There are many types of vacations to be taken without detailed strategy sessions, but a Disney World vacation is not one of them! The truth is, Disney World vacations are very expensive and without effective planning families don't maximize their time or money while at the parks. If you are planning a Disney World vacation without a travel agent, be prepared to invest a large amount of time and energy researching all the necessary facets of a Disney vacation!
Here are just a few areas Paradise Travel researches when planning your Disney World vacation. As a reminder, travel research and planning is always FREE to Paradise Travel clients! With a Disney vacation you final cost will be the same with or without a travel agent on your side.
Tip #1: know your booking windows and establish a touring guide
Disney World opens reservations for lodging, dining, and attractions on a set schedule. Depending on the timeframe/crowd levels of your visit, it is important to know these booking windows.
Lodging - 499 days prior to visit
Booking early with Disney doesn't usually provide a big savings, however, it will help to ensure your preferred room category is available at your desired resort.
Room preferences will become limited approximately 365 days prior, especially the lower priced rooms at the resorts closest to Disney World.
Be sure to research hotel amenities and the transportation to/from Disney World. Some hotels have buses, while others are on the monorail route.
Prior to booking your Disney hotel, you should have a general idea of which Disney parks you want to visit and on what days. Disney now requires a park reservation - be sure the desired parks have availability before you book your Disney vacation package.
Dining - 60 days prior to visit
Book your hotel and determining which Disney parks you will visit each day of your stay prior to the dining window opening is key. This plan helps you to streamline your park experience to maximize the time in each day.
On-site guests can book 60 days + 10 additional days. Research the dining venues you prefer to determine which reservations are harder to get. Those dining reservations should be booked early to ensure availability.
Travel Insurance - Add any time prior to final payment
When you buy travel insurance with Disney you get the peace of mind it provides. With the travel insurance, you can protect your investment in your Disney vacation, which can be costly. Some of the benefits of Disney's travel insurance include coverage for trip cancellations and interruptions, medical expenses, lost or delayed baggage, and 24/7 emergency assistance. We always recommend adding it so you can feel secure knowing that your vacation investment is protected and that you can receive help if you need it while traveling.
Tip #2: Research Peak Crowds and/or themed days
Disney World crowd levels fluctuate during the year. This is attributed to lots of different factors including school schedules, park events, and themed days. Prior to booking your Disney World vacation, be sure to research the timeframe you want to visit. This will help you understand the crowd levels at each park for each day of your visit. Crowd information, by each day, will help you create your park schedule and should be understood prior to making dining reservations.
Disney prices don't vary dramatically throughout the year, so it is best to schedule your visit based on the crowd levels and your desire to attend (or avoid) certain theme days.
tip #3: Review special events
Did you know that Disney World hosts several events throuhgout the year? Some of these events require an additional ticket and the tickets are typically sold out months prior to the event. On these days, guests without the additional event ticket will be required to leave the park early.
That's right - even though you paid full price to be at the park, you will still be required to leave early unless you purchase the additional ticket! Make certain you are aware of these events prior to your visit so you can either purchase the extra ticket and/or plan your park days appropriately. You don't want to book reservations until you know this schedule!
tip #4: Understand the GENIE system
In recent years, Disney has adopted a fastpass replacement. The Disney Genie and Genie+ are services aimed at helping Disney World and Disneyland guests maximize their days at the resort.
The Disney Genie is a complimentary service and provides you with information, virtual queues, forecasted wait times, and mobile ordering. It does not allow you to book a "fast pass" to Disney attractions.
The Genie+ is available for purchase. With it, you can reserve a ride to many of Disney's most popular attractions. While the Genie+ is designed to help you maximize your day, it is important to know the crowd levels and your park plan before purchasing it.
What attractions does your family want to experience?
Are there any height restrictions, etc.?
Which of these attractions can be added with the Genie+?
What attractions have historically low wait times and therefore don't "need" a reservation?
tip #5: Maximize your Dining Plan Options
Disney offers three great dining plan options. These opinions are designed to help a family appropriately budget their meal expenses while at the park. While the plan does help you budget, it is also important to understand which restaurants qualify for quick-service or table-service.
You should also know how to use your snack credits to your benefit. Many guests realize they have lots of credits leftover after their vacation and then use tons of credits to purchase junk food and candy, just so they aren't leaving money on the table. Appropriate planning is key to maximizing your credits (and money)!
benefits of booking with Paradise Travel
The biggest benefit of booking your Disney World vacation package with Paradise Travel is having our travel experts help you will all of the details mentioned in this article. Instead of spending your limited time and energy researching all the necessary details of a Disney World vacation, have our travel experts do it for you!
This amazing service is FREE with every Disney package booked through Paradise Travel! Our goal is to plan your Disney World vacation ahead of time to ensure your family can maximize your time and money while at the parks!