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How To Plan Your Disney World Vacation

Just like anything else that contains a large amount of information and variables, a Disney World vacation can be organized and carefully planned to make it more manageable. If you’ve never been here before, there are four main theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. There are also two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon plus Disney Springs, which has many different restaurants and shops. You’ll first want to nail down your travel dates, budget and where you want to stay before tackling all of the other details.

Where Should I Stay in Disney World?

If you’re flying into the Orlando International Airport, you’ll have to arrange transportation from there to the park; it’s only about 20 miles. Disney Food Blog posts that there are many different hotels and resorts on the property that are owned and run by Disney, plus others like Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and the Four Seasons Orlando that are not. There are also off-site hotels that can be less expensive but with less amenities, so these are worth looking into if you’re on a budget.

Just make sure that you have an easy way to get to the park and know that you won’t be getting benefits like the Early Theme Park Entry, free transportation to the parks and complimentary parking. For first-time visitors, Mouse Hacking recommends staying for three days at the minimum. They also post that the first of the year through President’s Day weekend is the cheapest time of year to visit Disney, followed by late August/early September.

How to Buy Disney World Tickets

Disney World admission ticket prices don’t usually sell out, but you want to buy them in advance, shortly after your hotel is booked. There are several varieties:

  • Standard: one park visit per day

  • Park Hopper: for visiting multiple parks on one single day (Park Hopper “Plus” lets you add on water park access)

  • Walt Disney World Annual Passes: Similar to Park Hoppers, but good for a whole year

  • Special Event Tickets: These must be purchased separately if you want o attend events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and “after Hours” events. When these are held, the specific park will be closed to anyone not holding one of these tickets.

  • Fastpass/Lightning Lane Tickets: These are purchased in advance for the most popular rides, and allow guests to avoid waiting in super-long lines.

  • Dining Reservations: Visit the Disney Dining page to check availability, order food and make reservations.

You can book a hotel package that includes the tickets, but shop around for deals and discounts first. They also now have the Disney Genie service and Disney Genie+ service, which is part of their My Disney Experience mobile app. This is great for booking restaurant times and activities, and for seeing wait times for popular rides. It also has detailed maps that can help you find your way around the parks.

What Should I Pack for My Disney Trip?

Disney Dose recommends bringing a sturdy, lightweight backpack that’s comfortable enough to wear all day long, but avoid oversized ones that are too cumbersome. If you’re a serious photographer you may want to bring a camera but remember, you’ll have to carry it all day long. Bring extra batteries and chargers for your handheld devices, and remember to plug in those chargers whenever you have access to an outlet.

It does rain in Orlando, so bring a disposable poncho with a hood; it’s much easier than an umbrella unless you can find a well-made small one. Bring plenty of sunscreen and aloe vera; the latter is in case you can sunburn. It’s also a good idea to bring Ziploc bags, for leftover food and anything else that you may need to store. Other things not to forget include hand sanitizer, sunglasses, hats, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, a first-aid kit and most importantly: comfortable shoes!

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