating A Disney Vacation Package
Im going to go ahead and do an example of this on the fly . Hopefully the excitement comes through in my writing
Id like to have some offers to play around with, so Ill be looking at booking a package from March 11, 2019 to March 15, 2019. I use a family of four for my examples. I put my dates into the Disney website online, and already Ive got some options to review.
Getting To/from The Airport
If you are staying at a Disney resort and arrive at Orlando International , then Disney provides complimentary transportation to and from the airport. This transport service is known as the Magical Express, and also provides luggage service to/from the airport. You must register for the Magical Express prior to your arrival.
If you will not be using Magical Express, there are other transport options. Car rental agencies are plentiful and competitively priced. You can secure a good rate on a rental with fee-free cancellation using BookingBuddy, then check back later. Pricing can fluctuate daily, so this is recommended. For other car rental cost-cutting car rental tips, check our guide, How to Book the Cheapest Car Rental Possible.
If you’d like to avoid renting a car, check with your hotel to see if they provide airport transportation. Several of the Orlando area hotels provide this, but always ask first. Other airport transport options include:
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How Much Does A Disney World Vacation Cost
A Disney World vacation can cost anywhere from $1,000-$5,000+ USD per person. The total depends on your length of stay, types of parks pass purchased, and how much you choose to splurge on accommodation, food, and extras like character dinners, ticketed events, and souvenirs. Below is an estimate cost comparison per person for a 5-day, 5-night trip.
Flights will vary in price according to the time of year and where you fly in from. Weekdays are generally cheaper to fly. Use Skyscanner to conduct a broad search and select Entire Month to visualize prices across the month of your visit.
You can also get 60,000 points just for signing up and hitting the minimum spend of $4000 within the first 3 months with your everyday purchases on the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. That’s enough to cover your flights! You can convert your points to an airline like United, JetBlue, or Southwest, or use the points directly in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
What Is A Walt Disney Travel Agent And What Do They Do
A Disney travel agent is a specialist in all things Disney. They stay up to date on all the upcoming attractions and customize your itinerary based on all the interests of you and your family.
Many agents even attend a special Disney college to make sure they know the best way to put your package together.
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Itineraries & Attraction Advice
Having an itinerary is a big deal, even for some frequent Walt Disney World guests. Some visitors create binders, spreadsheets, and schedule every step of their day. People get serious and obsessive about this. We are not those people. Planning is important, but going to those lengths is unnecessarily stressful and creates unrealistic and rigid plans. The best laid plans often go awry, and when that inevitably happens, it can be disappointing if youve over-planned.
With that said, we also recommend first-time visitors do not wing it for your daily itinerary. You dont need to plan every movement so that theres no spontaneity in your trip, just make sure you have at least a loose plan of what youre going to do. As with most things in life, balance and moderation are key.
We have the following flexible step by step plans for each park that cover our perfect days using standby-only:
With that said, wed strongly recommend using our pre-made Walt Disney World Park Itineraries. Those step by step guides are maximized for efficiency, and will save far more time than ones you put together yourself, or just winging it. These are good, flexible itineraries that offers attractions, dining, and other things to enjoy without going crazy with mapping out every bathroom stop of your day.
Booking Your Advanced Dining Reservations For You
Some clients prefer to be more hands-on than others. No problem! You can still utilize the services of a Disney travel planner while also doing a lot of the legwork and some of the booking yourself. This may include the planning/itinerary and booking things like transportation, stroller rentals, and Advance Dining Reservations. Some clients prefer to leave every single detail up to the Disney travel agent. Its really up to you how involved you want to be.
At the minimum, the only aspects that a travel agent would need to take care of would be to book your hotel/ticket/dining plan package and to process the payments for your trip. Otherwise, your level of involvement is up to you. However, be warned that some of the bookings are confusing to the uninitiated, not to mention time-consuming and time-sensitive.
Most clients are happy to let their experienced travel planner make all of the reservations because they know exactly what they are doing. Plus, they have the time and obligation to do it, so why not let them handle it?
If some unforeseen circumstance arises after you book your trip, your Disney travel agent is there to help. So if you encounter a medical or family issue, hurricane, or pandemic, or whatever, your planner is there to help you change your existing reservations or re-book the entire trip to a later date.
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Create A Daily Itinary
Now that we have covered the basic steps for planning your Walt Disney World vacation, its time to start thinking about the nitty-gritty details of your trip. Improvising on-the-go can cost you money and lost time while you are at the park, so creating an itinerary will keep your vacation on track.
