We’re Going To Disney
So you’ve decided it’s time for a Disney vacation? There’s a whole world out there to discover and with the money you’re spending on the trip, you want to make sure you’re getting the full experience, so where do you even begin? I did a very unscientific poll of fellow moms to see what the different Disney parent styles are and there are plenty!
When it comes to planning a Disney vacation, the options can seem overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors, and it’s hard to decide where to begin. Disney Vacation planners seem to be everywhere you turn. Ask one Disney question on a local mom board and get 25 people offering to plan your trip for you. Disney Vacation Planners are usually free of charge and can be a very valuable resource if this is your first trip or even if you’re an experienced Disney guest, but want to take some of the stress off.
I have always done my own planning, I guess because I have been planning Disney trips since the days before Internet planning was a thing. Also, I am pretty Type-A. I am the one who has an alarm set on my phone for the day when I can book dining and fast passes, and believe me I am logged into my account the minute I am allowed to.
Currently at Disney, you do have to have a park reservation for the day, but you can park hop after 2 pm, and you have to visit your reserved park first (even if that means swiping your magic band and then exiting 30 seconds later). Fast passes are still on COVID hiatus, but after visiting in March, they need to make a reappearance ASAP, parks are pre-COVID crowds, and the waits this last trip were 30-90 minutes for most rides, in every park, and for those of us that like to maximize park and ride time the waiting without a fast pass break is definitely cramping our style.
Dining reservations are in high demand, so we usually try and pick 1-2 restaurants that we want to sit down at and book them if we can. On our most recent trip, restaurants had a waitlist option, on the Disney app under add dining reservations there is a “now” option and if you were in the vicinity of a restaurant that had availability on their waitlist, you could join and they give you an estimated wait time (ours was 45 minutes so we hopped in line and rode a ride while we waited) and they text you when your table is ready. This is a great option for when you can’t get a coveted reservation prior to your trip or if you didn’t want to commit to a reservation.
Disney also has meal plans available (on pause for COVID) and they are a great option, but heads up, after age 9 kids become adults and that is A LOT of food! As my kids have gotten older, we have ditched the dining plan, we share a lot of meals, and my kids also will order from the kids’ menu (Disney cast members seem very lenient on this). We bring our water bottles and refill with ice water from our meals, and during sit-down meals, we usually order a fun drink.
On our trip in September, knowing several food options weren’t open yet, we did stock our room with snacks and threw some in our backpacks at the park. We also chose to have breakfast in our rooms, we brought cold brew from home and had everything from pop tarts to oatmeal and berries in the room to make/take for breakfast. My husband is a breakfast eater, so he would order a real breakfast to pick up before we left in the mornings.
Many Disney resorts have suites with kitchens in them, so cooking and meal prep is definitely an option too.
First, let’s get there, drive or fly, the verdict was split for sure! My family is 100% drive, it’s not a terrible drive, long yes but it’s doable. We usually stop and have breakfast with my grandparents in Pensacola on the way there and dinner on the way back. My kids are older, so they spend most of the ride on their phones and napping. When they were little, it was watching movies and napping.
Flying is of course much faster and you can usually find some great deals to Orlando. Magic Express and ride services like Uber make transportation to lodging much easier than it used to be.
Once you get to Orlando, transportation to the parks is next up. All Disney resorts provide transportation to the parks. Depending on the hotel it can be anything from monorail service to buses, boats, and now the Skyliner. Since we drive, we use our car to go to the parks, we like the flexibility to come and go when we want, not having to wait for transportation at the end of the day (we learned we weren’t meant for this on our trip with a 3 and 5-year-old). In true Disney style, they even make the lines for transportation move fairly quickly. Many off-property resorts also offer transportation to and from the parks.
What’s In A Day
How you spend your Disney day also varies from family to family and even trip to trip. Some families stagger their park days with pool days, while others are simply there for the parks and go for rope drop until closing. With littles, if naps are still happening, it becomes a decision of back to the room for a nap or stroller naps, one of my favorites was jumping on a ride like The Land, Small World, Pirates, or Tiki Room and that would usually induce sleep for mine. Heading back to the room for a mid-day nap or swim can definitely be a recharge for everyone.
When parades and fireworks were happening (and for when they do again), also when fast passes were scheduled for, or if you’re part of a boarding group, some of our planning centered around these times. When you are in the parks for consecutive days and you’ve watched them already, the times of parades and fireworks are great times to jump on rides, the lines tend to be a little shorter.
However you plan your trip, get there, or choose to spend your day, you’re in the most Magical Place on Earth, so it’s going to be a good day! We do Disney a lot, we always have and probably always will. Of course, I want to expose my children to other vacation and travel destinations, however, I also want them (and us) to enjoy and appreciate those destinations, and now that they are teens we probably will start branching out, but one thing for sure is we all love Disney trips and have made some wonderful memories on these trips.
Whatever your Disney style is, there are so many resources out there to help plan the trip that is compatible with what you and your family want to experience.