Disney Planning: Step by Step

When planning a trip to the most magical place on earth, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here I walk you step by step through the process.

  1. The very first thing to decide is when you want to go. That may seem simple, but crowd sizes, special events and change in rate seasons can make or break your visit.

    All things considered, my favorite times to visit is in April and November. Both are slower seasons, and offer special events that are included in admission.

    Crowd calendars can help you gauge crowds. I use this excellent crowd calendar from WDW Prep School.

  2. Once you decide when you are going you need to figure out where to stay. Do you want to stay on or off property? Check out my post on the pros and cons of each. And check out my post on how to find the best deals on hotels
  3. Next you need to figure out how you are getting there – flying or driving? Read more about these options here.
  4. You’ll also need tickets of course, the whole reason for your trip. You can buy them direct from Disney, but there are many other options which can save you a few dollars.
  5. Then you will want to decide on food options. Do you want to do the dining plan? Or you can opt to be more frugal. Character dining should also be considered here, so you save time in the parks doing attractions rather than waiting in line to see a princess. Dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance.
  6. Then you will need to choose which days you are going to which parks and what attractions you want to see – that’s the fun stuff! I know the idea of planning this much sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But, Touring Plans makes it easy. The website allows you to make plans for each day, and using their optimization it will automatically create the best plan for your day. They have plug and play plans for all sorts of visitors including ones for adults and others with families with small children.

    Using their customized plans hand in hand with their lines app, which is more accurate that even Disney’s, I have never waited in line for more than 20 minutes. And it allowed us to pull our last minute trip together without any stress. I really cannot say enough about it. The premium access is $15 well spent.

    This planning can also help you choose your Fastpasses which can be booked 90 days in advance if you are staying on property, or 30 days in advance otherwise.

  7. Add extra magic. If you can do a little something extra I would plan for it. Whether it’s a cake for a special occasion, a visit to the Bibidi Bobidi Boutique, or a special fireworks dessert party, these little upgrades will make your trip even more memorable.

Following these steps will ensure you have a well planned trip to Walt Disney World.

 

Park by Park Character Guide

One of the trickier things to navigate are seeing all of the characters in the parks. No matter what time of day or night you are bound to run into one character or another, but if you have small children (and even if you don’t) and your experience hinges on seeing a particular character, best to make a plan so you make sure that happens.

Kenny the Pirate is the best place for all things characters. His excellent website will direct you to the best place to meet your favorite character and how to spend the least amount of time doing it including a princess touring plan of EPCOT.

Magic Kingdom

There will be characters to greet you at the flagpoles in the morning and you will be tempted to stop – don’t! There will be other opportunities.

Characters:

  • Talking Mickey in Main Street – Only place to meet with talking – see the big guy here
  • TinkerBell in Main Street – Only place to meet. One of our favorite meets as the queue is magical and makes it appear you are shrinking. Tink is a lot of fun too.
  • Alice by the Tea Cups in the morning. Get there early and you may ride with her.
  • Mary Poppins in Liberty Square – Behind the Christmas shop. She was absolutely delightful.
  • Classic Characters in Circus area
  • Merida in her Grove – Only place to meet. She is absolutely fantastic and one of our favorites.
  • Gaston by his tavern – Another absolute favorite. He’s a hoot. 
  • Princess Elena of Avalor and Cinderella in the castle
  • Tiana and Rapunzel in the castle
  • Ariel in her grotto – Only place to meet with her fins
  • Aladdin and Jasmin in Adventureland – Arrive in the morning and you may ride the carpets with them
  • Winnie the Pooh and friends by his ride
  • Stop by Tony’s Italian restaurant in the Main Street area and Lady & Tramp will sign your autograph book

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Vegetarian Options at Walt Disney World

Recently, I had a friend who was looking for inexpensive Vegetarian options in Walt Disney World Resort. Through some sleuthing I came up with the following list. They used it successfully on their visit. Disney menus are changing all the time. For the most up to date information on Vegetarian options visit the Disney Food Blog vegetarian guide.

Snacks and food options in each Disney park

  • Be wary of soups; some contain chicken broth, even if they are labeled “Vegetable” or “Cream”. Ask about ingredients to confirm.
  • While several Chinese dining locations offer meals that sound vegetarian, they are often cooked or served in chicken broth.
  • Garden burgers are available at nearly all burger locations, even if it’s not listed on the menu.

The classics available everywhere: Popcorn, Mickey pretzel, Mickey ice cream bar (dove bar)

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