No matter whether you’re planning a vacation to Walt Disney World or to one of the international parks like Tokyo Disneyland, here are five things you should know before booking a Disney vacation.
This may seem fairly obvious, but you would be surprised how many people book their Disney vacation on the fly and then get disappointed by many aspects. Buy a guidebook, join some of the Disney Facebook groups, and look online at the Disney "Mom’s Panel" for invaluable tips. Considering a travel agent? If you find a specialized Disney travel planning agency, you’re in good hands as they are Disney lovers themselves, and great at ensuring you get the best deal and even a few perks you might not have expected. Also, travel insurance is certainly advisable, especially for vacations to Walt Disney World during hurricane season, or Hong Kong and Japan Disney in the late summer or early fall, as typhoon season can affect travel in the region.
Especially when it comes to planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll want to book as far ahead as possible. Check crowd calculators and websites for the busiest times, but if you can book 8-12 months in advance, it will be worth it. Many aspects, especially when it comes to a Walt Disney World vacation, are booked out months ahead of time. Dining reservations and even FastPasses are things that can be booked ahead of time
As mentioned above, dining reservations at Walt Disney World can be made months in advance, and many of the more popular sit down restaurant reservations are snapped up the day they become available. Disneyland also offers some online dining reservations as well. For the international parks, you may find reservations can only be made in advance if you’re a resort hotel guest. The Disney dining plans are worth checking out if you plan to eat all your meals in the theme parks. The standard plan can often save you a lot of money.
It’s worth weighing the pros versus the expense of booking an official Disney resort hotel, especially at Walt Disney World which offers a wide range of lodging options, from budget-friendly to luxurious villas. Booking a value resort in Orlando is worth it if you’re flying in. Even budget hotels qualify for the free Magical Express transport service. If you don’t plan on renting a car during your trip, this service is invaluable – especially upon check out. If your flight is not too early or late, you can check your luggage right on property before you hop on the bus to head to the airport. Other perks include transport between the hotel and the theme parks, early entry access, advance reservations and more.
As security concerns grow, Disney has revised some of its guidelines. Security has been tightened, so expect lengthy lines as you enter the parks in the United States and around the world. There are now metal detectors, and some guests will be randomly selected for secondary screenings. One of the biggest changes is that no costumes are allowed for guests 14 and over – this includes at the Disney marathon events, which has not been necessarily well-received. Other recent changes include the banning of selfie sticks, or telescoping poles. If you try to sneak one in, expect to throw it out or have to go back to your hotel, which is not the best way to start your day at the Happiest Place on Earth!
What are some of your best Disney travel tips?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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