7 steps to planning a Disney World Vacation
1. Pick your Disney World Hotel. Don't even think about staying off property. Trust me on this. I did the math and you get more bang for your buck by staying at a WDW hotel. There are 3 tiers to their properties: Value Resort, Moderate, and De Luxe. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside which is a Moderate Resort. I selected this property because based on reviews that I read. This is not over run with kids and is a quiet resort. The grounds were beautiful and were very well kept, there are multiple swimming pools (the main pool has a slide, all moderate resorts have this), there are restaurants on-site, and ferry service to Downtown Disney. By staying at a WDW Resort Hotel, you don't have to worry about renting a car. The Disney Magical Express takes you from the Orlando airport to your hotel and vice versa. There are buses that take guests from their hotel to the parks, too.
2. How many days do you want to stay? We were at WDW for 5 days, and spent 4 days at the parks (Hollywood studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Typhoon Lagoon). This was our biggest mistake! 5 days is not enough time to visit 4 parks. By the end of our vacation, we were EXHAUSTED! we should have spent a full week and visited 4 parks so we could squeeze in a day of rest in between parks. but if you only have 5 days, visit 2 parks or no more than 3. there's just too much walking involved in hot and humid Orlando. Taking a 'rest day' also allows you to enjoy your hotel a little more. There is a catch and release fishing hole at our hotel but we never had a chance to go because our schedule was so tight. We could have lounged by the pool more if we had extra days or do a few more things at Downtown Disney. There's so much to do, not just at the parks so those rest days wont go to waste.
3. Pick a Disney Dining Plan. I was unsure whether this was a good value prior to our visit. we paid approximately $140 per day for our dining plan (this is for 2 adults and 1 child). we figured, we would spend at least $120 per day for our meals if we didn't do the dining plan. $120 for meals where we pick the cheapest meals and no character dining experiences at all. I don't like the idea of being stingy on vacation. it's a vacation! so we decided on the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining. The way our dining plan worked was we got 1 table service, 1 counter service, and 1 snack for each day of our stay. On some days, we had 2 counter service meals at the parks (lunch and dinner), we used 2 of our table service credits for 2 Character Dining experiences (1 table service credit per person), 2 table service credits (per person) for the Spirit of Aloha Dinner show. We had snacks thru out the day and we got to really enjoy the food at the parks and at our hotel. The value for money was really good and we got to enjoy some of the best restaurants at WDW without breaking the bank.
4. Visit a Water Park. Disney has two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Typhoon lagoon is perfect for families with young children. Blizzard beach has giant slides and are for the older, more daring kids. since we were traveling with 8 year olds, we picked typhoon lagoon and enjoyed the wave pool, the shark reef (we swam with sharks!), and many different slides and the lazy river.
5. Get the photo pass/memory maker. I know everyone has a good camera nowadays, whether it's your phone or your big, bulky, digital SLR. While we have some good photos from our own camera, our favorite photos came from the photos from the memory maker. We always asked for 'Magic Shots' where Disney characters were photo shopped later on. Even the photos from the rides are included in the memory maker so you can keep your scared and shocked funniest photos from your vacations, too!
6. Magic Bands. Ok, so this isn't really a step, but I had to get these things on this list because Magic Bands are AWESOME!!! I was in awe at all the magical things it could do! Our magic band was our room key, it was our park tickets, it held our fast pass information, it had our dining plans, it connected with our Photo Pass account, it can be used to make purchases all over WDW. I didn't have to bring my wallet at the parks at all so I never worried about it being stolen or lost while on vacation. I simply kept my wallet locked away at the safe in our hotel room and let the Magic Band do every thing it's supposed to do! You can only get a magic band if you stay at a Disney hotel, if not, you'll have to purchase them online ($12.95 each).
7. Call or Text Air Manila (650 757 5555 or email at email@example.com) to book your vacation! If you don't think you can afford a WDW vacation, you are mistaken. By booking a WDW vacation package, you are only required to make a $200 deposit and your vacation doesn't need to be paid in full until 45 days before your vacation so if you book early enough, you can make monthly payments on your vacation or save up and pay in full before your deadline!