Walt Disney World, Florida, United States Trip: 2015-06   Update: 2015-10-27   By: yanz

Title: Walt Disney World Vacation Plan and Preparation Suggestions, Orlando, Florida

Preparation: I've never been to Disney World but it is in our future vacation list. I asked a friend who had attended a Disney World Preparation class taught by Michelle Richard, and many of the suggestions here are from that class. I have also done some research by myself and asked friends who had been there before. People say Disney can be miserable if you do not plan. What to plan for: Budget, time of trip, where to stay and how to get there, what to do, what to eat, Purchase in advance whenever it's possible. 1. How Long to Stay: You can have a wonderful trip spending as few as 5 days. 2 How Old/Tall Your Children Should be: if this is the only time your kids visit Disney World in their childhood, wait until the youngest one is at least 8 or 9 years old and the shortest child at least 48 inches tall. 3. Budget: Assume 4 night, 5 day stay, family of 4 High end $7200, Low end $3600, so I would say around $5400. I. Things to know before you go: Park hours, Parade/Fireworks times, Ride Closing or Refurbishment dates, Height Requirements, Special Events, Weather Conditions, Food options in each park. II.Bag check at the entrance to every park. Pack as light as you can. Prohibited items: Stroller larger than 36" x 52" ( 92cm x 132cm), Suitcases, coolers or backpacks, with or without wheels, Larger than 24" long x 15"wide x 18" high ( 62cm x 38cm x 46cm), glass containers; See details: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/park-rules/ III. Be prepared for: 1. Comfortable shoes( for half Marathon miles walking a day, I would wear my tennis or Nike running shoes ), back-up comfortable shoes. 2. if you have a child under 7 years old, buy a good umbrella stroller. Stroller rentals are $17/day. 3. Rain: buy cheap ponchos in dollar store and pack them. if there is a chance of rain, bring them to parks. It costs $8 from the park. 4. Batteries and chargers, Zip lock bags. 5. Medicines or medical kit you need 6. Plan for warm and cooler weather. any time of the year

General opinion: Magic Kindoom, EPCOT are must-see. Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Water Park, Other activities, if you do not have much time, it's better to choose one of these activities. See sample plan in the picture. http://yourfirstvisit.net - Great site if you have never been before. Helps you decide when to go, where to stay, what to pack, budget planning, etc. I read some of the parts, it is a very good resource for your planning. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/ official site for the planning www.touringplans.com – Awesome web site! We use it religiously on our trips. Tells you how crowded each park will be on any given day wait times for every ride and fast pass times, based on 10 years of data collected. We have tested it in the parks and it is dead-on. The site is subscriptions based but their app, Lines, is free (10 days of info)

Attractions and activities: 1. Arrive at the parks before they open: this is the biggest key to you enjoying your day, and not wasting countless hours standing in lines. 2. Go to the busiest attractions first before the lines build or use a FastPass+ to visit them later. Use electronic FastPass+, it's FREE! FastPass+ will give you a chance to enjoy attractions without waiting too long in line. if you stay in on property hotels – Reserve 3 FP+ per day (1 park) up to 60 days in advance, FP+ are stored on Magic Band Off property – Reserve 3 FP+ per day on day you visit WDW (1 park) up to 30 days in advance; linked to ticket. Change times using MDE(My Disney Experience) app. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/ You can read about the specifics of it here, http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/fastpass.htm 3. Parades/Fireworks - Do not miss them, do not get trapped by them. http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/hours.htm hours, fireworks and parade times for 6 months out

Dining: Try new things every time, eat during off-peak hours, bring snacks. Plan on spending $50-$60 per adult, per day for food, snacks, etc. ( young kids = 1/2). Assumes all counter service meals Note: Character dining and sit-down meals can easily be $50 per person You can bring your own snacks and water into the park, no hard coolers, no glass. Character meals are a great way for your kids to get one-on-one face time with the characters, but they are not a very good value for the money. If you decide to do one, I recommend breakfast only, since it is the cheapest, and either Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary or the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. Also, your kids may freak out when seeing characters up close for the first time (think of Santa) and you don’t want to spend money on this if they do not want characters near them. You can do a meet and greet in a park first to see how they handle characters if you are not sure. There are lots of great places to eat in Disney, and also lots of not-so-great ones. Use the reviews on the AllEars.net website to find the best reviewed places, and the ones that have what your family/group wants to eat. Some of our favorite places are: Magic Kingdom: Columbia Harbour House, Main Street Bakery, Liberty Tree Tavern, Be Our Guest Epcot: Boulangerie Patisserie in France (Ham & Cheese Croissant!), Sunshine Seasons, Kringla Og Bakery in Norway, Katsura Grill in Japan Hollywood Studios: Starring Rolls Café, Fairfax Fare, Backlot Express Animal Kingdom – Flame Tree BBQ, Yak n Yeti DownTown Disney – Earl of Sandwich, Paradiso 37 A friend told me that you need to make the reservation for the Character dining at least 180 days in advance otherwise, it might not be available. Many Disney table-service restaurants ( 18% gratuity charge ) are quite popular and book quickly. Please make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance.

