The magic of Disney will set a new level of detail and service in your life.  Most people consider Disney is something done with kids, but the amenities provided keep me going back as an adult without kids.  If you haven’t been to Disney before and you are planning to go, you’re in for a treat.  As a first timer, there are things you should know:

  • Don’t plan to “see everything” because there is just too much.  You will probably be overwhelmed the first time.  Have a relaxed touring plan and don’t feel pressured to do everything.  As an example, there are over 300 dining outlets and and the Animal Kingdom consists of about 435 acres!  You’ll be talking about what you want to do next time on the ride home.
  • Chose a resort that appeals to you and that you can afford.  Value resorts are a little more crowded, a little further away from the parks and the rooms are a little smaller.  Moderate resorts are have a little larger rooms, more amenities, such as table service restaurants.  Deluxe resorts have more up-scale options, prime locations and better pools.
  • There really isn’t a “slow time” anymore.  The last crowded time is probably in September after school starts up, but it keeps getting busier every year.
  • We prefer to stay at a Disney resort.  Disney aims to please and we like being in the Disney “bubble”.  Perks of having the Magical Express and bus transportation are something that we enjoy.  You also get extra time at the parks and the ability to have packages delivered to your room.  After you factor in the fact you don’t have to rent a car, pay tolls, worry about driving/directions/parking and other things, the room rate isn’t that bad.
  • Disney isn’t cheap.  You can save money with some tips and techniques, but it still can be pricey.  On the flip side, the parks are clean, the cast members are friendly and the level of service provided is noticeable.
  • Saving money sometimes costs money.  For instance, a prepaid “Memory Maker” photo package costs $149 if purchased in advance.  An individual photo costs $16.95. Photopass photographers in every park and photo opportunities are ample – especially if you are staying more than 5 or 6 days.  This is probably a worthwhile option as a remembrance of your first trip.
  • Restaurant reservations open up 180 days in advance.  Most people are jumping on reservations at that time.  If character meals are something that you are interested in, have a plan well before then and be ready to make the reservations at 180 days.
  • Disney has such a huge following, you will find pros/cons to almost everything.  For instance, Disney transportation.  Disney has an internal bus system that is complementary.  We find it adequate to get us where we need to go, but others will disagree.  It all depends on your plan, what you expect and how much in control you want to be.
  • To have an effective plan, you should conduct a self-assessment of your family.  Do you want extra resort/pool time, afternoon breaks, early morning starts or late nights.  That will help you plan a trip without being what the late comedian John Pinette coined the “Epcot Death March”.
  • Helpful sites/publications include: Touring Plans, and WDW Prep School.
  • Tom Bricker also has excellent content at the Disney Tourist Blog

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