How To Plan A Trip To Walt Disney World

Kelly Turnock on 31 May 2017
Have you always wanted to visit Disney World but just didn’t know where to start? Planning your trip can be a little daunting for first-time visitors and a fair amount of planning is involved to get the most out of your days, but once you know what you are doing, it is a truly unforgettable experience for the whole family.

I have been lucky enough to visit Disney Resorts as a child (and as an adult too) but I don’t think anything will come close to the feeling of taking my own children to this magical world and seeing their faces light up when they get to meet their favourite Disney characters for the very first time!

My planning has started for our first family trip so I understand how confusing it can all seem. With this in mind I thought I would share some helpful hints and tips I have come across along the way.

The first things to think about are:

- Would you like to spend your whole holiday immersed in the magic of Disney, or would you like to combine it with some time relaxing at one of Florida’s beautiful beach resorts? Twin centre holidays are very popular in this area, providing an action packed first week followed by a week of ‘R & R’ somewhere like St Petersburg, Sarasota, Naples, Miami or The Keys, to name a few.

- Flights are released 11 months in advance by the airlines so if you are looking to travel during school holidays, try to book flights as soon as they become available to get the best fare.

- Decide what type of accommodation will suit you. Would you like a home from home experience staying in a villa, a hotel in Kissimmee or would you prefer to be at the centre of the action in a Disney Hotel?

- Would you like to hire a car to give yourselves the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace?

- How many parks do you want to visit? This will help you work out which ticket would be the best value.

Below are some top tips when visiting the parks:

- The Attractions to get a fast pass for to save your sanity: Splash Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania, Test Track, Soarin, Rockin Roller Coaster, Kilimanjaro Safaris.

- Fast passes go very quickly at Toy Story Mania and Soarin so get there early. Take advantage of the single rider’s line at Rockin Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest and Test Track. The line is usually short with hardly any wait.

- If you don’t have a huge appetite, buy kids meals at the parks. They're much cheaper and the food amount is not much less than that of an adult meal.

- Download and familiarise yourself with the parks map before you arrive. It saves time, confusion and your fellow guests will appreciate you knowing where you are going.

- When Park hopping, park at Magic Kingdom and use the monorail or one of the buses to go to one of the other three parks first then once the other parks are closed you can hop on a bus or monorail back to Magic Kingdom and enjoy.

Two of my friends and their families have visited Disney recently, and have been kind enough to share a little about their holidays and some top tips to keep in mind:

Laura Kirschner and her family visited Orlando and managed to fit in the following parks within their 2 week holiday – Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Blizzard Beach, Busch Gardens, Epcot, Discovery Cove, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Hollywood Studios & Sea World.

Laura says, “The biggest tip I would give is to plan everything. We had to swap a few things around due to weather or tired kids but managed to fit it all in. If you haven’t got time for rest days in between, maybe have a water park day instead. We stayed in a hotel and hired a car but I think next time we would stay in a villa to give us a bit more space and a chance to chill out at the end of the day”

Laura highly recommends purchasing the Disney Memory Maker. This is an incredible new way to enjoy unlimited digital Disney ‘Photo Pass’ photos captured at hundreds of locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort to get your park photos straight to your phone app.

Victoria Hunter has just returned from a 2 week family holiday in Orlando and shared some fab tips for others wishing to visit:

- Download the Disney World app - it shows your photos, dining reservations, fast passes and lets you see ride wait times. If you can get park tickets with Memory Maker - you then get unlimited ride and photo pass photographer pictures. When using the Disney Memory Maker, ask for magic or special photos and they'll add a little bit of Disney magic to the photo.

- If you're on a budget, stock up on snacks at a local store rather than buy at Disney as snacks can be pricey.

- Make the most of your fast passes. You get 3 per day per person and you can use the Disney World app to book them up to 30 days in advance if you're staying off site, or 60 days in advance if you're staying at a Disneyworld resort hotel. These enable you to skip the long main lines for the big rides. As soon as you've checked into your third ride use the app to book your one additional fast pass.

- Dining reservations can be booked up to 6 months in advance. The ever-popular Cinderella's Royal Table and Be Our Guest Restaurants fill up very quickly. For any Disney Princess obsessed child Cinderella's Royal Table is, in my view, well worth the price tag due to the number of princesses you'll get to meet.

- Consider taking a pushchair for under 4 year olds even if you no longer use one at home. There is a lot of walking and it also offers shade from the sun. There are lots of stroller rental companies that will deliver your stroller straight to the door of your hotel or villa (we used Kingdom strollers).

- We stayed in a villa as loved the flexibility of a morning by the pool then afternoon and evening in the parks. Spending all day every day in the parks would have been too much for us.

- The Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios is amazing – I'd consider it a must see. This is a night time show that features fireworks, characters, live actors, water effects, pyrotechnics, lasers, music, audio-animatronics, decorated boat floats, and mist screen projections.

No matter whether you are young or old, everyone loves a bit of Disney magic so get involved and make it a holiday to remember!