Let’s get down to business… to defeat Disney World!!! Hehehe.
Call us freaks. Nerds. Geeks. Fans. Enthusiasts. Devotees. Aficionados. Whatever. We really enjoy our trips to Disney World and Disneyland over the years. I know I’ve shared this before but fun fact: I’ve pretty much been to a Disney park each year of my life.
With all of the trips we’ve taken, we’ve got a lot to share. So here we go.
When to go?
D and I have gone to Disney World twice during the summer (Mid-August and late September) and once during the winter (Mid-January). Our favorite thus far has been January but there are pros and cons to each so hear us out.
- In January: No one is there! Serious. We went in the middle of January in 2012 and walked through every line, didn’t need any reservations, and could easily enjoy each park at a leisurely pace. However, since it is January the weather is cooler (60s to 70s, with temps dropping to the 50s at night) and if you’re looking for laying out by the pool or enjoying a bit of sun, it was mostly overcast. Since D and I don’t like being rushed and enjoy riding the attractions over and over again, the weather is a trade off we’ll take.
- In August: One of the hottest months to go to Florida. It’s devilishly humid with a fierce sun. But this means not as many folks PLUS cheaper hotels and flights to Florida. So if you’re okay with being beaten by the sun and keeping a few more dollars in your pocket, you’ll enjoy August.
- In September: Do you like food? Do you like wine? Well, head to Disney World at the start of September until November for Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. It’s a great addition to the already amazing Epcot World Showcase area. D and I enjoyed food and drinks from around the world. However, it’s packed with families on summer break and the temperatures are still high — though not as high as August. September is also the start of hurricane season so be prepared to wear ponchos and/or rain jackets.
What about the tickets?
We’re lucky to have family who work for Disney so one of our past three trips to Disney World was on the house. The other times, we utilized our company benefits to get 5-day park hopper tickets for the price of 3-day tickets. If you don’t have that option, there are other ways to saving some $$$. For example, some credit card companies give you rewards cash or points. You can utilize the rewards cash or points to purchase Disney gift cards which then can be used to help purchase your tickets. OR another option is getting discounted tickets through AAA, Costco, or Sam’s Club. If that comes up empty, then the pro tip here is to purchase multiple days. Purchasing a ticket for multiple days lowers the overall price of your Disney World entry.
Where to stay?
This also has pros and cons. Since D works for Marriott, we have always stayed off property. His hotel discount is just too good for us to pass up. For all of our trips, our hotel and transportation budget was less than the prices of our park tickets. Though we eventually would like to stay in one of the beautiful hotels at Disney World, the price is a bit steep. However, there are benefits to staying on property like magic hours, amazing hotel amenities (think awesome pools), and shuttle services to each park. ALL things to think about that when deciding where to stay. If you have kids in tow it might be worth staying on property.
So you have your tickets, your flights, your hotels. Next, it’s the nitty gritty.
First, login or create an account on Disney World’s website. Then download the Disney World app and login there as well. Second, add your tickets to your account (if you already have them). Third, reserve your Fastpass+ rides and dining reservations. And fourth, though optional, purchase Memory Maker. Here’s why…
Depending on when you go, dining can get booked up extremely fast. So if you’re interested in checking out Be Our Guest Restaurant or booking a dining package for great seats to those evening shows, do it ASAP. Pro tip: If you have a show you really love (I love Fantasmic), go ahead and book a dining package deal. Don’t want to spend that much on dining? Another pro tip: There are several restaurants with great vantage points. Go ahead and make an evening reservation and watch the fireworks while you eat. You might be eating later but it’s nice to have a seat. For example, one year we reserved an 8:45pm seating at Ohana so we could view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the dining hall.
On to Fastpass+ — you can always change them later, but if there’s a ride you really want to go on (ours was Seven Dwarves Mine Train) go ahead and select a time. Try to reserve your passes back to back. If you use up all three of your daily passes, you can get another one right after. AND since you downloaded the nifty Disney World app, you can track your passes, make changes, and track wait times all from your phone. Trust me, you’ll thank me!
Lastly, but again optional, purchase Memory Maker. D and I purchased Memory Maker for each of our trips. Since it’s just him and I, we really wanted to have photos that weren’t all selfies. Plus the fun customizations (like Tinker Bell on your hands) and the silly poses (like a Hercules pose) are kind of fun. Pro Tip: If you purchase Memory Maker ahead of time (3 days in advance) it’s $20 cheaper. Also, with Memory Maker you get a special photo session with a character. =)
What should I bring?
Depends on when you’re going! Here’s what we brought.
- Jackets: In January you probably want a hoodie or two. In August and September, you definitely want a rain jacket or poncho.
- Handheld misting fan: This was a must have for our trip in August. We used it so much. Get a fan that allows you to hook a carabiner on. This way you can hook it on to your purse, backpack, or stroller.
- Bobble water bottles or something similar: This comes in handy more times that we can count. The built-in water filter lets you forgo the pricey water bottles at your hotel rooms. Additionally if you’re at the park and can’t find a water fountain, you can fill it with water from the restrooms. Pro Tip: Don’t forget you can also get free iced water from any of the food vendors by simply asking!
- Water-friendly shoes: No one wants soggy shoes… But if you’re going during the summer, expect it to rain. So make sure you pack a pair or two of comfy kicks that’ll dry fast if you are caught in a downpour. I personally love wearing my crocs sandals and ballet flats. =)
WHEW. That’s a lot of information I just spewed out, so I’m going to leave it at that for now. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something but if I remember it, I’ll make sure to add it to this post. Hope this helps you as you plan your Disney World vacation!!!
‘Til the next time.