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!