Not too long ago a friend asked me for some tips for his upcoming family vacation to Walt Disney World. This of course made my week because I love talking about WDW almost as much as going (hints the blog…). One of the reasons I enjoy talking about WDW so much is because it is an opportunity to help others see what it has to offer everyone. I wish that everyone would take at least one trip (at least 4 days) down there and when they go, to have the best experience possible. That is why I will be offering tips to make the most of your Walt Disney World experience!
If I could only give one tip to someone visiting Walt Disney World it would probably be the most vague but also, without a doubt, the most important. The best tip I can offer is to plan your trip rather than just going. There is so much hidden behind the word “plan” when I use it in reference to a WDW vacation but don’t worry, I will walk you through what I think is the key to a successful visit.
Your planning should begin with research. I know you probably don’t like hearing that word while you are considering your vacation but a little bit of work goes a long way. Whether you are planning your first trip or are planning your annual trip, research is an important part of planning your vacation. If you need a little incentive to start researching go to the Walt Disney World website and browse attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc. This serves as a great way to learn about the park and get you excited for your trip.
Walt Disney World is not like most other theme parks; you should not simply just pick up and go. I believe this is the cause of so many people’s ill feelings toward the place. I recently spoke to someone who claimed WDW was more miserable than magical. Well they went in the middle of July…Disney is magical but it cannot change the temperature in Florida!
I would consider it an understatement to claim that Walt Disney World is a complex place. I guarantee you will not do or see everything in one trip. That is unless you plan on staying there for over a month…seriously! If you take such a passive approach to such a complex place you will leave feeling frustrated. Because of its complexity it is important for you to research the things Walt Disney World has to offer that you would be interested in and plan your trip accordingly.
I believe the ideal system for planning a WDW trip is far too lengthy to cover in one post…believe me, I tried. My post was getting too long so I just had to emphasize the importance of planning and break down the minute details in later posts.
It is never too early to begin planning. Just a few months ago I was planning my next trip for a year and half in the future. Well…all the planning got me so excited I moved it up to this month but that’s beside the point. Doing research for your trip may seem like a lot of work but I know I enjoy it and I think it adds to the excitement to figure out before hand what attractions to do, what shows to see and what restaurants to go to.
I said I wasn’t going to go into detail but I couldn’t just leave you hanging like that so I am listing a few brief planning tips:
- Look for special events: you may want to attend them or avoid them to avoid crowds.
- Check weather conditions throughout the year for Florida. It usually will rain at some point during your stay no matter what time of year you go but some months are a little rainier than others. Also check temperatures.
- Check crowd levels: Most of the time crowds will be lower during value seasons but there are a number of resources out there that will give estimates of crowd levels throughout the year. I will do a post on my favorite resource sometime after my trip.
- Check out what parks have Extra Magic Hours (EMH). EMH can be a good thing or bad thing. They allow guests staying on site either an extra hour in the morning or 3 hours in the evening to stay in the park. The extra time in the parks is the good thing but the larger crowds it draws is the downside.
- Check show schedules well in advance. Some shows/parades do not run everyday so plan to be in that park on the days they are running.
- If you are going to eat in the park check out the restaurants on WDW’s website to find the food you like or a place you might want to try. There are so many unique dining experiences you may not want to settle for just a burger and fries. If you plan on dining at a table service restaurant (which I very much advise) also research those (food/prices) and make reservations in advance. Depending on when you go and the restaurant you may need to make the reservations 180 days in advance…yes I said 180.
- Check out the many add-on experiences/tours WDW has to offer. If you have the extra money some of these would be great investments. There are plenty for adults and children!
- A great way to cover all of the basics when it comes to planning is to book your vacation through a Disney travel agent. There are some great companies out there who offer great services for free! We do more than just book what you want. We will look for ways to save you time, money, and inform you of other ways you can make your trip even more magical.
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