So you’re going to take your family to Disney World—yay! We agree with the experts—it really is the most magical place on Earth. But it can also be a lot of work to plan, pay for and execute all those magical memories. Fortunately we’re here to help.
How to Start:
The first thing you need to decide before you plan your trip to Disney World is when you are going to go.
Let’s start with the worst time to go: any time lots of kids are out of school is generally the busiest and most expensive time to visit Disney World. That would include Spring Break, summer, and around holiday seasons (Christmas, Easter, many US long weekends).
Some of the least busy times at Disney World include late January to mid February, late spring, mid-late October and much of November (before US Thanksgiving).
When deciding when is best for your family to go, keep in mind that during some of the slower parts of the year certain rides may be closed for refurbishment (if you want to ride Splash Mountain, don’t go in January), the weather may not be perfect (think potential rain and cooler temps), and the parks may not be open as long.
Where to Stay:
This also comes with questions—do you want to stay on the Disney property at one of their hotels or off-site at a nearby hotel or condo rental? We recommend staying on-site at least once in your lifetime if you can.
There are 31 hotels and resorts on the Disney property and the perks of staying on-site can make your vacation magical. Perks include:
Extra Magic Hours. Guests of Disney hotels can experience more time at the theme parks with both early and late hours exclusive to hotel guests.
Early Access to FastPass+ Planning. By staying on-site you get access to making your FP+ selections up to 60 days before you arrive.
Disney Transportation & Parking. You will have access to busses, ferryboats, the monorail to make your way around the world, and complimentary parking at all the theme parks and hotels.
Airport Service. With Disney’s Magical ExpressÃ‚Â® you can enjoy a complimentary round-trip service between Orlando International Airport and your Disney Resort hotel—you can even skip the baggage claim and have your luggage meet you in your hotel room.
Disney Dining Plans. Make your vacation feel like an all-inclusive getaway by selecting a dining plan so you can enjoy all the amazing places to eat at Disney World.
There is a resort to meet every need—from the luxury villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to the campgrounds at Fort Wilderness, you can find accommodations to match your travel wants and budget. Disney resorts are classified into four categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. Choose which budget you feel most comfortable with and select one of the many hotels available to suit your family.
Good to Know: You can start booking your Disney hotel stay up to 500 days ahead of your arrival, but if the prices change in that time period you will be charged the difference.
Disney World is split into four theme parks, two water parks, and a dining/entertainment destination called Disney Springs. You can spend weeks here and still not see everything, so we recommend you sit down with the family and figure out what your must-dos are and then plan from there.
This is the crown jewel of Disney theme parks; when you think Disney World, we’re pretty sure you’re really thinking of the Magic Kingdom. With 41 attractions (including favourites like Space Mountain, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Seven Dwarves Mine Train and more), 34 restaurants, countless character meet-and-greet opportunities and of course, Cinderella’s Castle, this is a must-see. Recently Fantasyland went through a huge overhaul and refurbishment, and it is where we like to head first during our visits. Here you will find the most rides and attractions geared towards the younger set. We suggest dedicating two days to the Magic Kingdom.
Originally developed by Walt Disney himself close to the end of his lifetime, Epcot was intended to model a ‘community of the future’. It has two ‘lands’, Future World which has attractions that focus mainly on the future, education and technology, and the World Showcase, which features pavilions from different countries from around the world. We were pleasantly surprised at how much our kids enjoyed Epcot (since we remember it being kinda boring when we originally visited when we were kids). They love flying through the California wilderness on ‘Soarin’, creating a virtual car and taking it for a test drive on ‘Test Track’, and exploring all the wonders the World Showcase has to offer. While slightly older kids may get more out of Epcot than really little ones, we think this is a great park to spend a day at. Good to know: Epcot is huge—if you walk the whole park you will have walked 4.47 km. So wear your comfy shoes, and bring the stroller.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This is a unique park that is dedicated to the glamour of show business and Hollywood’s Golden Age. You can step into the action with a bunch of attractions based on blockbuster movies and TV shows. If you have a Star Wars fan with you, this is the park for you (until the full Star Wars theme park opens). Your little Padawans can learn how to defeat the Dark Side in the Jedi Training Camp, or you can board a Starspeeder 1000 and take a tour of the Star Wars galaxy and more. Thrill riders can look forward to boarding Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, plus there is the ever-popular Toy Story Mania (which is a must if you visit this park).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney believed in animal conservation and Disney’s Animal Kingdom is themed around this practice. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquarius, and is the only place on the Disney World property where you can go on safari and see real live lions, elephants, rhinos and more. Centred around the beautiful Tree of Life, this park is a must for animal lovers. We found that much of the park could be experienced in a half day, so this is perfect for later in your week when the kids are starting to experience theme park fatigue.