Disney World Planning in Progress
I have planned and gone on two Disney Cruises (find all of my cruise posts here) with my family now, so I feel a little like a pro when it comes to that aspect of Disney. We'd planned on booking another cruise while onboard the Disney Wonder in January, but decided at the last minute that we'd like to try our hands at Disney World for our next family vacation. Once I had nailed down dates, I did what I do best and started obsessing over trip planning. I thought there was a lot to learn to plan a cruise, but holy heck, Disney World planning is nuts!
The first thing I did was talk to our Disney travel agent and get some advice from her on places to stay, the amount of time to stay, and get information on package options. If you are going to plan any type of Disney trip, I highly recommend using a Disney authorized travel agent. They are free to use and it has been such a tremendous asset in planning our vacations. I can't say enough good things about Carrie Johnson at Small World Vacations. If you need an agent, she's been an amazing help for all our trips. She recommended 5-7 days in the parks for a first visit, and with our schedules we are able to do the full week. I looked through the different resort options, did a little research, and based a lot of my decision making on price. In the end I chose Port Orleans Riverside and when I asked our travel agent, she said liked that resort very much. We also decided to do the Disney dining plan. I've read reviews for pros and cons of the plan, and I really do think it will be the best option for my family. We shall find out in October!
As soon as I had nailed down dates, resort, park tickets, and dining details I pretty much just started adding every bit of Disney World info I could find to my Pinterest board. I have boards for Disney World and for Disney Cruises that you are welcome to follow to save yourself the time of searching through everything. I am an obsessive planner, what can I say?
Aside from using our travel agent and Pinterest, I picked up a book called The Unofficial Guide to Walt Dinsey World 2016 from the library (recommended by my travel agent) that has more information than you can even imagine. When I had no plan at all, this book was overwhelming. Once I had mapped out a few things it became incredibly helpful and I just keep renewing it from my library instead of returning it. I have used it a lot and definitely recommend it.
So far, the only other big planning thing I've had to do was make our dining reservations. This was a really overwhelming task for me and I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn't been able to chat with my travel agent about it. I'd read some different blogs and posts on Pinterest about how to best use the dining plan and recommended restaurants, but there are so many to choose from that I didn't even know where to begin. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I sat down and made an Excel spreadsheet to keep everything organized. I had to first decide the order we wanted to do the parks in, and how many times we plan to go to each park because I opted out of Park Hopper tickets. I just didn't see my family going from one park to another in the same day, so the cost didn't seem worth it to me. I broke each day down into breakfast/lunch/dinner and kept a running total of what dining credits we'd be using for each meal. I told my travel agent that we'd like to do some character meals, but didn't want them all that way, and she gave me an amazing list of her restaurant recommendations for each park. I looked through the menus and reviews for each of those restaurants and then made my list of where we wanted to eat each day. You may begin making dining reservations at 6am EST 180 days out from your vacation date. There were a few restaurants that we really, really wanted to go to and I'd read that you have to be on right away to make reservations. To add to the list of things I do that make my family think I'm crazy, I got up before 4am (because we are MST) to make our dining reservations. I was able to reserve everything I wanted to, so to me it was worth it. I lucked out and it was on a weekend, so I just took a nap later that morning to make up for it.
My next big planning task will be to figure out FastPass+ reservations. Luckily I have a few friends who live in Florida that frequent Disney World and they've offered to give me some advice with this part of my planning. I still need to figure out flights and a handful of other little things for the trip, but I feel like I've got the big things covered so far. I love a good project, which is what this trip planning is. I'm excited to share more of what I learn with everyone and we can't wait to experience the magic of Disney again!