Are you as neurotic of a Disney World trip planner as you are a fan of Disney? Did you laminate a mini itinerary for everyone in your group as I did? Yes, it contained all our dining reservations for each day along with parade and show times, FastPass rides, and the back listed the best locations to use Disney Dining Plan snack options each day. Matching t-shirts are only an option and not required.
As we near the end of summer it means only one thing – time to begin planning your Disney Word trip for next summer. It is possible many reading this are just now beginning to dream of their magical vacation. I am going to begin a series discussing the planning of your first Disney trip. I welcome any additional input, comments, and opinions for those who might not have made that first magical trip.
On what dates will you travel?
The days you travel will determine the crowds you discover on your trip. If at all possible, you want to avoid the high seasons at DW; the crowds can prove unbearable. These times would include during the week of Christmas, during the week of Thanksgiving, and most of the summer (especially July 4th). Of course, by avoiding those dates you miss some amazing experiences but that is OK for your first trip, you will find plenty to try to see and do. If you plan your trip for the first week of June you can avoid the summer crowds since many schools are in session. I know these times might be difficult to avoid if you have school-age children, and for a high season getaway you must be prepared for large crowds but that does not mean a good time can not be found (I will discuss this more in Planning Your Day, a later entry). One thought for a trip with school-age children is to find a Monday or Friday your children do not have school, let them play hookey for the following Monday or previous Friday, and suddenly you have a four day trip. Come on mom and dad, you are giving your kids a dream vacation costing thousands of dollars–they will survive one hookey day and have a wonderful family memory! You might find this idea of a shorter trip preferable to the crowds you will discover during the summer. Having said that, to get a full introduction into the Disney World universe you will need to plan seven days at the parks, two for Magic Kingdom, two for Epcot, one for Hollywood Studios, one for Animal Kindom, and one more for whichever park(s) you decide to go back and revisit for seconds–to do something you missed the first time or experiencing the magic once again on your favorite ride.
To help you plan the dates of your vacation I recommend joining the following web service for a small fee which is well worth the cost. They have a crowd calendar based on years of research, daily touring guides, and a line wait app for your phone.
Keeping in mind, DW Vacations are quite a workout, physically and mentally, especially your first trip where you find yourself trying to fit in all the magic offered. A lot of people, even Disney veterans, feel the need for a vacation after their Disney vacation. For this reason, I recommend flying into Florida if at all possible.This will have your little ones more rested for the beginning of their Disney experience, and on a logical note, when you look at your cost per day for your Disney vacay, you don’t want to waste a day resting from your long exhausting ride in a car. If you decide to drive, try staying the night before close to Orlando so on your day of arrival you are rested and raring to go. The advantage of driving is a more slower tempo of family time on your way and you may decide to stop and have other non-Disney related experiences that you encounter on your route to Orlando.
Of course, if at all possible, teleport.
In my next installment we will discuss where to stay on your vacation.
Riley McDaniel grew up in Corpus Christi, TX in a low-socioeconomic household and one of the favorite family activites was to watch The Wonderful World of Disney (along with it’s other reincarnations) on Sunday nights. Although the family couldn’t afford to take a trip to Disney World made it his dream to one day see that magical world. This dream served as one of the many aspirations to do well in school and attend college. Today, Riley has a masters degree in Library Science and serves as a librarian at Red Oak High School in Red Oak Texas where he continues to give Disney as a source of inspiration to students. His family, a lovely wife, eleven year old son and seven year old daughter, lovingly refer to themselves as Disney Geeks. They can regularly be found hosting Disney parties whether it’s for simply the premier of the Phineas and Ferb movie or a child’s birthday party. As members of the Disney Vacation club (Wilderness Lodge home resort) the family can be found at Disney World once a year and Riley gives mini-seminars on planning the perfect Disney vacation.