Disney planning is a lot of work, in my opinion, but I also tend to be a stickler for details with this kind of thing. How did I even start planning? Funny story: Kurt randomly stated one evening that we should take the little one to Disney sometime within the next few years while she is still in her “princess” phase. I agreed, and the idea soon began to consume me. So, I went online and started looking at pricing and all of that fun stuff. I messaged a friend who had recently done a Disney trip as well, and she sent me a bunch of information. After looking over everything for a few days, I called a travel agency and booked everything while Kurt was at work (cause I’m sneaky). Now I am planning for a Disney vacation in October! Yay!
What to do first:
- I would definitely suggest looking up deals and packages for the time you will be attending. Since I booked so far in advance, Disney had not yet sent out any discounts for the fall, but I was too excited to wait. 😉
- Call different travel agencies! A lot of times they can get you great package deals, and instead of paying everything up front you can make payments.
- Definitely decide WHEN to go. You can find the estimated size of the crowd for each day of the month, and plan around then. Obviously the busiest times are the summer and holidays. Here is the crowd calendar for 2016:
(Walt Disney World Prep School has some GREAT resources so I highly suggest checking them out.)
- After deciding all of that, decide which parks you will go to on what days and make any dinner reservations you may need (I HIGHLY suggest this, especially for character dining).
So what did I decide on? I booked our trip through our local AAA agency. Our package includes 7 day tickets, 7 day 6 night stay in a Disney resort, and a Dining Plus package. Our total came to $2977. There are definitely CHEAPER ways to go about this, but I didn’t feel that was a bad price for how long we are staying, and I was high on the adrenaline of actually booking the trip!
Disney resorts are more expensive, and you CAN stay OUTSIDE the park in a cheaper hotel, but Disney Resorts give you added perks that I didn’t feel like trading for a few bucks. Disney Resorts themselves vary in price, and some of them can get very expensive. Most of my friends had stayed in what Disney refers to as “value resorts” such as Pop Century or All Star Music. I decided on the Art of Animation Resort (which is still a ‘value resort’, but can be just a little bit more expensive than the other value resorts). Why is the Art of Animation a few more bucks than the others? I’d guess it’s the what they decorate the rooms. Each room has a movie “theme” from The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Cars, or Finding Nemo. All of these rooms are deluxe suites and can sleep up to 6 adults (and are super awesome but a bit pricey), except for the Little Mermaid rooms. Little Mermaid rooms are standard rooms and cost significantly less, and sleep up to 4 adults. Seeing as we are a family of 3, and our daughter loves the Little Mermaid; I decided on the standard room. The rooms are adorable, and the resort itself is pretty cool!
Dining at the Art of Animation is limited to one quick service restaurant inside called Landscape of Flavors (photo below). However, for the amount of time we actually plan to spend at the resort, the food offered there is not of great concern to us. PLUS SIDE: there is a poolside bar, and yes by bar I mean adult beverages.
Each Disney Resort also has the following amenities available on site:
- Children’s Arcade
- Gift Shop
- Running Trails
- Movie Nights under the stars (movies, time, and location vary so you would need to check with the resort for ones during your stay).
I’m excited that the resorts offer these things for the simple reason that we plan on driving (16 hours) to Florida. Check in for Disney Resorts are not available until 3pm so we figure by the time we get there from all the driving in the middle of the afternoon, a park is going to be a no go for the day. Instead, the plan is to go for a swim, hang out in the arcade or playground, and go to bed early to prepare for the parks the next day. This will give us some time to relax before all the excitement and adventure begins !
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about the meal plans and where to eat!