Planning a Disney World vacation can be very overwhelming! There is a lot to think about and do before the big day arrives. In this series, I am going to help you with that process. Let's start with how to start planning your Disney World vacation!
The first thing you need to do when you start planning your Disney World vacation is to decide to go! I know that sounds obvious, but it is a big decision. You probably have all of these questions in your head about the trip like money, time, money, where to stay, money, tickets, money! Do you see a pattern here? I totally understand the issues and have been there (many times!)
However, the first thing, and I believe the easiest thing, is just to decide to go! We will talk about money and time and all of that later. Just decide to go, and then you can figure all of that out. Take a big breath and see "We are going to Disney World!" You will be the hero of the family and everyone will start getting excited! You can even involve them all in the planning of the trip.
So the first thing to start planning your Disney World vacation is to decide to go! Take a deep breath, and make the choice.
There, see. That wasn't too difficult. Now, let someone get the smelling salts for you, so we can move on to step 2.
The next thing is to start thinking about a budget.
That is easier said than done. You have to think about travel, hotel, food, park entrance, Genie Plus (if you decide to use it), and all the extras you may want (souvenirs, experiences, etc.)
All of that can be very overwhelming. Let's start easy, and plan for travel down to Disney World. How are you gonna get there? Fly? Drive? Train? Bus? You may be a fly only person (I know I am), but growing up, my family drove (from Indianapolis). I think it is important to figure out what it is going to cost to get there, because no matter what, that will not change (except the amount it may go up or down depending on the economy).
Then you get to where are you staying. You don't need to decide the exact location yet, but are you staying at a Deluxe Resort, Moderate resort, or Value resort? I also think to decide that you need to know how are you going to use your hotel. Is it just a place to sleep? Do you want to hang out at the resort? Are you looking to be a little pampered? You can spend from about $100 per night up to $800 per night. You might also think about staying off property. There are some really nice options just off Disney World property.
You then have to think about park tickets. You need to decide how many days you want to go to the park (and make reservations for the park). You can get anywhere from one day to ten day park tickets. On top of that, you need to decide if you want to go to more than one park a day (that's called park hopping). You can add that to your tickets too. (If you don't add park hopper now, you can add it when you get there.) You can also add the ability to go to a Disney water park onto your ticket. So you can see that there is a lot to think about financially when it comes to tickets.
One of the last things to think about is food. Disney is not offering a dining plan right now, which some people really like (it's like prepaid meals). The dining plans were an easy way to budget for food. I usually try and budget $75 per day (per person). Some days you will spend that much, and other days you won't. Your can also get food delivered to your resort from a grocery store, and have meals there (breakfast in your room is a good option). You can also take food into the parks, which can make the trip even less expensive as far as food goes.
So. you can see, budgeting is a big deal. And as hard as it may seem, in the long run it will make a huge difference in your trip.
The next thing to do when you start planning your Disney World vacation is to decide when you are going to go.
My suggestion is to plan as far ahead as possible. This does a couple of things for you. First, you will get the reservation at the resort that you want. If you wait until the last minute, you just have to take what you can get, and that may not be great.
Also, the further out you plan and make reservations, you can take advantage of all the benefits of booking early.
Besides that, if you book early, and a discount comes along that you can take advantage of, Disney will allow you to rebook to get the discount! How amazing is that?! It can really give you some peace of mind that if you book now and a sale comes along later, that you can take advantage of the sale with no worries.
The next thing when you start planning your trip to Disney World is to decide what kind of trip is this going to be.
Is this going to be a vacation of a lifetime? Or are you planning to come back to Disney World another time after this trip?
The reason this is important is that you can then decide what's important. Do I have to do all my must do's this time around, or can I put some off until next time? If I don't get that fast pass that I want, am I going to be crushed? If I don't get a reservation at Cinderella's Castle, is it the end of the world?
Those are all important things to figure out. The cool thing is that if this is the trip of a lifetime, you may decide midway through the vacation "I'm definitely coming back!" I'm not saying that you will, but you could decide that.
When you start planning your trip to Disney World, this step may be the most important to make your planning easy.
Get a travel agent!
I cannot tell you how much of a difference a travel agent makes when planning a Disney World trip. They do all of the heavy lifting for you. You talk to them, they ask questions, and then they help you plan the trip that YOU WANT! You read that correctly! They help you plan the trip that you want!
If you have a budget, they will help you get the best possible vacation for the money that you have to spend. They will also make sure that you get the best value for your money. You don't have to keep up with all of the discounts that become available, they do that! Then they are the ones to call Disney and set it up for you. Then you get a call or an email that says "Hey! I just saved you some money on your trip!"
How awesome is that!
You also don't have to pay for them if you choose a fee-free agency! Disney pays them! WOOHOO! How can any of that be wrong?
I happen to think that www.cftravelco.com is a great agency, but there are a lot of them out there, and they do great work. Just google for a Disney fee-free travel agency, and you will get a long list of possibilities.
If you have trouble choosing one, let me know if the comments and I can guide you to a couple that I know do great work. I'm happy to do that!
If you do all four of those items that I talk about above, you should be in great shape to get your Disney World vacation started.
If you want to start your budget, but need some help, I have a YouTube video about creating a budget you might like. Check it out by clicking HERE.
Planning your Disney World vacation is not as daunting as people think. Especially if you have people helping you that know what they are talking about.
So go forth and plan!
I hope this has been helpful. Be sure to leave a comment below with ideas or questions. I would love to hear from you and start a conversation about how you start planning your Disney World vacation!
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