If your trip to WDW is 4 days or less, you will most likely spend each day exploring Disneys 4 theme parks. Consider a Park Hopper pass so that you have the ability to jump between parks during the day.
Time is of the essence, so we recommend that you map your route and create an itinerary of high-priority attractions so nothing is overlooked.
If your Disney World vacation is a week or so, consider spending one day at a Disney water park , at a non-Disney property , golfing, boating, shopping, or just taking a day off to relax.
Since Advanced Dining Reservations should be made well in advance of your trip, the process of selecting which restaurants and attractions are top priorities should begin as soon as you book your trip .
As you research your options, make notes to help you formulate your Walt Disney World itinerary.
Here are a few things to consider when you begin researching WDW attractions:
Some of the most popular rides for Lightning Lane passes and Disney Genie+ are:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, and Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway
Frozen Ever After
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The Best Disney World Splurges For Night Owls
If you have the budget for some VIP experiences but dont like early mornings, Disney World still has you covered.
Ultimate Night of Adventure VIP Tour at Animal Kingdom: To avoid both lines and FastPasses for Pandora and other Animal Kingdom rides, spend $249 per person to get expedited FastPass+ access to Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur, the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular and, most important, Avatar Flight of Passage. This four-hour evening tour also includes snacks and a specialty nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverage.
Rivers of Light Dining Package: Choose breakfast, lunch or dinner, and score premium seats to the Animal Kingdom nighttime light show. Packages start at $50 for adults and $26 for children.
Fantasmic! Dessert and VIP Viewing Experience: Thirty-nine dollars per person will get you a buffet to satisfy your sweet tooth and VIP seating at Fantasmic!, the nighttime spectacular at Hollywood Studios.
Frozen Ever After Sparkling Dessert Party: If your little princess or prince loves the Frozen ride at Epcot, this one is for you. It includes a great seat for Illuminations! the nighttime fireworks show at Epcot a buffet of sweets and afterward, Frozen Ever After without waiting in line. The experience is $99 for adults and $59 for children.
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Everything You Need To Know Before Booking A Disney Vacation
Walt Disney World is essentially a vacation paradise, but planning a trip there can feel quite the opposite.
Hotel booking is one of the most complicated parts of visiting the Magic Kingdom, but with the following resources and advice, youll be prepared to become your own travel agenteven if you likely decide to work with one.
Theres plenty to know before visiting the park, tooour first-timers guide and glossary have you coveredbut the ins and outs of deciding how, where, and why to stay on- or off-property come first. With secret seasonal deals, differing discounts, time share rentals, and plenty other things to keep an eye out for, heres a helpful primer you may want to read before you commit to your first Disney trip:
Disney World: An Overview
When you think of Disney World, the first thing that pops in most people’s minds is Cinderella’s Castle. It is the iconic symbol of Disney World, but there is so much more on offer than that. The Disney World property expands over 25,000 acres in Central Florida . Within the gates of Disney World property you will find:
- 4 Theme Parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom
- 2 Water Parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach
- 28 Disney Resorts
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How To Reduce Your Time In Line At Disney
Standing in line is just about the least fun thing you can do in a place as great as Disney World, even in a non-pandemic world.
Disney does a good job of providing themed elements while you wait in line, even if theyre not the best at protecting you from the hot Florida sun on some attractions. Standing in line is a fact of life when it comes to theme parks , but some strategies can reduce your wait. As Disney World has evolved and added items like virtual queues , the optimal strategy has also evolved.
But, keep in mind that things are different right now.
Stay Away From The Extra Magic Hours Parks
The parks with Extra Magic Hours for Disney Hotel Guests tend to be the busiest the entire day. If it is an early morning magic hour and you are staying at one of the Disney resorts you can take advantage of the early morning and get out because it gets packed, however, if you oversleep and dont make it to the early entry, change plans and go to a different park.
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Go During The Slow Seasons
When you go to Walt Disney World has a big impact on how cheap your flights and hotel room will be. It can even affect the price of theme park admission. Although the summer brings extended park hours and more entertainment options, the overall savings you receive from going during a slower time of the year is likely worth it. The slowest time can vary from year to year, but its generally on the slower side from the middle of January through the end of March, and the time period after the Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December can be a good time to catch the beautiful holiday decorations in the park for less. Visiting the parks during the first half of May and from mid-August to mid-September can also be a good time to avoid crowds and save money.
