As it is only 120 days till we head to Orlando Florida and to Walt Disney World with the family, we thought we’d put our top 9 tips for things to you should consider when booking and before you head off to the happiest place on earth
- Shop around for the best deal before booking
Booking a trip to America can be expensive, especially for a family but be sure to shop around to get the best deal. If you book 18 months before, between April and November, Disney often have deals which include $200 Disney dollars and free dining plans included in your package price.
We shopped around and have booked with Virgin Holidays this year, and they even threw in free access to their V-room at Manchester airport. It pays to compare deals and push your rep into a bargain!
- Get your food reservations in early (180 days before)
180 days may seem like overkill, but if there are certain places you want to eat at when you go to Walt Disney World you need to book that far in advance. We managed to walk straight into ‘Be Our Guest’ (the beauty and the beast themed restaurant) when it was still new in 2013, at Holly’s last trip they were laughed out the door. Knowing we were going to be a party of 10 this time round, we booked in advance (and still have to eat at 16:15 on a Wednesday!!).If you have a meal plan booked, be sure to look to see what is included and where this is accepted. We’ve watched a lot the videos from the Disney Food Blog as they are easy to watch and full of great tips!
- Arrange Fast Passes (60 days before)
For some of the popular rides, you can skip the queue with Disney’s FastPass system. This can now be done through their app, My Disney Experience, up to 60 days in advance.
Our top suggestions for FastPass are:
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Dwarfs Mine Train
- Expedition Everest
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Test Track
- Frozen Ever After
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Tower of Terror
- Star Tours
- Make a rough plan of what park to do on each day
This is something Holly normally puts together to keep the family in check. She looks at park opening hours and makes sure there are rest days by the pool to make sure we don’t over do it. If you are in a large party this will give you some structure, so if some of you take it easy one day, you know which park everyone else has headed off to to catch up later.
- Add a bit of Disney Magic to the trip
Is it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary? Disney have loads of ways to make your trip extra special. First off, head to city hall or guest services at the front of the park to collect a ‘First Visit’ or ‘I’m Celebrating’ badge. You can even arrange to have a special treat put into their room with Disney’s reservation line.
Booking a tour is definitely something we would recommend; we have done a few at Disneyland Paris, and Holly has been on the backstage tour at Walt Disney World, which shows you the hidden magic that goes into the Disney parks.
- Download the ‘My Disney Experience’ App
This app is great to get you started, you can access your hotel bookings, book restaurants, FastPass reservations and more!
- Plan to experience more than the Disney parks
If you are staying for a week at Disney there is much more you can do than just the theme parks. There are three great miniature golf courses: Fantasia Gardens by the Swan and Dolphin hotel and Winter Summerland at Blizzard beach.
Over the last few years Disney Springs has been updated to home loads of great shopping outlets, bars and restaurants, well worth an afternoon of browsing followed by dinner.
Want more adrenalin? Just a short 30-minute drive from Disney is Universal Studios Orlando Resort home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Or further afield, in Tampa, is Busch Gardens.
Another day trip we would recommend, is going on a fan boat to see some alligators and the Kennedy Space centre.
- Accessories for the parks
Most highstreet brands (H&M, Primark, Next etc) are chock full of Disney merchandise, giving you the opportunity to style yourself appropriately on a budget. Whilst in the park you’ll want to pick up the latest merchandise, but save yourself a little dough by getting all your holiday clothes before you go. For our recent trip to Disneyland Paris, Lucy has made us all personalised Minnie ears, she enjoyed making them so much she has opened an Etsy shop MaleficEars! We are all putting our orders in ready for May!
- Customize your Magic Band
If you are staying a Disney hotel whilst in Florida you will be provided with a Magic Band included in the price, which will function as your room key and park pass. You can also attach a card and use this as a payment device, and it stores all your food credits (if you have a dining plan) as well as FastPass entries. Up to 7 days before you go you can pick the colour of the band and the name on it. There are up to 8 different default colours you can choose from for free, or buy yourself a limited edition one… Holly has her eye on a Haunted Mansion wallpaper one!
Best of luck planning your holiday! Any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media!