10 Tips for Planning Your First Walt Disney World Vacation
If you are like me, you have looked forward to one day being able to take your children to Walt Disney World and to experience the magic through their eyes.
It takes a lot of saving and planning to make that dream a reality. Here are some helpful tips once you are ready to start planning your family’s first visit!
What Age is Best to Visit
Kids of all ages will be entertained and enchanted at Walt Disney World! While younger tots may not meet all height requirements for larger thrill rides, Disney offers many attractions where there is no minimum height requirement.
Kids are free until their 3rd birthdays, so don’t let their age discourage you if you don’t think they’ll remember their visit. It is amazing to watch a young child mesmerized when they see their favorite characters or fly like Peter Pan!
Best Times to Visit
If you need to work around school schedules, summer months tend to be less busy than school holidays, like Spring Break, but what you might save in waiting in lines is made up for in the heat and humidity.
The Epcot Food & Wine Festival typically starts in late August and runs through early November.
The decorations and festivities are fun around Halloween and into November and December. The first weeks of November and December are typically smaller crowds, Christmas decorations, and slightly cooler days.
January and February are great for lower crowds and great weather.
Number of Days Recommended
The Magic Kingdom – the classic park complete with Cinderella’s Castle. This park is the epitome of Disney Magic and is a must-do for every visit.
Epcot – Known for its World Showcase which highlights several countries from around the world with their culture and cuisine, this park also has some major thrill rides (Soarin’, Test Track, Mission: Space), a Finding Nemo attraction complete with an aquarium, and two new attractions coming soon – Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy. This is also where you will find Frozen’s Elsa and Anna.
Hollywood Studios – Heavy on shows and entertainment, this park is also home to Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Star Wars’ Rise of the Resistance is the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World. You can also find many Disney Junior characters here.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Packed with thrill rides and shows, this park is not “just a zoo.” Travel to Pandora: The World of Avatar for another of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World, Avatar: Flight of Passage.
If you are only visiting the theme parks, four solid days of park time is highly recommended. Build in a rest day in the middle to give your feet a break and enjoy a down day by the pool or shopping at Disney Springs, and end the day with a nice meal at one of the dozens of restaurants located outside the theme parks.
Work with a Travel Planner Who Specializes in Disney
A travel planner who specializes in Walt Disney World will know all the ins and outs of planning your vacation and using your time wisely. They can assist with daily schedules, recommending hotels, restaurants, or even map out the best rest zones in the parks.
They will also be watching for any new discounts or promotions that can be applied to your existing reservation, and they will be on hold for hours to make modifications or help in emergencies so you can relax and know that everything is being handled for you.
A travel planner is there to assist you every step of the way, and the best news? It’s all FREE! They are paid a commission on packages (resort + tickets), so it costs you nothing for your own private concierge.
The earlier you book, the more time you will have to take advantage of the planning process. From booking your advanced dining reservations, tours, and special activities, it is best to have at least several months so you can make these reservations the moment the reservation windows open up.
Spread Out Your Payments Towards Your Vacation
Disney requires only a $200 deposit to secure your reservation with the balance being due 30 days prior to your arrival. If you book several months in advance, you will have that extra time to make smaller payments and spread it out so it doesn’t hit you all at once.
Reservations are fully refundable up to 30 days prior to arrival, so there is no risk to confirm a reservation early. There is, however, a risk of not being able to get the resort, promotion pricing, or park reservation you want if you wait too long to book a reservation.
You can walk a lot of steps in a day at Walt Disney World. Pace yourself. Take breaks, stay hydrated, use sunscreen, and build in downtime to your schedule. Add even extra time if you are visiting between May and September when the heat and humidity can be very high.
You don’t need to have a minute-by-minute playbook of your days, but you should have a rough outline – have a list of the must-see’s and do’s that your family doesn’t want to miss, and have one table service meal planned each day so you know you have a nice, relaxed meal to look forward to.
Make a packing list so you don’t miss anything and have your itinerary printed out so you can grab and go when you head to the parks. And most of all, let yourself relax so you can enjoy the time with your family instead of worrying about all the little details.
Nancy Wideman, Travel Specialist