It’s official guys, I’ve caught the bug. It seems like I can usually avoid it for awhile, as long as I’m careful to keep my mind occupied with other things. No no, I’m not talking about the flu bug. For the last week or so, I’ve had the Disney bug! I’m not kidding I have been drooling over videos, pictures, and blog posts for the last week or so desperately attempting to live vicariously through every lucky duck recently or currently at Disney. I swear I have a mini heart attack every time a commercial for Disney World comes on TV!
If you’re new here, I took my first ever trip to Disney World back in March of 2016. It was the most amazing experience I’ve had. Maybe ever. No, definitely ever! It truly is the most magical place on Earth. I can’t really explain it, but the place just makes you feel so happy and excited – like you’re floating around in a sparkly little bubble for days! Having to leave is really the saddest thing ever, especially if you don’t know when you’ll be able to return.
Why not just go back then you ask? Well, unfortunately since quitting my job back in August (catch up on that here and here), and still not having figured out my next step for bringing in a regular paycheck, dropping a few grand on a trip to Disney just isn’t realistic right now. Sigh. Cue the violin. Although, as soon as I start bringing in some consistent income again I’ll be planning my next trip back immediately!
While I was planning for my first trip, I did a lot of research. Actually, a ton. You kind of have to when your destination is the size of a city, includes 4 theme parks, hundreds of restaurants, and numerous different hotels. Trust me when I say there is a lot of ground to cover when planning a Disney vacation. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I for one really enjoy researching for a trip. And Disney was no exception, in fact it was even more fun!
If you couldn’t already tell, I have a deep love for Disney World. In fact, I’m starting a blog series that will allow me to share that love with all of you. I’m starting off the series with five essential planning basics you will need to decide on when planning a trip to Disney World, before even actually booking anything. By the time I finish this series, you should have all of the information you could possibly need for not only planning your Disney trip, but going as well!
Here are my 5 absolutely essential planning basics:
- Budget – probably the first thing to decide on is how much can you/are you willing to spend? I’ll be the first one to tell you (unless you already know) that a vacation to Disney World isn’t gonna come cheap. There’s your normal travel expenses, hotel, food, and also theme park tickets. I can tell you this though, it’s totally worth it! You just have to be prepared, and maybe do a little saving beforehand.
- Length of Stay – how long do you want to stay? Actually, more realistically, how long will you be able to stay? Disney World is made up of 4 different theme parks, 2 waterparks, an outdoor downtown shopping and eating destination called Disney Springs and more. I went for 6 days. The first day was spent checking into our hotel, getting dinner at Ohana, and spending a few hours checking out Disney Springs. We spent a full day at each theme park, except for Magic Kingdom where we spent two. I would recommend at least 4 days, so that you can visit each of the 4 theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.
- Where to Stay – do you want to stay on-site or off-site? Are you able to drop big bucks on a deluxe resort, or are you trying to make the most of every penny and are leaning more towards a value resort? I recommend staying on-site at a Disney resort since it comes with quite a few perks that staying at an off-site hotel won’t get you. Such as a magic band, bus transportation to parks throughout Disney World, Disney theme-ing, extra magic hours, and more! I didn’t have endless amounts of money to drop on a hotel, so I ended up going with a value resort (All-Star Music) and it was just as magical! Also, keep in mind that the majority of each day will be spent in one of the theme parks, so does it really matter how fancy of a hotel room you have?
- How to Get There – are you going to fly or take a road trip? This decision is usually made for you once you determine your budget and how long you are able to take off of work. We road tripped down because plane tickets were too expensive (we went during spring break and ticket prices jumped more than $200). It was fun for the first 7 hours or so, but then the remaining 12 hours got pretty intense. We came from Wisconsin, but if you’re closer to Florida, I’d say it’s definitely worth it! You don’t technically need a car in Disney World, but it can come in handy if you plan on making reservations at some of the restaurants in resorts other than yours.
- When to Go – Disney World is busy all year round, but there are times where crowds are fairly light and other times where they are insanely heavy. We went during both of my niece’s spring break week so that they wouldn’t have to miss any school. Unfortunately (and I was prepared because I’d researched ahead of time), spring break week is the second busiest time to visit Disney after the weeks around Christmas & New Years. Make sure to check out crowd calendars to best plan when to go. As a rule of thumb, any time kids will have off of school means Disney will be busy and the best times to go are when kids are in school. So if you’re a parent, you will have to decide whether or not you are okay with pulling the kids out of school. Also, the weather may have an impact on when you decide to make the trip to Disney. Florida can get really hot and humid, especially in the summer. I don’t like the heat, so I would probably never go between June and August. Don’t stress too much. Even though some times of year are better than others, I’ve heard that Disney World is great fun no matter when you go!
Once you have made a decision for each of these 5 Disney planning essentials, you have completed a large chunk of the “dirty” work. Now it’s time for the fun part!