As a Disney travel agent, one of the questions I get asked often is “where do I even begin?” Planning a trip to Disney is unlike planning any other kind of vacation – there’s so much more to know, new lingo to learn, and hundreds of decisions to make – it’s no wonder that it feels overwhelming! Which is why in today’s blog post, I’m sharing where to begin with planning your trip, and the 5 major considerations everyone needs to think through as they plan their trip.
Most Important Part of Planning a Disney Vacation
The number one thing you need to determine before you can move any farther with planning your trip is what your priority is for your trip. Why is this so important? Because there are going to be many more decisions ahead (with many choices) and they’re easiest to make if you know from the beginning what matters most to you.
The hard part is that I can’t give you a ton of guidance on this one because it’s very much a case-by-case basis. Even for someone like me, who goes often, my priority changes with each trip. So, take some time, and think about what matters most to you on this trip – and then use that to make decisions for the major trip consideration.
Lodging for a Disney Trip
See Also: Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Hotels
When it comes to lodging for your Disney Vacation, the first question to ask yourself is whether you want to stay on-site or off. Off-site you’ve got many different options – AirBnBs, Off-Site Hotels, and partner hotels which you can see on the Disney website as “More Great Accommodations”.
Staying Off-Site for Your Disney Vacation
There are a plethora of reasons to stay off-site – budget and space being the big reasons. Frankly, you can find very cute AirBnBs for less, or around the same price, as staying on-site and you have way more space plus the ability to cook for yourself.
Growing up, my family and some other family and friends would rent one big house in the Kissimmee area – us kids loved the private pool, and the adults loved saving money on lodging and dining!
Staying On-Site for Your Disney Vacation
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to stay on-site. There’s a lot to be said about being in the Disney bubble. You’re closer to the parks, the entire vacation takes on a magical quality, and you can choose to rely entirely on Disney’s transportation systems to get you around the resort – meaning you don’t have to worry about driving in the Orlando area. Plus, there are some perks that Disney offers those that stay on-site, like extra time in the parks, and easier ability to book dining reservations (you can book your entire trip’s reservations 60 days before check-in if you stay on-site vs having to go in 60 days before each reservation day if you stay off-site).
If you decide to book on-site, you’ll have further decisions to make – Disney World offers 3 resort tiers, with over 26 resorts in all, and many different types of accommodations. To learn more about on-site availability, be sure to read my post: Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Hotels!
Dining on a Disney Vacation
See Also: Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Dining
Just like with lodging, there are many different avenues that you can take – of course, there’s always off-site dining, whether that’s eating at restaurants off-site, or cooking for yourself. Within the resort, you’ve got Food Stands, Quick Service, Table Service, Character Dining, lounges and you can find places to eat at all the parks, Disney Springs, and the hotels on property. Some places need reservations, some require mobile ordering, some you just walk right up to.
Sometimes Disney also offers Dining Plans – which throws an entirely new decision into the mix. While they haven’t offered Dining Plans since the Pandemic started, many are hopeful they’ll return. My take? I don’t think they really save you much, if any, money, but it’s nice to pay for your food upfront and not have to worry about trying to budget for it during the vacation.
For a further breakdown of dining at Disney World, be sure to check out my blog post: Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Dining!
Tickets for Disney
See Also: Guide to Disney Tickets 2022
When it comes to tickets – you guessed it – there are even more decisions to make:
- How many days do you need tickets for?
- Will you use Park Hopper?
- Will you go to the Water Parks?
- Will you buy Genie +?
- What parks will you start at each day?
All of which need to be answered before you can buy your tickets and use those tickets to grab your park reservations. And if you’re someone who plans to go to Disney World more than once in the next year … you should also consider if an annual pass makes sense for you.
For more details about tickets, don’t miss my Guide to Disney Tickets 2022 blog post!
Transportation on a Disney Vacation
And now, the decisions become a little less involved. When it comes to Disney transportation, before your trip the only decisions you really need to make are how you’re getting to Disney World, and how you intend to get around while you’re there.
Will you fly? And if so, will you get a rental car once you land? This would allow you to drive yourself around, visit places outside of Disney World, and not have to rely on their transportation.
Or, will you book a shuttle that will bring you to your hotel from the airport? Or take an Uber? This saves you from having to drive yourself, and saves you the parking costs, but it also does make you completely reliant on Disney transportation.
And, if you’re close enough, you always have the option to drive your own car to Disney World. Then, once you’re there you have the option to drive yourself around or rely on Disney transportation. To learn more about the transportation options Disney provides, be sure to read my blog post Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Transportation.
Extras on Your Trip
Disney is constantly adding in new magical extras that you can add to any vacation – for an extra fee. All of which are totally optional and not necessary for a wonderful trip, but also can be fun if you’ve been many times before and looking for something new to add into your vacation!
You’ve got the basics like Memory Maker and Travel Insurance and Magic Bands that can be added to your trip.
And then you’ve got the (usually) always available extras like building your own droid in Galaxy’s edge, behind the scenes tours, golf, and fireworks dessert cruises.
And finally, there are the special occasion extras that only happen during certain times of year or special events like the Magic Kingdom 50th Firework Dessert Parties, Very Merriest After hours parties, and Boo Bash.
Prices and availability vary, so be sure to look into those extras ahead of time if you’re hoping to enjoy one!
Those are the 5 major considerations that everyone should consider as they begin planning their next magical escape! If you’d like to see what information I suggest you make sure you know as you’re planning out each day in the parks, be sure to download my free Walt Disney World sample itinerary while you’re here! And be sure to let me know in the comments if you’ve got any follow up questions for me. I’m happy to help you unlock your next magical escape!