Updated: Dec 8, 2020
So, you want to go to Disney in 2020 or 2021.
We’re going to take some time and layout the steps you need to do to complete your Disney World Planning. As a Disney Planner, you need to take many items into account before your fabulous Disney Vacation arrives. Keep in mind that this is a mammoth task. Starting at least a year in advance is not unheard of. This vacation is so large that so families chose to have a Disney Planner or Licensed Travel Agency make these arrangements. However, we have tips and tricks to help you do this at the convenience of your home. This way, you can keep your vacation personal.
Now, what exactly do we need to consider when performing our Disney World Planning? Many questions come to mind. How are we going to get there? How long can we stay? How much do we have to spend? What type of resort, on or off Disney Property? What about food, and can we include it? How do we plan our days at Disney Theme Parks? These questions are all just the tip of the iceberg.
Before you start with anything else, you need to download the Disney My Experience App. This app is the most crucial tool for any upcoming Disney World Planning. This app will keep track of all your reservations, room, and dining. Additionally, it will give you maps, restaurant descriptions, and menus, online check-in services, and even open your door. Now that you have the app, this Disney Tip will save you lots of time and headaches.
The first three items, budget, how to get there, and how long to stay, are all interrelated. How much can we spend and for how long are the first essential items for you to consider as you do your Disney Vacation Planning. Obviously, how to get there is necessary for the overall cycle. So, first, you need to determine your budget. Keep in mind that an average from our experience while doing our own Disney Planning was between $1800 to $2300 person with dining from a 5-night trip. This figure includes lodging, meals, park tickets. You still need to figure the method on how you will get to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Obviously, you can fly or drive. Being from the Northeast, we flew often and drove the 21 hours to arrive at our vacation. This Disney World Planning Decision comes down to your willingness to spend and how long you are willing to sit in one place. Planes are the most expedient method of transport, but with the changes in the world today due to COVID-19, is this the place you want to be? It is a question to confuse the mix further.
If the plane is your option, please shoot for a direct flight. I do know that now these flights have become fewer as the airlines are trying to combine routes to increase profitability. If you do have a connecting flight, be wary of time between flights as airport security is now taking up more valuable time. There is nothing worse than missing a connecting flight. If that happens, you should have driven as the amount of time spent in the airports will equal the same time in the car without any forward progress your fantastic destination.
As your own Disney Planner, now that you are at Orlando International Airport, the main location for Disney Arrivals, you will have the opportunity to choose Disney’s Magical Express. This bus service is brought to you by MEARS Transportation, a 3rd party vendor for Disney. This service you need to book when you book your trip with Disney is at no additional cost. This bus service will drop you off at the doorstep of your resort if you are staying on Disney Property in a Disney Resort. In turn, they will also pick you up and take you back to the airport when your trip is over. This service alleviates the need to have a rental car while at Disney World.
Now, if you drove, you have your car. Keep in mind that Disney, like many other resorts locations, now charges you to park your car at the resort. This fee can range from $15 to $25 per day of your trip. Please take to time when you make your Disney Reservation confirm the amount that you will pay for your stay as the tax will also be added.
Now, there is a third option for transportation that depends on where you live in the country. You could take the train. We have done this and found it to be enjoyable. While you might think this a quirky method of transport for your Disney Vacation, it does have some advantages. First, I will probably be the same amount of time as if you drove, except you sit back and let the engineers do the work. Next, you are not confined to your seats. You are allowed to roam around, visit the lounge and dining cars to stretch your legs or play games. This flexibility makes the time fly by. Also, it is relaxing to sit and see the scenery pass by through the windows. Additionally, it is affordable compared to airfare.
Now, when the train arrives, it will stop at the Orlando Train Station. There is no Magical Express for this option, however, for under $100, you can order a town car to pick you up and deliver you to your Disney Resort. In turn, you can schedule your return trip with the driver at that time. We have used the MEARS service in the past and found the drivers to be very polite, courteous, and knowledgeable.
So, now we know how we’re getting to Disney, what’s next. Well, your Disney World Planning now needs to choose where to stay. There are so many options to think about that you could drive yourself crazy. Our advice, If this is your first visit or one of your first, you need to stay on property. There is value-added that will make the trip so much more enjoyable. Keep in mind that this is a vacation, but most people and families treat this as a foot race to try to see it all. Just resolve yourself because even with great Disney Tips, you are most likely not to see everything. The Disney Theme Parks, Disney Resorts, and Disney Water Parks are vast.
