Saturday, October 30, 2021

Trip Planning Guide To Walt Disney World


 If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World, there are a few major costs that you will have to consider when deciding when to go, where to stay and much more.  Here are a few threads on the biggest decisions that come with planning a trip.

How Are The Disney And Universal Experiences Different?


We all love Walt Disney World.  At least, I assume you do if you’re reading this, and I know I do as I’m writing it.  They’re the pinnacle of theme park design in this country, if not the world.  They’re bigger than anyone else, they make more money than anyone else, and they’ve created higher standards for themselves by their commitment to guest service over the years.  If you think “theme park industry”, you think Disney.


And with great power comes great responsibility (which is a phrase I just made up – don’t bothering Googling it).  Disney gets all the coverage in the press, good or bad.  All eyes are on them, even if other companies make similar decisions before Disney does (some of the Covid-era closing/re-opening announcements come to mind).  So it stands to reason that anytime Disney does something that can be considered unpopular among fans, those announcements get magnified in a negative way, on social media (or even mainstream media) and comments on blogs.


The Best And Worst Times To Visit Walt Disney World



When you’re dreaming about a trip to Walt Disney World, one of the first steps in making that dream a reality is to decide when you want to visit.  So many of the other things you need to book (air fare, hotel, etc) have to wait until you know the days that you’re going.  This can be a big decision and not an easy one.  There are many factors at play that can help determine the best time for your trip.  The two largest factors, which will be discussed at length here, are weather and crowds.  Let’s take a look at those.



I don’t think this will come as any surprise to anyone reading this, but Florida can be HOT.  Depending on where you live, an average day in Florida could be considerably hotter than anything that you’re used to. And it’s not just the heat – Florida has one of the most humid climates year round, which makes the heat even more heavy and oppressive.  Combine that with the fact that you’ll be doing a lot of walking around outdoors, and you have a recipe for long, withering days and short tempers.  Perhaps you’re used to the hot weather, or maybe you can stand the heat and don’t see what all the fuss is about.  If that’s the case, you can visit pretty much any time (or at least skip to the crowd section below to fine tune things).  But for the rest of us, we’ll look at Florida at different times of year.


Should You Take Your Kids Out of School For a Trip to WDW?


A topic I see debated frequently when it comes to taking trips to Walt Disney World is whether you should take your kids out of school for your vacation.  In another post, we discussed the best and worst times of year to go to WDW.  Some of the times of year with the lowest crowds are actually during the summers, when children are off from school.  If that’s the case, why would you ever feel the need to pull your kids from school just for a vacation?


Well, part of it comes from the other half of that “best times to go” post – the weather.  If you don’t want to walk around the surface of the sun (aka, central Florida in the summer) or deal with potential hurricanes, you’re probably not going to want to go to Walt Disney World during that time of year.  And while there are other school breaks and such, as discussed in that post, those typically have the highest crowds in any given year.


In fact, the recommendations in that post are all times in which kids WOULD be in school, with low crowds and generally favorable weather.  I generally fall into the category of “so what if the kids miss a little school?” so I’m going to lean heavily on those experiences here.  But as I’ve said before and I’m sure I will again – you know your kids better than I do.  Perhaps for some people, kids missing time from school is a deal breaker and not worth the hassle.  And for others, they know their kids are quick learners and can make up the work they’ll miss with ease.  Both sides have validity here.


Can You Really "Do It All" at Walt Disney World?


A common question I see regarding Walt Disney World vacations is, “How long does it take to do everything?”  I’m always tempted to answer something like, “I’m not sure anyone’s EVER done EVERYTHING” but that sounds negative and discouraging.  Truly, though, Walt Disney World is a vast resort, encompassing theme parks, water parks, resort hotels, restaurants, golf courses … the list goes on.  Think about trying to eat every dish served at every eatery throughout the resort – it would take many months if not years, and while some people have made careers out of such endeavors, the average vacationing guest can only sample a small fraction of them.


When that question gets asked, the person asking is usually referring to only the attractions and such in the theme parks.  Most average guests aren’t going to care that they’re serving a new sandwich at Tortuga Tavern (though maybe they should).  So the parks and their attractions are what we’re going to focus on in this post.


Is Epcot Worth Visiting With Kids?

