If you are planning your first visit to Walt Disney World, congratulations! You will be visiting one of the most “magical” vacation destinations there is, filled with literally hundreds of attractions, rides, restaurants, hotels and events. Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to figure out how to start planning this wonderful vacation? This article will focus on some of the very first things you need to do before you book anything. Doing your research is central to planning the most affordable Disney family vacation.
The first thing you will need to decide is when you are going to go. If possible, try to start planning at least 6-9 months in advance. In order to determine the best time for your Disney World vacation, you will need to think about your feelings about things like crowds and weather. For instance, do you hate crowds? Then don’t plan to visit during the crowded summer months, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or spring breaks. And likewise, if you hate heat and humidity, you should avoid Florida summers.
The next step then is to determine the things that you and your family would like to experience at Disney World. I realize this seems odd to do this at this part of the process, but it is very helpful to your planning to know which parks you are most interested in, or if there are special events you want to be a part of. You want to know these things at the beginning so you can plan your trip accordingly.
To get an overview of everything there is to see and do, you will want to have some good planning guides to provide the information you need. There are two that I use over and over:
1. The Disney World website is a great place to start. as you can order their free planning DVD. To do this, you need to sign up for a log-in, which I recommend that you do. You will then be sent a lot of Disney vacation planning information, as well as be emailed special offers and promotions.
2. The Ultimate Disney World Savings Guide, which is an e-book written by a former Disney castmember. Not only is it filled with tons of great park information, it has a number of excellent strategies for saving some serious money.
OK, you know when you are visiting, and what you want to see and do. Next you need to determine how long to plan your Disney vacation for. Check your available vacation leave, as well as work/school schedules and then get an idea of how long you will need to see everything that is important to you. This relates to an extent to the discussion about the time of year you will be visiting Disney World. If you will be there when it is the crowded or the very hot summer, you will want to allow a little more time: the need for “cooling off” breaks, or navigating through crowds, means that it will take longer to do everything. And if you have little ones, add some extra break time in for them as well.
So generally speaking, how long would it take to visit each park, if you wanted to “see everything”? In my opinion, to see all four parks completely, you should plan for at least 5 full days. If any of the above conditions apply to your plans, add more time.
The last thing to decide before you book anything is, how much can you afford to spend? If you want to plan an affordable Disney family vacation, this is probably the most important step, as having a budget in mind at the very beginning will help keep your costs down. It is important to be honest with yourself and be realistic. Not having an extravagant budget does not mean you can’t have a fabulous vacation!
When you are going, what you want to see, how long you will stay, and what you can afford…these are the things you need to know at the very beginning. Once you do, then you can proceed to booking your vacation, and can look forward to having a fantastic and affordable Disney family vacation.
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