Now, as part of your Disney World Planning, you need to chose which Disney Resort. Our rule of thumb is that if there are small children, you need to stay at the value resorts. Pop Century and Art of Animation are our top choices. Also, Art of Animation offers family suites for larger families or if you just want the extra room. Keep in your mind that you will not be spending much time in these rooms, you will be in the Disney Theme Parks.
The reason why we chose Pop or Art of Animation is for the theming. You want to make yourself look like the most amazing Disney Planner to your children. These two resorts are next to each other and offer the most immersive theming of Disney World Resorts. We have videos at our website for each of these resorts, so check them out at themeparkfantasy.com. Each resort offers its own style of theme, but this look travels through the entire resort. Art of Animation illustrates Lion King, Ariel, Cars, and others. At the same time, Pop shows us Pop culture through the years, such as bowling, yoyos, and many others. Both resorts are colorful and immersive. We enjoy POP is we’re going for a standard room, and Art of Animation is we’re bringing our dog, Spinner. Here we stay in the Cars Family suites as these are pet friendly. Yes, Disney can be pet friendly.
Another item to consider with these “Value Resorts”, is dining. All “Value Resorts” on Disney Property have the main dining hall, which is a cafeteria, offering many quick-service food and diner options. All of the menus can be looked up online on your My Disney Experience, a crucial app for your Disney World Planning. You might even want to consider these menus in your decision for which resort to stay at.
In addition to these large dining halls, you can get pizza delivered to your room as a family meal. Sometimes this can be handy if you’re exhausted and just don’t want to go back out.
With our Disney Resorts picked, we now need to know how they get to the Disney Theme Parks. As your family expert on Disney Vacation Planning, you need to know that both of these resorts have two types of transportation to get you to the parks.
First is the Disney Bus Line, Disney Transport. Disney offers busses to each Disney Theme Park, Water Park, and Disney Springs. These busses are now socially distanced so that you can feel safe while onboard. The rule was that bus waits were 15 to 20 minutes; however, since the pandemic and the social distancing on the buses, I would expect longer delays.
The greatest Disney Tip is that the Disney Skyliner is now open as of the 15th of July. This gondola system is social distancing at its best with separate cabins for each family. You can always check the running times for either of these options on My Disney Experience. You can choose which option will get you to the park with the least amount of waiting.
As For Disney Theme Park Tickets, you can purchase these as part of your vacation package or separately. These items are not cheap and will probably end up costing more than your resort fees. However, they are essential for seeing the Disney Magic. A Disney World Tip relating to the park passes because the more days you purchase, the cheaper they get per day. In the past, we had options on the tickets such as Park Hopper and Water Parks. Today, the Park Hopper option is gone as this service, which allowed you to hop from one park to another on the same day, was discontinued due to COVID-19. Either way, we wouldn’t have recommended spending the extra money as you have more than you can do in any one park in one day.
The significant change in this area is that you now need to secure not only park tickets for the day, but also a park reservation for each of the days at a particular park. This system is the method that Disney is now using to monitor park attendance levels. This reservation is easily obtained on My Disney Experience.
Same goes for the Disney Water Parks as at the time of writing this article. They had not reopened. The added for the Water Parks can be purchased when you buy your Disney Theme Park Tickets or added at a later date. To us, this option depends on the time of year you will be in Central Florida. If it is the dead of winter, you might want not to purchase the adder upfront as you can add it. If your coming in summer, as part of your Disney Vacation Planning, include these options, as the two parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, are definitely worth the trip.
As your Disney Vacation Planning is taking shape, you might be curious about the Disney Theme Parks. Well, if you have never been, take a deep breath. Just looking at Magic Kingdon, the original park, it offers 6 lands with at least 2 to 3 Disney World Rides and attractions in each land. Not to mention stores, shops, food carts, and other entertainment that are specific to each area. Each uniquely themed to the story of the location and land. These areas are just in the Magic Kingdom. You still have EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. Now you see why your Disney World Planning is so important.
Once in any one of the given parks, you will want to check out the rides and entertainment. This request is again completed on My Disney Experience. All Disney World Rides will be using a virtual queue system to help do away with long waits in line. So, this Disney World Tip means that My Disney Experience will notify you when you need to go to your place in line. Awesome.