One of the most common questions I get asked when talking to people about Walt Disney World is “I have kids – should we skip Epcot?”  There is a common misconception that Epcot is only for “adults” (and I use this term loosely here, because when you’re at Walt Disney World, even the adults feel like kids) and that kids would be bored there.  Let’s take a look at what Epcot has to offer and see whether this kind of thinking holds up.


My caveat here (and anytime a post on this site talks about kids) is that everyone is different.  You certainly know your kids more than I do, so you would probably be able to know whether Epcot holds any value to you on a trip.  I guess I’ll spoil the ending, but for me personally, my two kids (now 11 and 8) LOVE Epcot.  My daughter told me it’s her favorite of the four parks.  We seem to have developed a tradition of using our half day on arrival day to get in some Epcot time.  So while I’m not trying to convince you to be like me (certainly not a great idea!), that’s been my experience.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

What Type of Ticket Do You Need at Walt Disney World?


When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, your three largest expenses will be park tickets, hotel/resort costs and food and entertainment (if you don’t live locally, airline tickets would be a fourth big expense, but we’re likely not going to cover that here).  In this post, we want to take a look at one of these things – specifically, park tickets.


There are a lot of options for purchasing Walt Disney World park tickets.  For the sake of this post, we’re going to assume that you’re not a member of the military (though you can find more information on discounted tickets here and that you aren’t interested in an annual pass (but if you purchase regular daily tickets and find that you just can’t get enough Disney, these can be upgraded to annual passes – see this page for more information.


With those out of the way, that basically leaves you with three ticket options – one park per day tickets, park hopper or park hopper plus.  We’ll take a look at all of these options below.


Should You Stay On or Off Property at Walt Disney World?


There are a few main expenses when planning a Disney trip – we touched on ticket type in an earlier post.  The biggest and possibly most expensive decision to make when you decide to take a Disney vacation is where to stay.  We’ll talk about some of your options below but as always, this isn’t a one size fits all situation and you have to make the choice that makes the most sense for you and your family.


One thing of note – I’ll mostly be talking about a booking for one room, as opposed to a larger party that would require something much more vast and expensive.  Chances are, if you need a villa on Disney property (or multiple rooms), the much more cost effective option would be renting a nearby house via Airbnb or VRBO.  Since that’s generally out of my realm of experience, though, that can be something you look at with your group and decide your best course of action.


Essentially your choice of hotel or resort for a Walt Disney World vacation comes down to a simple question – on property or off property? I say “simple” but it actually can be quite complicated, considering all of the factors that go into the decision.  We’ll discuss some of those here.

Happily Ever After - The last great nighttime spectacular?




To kick off Walt Disney World’s Most Magical Celebration for their 50th Anniversary, two new nighttime spectaculars opened the same day, October 1 – Disney Enchantment in the Magic Kingdom and Harmonious in Epcot.  The latter was long delayed due to Covid, and though it could have debuted earlier in the year, Disney made the choice to unveil it the same day as their new Magic Kingdom show, presumably to draw some crowds away from their flagship park on what would be one of the busiest days in recent memory.


The debuts of these new shows were livestreamed on the official Disney Parks Blog YouTube channel and can still be seen anytime here and here respectively (those links aren't the “official” ones anymore – they seem to have disappeared into the recesses of the internet.  But you get the idea).  Since I wasn’t fortunate enough to be in the parks for the celebration, I eagerly awaited these sneak peeks when their aired.  And while I consider both “good not great,” I was hoping for much more.


That got me thinking about Happily Ever After, which was the nighttime spectacular that Enchantment replaced at the Magic Kingdom.  Happily Ever After was something of a white whale for me over the last few years.  When we first took our children in 2018, we opted not to stay and watch it on the nights we were at the Magic Kingdom – this was a mistake that I have long regretted!  Our reasoning was that they were young and staying up late all week after running around the parks each day. We had also planned to see the shows at Epcot and Hollywood Studios and I thought that too many of these would be overkill. 


To all who come to this happy place, welcome!



Hello there!  I've been thinking about starting a Disney blog for a while now and finally took the plunge.  I have park by park strategies, specific tips, commentary, etc.  I've always had a love of Disney but taking our children for the first time a few years ago and seeing it through their eyes as they saw it for the first time really reinforced that love in me.  We are a "Disney family" as my kids say and in large part, that's why WDW has become such a major part of my life in recent years.


I'm not sure what this blog will ultimately become but I have a lot of ideas and can't wait to see what this will become.  If you have anything specific you want me to discuss here, please drop me a line and let me know!

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