Commute: If you fly there, highly recommend flying in later in the evening, and starting your first day early. Getting a good night’s sleep instead of traveling is a big plus, as Disney gets pretty overwhelming very quickly. Why not to rent a car: 1. if you drive there, you don't need another car 2. if you fly there, stay on Disney property and get free transportation with Magical Express 3. Can rent a car on Disney Property for just a day if needed

Lodge: Room Rates vary throughout the year( value season to peak season) and during the week( weekdays are cheaper than weekends). When determining where to stay, don’t only take the cost of the hotel into account, but rental car, parking( cost and time), benefits of extra time in the parks, etc., before you make a final decision. There are on site and off site hotels. On site hotels: 1. More expensive than most of off-site options 2. Disney Dining Plan ( Optional ) 3. Extra Magic hours 4. Earlier access to FastPass+ Value Resorts $96 - 224/night Moderate Resorts $182 -285/night Deluxe Resorts $325 - 835/night Deluxe Villa Resort $368 - 1300/night Off site resorts: 1. Less expensive 2. Decompress from Disney 3. Larger spaces available( Vacancy) suggested off-site resorts: Swan/Dolphin, Vonnet Creek Holiday Inn Downtown Disney Michelle highly recommend staying on Disney Property (on site hotels). advantage: 1. do not need to rent a car ( if you fly there), there is free bus service from every park to every hotel in every 10 - 20 minutes. ( usually $17 a day for parking fee); 2. has Extra Magical Hours - for guests staying on property you get 1 extra hour in the morning and 2 extra hours in the evening on select days. It is worth its weight in gold if you can get up an hour early - we get more done in that 1 hour that 3 hours of regular park time, which frees us up to go back to the hotel for a swim or a nap in the middle of the day when it is hot. Lastly, the theme at Disney resorts is unparalleled, and there is a magic there that you will never forget. You don’t get that offsite, and you can’t pay for it. Value resorts are your best bet, and I highly recommend Pop Century – very cool hotel, and it has dedicated bus service (All-Star resorts share buses). Art of Animation is the newest value resort, and it is very, very well themed, but the suites are pretty pricey.

Shopping: Total Cost Estimation: Assue 4 night, 5 day stay, family of 4 High end: $7200( $1800/per person; $1600 Translportation, $2000 Accomadations- Deluxe, $1700 Tickets (5 day Park Hopper multi-day +Water Parks), $1500 Food $ 400 Souvenirs Low end: Total: $3600 ( $900/per person) $500 Transportation ( driving there) $ 600 Accommodations ( offsite/Value) $1300 Tickets ( 5 day base ) $1000 Food $200 Souvenirs https://www.undercovertourist.com Buy your tickets from here in advance. tickets are more expensive directly from Disney. see details in https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/ Ticket prices get increased at Disney every spring, so I highly recommend you buy them early. Think about what you will be doing at Disney. The cheapest option is MYW, which is one park per day for each day of your stay. If you are sure you will not want to park hop, that is the best option. DO NOT pay for the water park and more option – it is a waste of money. Unless you are going to use it for more than 2 things, it is cheaper to pay for those options separately. http://www.mousesavers.com/ – Discounts for everything related to Disney Take advantage of the PhotoPass photographers around the parks. It is free to use – you get a card that you use every time you have a picture taken, and then you can see the pictures online after your trip. We never buy them, just do screenshots of pictures. And if you really like one, you can buy it. http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/photopass.htm#attractions

Things I wish I had known before: A friend said there are Disney apps you can download and it's very convenient to order Fast Pass, check show time, restaurants. If you have time to read, there is a link: http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-vacation-discounts-and-deals/time-is-money-at-walt-disney-world/


  • Summary for the very crowded, medium, light days for Walt Disney World in 2015. 

When kids are out of school, crowds are highest. if you do not have school age kids and do have flexible time, you can choose the less crowded, lower prices dates. 

Picture  from a handout of a preparation class that shows from WDWPrepSchool.com
  • This is just a sample for how to set your daily visit plan. Source from WDWPrepSchool.com