Friday, September 13, 2013

Planning your first trip to Disney World!

Hi everyone!

I want to start out by saying that I am no expert on Disney World, as we have only went one time.
However, I have some "real life" friends and family that have asked me to blog about how we booked our trip and the choices we made.  So, here ya go!

We are a family of five, and a one income family.  I stay home, while the husband is in the Army.  So keeping a budget is very important to us.  I never thought going to Disney would be possible, but once I started planning it, I got really excited.

First, you need to decide how long you want to stay.  We chose a 4 day trip, with a park hopper option.  Honestly, we originally chose this because we were able to get our tickets through Disney's Military program, at a huge discount.
At Walt Disney World Resort – from August 12, 2013, through September 24, 2014, active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses can purchase:
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $169 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option for $169 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $198 each, plus tax

When it comes to regular ticket prices, those are $338.  I can also tell you children younger than 10 can have a child ticket which is $290 each.

Now that we have been on our trip, I can tell you it was perfect for us!  We were able to see all of the "main parks" for one full day, and even had the option to go back to the other parks for the night if we wanted.  We did not take advantage of that, though.  After a full day of walking and riding, we were ready for the rest at night.  So if you are not "Disney fanatics", be comfortable doing to 4 day ticket.  You will get to see everything you want, I promise!  Now, if you are like my sister and her family, they could stay there two weeks and be fine.  HA.  So you may want to look into a longer stay.  :)

My sister and her family also went with us.  Through her research, I can tell you that booking through Disney  is the best way to go.  Disney can tell you all of their current promotions, their rules on things (dining plans, room booking, and so on), and will also even tell you ways to save money if there are promotions coming up that you would be able to utilize.

Second would be picking where you will stay.

We know people who will only stay on Disney property, and people who will only stay off Disney property.  If you are looking for convenience, stay on property.  All on property hotels have buses that run every 10 minutes or so.  Each park has it's own buses that run from the parks to the hotel and back all day long.  The buses pick you up a the front of each hotel, and drop you off at the front of each park.  So you don't have to worry about walking a mile from the parking lot just to get into the parks before you walk all day there as well.  Sometimes, the buses will be packed and you may have to stand and hold on to the railings, but sometimes you are lucky and they are completely empty.  To me, it was so nice not having to worry about loading up our car every time we wanted to go somewhere.  It was nice being able to send my dad back to the hotel a few hours early one day because he was tired, and the rest of us not having to pack up and leave with him.  And I'm not going to lie.  Disney property is CONFUSING.  It is HUGE.  And our gps got us lost more than once when we were trying to get to our hotel.   So, I recommend staying on property if you want it to be no hassle.

Let's talk about hotels!

Military are able to stay in the Military hotel, Shades of Green.  However, after checking prices, Disney's Value Resorts are a better price.  Yes, the amenities, and layout, and "offers" of the hotel's are different based on prices.  But if you are wanting the Disney experience without breaking the bank, don't be scared to use the Value Resorts.  We paid only $90 a night at Disney's Pop Century Resort, and it was nice.  Pop Century Resort had three separate swimming pools, dinning area, shop, arcade, refrigerators in room, and all of the other "normal" room things.

The room was clean.  The beds were comfy. And they sent someone to my parents room at 11pm on the first night we were there because their air wasn't working, and they fixed it.  They take care of their guests like any other hotel will.  We were all very impressed with the Value Resort hotel, and we saved some money choosing it.

Ok!  I think that's all I will cover today.  Next week I will talk about the Dining Plan. To choose or not to choose.  :)

Have you been to Disney?  What did you decide to do?  Share your story in the comments so we can learn from one another.  

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