Planning a Disney trip 101

Lots of people ask me what it takes to plan a Disney trip.   Usually by the time they’re asking me they’ve either already booked one or are still in the thinking about stage.  I’m going to give you a brief step by step what I do to plan our Disney family trip!

1. Family discussion.  Our family goes to Disney pretty regularly, but once a trip is decided the first thing we do is request the free Disney planning video here  https://www.disneyplanning.com/destinations/  This video shows us what’s new, helps us pick our hotel and gets us excited for a trip.

2. Booking. Now I’ve booked Disney trips every which way; thru Disney directly, AAA, BJs, etc but the best way I have found is using a travel agent! We use Michelle at AAA! (MWood@nyaaa.com) She’s amazing! Why? Well when I booked trips thru Disney and promos came up Disney never notified us about them.  Michelle calls us usually before the promo has even hit the newsstand. She’s already got the amount we’d save and just needs our OK.  She’s not even in my state but she keeps me up to date on when I should be making reservations, fast passes, etc.  She goes thru everything to make sure we have a perfect trip.

3. Plan a park per day – Yes Virginia you need to plan your parks! Disney has all types of special early/late park hours and special events. You want to make sure you have all of those things planned out BEFORE you arrive at Disney! Otherwise you’re going to WAIT and I mean a long time. I know people who’ve waited hours to get a table for dinner and hours for every ride – trust me that’s a miserable trip. Sit down with the Disney hours schedule and plan out one park each day (or multiple parks a day if you’re purchasing a hopper pass)..

4. Tickets and Dining. Now I’m not going to go into deep detail about these but personally I don’t usually get a hopper pass ticket – we go to one park per day and thats busy enough for us.  The Hopper passes take more planning and cost a lot.  Dining plans are a definite yes for my crew. The basic dining plan gives you one counter service and one table service with two snacks and a resort use only cup.  Since Disney restaurants are pretty expensive the dining plans make it reasonable, HOWEVER be aware you will have to pay gratuity and alcohol yourself – not covered by the plan AND if you’re going with a group over 6 people the gratuity (which is automatically calculated on the bill) goes up to 18%! We use Disney gift card for gratuity so we’re not using our credit cards!

4. Download My Disney Experience App – MDE- this baby is worth a million dollars, before and during your trip. Get to know it cuz everything you need is right here. Where are things at each park? What’s on the menu at this restaurant? How much is the VIP Safari tour? What are the wait times for each ride? It’s all right here. Once you’ve booked your trip log in and link your customer number so it will bring up your reservations. This site allows you while at Disney to check ride wait times, get more fast passes, order food and so much more.  Last trip I found the girls circled around a phone, thinking they were on YouTube or Instagram I was like Really!  Then I found out they were planning what to do next on the MDE looking up wait times Anderson adding on fast passes!

Now let’s get to planning!

5. ADRs. Now this isn’t a fancy Disney acronym Attack Donald Rightaway.  It actually stands for Advance Dinning Reservations.  If you want to eat at nice sit down restaurants and have a good dinning experience you need to reserve your seating. Otherwise you might be eating burgers all vacation.  So about 200 days out you should review restaurants at each park – check out menus, locations, character meals, etc. on each you’ve picked your places at the 180 mark at 7am (YES!) you can log in and pick your reservation then the My Disney Experience App.  Pick things like Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey or Cinderellas Castle first – they are very popular and book up first. Don’t always pick meals at 5 or 6pm cuz those are the busiest. Remember there are night shows you might want to see so be sure you give yourself enough time to eat.

6. Fast Passes. FP – Now I could do a whole post on these babies, but let’s start basic. If you’re staying at a Disney resort you can pre set three (3) fast passes each day to one park 60 days in advance. If you’re not staying onsite there are kiosks throughout Disney parks for you to pick your FPs.  Some parks have a tier level which means you pick a FP for Soarin at Epcot and you can’t get Test Track cuz those are both Tier 1 rides. Yes it’s a pain, but when you’re at the park once you use a FP you can go onto MDE and get another one!  So you can jump from FP to FP all day! Sadly FPs run put around 2pm for most of the popular rides.  If your ride breaks down before your fastpass time, check with a cast member to see if they’ll honor the FP later on.

Now you need to wait for your trip! In the meantime watch a lot of videos on YouTube to see what’s going on. The Vlogs I like to watch are Tim the Tracker and Disboards.  Each give current views of the parks and excellent tips.

So get started and book your trip! Tell Michelle I sent you! Watch for an upcoming blog on what to do when you’re at the park!

Have a Magical day!

tinalala

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