Everyone has their own preferred methods of travel. What I may prefer may not be how others like to travel. Here are a few suggestions of how I like to travel to Walt Disney World and what I found to be popular with other people as well. This will give everyone the important information you need to make an informative decision based on your own personal preference for your next vacation to Walt Disney World.
10. Drive to Disney--For those who are lucky enough to live close enough to drive, that saves money and allows you to frequent Walt Disney World! For those who could drive, but are far enough away where flying is an option, the decision can be more difficult.
- Driving positives: pack what you want without TSA/airline restrictions; will avoid having to rely on Disney buses for transportation; it's easier and quicker to walk back to your car for a quick bite/drink out of your cooler in the parking lot rather than a bus ride to your resort; you can drive off Disney property for something less expensive to eat or go to the grocery store.
- Driving negatives: Resort parking fee (DVC members excluded). Theme park parking fees (certain criteria allows free parking), the long, daunting walk to/from the parking lots to the theme park or have to wait for the Disney ride to/from the parking lot to the theme park; takes much longer to drive to Walt Disney World than to fly adding more vacation time, possibly crabby passengers, more meals to pay for, bathroom breaks, etc. Then, after you're exhausted from your time at Disney, you have to drive all the way back home.
9. Fly to Disney--While you will not have the freedom to drive off Disney grounds when you want and will need to rely on Disney transportation to get around, Disney really makes the "flying in" experience as seamless as possible. Yes, you will have airline luggage restrictions or you could just pay more for the overweight bags. There are no bending the TSA rules, but a quick flight to Orlando and jumping on a free Disney Magical Express without having to wait for my luggage has my vote! No need to bring the GPS, stop for gas, wait for a rental car and luggage, etc. Just let the Magical Coach bring you directly to your resort. Just be sure to carry all necessary meds or items needed for a few hours until your luggage is in your room. Your carry-on luggage can be stored with Bell Services so you can head out to the parks until your room is ready!
8. Beverages--Like I said in "9 Free Items at Walt Disney World", water is free at any quick service restaurant. You can carry a bottle of water/juice/soda or the refillable mugs and refill at a bubblah (aka water fountain), but if you don't have a stroller, wheelchair or a backpack to hold bottles (with caps to avoid a mess in your bags) then don't worry about carrying it. How will you enjoy yourself on the rides if you're holding mugs or bottles?! Just go to a quick service restaurant and ask for a cup of water.
7. Cell phones/meeting place--I'm sure EVERYONE has a cell phone to get in touch with others in your vacation party, but batteries die, phones get lost, people get (inadvertently) separated, etc. Set up a time and place to touch base in person, just in case. Have a plan ready for when others are separated by accident. Example: Wait 15 minutes in current location. If not there, meet at the baby care center. For young children, finding a cast member is best so they don't get scared. Lost children whose parents cannot be found will be brought to the baby care center by a cast member. While I haven't had to do this, it sounds like meeting at the baby care center is best when children are involved. How about making your own bracelet for your child to wear or an ID card that has your contact information?
6. Luggage/Bags--Don't forget to pack the very important stuff that you can't live without and would have difficulty replacing while at Disney. For instance, forgot a sweatshirt? That's ok.You can buy one at Disney. Forgot the sunscreen? That's ok. Disney has that, too, but you're going to pay top dollar for it! Forgot your medications? That's somewhat ok. Ugh!
I'll never make that mistake, again! As I said in "Random Tips", there is a way to get medications delivered to Disney that you forgot, but it's time consuming and costly. You have to find a pharmacy that carries your medication (Yes, I had that problem. One of my husband's medications was not carried at 3 pharmacies!), call your doctor to have them call in prescription, which won't be covered under insurance, because the insurance company says you already have the proper amount of medications needed, but they are AT HOME; Don't forget about the delivery fee! Plus, if it's on the weekend or after hours, you have to wait for the doctor to call back. Do you want to waste your day and not go on rides or see shows waiting for that call back so you don't miss the call?
5. Weather--coinciding with #6, pack accordingly. It may be 20 degrees at home, but it's probably in the 90's in Florida depending on the time of year. Oh, wait, the forecast just changed and now it will be in the 60's a couple days and 40's at night. Checking the weather forecast is the best thing you can do a couple days before you are expected to fly down to Walt Disney World.
4. Listen to your body--Don't allow your body to get to the point when you're listening to it that you're thirsty, because you should already be drinking lots of water before you get to that point. Feet aching? Sit down and rest. Back aching? Sit down and rest. Muscles cramping? Sit down and rest. Walt Disney World is a very, VERY large resort. You will, easily, walk 8-20 miles per day. That's without backtracking, too! Wear very comfortable shoes, but even with the best shoes, you still need to rest.....even if it's for 5-10 minutes.
3. Itinerary--It's best to figure out the basics of your days. What parks are more important to you to spend the most time at? Can you split 2 parks into one day? Start with the basics, but don't have it etched in stone until you nail down # 2 on this list. Almost all of my days changed, because of where I was able to get dining reservations on certain days, but I still kept the basics in the back of my head when revising my itinerary. Then, you'll be able to book your fastpasses on certain days 30-60 days in advance and be able to see if you can take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours".
2. Dining reservations--This is so, so, so, so important. It doesn't matter what time of year you are going to Walt Disney World. In order to dine at some of the best restaurants you heard so much about, you need to start the process, if at all possible, 180 days out from 1st checkin date. This is where I will refer you to the page "7 Tips To Successful Dining Reservations".
1. Disney Resorts--It's no secret that Disney is expensive, but staying in a Disney resort does have benefits that you can't get if you stay off Disney property. Plus, with the extras you have to pay for staying off property, how much is the difference? Plus, look at Walt Disney World's site for specials. There may be discounts offered during the times you want to go. Here are some negatives to staying off Disney property:
- Can't take free ride on Magical Express from airport
- Must rent a car if flying into Florida
- Can't take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours"
- When parks are almost hitting capacity, anyone not staying in a Disney resort are first not to be allowed in the park.
- Can't book fastpasses more than 30 days out of checkin date.
- MagicBands are not free
- Disney Dining Plans are not available for purchase or free when offered during certain special dates (See Disney Dining Plan Helpful Information for more information).
- Won't be able to enjoy the special Disney resort entertainment.
- Won't be able to use Disney's free transportation.
Some people prefer to stay off property, because it saves them money. How much money? I don't know, but based on my experience, the difference is minimal unless your staff off property is free, because you're staying at a friend's house or something. If you need help cutting costs, go to "How To Go To WDW On A Very Low Budget" for some useful tips.