Have you thought about going to Disney World but found yourself totally overwhelmed by the amount of information out there and what you need to do just to take a vacation? Even as a self-proclaimed Disney expert I experience information overload, so I can only imagine what someone unfamiliar with traveling to Disney must think. There are some basic things to think about to get you started in planning a trip, so hopefully these tips I’ve come up with will help you!
1. Use a travel agent.
If you’re overwhelmed the best thing you can do is find someone to personally help you! I’m a travel agent so you can always contact me at BeckyG@castledreamstravel.com if you’re looking for help planning a trip. But any good travel agent will be able to put your mind at ease a bit. The best part? Using a travel agent is actually free – we are paid by commission from Disney, so it’s absolutely nothing extra on your part.
2. Have a budget in mind.
If you’re using a travel agent this will help them narrow things down for you in terms of resorts, how many days you want to stay, etc. And if you’re planning on your own it will help you figure out what you might be able to do. If budget doesn’t matter so much but other things do (like staying for a full week or staying at a certain resort, or being walking distance to the Magic Kingdom) figure out what your priorities are for the trip.
3. Pick your dates and resort.
The nice thing about planning with Disney is that many things are flexible. Start with what days you want to travel and then check resort prices. Once you’ve got the dates and the resort book it (or have your travel agent book it). Everything else can be adjusted after the fact and Disney will make up the difference. If you buy 5 day park tickets and decide you want 6 days instead, that’s easily changed. If you want to add on a park hopper, simple. If you’re not sure about the dining plan, book your trip with or without it and know that you can add it on or take it off later. Most adjustments can be made up to 30 days before you travel (some even closer!). The only thing that can be difficult to change is your dates and the resort because that is depending on availability – so make that your priority.
4. Browse the resorts online.
Since the resort is the first thing you definitely have to decide on, take a look at Disney’s website to see the resorts they have to offer. They are broken down into category by price (value, moderate, and deluxe), so that may help you to narrow things down a little bit based on your budget.
5. Start planning early.
There’s a lot to figure out, so it can be easier to just say “I’ll worry about it later. We’re not thinking about going for another 8 months anyway.” But the earlier you can plan the better. You may not realize that Disney starts allowing people to make reservations at their restaurants 6 months before they travel. Some of the more popular restaurants book up that quickly, so if you wanted to eat at Be Our Guest you need to plan at least that far ahead.
6. Don’t wait for a discount.
Sometimes people say, “I want to go to Disney but I know they offer discounts sometimes so I’m going to wait for that.” Please don’t wait. Any discount that comes out can be applied to an already existing reservation if you qualify for the discount. Discounts usually only come out a couple of months ahead of time, so you’re missing out on some of the stuff mentioned above as to why it’s important to plan early. Plus, discounts are never guaranteed and vary greatly. They may only be for certain resorts, only for packages with park hopper tickets, etc. And since you can apply a discount after you book there’s no reason not to book.
7. Know that almost everything is refundable.
When you book a package (resort and tickets) you pay a $200 deposit at time of booking, and then the remainder isn’t due until 30 days before you travel. Even that $200 deposit is refundable if you cancel prior to 30 days. If you cancel less than 30 days out they will take the $200 deposit but anything else you paid will be refunded. However if you cancel less than 1 day out or don’t show up at all that’s when you lose everything. The only things that aren’t refundable are travel insurance and airfare. So even if you’re not 100% sure on what you want, book it now so you can secure that you have it, and before prices go up!
8. Look at things in bits and pieces at a time.
Once you have the resort booked, I encourage people to start looking at dining options (since restaurants are booked 6 months ahead of time). Then once that’s taken care of think about airfare (I usually recommend booking 4 months out). And finally after that’s done you can think about rides and daily schedules (Fastpasses can be booked at 60 days out if you’re staying on Disney property). Take it one step at a time!
I’m always happy to help you if you need help planning! Just email me at BeckyG@castledreamstravel.com and if you book through me for free, I can help you with picking out dates, resorts, making your dining reservations, and more!
What do you think is the most overwhelming part of planning a Disney trip?