Brittany's Unofficial Disney Planning Guide & Planning Tips
The origin of this entire website is the constant ask of my friends, family, and strangers to help plan their trips to see the magic mouse. If you google "Disney travel agent", the results are endless. From small businesses dedicated solely to magical experiences to independent individuals like myself wanting to share their tips all the way to Disney itself, the help is out there, but how do you decide? Do you need a travel agent? Is the money worth it? Can you just do this yourself?
I wanted to compile a quick "how to" guide for everyone to get you started. When people approach me, these are essentially the steps I give them. It's simple, effective, and will truly help you decide what sort of trip you are looking for.
If you want more info, please feel free to visit the vacation planning section of my website! More questions, please email me and I would be happy to assist!
The Unofficial How-Do-I-Plan-This-Trip-OMG Guide:
Set a budget. This may seem obvious but it really isn't for most... Disney can be VERY expensive, or very inexpensive depending on what sort of trip you are looking to take. Set a budget with some flexibility because like everything in life, nothing is set in stone, especially vacation finances. But having a base price will definitely help guide your trip.
Make a list (and have every member of your travel party make the same list) of your top 5 "wishes". What does this mean? It means that Disney World is full of thousands of experiences so you need to decide what is most important to you. Is it getting on every ride in ever park? Is it the entertainment? Is it relaxing by the pool? Is it the food and snacks? Is it the drinks? Is it to live in luxury for one week or is it to have a fun simple weekend away?
Decide how important your hotel is. For many, the hotel is somewhere to sleep and the amenities, location, decor and other bonuses are unimportant. For others (including myself) the hotel is a large part of the experience and they plan to spend more time there. While staying on Disney property has a lot of perks (early entry, magical theming, closer to parks), it can be very expensive and if you don't plan to be there much, it may not be worth it for you! This is especially true of first timers. Most people spend sun up to sun down in the parks on their first trip and don't utilize a lot of hotel amenities while long time returners will be less inclined to spend every waking moment standing in lines to get on a ride they've been on before and may be looking for some other experiences. How important are these to you and your family? Do you need a nice pool to spend an entire day at or is a small pool for a night dip okay? Do you need a small hotel with two standard queen beds or do you need more space?
Do you want a car? This is a huge change in your trip dynamic because while not having a car is significantly cheaper, it limits you. While all Disney properties have transportation to the parks, many are still a good 20 minute ride to and from and the buses can take quite some time to arrive. Having a car allows you to travel to places like Universal Studios and Disney Springs with ease and gives you more flexibility to come and go from the parks during the day. But, you have to pay for parking, you may have to rent carseats depending on kids ages, and if you are spending all day in the parks, you really may not be using it that much. This is also a great place to look at your credit cards, a lot of them have great rewards programs that give you access to rental cars so keep that in mind!
How important is food to you? While the answer is obvious at first (I need to eat), this can guide a lot of your decisions. Disney food ranges from unbelievable to very much middle school cafeteria vibes. Some people LOVE the heavy meals three times a day. When in Rome, right? But others prefer to keep their normal dietary patterns and this requires a little more planning. Do you need a fridge in the room? What about a kitchenette? Do you want a full kitchen? Are you good with fried park food for a week? How many times do you want to sit down and have a full meal?
When do you want to go? Is it during a school vacation when the entire world is also at Disney? Is it summer when it's 90 degrees and 100% humidity? Or do you have the ability to go during cooler and less busy seasons?
Lastly, on a scale of 1-10 how excited are you for this trip? I bring this up because so many parents feel like they NEED to bring their kids to Disney and feel wholly miserable during the entire trip because its expensive, hot, and shockingly, kids still cry in Disney World. Don't spend the money where you don't want to!
There you have it. The seven tips to help you start your planning experience!
"Be Prepared" - Scar