Monday, July 11, 2011

Disney World, the basics

Way back when I wrote a post about how much I love Disney World  and said I was going to follow it up with several more Disney posts....and I totally dropped the ball on that. Oops.

So far, I told you about all the crap we packed, but I have yet to do any other posts on Disney. Let's rectify that situation, shall we?! I'll talk about best times to visit, ticketing and a brief note on the parks. I've gotten lots of emails from readers, and hopefully this will be useful information.

Walt Disney World, in Orlando, FL, is definitely the best of the Disney parks, in my humble opinion. (which isn't really all that fair, since I've only done the FL and CA Disneys, and cannot comment on the Paris or Tokyo Disney). And while I may not be a Disney expert, I think it's safe to say that I know my stuff. I've visited Disney World well over twenty times in my 26 years.

WDW is comprised of four main theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. (plus two water parks, wide world of sports, and downtown disney) (whew!)


If you're planning on visiting Disney, I highly recommend you do your research. Buying the guidebooks aren't necessary, but I'm sure they're very comprehensive. Mainly, I'd suggest talking to people who've been, and reading a few of the many websites about Disney.
Also, you can sign up for a FREE vacation planning DVD from Disney. Even though we know Disney inside and out, we still watch ours before we leave on vacation to get Kaylee all pumped up. (Emily, I would highly recommend you do this with Kye!!)

Consider peak vacation time.
Lots and lots of people go to Disney World. And it gets crowded. And the lines get looooooong. It's very common for the popular rides to have waits of 100 minutes or more.
Summer time, spring break, and Christmas/New Years are the busiest times of the year at Disney World. I used to always go in the summertime (since that's when I was off school) but it was always very busy.
Last year, we went in October, and it was definitely the best experience we've had considering the smaller crowds and short wait times. In fact, we're going again this October!

Consider the weather.
It gets hot and humid in Orlando in the summertime. It's very hot and sticky. And in the summertime, Orlando has a rainy season, and it'll rain almost every day. Not necessarily for a long time, but a rain shower each day isn't uncommon. Wintertime in Florida isn't harsh at all, and I would guess Disney in the winter would be quite comfortable, weather-wise. Again, if you can avoid the middle of the summer, you'll have much better weather for your Disney vacation.

Make sure you allot enough time.
You certainly don't have to go to all four of the parks, though if that's your plan, you'll need a minimum of four days to see all the parks. Also, once you've had a chance to check it all out, I'd guess you'll end up wanting an additional day or two to revisit all your favorite things. And if possible, don't do four straight days at Disney. You'll be exhausted! Take a day off from the theme parks to check out other things that Florida has to offer.


Know your options for purchasing tickets.
Tickets are expensive. And when you're looking at buying tickets for a whole family, they're really expensive. However, I do have a few ways you can save a few dollars. (and every dollar counts!)
First, do NOT buy from resale places. There are tons of websites and places in Orlando that claim to sell tickets with days remaining but there's no guarantee or money back or any way to ensure that you're not getting cheated.

That being said, here's what you should do. Knowing that Disney sells their tickets for 'Magic Your Way,' you need to determine your needs/wants. Decide how many days you're going to spend at Disney. The more days you buy, the cheaper the cost per day. I know it's a HUGE upfront cost, but I always recommend buying the maximum you're able to afford, if you have the intention to returning to Disney again, even if it's years later. For example, a one day one park ticket is $87. But if you could fork out the money for a 7 day ticket, with the non expiration option, it is $392 (ouch!), but the per day cost is only $56, which is really nice savings. (which means you could go for 3 days on one vacation and then if you go back again a few years later, you still have 4 days left you could use.)
Also, you need to decide if you are you going to go to just one park per day, or if you want the ability to visit more than one (called hopping). On one hand, you can easily spend an entire day at one park, but on the other, if you only have select things you want to do in each park, it's nice to be able to spend a few hours at one park and then head to another.
You can safely purchase Disney tickets through AAA if you're a member, and save a few dollars a day. The savings is very minimal, but better than nothing.

Anyway, there's the basics on Disney. Look for a post about Magic Kingdom coming your way soon!

52 comments:

  1. Disney marathon weekend is a great time to go! We want to take Ellie for that one year!

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  2. Man thanks for all those tips! One day we'll be taking little Nolan!

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  3. I love this!! Thank you for the tips! Disney World is definitely at the top of our vacation destination list! We can't wait to experience it someday!

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  4. We are going to Disneyland next week. We go once a year and I love it!!

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  5. Good tips! I haven't been in so long but would love to go back!

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  6. i've never been before, but now i totally want to!!

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  7. What great tips! My big tip is to plan a trip that falls on someone's birthday so they get in for free :) Also, they sell discounted Disney tickets to military families, but you have to buy them on base, not at the gate.

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  8. thanks for the sweet comment =) and great tips love! My sister works there!!!! hydration is so so so important... in the summer everyone chooses ice cream over water and they get super dydrated! eep! crazy right? obv you know better =) lol

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  9. Never been... but want to go sometime and this post made me want to. Awesome!

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  10. those are some great disney tips! thanks for sharing...i have not been in forever and now I just really really really want to go :)

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  11. Great tips! I haven't been to WDW is YEARS!

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  12. we learned this tip on our past trip... If you purchase tickets from outside of Disney and have a phone that can take pictures, take a picture of the back of your ticket. That way, if you happen to lose your tickets while riding Space Mountain, or something, all you have to do is show the picture of your ticket to the cast member in City Hall and they will be able to issue you a replacement. Hope that made sense. :)

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  13. Wow. Thanks for all of this helpful information. My family is considering planning a trip to Disney. Now I am even more excited.

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  14. This post was awesome! Thanks for all of the awesome information! :)

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  16. can you believe my husband has been to disney like 22 times? his family goes almost every year! I have been twice and we are already planning our 2012 trip! we love it there! We also have this cool app on our phones that tells you the wait time in lines for rides so you don't waste time walking across the park just to find that splash mountain is a 2 hour wait!

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  17. I'm book marking this page, because I will need this info if I ever fulfill a dream of mine to take my daughter to Disney! :) My mom took my sisters and I once when I was 5 and once when I was 7. I remember the time when I was 7 the best, so I think it may be wise to wait until Emma's a little older so she will fully appreciate it :) What do you think?

    P.S. I left something for you at my blog: http://themommyhoodadventure.blogspot.com/2011/07/sunshine-award.html

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  18. Wow, such great tips!! I have always wanted to go to Disney world!

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  19. Very helpful! We're going to an amusement park this summer (though not Disney World), but the tips apply to that trip as well.

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  20. This is a really great post! I have been to Disney sooo many times, but was never the "planner" of the trip, so I am definitely using these tips when we decide to take Gwen in a year or so!

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  21. I've always been a little disappointed our family never took a trip to Disneyland. This makes me especially jealous, but if Andrew and I ever get to take Madelin this will help a lot. For now I'll just live vicariously through you.

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  22. Living a few hours from Orlando, you'd think I'd have gone more than I have. We've taken the kids once. In 32 years, I can count on both hands the # of times I've been there...with a few fingers left over.
    I did, however, go to Disneyland in utero. Does that count? ;)

    Sophisticated Steps

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  23. What a helpful well written post!! You shared some really great tips

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