4 Critical Steps To Planning A Disney Vacation
Where to start can be a challenge!
Once you've decided that you are going to take a Disney vacation, you can sometimes get overwhelmed with how to start all the planning for it. Where to start can be a challenge specially if it's your first time going to a Disney destination. I've been planning my family vacations for years and I really love it. I consider the planning stages part of the fun and anticipation of the vacation itself. Not everybody shares that feeling and it can be frustrating. So I put together what I think will be the 4 critical steps you need to consider to get started. Of course, there are many more steps than 4, but these are the ones you have to consider before you get down to the real details.
- Where are we going?
- When are we going?
- How long will we stay?
- What is my budget?
This step might sound silly, but Disney has many destinations and so you need to decide which one. This will also help you determine Step 3, but for now pick which location: Disneyland California, Walt Disney Resort in Florida, Aulani Resort in Hawaii, Disney Cruise, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Tokyo, and all the Adventures By Disney destinations. What you and your family want to get out of your vacation is the most important decision you will make. Consider if you have kids and their ages to help determine if your family is right for this location or not. We always assume that anything Disney will be suitable for kids, and for the most part it is. However, since Disney also considers adults in their quest to create a magical vacation, there are destinations that might appeal more to adults (with or without kids) and older children, than toddlers and younger children. If you are struggling with how to make your decision, the Disney Travel Company is very helpful or you can consult a Travel Agent or a (free) travel planner. I certainly welcome comments and questions and will be happy to help with any of these steps.
Once you've decided where you are going, then you need to determine when you can go. Typically families with kids in school have to work around school vacations. If your kids are pre-school age you can go just about anytime of the year. I highly recommend going in the off-season if you don't have kids or they are pre-school age. Rates are lower, weather is milder, and it's much less crowded. The peak seasons run with the school calendar: summer, holidays, and Spring Break. However, you will still experience the Disney magic no matter what time of year you go. Don't be afraid of the summer heat in Florida, the Disney resort pools are awesome. We love to take an afternoon break from the parks to head back to the resort for a swim and then get back to the parks in the evenings.
The length of your vacation might already be determined depending on vacation time off you have with your job or the kids being out of school. The available time limit you have might also determine where you will go and will you have enough time off to make the trip, specially if you are driving to your destination. This might not be a factor if you are flying. Most vacations range for 4 to 7 days. The destination may require more time if you want to get the full experience. You could easily have plenty of time to visit Disneyland in 3 days plus driving time. Whereas Walt Disney World, having 4 parks instead of just 2, would require a longer stay. I never stay less than 6-7 nights at WDW but you could manage it in 5-6 nights. Visiting 4 parks in 4 days can be done, but consider in the age of your kids and how reasonable that might be. While the kids were toddlers we would do 2 parks, rest a day, and then do 2 more parks. As the kids get older, we can go longer days and they don't get as tired. Once you decide where you are going, then you can factor in how many days you will need.
Sometimes it's hard to determine your budget for a vacation until you know what your vacation package will run. There are so many options for any size budget. so planning ahead and checking prices will keep you within that budget. If you know what your limits are, you can research what's available in your price range long before you are ready to book. If you get too overwhelmed with all the decisions, you can always call the Disney Travel Company, tell them what your budget is and they can help you find the perfect vacation. If you know what your set budget is and you are afraid you might go over it with all the extras, then you might consider a cruise. They are all-inclusive and there's very little extra you will need. One thing to remember, when you book you only have to make a deposit, which is usually around $200. Then the remaining balance doesn't have to be paid off until 30 days before your arrival. However, if your package includes airfare, the airfare has to be paid when you book, so your deposit would be the cost of the airfare plus $200. Cruise deposits might run a little higher.
I hope this has shed some light on how to get started planning your Disney vacation. Remember this is just the initial steps to consider before you book your reservations. A Disney vacation can and should be a very magical memorable vacation and all the planning and research will insure that you achieve that. No matter which destinations you choose, there is a wealth of information and resources at your fingertips. Also remember that I have been doing this for years and have a lot of experience planning Disney vacations. Please comment if you have questions or just want to add something to the information provided here.