We're Going to Walt Disney World!


I am so excited to talk about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.  It is such a big trip for us, travelling all the way from the UK, we're going for two weeks and we're celebrating my big birthday while we're there.  My husband and I have been once before (back in 2004) but the children have never been.  Planning a trip like this has been huge, we actually started planning shortly after we got back from our trip to Disneyland Paris last January.  So I thought I would share a bit of the planning process for anyone else who is preparing for a big trip to Walt Disney World.

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Here's an overview of our planning, then I will write more detailed posts about the specifics later.  Please do comment on this post or contact me on social media if you have any questions.

1 Year (or more) Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • Start thinking about where you would like to stay (at a Disney resort, a hotel outside Disney or a villa outside Disney)
  • Look into different ways of booking (would you prefer to book everything as a package or book individually)
  • Look into car hire (are you happy to stay at Disney and use their transportation the whole time or would you like the freedom to drive around and explore a bit?)
  • Look into the best way to book park tickets (this can be done direct through Disney, or through a third party which may have a better deal, like Attraction Tickets (affiliate link) which often offer extra benefits)
  • Decide if you are going to get the dining plan (or if it is offered free with your booking)
  • Join one of the Disney World Facebook groups for loads of hints and tips (I like Disney World Florida for Brits and Disney and Orlando for Brits)
We stayed at Pop Century, a value resort, back in 2004

We decided that we would like to stay for part of the time at Disney World in one of their resorts for the full Disney experience and part of the time at a villa to be able to relax a little bit more.  For the resort there are three different levels at Disney, there is value, moderate and deluxe resorts.  I personally love the value resorts because the theming is so over the top and it just screams Disney!  So we have gone for the newest value resort, Art of Animation and we'll be staying in a Little Mermaid themed room, I can't wait!  And we used Airbnb to find a villa for the rest of our stay.

We booked everything separately as we found that it would be more cost efficient that way (although it's definitely more convenient to book a package).  We were then able to look into different airlines and even different arrival airports.  Again flying directly into Orlando is the most convenient, but because we knew that we would be hiring a car we were able to save a bit by flying into Tampa and driving about an hour to Orlando.

Six Months (180 days) Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • Book dining reservations for any character meals or any other table service meals
  • Make sure that your passports are up to date and apply for ESTAs to be able to travel into the USA
We had only one character meal for our last trip, at Crystal Palace, breakfast with the Winnie the Pooh characters
We have decided that because the Disney dining plan is not offered for free while we are there that it wouldn't be our best option to pay for it.  The research that I have done seems to say that it is a lot of food, so we would prefer to just eat when we're hungry and not have too many restaurant reservations.

That means that we didn't need to book many restaurants in advance, but we would like a few character meals and nice dinners so we opted for Trattoria al Forno for breakfast (with Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric) one morning, then Ohana for breakfast (with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto) on another morning.  We've also got a dinner booked at Le Cellier, which is the Canadian restaurant in Epcot.

Four Months Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • Plan your days:
    • which parks do you want to go to on different days?
    • when are you going to have rest days?
    • which quick service restaurants look good?
    • what do you want to wear each day?
    • where else would you like to visit in Florida?
    • what other travel essentials do you need?
Back in 2004 there was a big Sorcerer Mickey hat in the Studios Park (then MGM now Hollywood) but it's gone now

This is when the planning really begins!  We already had a bit of an idea which parks we would visit on which days (although all of that might change with the booking of the Fastpasses) but now we're watching loads of YouTube videos and making lists of all of the rides and snacks that we want. 

The Youtube accounts that we love for Disney planning videos are Disney Food Blog, AllEars.Net and The Tim Tracker.  We also love watching some UK families and their trips to Disney World like Brummy Mummy of 2, Knappily Ever After, Charlotte in Wonderland and MummyDaddyMe.

I am also trying to prepare for our trip by going through our clothes and buying any new pieces to make our outfits more fun and Disneyfied.  We are also buying some other travel essentials so that we won't have to pay more for items at the parks.  You can read more about our Best Buys when Preparing for a Trip to Walt Disney World (coming soon).

Two Months (60 days) Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts you can now book Fastpasses for the rides and attractions
Splash Mountain, always a must!

One Month (30 days) Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • If you are not staying at a Disney resort you can now book Fastpasses for the rides and attractions

Two Weeks Before your trip to Walt Disney World

  • Start packing (if you haven't already!) and making sure that you have everything that you will need for your trip
  • Choose your Magic Bands (if you are staying at a Disney resort)
  • Download all of the Disney World apps to your phone
Here I was, back in 2004, in front of the castle
I have started putting some things aside to pack, as I mentioned, but I'm sure that it will all be packed a good few weeks before we go as we'll all just be so excited!  

I have already got the My Disney Experience app on my phone as that is helpful for dining reservations and fastpasses.  There is also a Play Disney app with interactive games that you can play in the queues, so that's another great one to download!

We can not wait until our trip to Walt Disney World!  But we've still got some more planning to do, so I'm sure that there will be plenty more posts!  And please do leave us some suggestions if you've been before, and feel free to ask questions if you are also looking at planning a trip as well.

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