There are so many variables involved with going on a Disney vacation that make the process feel long and complicated, but we’ve got some helpful information to share so you can breeze through the planning stages and enjoy a stress-free visit to the parks.
When scheduling your trip, keep in mind that Disney operates on a seasonal schedule. Summer is the parks’ peak season, which means prices are a little higher, crowds are bigger, and wait times are longer. This typically affects the 1-day ticket prices and hotel reservations. Upcoming peak dates are June 1-30 and July 1-22.
It’s always best to purchase your tickets well in advance, so that you can take the time to consider your options and get the best deal. There are often special promotions and savings opportunities available from various ticket sellers like Tickets2You. Just be absolutely certain that you see the “Authorized Seller” seal on the website before you input any personal information. Regardless of where you purchase your tickets, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle by skipping the ticket windows at the park entrance. There are a few different types of tickets to choose from, so select carefully to ensure that your pass gets you everywhere you hope to go during your vacation.
· Base Tickets: Admission to one of Walt Disney World’s four parks for each day of your ticket
· Park Hopper Tickets: Unlimited admission to all four parks for each day of your ticket
· Park Hopper Plus Tickets: Unlimited admission to all four parks for each day of your ticket AND your choice of additional visits to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland for each day of your ticket
· 4-Park Magic Tickets : One visit to each of the four parks
Finding A Hotel
There are over 25 Walt Disney World Resort hotels to choose from when deciding where to stay during your trip. Although they all differ in theme, there are few things that all the resorts have in common. Each hotel offers complimentary transportation to and from the parks and Disney Springs via shuttle bus, boat or monorail, as well as transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, if needed. You are also guaranteed free parking at all of the Disney parks and resorts. In addition to transportation, guests with hotel reservations also have access to the parks’ Extra Magic Hours, which allow you to enter before opening hours and stay beyond closing time. Magic Hours change daily with the exception of Animal Kingdom, whose brand new Pandora area is open to resort guests after hours from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. For a full schedule of park hours, click here. Each member of your hotel reservation receives a complimentary Magic Band, which contains your hotel room key, admission tickets, Fast Passes, dining plan, Photo Pass account, and credit card used to make charge purchases, all on the waterproof wristband. While any Disney ticket holder can make Fast Pass reservations up to 30 days prior to arrival, hotel guests can schedule theirs a full 60 days early. Each resort has been designed to be a complete experience outside of the theme parks, with state of the art themed pools, character dining, poolside activities and tons of other features that guest could easily spend a full day enjoying if you need a break from the parks. If you’re not interested in staying on-site but would still like access to some of these features check out the WDW Good Neighbor Hotels, several of which still offer park transportation, magic bands, and other helpful amenities.
Each Disney ticket holder gets 3 Fast Passes that can be booked prior to entering the parks. To make reservations, you must first create a My Disney Experience account. Once your account is set up, add friends or family and link your ticket information to your account. Then you can reserve up to 3 Fast Passes per day for each day of your ticket. Once you’ve used your reserved passes, you can reserve available Fast Passes one at a time throughout the day at a Fast Pass kiosk or on the My Disney Experience app. The MDE app also allows you to check wait times, parade and show schedules, and mobile order at select Animal Kingdom restaurants, so it’s a great idea to download it to your smart phone before you get to the parks.
Disney World offers more than 125 different character dining experiences both in the parks and at the resorts. These interactive meals are a great way to meet your favorite Disney friends up-close without waiting in long lines for meet and greets throughout the 4 parks, especially if you’re unsure of how your children will react to seeing the life-sized characters in person. Each meal includes delicious foods, fun activities, and special photo opportunities.
The other meal-time consideration to think about is whether a dining plan is appropriate for your vacation needs. Disney’s Dining Plans are only available with the purchase of Magic Your Way vacation packages. There are three different options to choose from.
· The Quick Service Dining Plan includes 2 quick service meal and two snacks for each day of your ticket, as well as a refillable drink mug with free refills at the self-serve beverage islands at any resort hotel.
· The Disney Dining Plan includes 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal and two snacks for each day of your ticket.
· The Disney Deluxe Dining Plan includes 3 meals of any level and 2 snacks for each day of your ticket.
Quick Service meals include one entree and one non alcoholic beverage. Table Service can be used for breakfasts, which include one entree and one non-alcoholic beverage, lunch and dinner, which include one appetizer, entree, and a non-alcoholic beverage, or one full buffet or family-style meal. There is a more elegant table service option called Signature Dining, which uses 2 meals from the meal plan’s balance. Dining plans can be used for any category 2 or 3 dinner shows or the category 1 Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at 8:30 p.m., and require advanced reservations. There are also two in-room dining options that can be used as part of your dining plan. Private in-room dining uses 2 meals from your meal plan balance and includes one appetizer, one entree, one dessert and one non alcoholic beverage delivered to your hotel room. The pizza delivery option also uses two remaining meals from your balance and includes two single-serve non-alcoholic beverages, one pizza and 2 desserts. For a complete guide on where to use your meal plan in the parks, click here.