I am deep in family vacation planning mode, and I’ve decided that 2024 will be our Disney year. With that decision made, I am now faced with the difficult decision of how we should do Disney. Should we do a traditional Disney World trip or the Disney Cruise? For context, my family of 4 includes myself, my husband, and our two kids will be 3 and 4 at the time of travel. In case you are contemplating the same decision, here are some of my findings and thoughts that I am considering.
Disney World: I am not a fan of long car rides with young kids, so we would have to fly to Orlando.
Disney Cruise: So luckily, one of the Disney cruises leaves from right here in New Orleans, making it an easy way to eliminate travel. However, through my research, I have learned that the cruise that leaves from New Orleans does not stop at Castaway Cay, the Disney private island that so many rave about.
Disney is expensive no matter how you do it, but the differences I have come across are:
Disney World: Disney World, it’s possible to do some things outside of Disney (stay off property, eat outside of Disney, don’t purchase packages, etc.) and possibly save some money.
Disney Cruise: The cruise is all inclusive style, so once you decide on your accommodations, you are paying one set price unless you decide to add on excursions or other on ship additions.
Disney World: There is a lot of pre-trip planning that goes into a park trip. If you are a planner, this can be the ultimate exciting thing to plan for. But if you are not, you may want to hire one of the many Disney travel agents.
Disney Cruise: There is a lot less pre-trip planning required and once you are booked, you can plan your family’s daily activities day by day once you are onboard, if you wish.
Disney World: Of course, at the park, you get all of the world renowned Disney amusement park rides!
Disney Cruise: There are no rides on the cruise, but plenty of activities and ship stops where you can plan your own excursions.
Disney World: You can see all of your favorite characters at Disney World, although you may have to deal with a bit of scheduling and/or waiting.
Disney Cruise: Cruise ship reviews tend to suggest that it is easier to meet characters on the ships with less lines and waiting, however the variety will not be as vast on the ship.
Disney World: Hit or miss. There used to be slow seasons at Disney, but now it essentially crowded year round. Avoiding holidays, common school breaks, and weekends is the best way to try to minimize a very crowded trip.
Disney Cruise: Crowds will be limited to who is on the ship.
Disney World: If you want to relax, a Disney World trip may make this hard. Lots of people return home more tired than they came. You can balance this by adding a rest/no parks day to your trip.
Disney Cruise: Many opportunities to rest on the cruise. There are adults only areas and ways to avoid nonstop activity.
Disney World: Childcare is not provided but there are several reputable agencies and babysitters you can connect with.
Disney Cruise: There is a kids’ club available free of charge to all children over 3. There is also a nursery for those kids under 3 with a cost associated.
Disney World: I have heard a lot from die-hard Disney fans about how the park experience has changed over the years. Hopefully, the decline of the pandemic and change in leadership will restore some of the Disney magic that was impacted.
Disney Cruise: I personally have never heard a complaint from a Disney cruise passenger. The magic appears to be consistent there.
We will likely do the Disney Cruise. While my kids are Disney fans, we aren’t fanatics and want a mix of Disney fun and relaxation. My kids will be young at the time of travel and less concerned (or aware) about missing out on the adventure of rides. Additionally, we will likely travel with only our family of 4, so the access to the kids club to give Mom and Dad a break is very attractive.
What is your pick, Disney World or Disney Cruise?