12 Magical Resources to Help You Plan Your Family’s Disney World Vacation
Many U.S. parents (who are fortunate enough to have such concerns) see the family trip to The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as a childhood rite of passage—a must-do (at least once) for their children.
These are parents who grew up watching Disney movies and recall their childhood trips to Disney World as some of their fondest memories. Or, on the other hand, perhaps they always wished to go to Disney World but didn’t and now want to experience this for the first time with their children.
Additionally, their parents remember the original Mickey Mouse Club, when Disneyland first opened in California on July 17, 1955:
and when Disney World opened on Oct. 1, 1971:
and looked up to Walt Disney himself. They often want to experience “the magic” with their grandchildren as well.
I realize some readers might find themselves rolling their eyes at this point. If that’s you, this article’s just going to get more, shall we say, magical, so you might want to cut your losses.
If, however, any of the above sounds familiar and you watched any of those videos with a big, goofy (eh hem) grin on your face, then let’s “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to the good stuff.
(Hey, can’t say I didn’t warn you, eye rollers.)
So, maybe you’re thinking of planning your family’s Disney World vacation. Maybe you’re thinking of thinking of planning a trip to Disney World.
A quick trip around the Internet and you’ll soon see that the fandemonium stretches far beyond a healthy appreciation for Mickey Mouse. The wealth of information and enthusiasm on the topic could fill an amusement park!
Not to worry. Here are 12 resources you can use to decide if Walt Disney World is in your family’s future:
First Things First
First, you’ll want to head to the official Walt Disney World Website.
Blew your mind with that one, huh?
Truth is, Disney World does an excellent job of presenting its options online.
While you’re there, it’s worth it to create an account. Your activity will be remembered each time you come back and you’ll enjoy emailed promotions and discounts, including the possibility of exclusive pin codes that offer discounts above and beyond the current deals.
You can price out your vacation ideas online, explore on-property resorts, and learn all that Disney World has to offer. If you wish you can also request a free planning DVD.
This is also be a good time to download the My Disney Experience app on your smart phone. Once you’re in the thick of planning, this will make things infinitely easier to manage.
Buy the Book
“The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2016,” by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa, is a thick, all-encompassing, helpful, well organized, behemoth of a read and invaluable. Get it. Reference it often.
Learn from the Gurus
Sarah and Tom Bricker have put together a great site with a lot of “top 10” lists and quick tips to get you started. This is a good introductory site to get you going.
Soon into your Disney World planning journey, you’ll come to the all-too-important subject of food. The Disney Food Blog has got you covered. There are helpful reviews and a boatload of information regarding the Disney Dining Plan.
No one could actually make a career out of their love for Disney, could they? They could if they are Lou Mongello. This website and podcast created and hosted by Mongello is inspiring on many levels. From his personal story, to his obvious enthusiasm and optimism, to his ability to know seemingly everything there is to know about Walt Disney World, Mongello offers all kinds of resources and gives his fans a ton of valuable insights.
This is the blog of Shannon Albert, an uber fan and Disney World connoisseur. Albert’s blog is jam-packed and includes a podcast and helpful videos like this one:
She has a great way of breaking down the overwhelming task of planning a Disney trip into simple, doable steps.
With somewhat of a homemade feel, All Ears is chock full of information and features a YouTube channel as well.
Join the Community
DISboards offers a great collection of discussion boards on all manner of topics from Disney World Weddings, to Teens in Disney World, to really anything you can think of. This is a great place to jump in, learn a lot, and meet others who love Disney too!
Don’t forget Facebook Groups. There are TONS of Facebook Groups centered on Disney World planning. Your best bet is to search Facebook for ones that interest you.
Discounts and Deals
Mousesavers is a great site if saving money is something you’d like to incorporate into your Disney World vacation. There are lots of digestible tips. While here, you’ll want to sign up for the Mousesavers email newsletter. Here you’ll receive discount updates and a link to Undercover Tourist (see below) that grants you a discount to their park ticket discount.
Undercover Tourist is a great way to get your park tickets at a small discount. Use the link from your Mousesavers newsletter that you signed up for above, and your discount will be even greater. The savings aren’t mind-blowing, but, hey, every penny counts.
Another great feature on this site is the crowd calendar. When you’re considering when to visit Disney World, crowds should be a consideration. It can mean the difference between waiting hours in line and walking right onto the most popular rides.
Ready to graduate to advanced level Disney World planning? Please stand clear of the doors. Here we go.
If you’re thinking of staying at any of Disney’s Vacation Club Villas, you may want to consider the idea of renting Disney Vacation Club points. (Disney Vacation Club or DVC is Disney’s timeshare program and members use points to “pay” for their vacations.)
Companies such as DVC Rental Store act as something of a clearing house, brokering deals between the vacationers and DVC members.
While rather unorthodox, you can save a significant amount compared with Disney’s hotel rate for the same rooms. Under such an arrangement, one would be considered a guest of the DVC member. If it’s a consideration for you, be sure to read very thoroughly the details of such agreements.