It's Tip Day Thursday again and this week we'll be looking at things to help with planning the trip and things to consider right before you leave. In the coming weeks I'll be going over My Disney Experience, Fast Pass+, ADRs, things to avoid, things to not miss, and more.
First thing, while you can do all the planning and booking yourself, you can also use a Disney Travel Agent. You get access to all the special offers, help booking the room, dining reservations, park tickets, etc at no cost to you along with extra tips they have.
When deciding on a resort to stay at onsite, remember your budget and consider how much time you plan to spend there. For example if all the room is to you is a bed and shower, then you might consider saving some money and staying at a value resort. If you like to come back for a break during the day or take aday off and enjoy the resort, you might be more interested in the moderates or a deluxe resort.
Speaking of special offers, if you go looking around you will see Disney often releases various deals on and off during the year: room discounts, free dining (Disney Dining Plan), discounts for Passholders, etc. When you are looking to book your trip you may get lucky and one of the offers is running when you are looking to go and you can go ahead and book it with that offer. If there isn't one currently released for when you're looking, you can still book it and get an offer applied to your trip if it comes out later by calling them and requesting the offer be applied. Sometimes this might mean you have to shuffle around a different resort, but Disney is happy to work with you.
If you are flying down and staying onsite, you can use Disney's Magical Express to get to and from the airport for free. They will drop you off and pick you up right in front of your resort. On the trip back you can often turn your luggage in that morning and get your boarding pass, leaving yo with just having to go thru security and head over to the gate. Note on return trips, your pick-up time will be 3 hours before your flight or 4 hours before if international. If you use the tags they snd you for the flight down, your luggage will be delivered to your room, though it can take 3 hours to get there in some cases. I ave had mine get shuffled and didn't get it til the next morning, so take some essentials in your carry-on.
If you plan to get Memory Maker, buy it before the trip. It is more expensive once you're there. It's actually very useful and cost effective if you like to get PhotoPass pics around the parks, from the attractions, etc.
Remember if you are stating onsite, you can book dining reservations (ADRs) 180 days in advance
You can also book 3 FastPass+ entries 60 days in advance if you are staying on site. It's 30 days for off-site guests. If you don't, you'll be stuck in stand-by lines or trying to get them with fewer opening once there.
Download the My Disney Experience app to your phone. You can see your reservations, book FastPass+, book dining, access park maps, wait times, and more. (More on My Disney Experience website and app next week).
Some things to remember right before the trip.
- You're going to be walking a lot, average is around 6 to 8 miles a day and some people end up going 12-14 miles a day. Many first timers don't realize how big Walt Disney World is or that it's comprised of multiple parks (4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 1 indoor interactive park that's closing next year, a couple mini golf courses, a few golf courses, Downtown Disney soon to be dubbed Disney Springs). If you're going to one of the other Disney parks around the world, they are smaller, but you'll still be walking a lot. So if you can get used to walking before the trip do so, and whatever you do don't take new shoes you haven't broke in to go to the parks in. Trust me, your feet will thank you.
- Florida means heat, humidity, and a good chance of rain sometime during the day most of the year. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Bring a poncho from home and save some money, you can get them in the parks, but it will cost you. Rains typically blow thru in 15-30 minutes, if you wait it out you can likely get on some attractions quickly once it clears up. Note, if it's near lunch or dinner, the quick service places will be packed, so come back to eat later unless you're already in line. The gift shops will be packed as well. Take sunscreen, you'll be out in the sun a lot. Consider bringing some sandals or Crocs to wear during the rain. Some of the rain comes in as a downpour and will soak your sneakers and socks. That's a quick way to get blisters.
- Speaking of blisters, pack some blister bandages just in case. You can get moleskin there, but the bandages work better, at least for me.
- Going along with hydration, you can ask for tap water for free at Quick Service locations. You can also bring non-glass water bottles with you into the parks. Fill them up with ice water in the room, and refill them throughout the day to save some money and keep yourself going.
- Bring a power strip for the room. Yes there will be several outlets, but with everyone having cell phones, tablets, etc, this will ensure yo can keep everything charged and it puts them all in one spot so it's harder to misplace the chargers around the room.
- Remember to have fun!