Which Is The Best Way To Book Your Disney Vacation
Knowing which way is the best way for you to book your Disney vacation really depends on your goals.
If your goal is to have the most flexability for changes, you are better off booking with Disney or with a Travel Agent.
If your goal is to save the most money AND you are flexible on where you stay and when you travel, renting DVC points or booking through a 3rd party site may be the best option for you.
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Visit During Low Crowd Season
Yes, you can actually visit Disney World when it is not too busy, although it is getting rarer each year but it still can happen. There are several times per year where crowds are low, even during the holidays.
Of all the Disney World tips this is the most important if you want to visit while the parks are decorated for the holidays. Visit after Thanksgiving Break and before Christmas Break and you will find yourself filled with holiday joy as the parks are all decked out but the crowds are not there. Check out my full crowd calendar here!
Tricks To Stay Cool On Those Hot Florida Day
Most of the year its pretty darn hot. Magic Kingdom Park has some awesome spots to cool off in that will help make your day much better. Try checking out:
- Mickeys PhilharMagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Walt Disneys Carousel of Progress
*And, honestly if it is just too hot head over to the Walt Disney World Water Parks.
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Walt Disney World Basics And Essential Tips
Walt Disney World is a vacation destination outside of Orlando, Florida with four theme parks, two waterparks, numerous hotels, world class dining, and several other offerings .
If youre brand new to Walt Disney World planning, start with our Basic Things To Know About Walt Disney World. Thats a quick read that will get you familiar with Walt Disney World.
Then move on to our Essential Tips for Planning Your First Disney World Vacation. Theres some overlap between that list and this guide, but thats okay, youll just be a little ahead of the curve in the rest of your planning.
Incredible Snacks & Drinks
Epcot has by far the best snacks and desserts of any park. Here are some you have to try:
Spiked Dole Whip! they spiked the delicious favorite with coconut rum. Get one it will make your day SO much better!!
Snack on a Croissant Donut available at a stand near Canada in the World Showcase.
For a couple of bucks you can get a delicious baguette in France and it will keep the familys bellies quite full.
Italy has the BEST latte, and a great walk-up counter to grab a slice of pizza
Check out the incredible sweets in Norway
Visit the Tequila bar inside the temple in Mexico for some incredible
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Rent Disney Vacation Club Points
Undoubtedly the best way to do a villa stay for a discounted amount is to rent Disney Vacation Club points or book a fixed Disney Vacation Club reservation. These options require the most flexibility or, in the case of high demand rentals, really far advance planning. We recommend visiting David’s Vacation Club Rentals for the best deals. We reviewed our experience with them in an earlier post.
Disney Resort Hotel Vacation Package Details
The Disney Resort Hotel Vacation Package is the most affordable Walt Disney World starter vacation package. There is no minimum stay requirement.
For 2021, the basic Disney Resort Hotel package includes:
Everyone in the room must be booked on the same package and ticket options. Package and package components are nontransferable. Theme Park tickets and options must be used within 14 days of first use. Some activities and events are priced separately. Visiting more than one Theme Park on the same day requires the Park Hopper option.
Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.
More Info & Links
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Choose A Disney Resort Hotel
There are two options for lodging at Walt Disney World. You can either stay at an official Disney-owned on-site resort, or at a nearby off-site resort. Lets look at the advantages/disadvantages of each type of resort hotel.
Official Disney On-Site Resorts
There is something special about staying at an official Disney resort.
For one, each resort has its own distinctive character, charm, and identity. You can leave the real world behind and surround yourself with Disney magic, 24/7.
Since all resort guests are on Disney World property, you will be in close proximity to all the parks and have direct access to monorails, boats, and buses.
On-site guests also receive special perks that off-site guests do not. These include free transfers to and from the airport via Disney Magical Express , Early Theme Park Entry, the ability to book Advance Dining Reservation, and Disney Genie+ selections ahead of non-Disney resort guests.
There are 3 main tiers of on-site Disney Resorts: Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Theres also a Deluxe Villa tier, which is essentially a WDW timeshare.
The only major disadvantage of staying at a Disney resort is the cost. With the extra perks and close proximity to the park, these resorts are more expensive than off-site resorts, so your decision will really just depend on your budget and the priorities of your vacation.
Non-Disney off-site resorts compete with on-site Disney Resorts.
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