Also, be aware that the park hours change due to special events and offerings. Disney offers. The hours of all Disney Theme Parks are all listed on the My Disney Experience. This app is the place to confirm everything. This app even tracks what Disney World Rides are not running due to technical problems or weather.
In the Disney Theme Parks, you will work up an appetite. With your Disney Vacation Planning in mind, you can make your dining reservations 180 days out for resort guests. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan or not. All locations will be available to you in the system on a first-come, first-serve reservation system. If you’re in the parks and don’t have a reservation, you still have options. All Disney Theme Parks offer quick-serve locations. These locations don’t require reservations and are an excellent option for quick, tasty food.
Offerings such as pizza, tex-mex, hamburgers, chicken, and sandwiches are all available. All locations offer kids meals and desserts. All of these locations vary, so you need to check them out on the app.
Another item of interest is that at this time, no fireworks or parades are showing at Disney World as part of the COVID-19 restrictions. We know that they will be back in the future, but we’re not sure what this will all look like when they do arrive. We will update this when more information is available.
Half of your day at the park is done. The kids are exhausted. Now is the time to take advantage of another Disney Tip. Go back to your room and take a nap. You’re on the property, so this is possible. Hop a bus and go. You can still come back later after you are all rested. Or, maybe you just need some pool time. This tip is a great perk to staying on property.
So, let’s head back to the resort. Like we indicated, there are pools. These large Value Resorts usually have three pools each. One main pool is themed and two simpler pools, which are often less crowded, so another Disney Tip. These smaller pools are typically towards the outside of the resort as each resort has 8 to 10 buildings. The location of these pools and the fact that they have less theming means fewer people in the pool.
Now, the main pool’s advantage is size, activities, and access to the food court. Also, there is a bar for adult beverages. Just what we need to relax after a day of running at the Disney Theme Parks. Another advantage of the main pool is activities for your children. Music is playing, and cast members organize games for the children. It is an excellent time for all.
Other amenities at these Disney Value Resorts include games, face painting, arcades, gift shops, and even a movie night. On certain nights of the week, These Disney Value Resorts will show Disney Movies under the stars for all to see. This activity is a great family night out that can be very relaxing for all.
Another perk to staying at any Disney Resort is the ability to have packages delivered to your resort. So, if you’re in the Animal Kingdom and purchase some souvenirs, when you are buying them, the cast member at check out will as you if you want to pick your order up at the park gate, take it with you or have it shipped directly to your resort so that you don’t have to carry your packages around the park. This fantastic Disney World Tip has made life so much easier. The end of this is that you simply go to the gift shop at the resort and pick up your goods. Usually, this takes a day to arrive.
This article is obviously a tremendous amount of information, so Let’s organize this information into a list.
*Decide if you’re going to purchase the Disney Dining Plan
*60 days out from your reservation, book your dining reservations
*Start putting together a listing of attractions to see. It is helpful if you plan out parks by day.
*Once you have your theme park tickets, you should get reservations for the Disney Parks and what days you will be in which park. All guests in your party must have a valid Disney *Theme Park Admission and Disney Park Reservation.
*Set some limits on how much to spend on food and gifts. These expenses can spiral out of control very quickly, so if you have a budget, you will be great.
*Decide if the Disney Water Parks are an option for your trip. If its summertime, you should strongly consider this option as they are amazingly themed and delightful on a hot Florida Day.
*Plan for breaks in your day so you can go back to your room and rest. You can always head back to the parks later.
*When you arrive at the park of your choice, Disney World Tip, if it is early in the park day, go to the back of the park and work to the front. Most early guests will work from the front to back, so this should help keep traffic down, making it easier to see and experience more.
*Stay hydrated. You are in Florida, and it is hot. We’ve seen so many people ignore this item. *Drink lots of fluids, yes drink lots of fluids. I can’t repeat this enough.
*Take advantage of your Disney Resort Perks, such as movie nights and pools.
THE MOST IMPORTANT DISNEY WORLD TIP. Relax. Relax. Relax. You will not be able to see it all, so don’t drive yourself crazy. Take your time. Stop to see the amount of creativity and thought that has gone into this fantastic place. Enjoy.
Now, take to time to enjoy this fantastic vacation with your family. These days are so unique, and each one is irreplaceable.
For more information on your Disney Vacation, we have a whole series of Dining Reviews that will help you navigate the vast dining market in Disney. There is also other information that will help make the most of your Disney Vacation. Head on over the themeparkfantasy.com and check it out. Until next time, we’ll see you real soon.