Are you thinking about a Disney vacation? Stressed even thinking about it? Not sure where to even begin planning?
As a former travel agent who specialized in Disney destinations, this was the most frequent question I got, especially from first-timers…”Help me! Where do I start?!?”
I have spent countless hours researching my own trips and helping clients, friends and family plan their dream vacations. It can be completely overwhelming, with the mountain of information out there. But it doesn’t have to be stressful!
Here are my 5 tips to get you started planning your trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth”!
1. Start Planning Early
The earlier you plan your Walt Disney World vacation, the more flexibility and options you have when it comes to making reservations. Walt Disney World Resort reservations can be made up to a year in advance in some cases, and sometimes sell out during busy seasons. Do you have a princess that has to dine with Cinderella or Belle? You’ll need to reserve that 6 months ahead.
Doing your research and putting together your plans well in advance also takes some of the stress out of your vacation. You’ll be ready to make Dining Reservations and Fastpass+ picks as soon as your travel window opens
Plus you can have extra fun anticipating your upcoming trip!
2. Order your FREE Disney Planning Video
Get a sneak peak of everything Disney has to offer with a FREE Vacation Planning Video! This is a great way to get information and ideas, and an exciting build-up to your vacation. We order a new one every year, even if we aren’t planning to visit, just to see what’s new.
Click on the link here, and pick your Disney destination (or all of them if you wish). You’ll get an email confirmation with the link to watch your video online at any time!
3. Do Some Research
Books and blogs and websites, oh my!! It can be a lot to wade through. Here is a list of my favourite websites, travel blogs and planning tools. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a good starting point, and each one offers something a little bit different.
Walt Disney World – the official site
Disney Tourist Blog – my favourite blog, and the best photos around
Mousesavers – lots of great money-saving tips
Touring Plans – trip planning tools from the authors of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World
DISboards – discussion board for all things Disney
4. You Can’t Do It All
Walt Disney World covers over 47 square miles. That’s twice the size of Manhattan. There are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 2 shopping, dining and entertainment districts, 2 mini-golf courses, a sports complex, 21 resort hotels…I could keep going, but hopefully you get the drift. The place is massive!
Even if you had an unlimited budget, and multiple weeks vacation, you still couldn’t see and do everything at Walt Disney World., and there is new attractions and lands being built all the time! I have well over a dozen trips to “Mickey’s House” under my belt, and there is so much even I haven’t experienced.
Most people choose to spend a week, and with realistic expectations and a good plan, you can see a good selection of what Disney has to offer and still come away smiling! Make a short list of your “must-do” rides, attractions, characters, and don’t forget to plan some down-time too!
After all, this is supposed to be a vacation!
5. Use a Travel Agent that Specializes in Disney Vacations
If you’ve made it this far, and you’re more overwhelmed than when you first started (which, by the way, is completely normal!), this last tip is probably the best. Find a travel agent, but not just any agent. Make sure you get an agent that specializes in Disney vacations!
I can’t stress this point enough! And I learned it the hard way!
Back in the day, before I was “in the know”, before the internet was big (dating myself here) my then husband and I booked a last minute honeymoon to Disney, staying at Caribbean Beach Resort (my all-time favourite), requesting a king bed room, because…honeymoon! We booked through a reputable, nation-wide travel agency (at a well-known Canadian department store now in bankruptcy protection).
While our travel agent was a wonderful person, and an experienced agent, Disney was not her area of expertise.
On arrival, we discovered that king bed rooms were a completely different booking category, at a more expensive price, and that there were no king bed rooms left! Disney did try their best to help because…honeymoon, giving us chocolate truffles, and eventually moving us to a king bed room. But for the first 4 nights, we slept in separate beds, because my then husband was 6’4” and a sprawling sleeper, so we didn’t fit in a double bed!
Omen for our doomed marriage? Probably. But I digress.
Find a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. They know the information. Heck, they are graduates of the Disney College of Knowledge (I know…I have the Ears to prove it)! They usually have made several trips to the “world” themselves, and attended Disney Travel Agent FAM trips where they learn even more about the parks, resorts, and cruise ships.
Best part, there is NO FEES for their services! All that knowledge is yours for no extra charge! And they can usually save you money, because they know all the discounts available, even after you book!
My recommendation is Cindy Dennis from Pure Magic Vacations, a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner agency (one of the first in Canada!). She is an experienced, knowledgeable agent who can help you plan the perfect, magical vacation! Contact her for a FREE no obligation quote, and say hi from Little Pockets of Bliss!
So, I hope these 5 tips help make it easier when you are thinking about planning your Walt Disney World vacation in Florida! And I wish you a magical trip!
Got tips you would share? Questions about Disney travel planning? I’m working on more Disney travel posts soon. What would you like to see? Drop me a line, or leave a comment below!