Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Planning our Disney vacation

It's T-minus 4 days until we leave for Disney!!!!!!!
(I'm just a tad excited!)

Since this is our first Disney trip as a family, we are kind of novices in this whole Disney trip planning thing.  But I did learn a few things, so I thought I'd take you through my process so maybe you can learn something too.

We figured we had several big decisions to make - Drive or fly? What time of year do we go?  How many days do we stay?  Stay on property or off?

The first thing I did to answer those questions was to ask others about their Disney experiences and to check out a Disney guide from the library.  I actually picked up several guides to compare.  My favorite by far, was the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  After pouring over that book and getting lots of Facebook answers to lots of Facebook questions, we got some answers.

First question: Drive or fly?  We picked driving over flying for simple monetary reasons.  Of course gas wasn't $3.50 a gallon then; however, the cheapest airline tickets we could find were around $300 round-trip.  For 4 of us, that is a chunk of change!  I know there are deals to be had, but the stress of waiting for them would have been too much for me.

Second question: When to go?  The Unofficial guide and their corresponding website have a wonderful crowd calendar that helps you determine when the best time to go is.  Our original plan was to visit over Spring Break.  But once I found out that was the busiest time of the year, we quickly crossed that off the list.  Summer is the second most crowded time of year and ... HOT.  But the first week in May looked like the perfect time.  Not too busy, not too hot but hot enough.  And you may disagree, but we felt like our kids were young enough that taking them out of school for the week wouldn't hurt them too much.  So the first week of May it is.  Check.

Next up - How long do we stay and how many days do we go to the parks?  Well, we felt like to really get the Disney experience, it required a week.  We are driving down part way on Saturday, the rest of the way on Sunday and driving back the next Saturday.  That gives us 5 days to go to parks.  But...we are also on vacation, which means we don't want to be stressed and tired all the time, so our plan is to take Wed off.  A day off right there in the middle of the week to lounge around, swim in the pool and be lazy.  No parks on Wed! 

All those decisions seemed so much easier compared to the BIG one - where do we stay?  I have to admit, we have never been more conflicted over any vacation decision as we were with "Do we stay on Disney property or off?"  If you talk to someone who has stayed on property, they are going to tell you to stay on property - "You don't get the full Disney experience without it."  If you talk to someone who stayed off, they are going to list the merits of staying off property - "more space, cheaper."  We went back and forth over and over and in the end, we decided....to stay on Disney property.  The dragon slide at the pool was the deciding factor.  We have NEVER all 4 stayed in one hotel room for a week before.  We'll see if we are all speaking at the end of this :).

That's how my analytical, love-to-plan mind works.  Just thought I'd give you a glimpse.

I still have spots for guest posters next week.  Email me or leave me a comment if you'd like to get your name out there.


  1. You are going to have a BLAST. I LOVE the Unofficial Guide, and I hope (sure you have) you have made a general "plan" for how to attack each of the parks. You really will get the most out of your trip this way... there are so many things to see and do, so it helps to know ahead of time what you absolutely don't want to miss and what you can skip (based on your kid's ages/interests/etc). As far as the hotel, you won't be in your room long enough to get on each other's nerves... and GREAT choice to stay on property. The perks are well worth it... say hi to Mickey for me! And be sure to take advantage of the Fast Passes!

  2. How exciting! We went on a trip to Disney for 10 funfilled (slice my wrists) trip! I can't complain my father-in-law paid for the trip and it was so nice of him but 10 days was so long we about went crazy! We loved all the parks! At Animal Kingdom try to see the Lion King show - SO good!