Disney Vacation Planning
So, you’re thinking about going on a Disney Vacation. Time to surprise the kids and give them that vacation they have been asking for every Christmas and birthday. Now that you’re looking, you’re finding many books and website all looking to help you plan this amazing family vacation, overwhelmed yet? Disneyland, Disney World, and the Disney Cruise line take a good amount of planning to have a successful vacation, and what makes a successful vacation? When you get home you have to be sad you left and feel totally relaxed and rested and ready to get back to your 9 to 5.
The secret to accomplishing this travel nirvana is to plan your vacation in advance. It’s a lot of work, and if you’re like me the planning is the easy part as you really don’t spend any money planning. With the proper budget you are then aware of what you’re spending and you know you won’t break the bank. So, let’s start this.
Disney Cruise Planning – Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
First, you must decide where you’re going (Disneyland, Disney World, or a Disney Cruise) and how you will get there. I usually budget airfare or driving costs. I tend to fly, so I don’t get into the complication of figuring out how much I will be spending on gas, unless I rent a car. If I’m not driving much when I rent that car, I usually figure on one tank of gas. When it comes to insurance for that rental car, check with your credit card company as they usually insure physical damage and theft then check with your regular auto carrier if they cover anything. As I work in insurance, I called to add the vehicle to my personal auto policy and they told me not to bother as it was automatically covered – which made it very easy for me. If you’re going on a Disney Cruise you may also need to figure transportation costs to and from the port. Disney can provide this, and it’s called ground transfers and there is an extra charge.
Disney Cruise Planning – Disney Hotels
The Second part of a Disney Vacation is usually in the accommodations. With a Disney Cruise you buy a package and it would include everything, you just need to decide what kind of room to stay in. If you’re going to Disney World or Disneyland you need to decide if you want to stay in Disney Hotel’s or at some other hotel. Once you decide that there are many levels of accommodations you can choose from. I prefer staying onsite as you do get access to special features staying on property as well as being closer to the magic. You can also buy packages which can include food and tickets.
Disney Cruise Planning – Disney Tickets
Now that we have talked about food and tickets, let’s talk park tickets. You will find that there are many options when buying your tickets depending on which parks you will go to. You can get tickets that are park hoppers (you can go to more than one park a day), you can buy the water parks and more option (for Disney World), and you can buy tickets that never expire. The trick is the more days you buy the better your price is per day, so a no expiration ticket can be well worth the cost. If you go a good amount per year, an annual pass may be your cup of tea. They are the best bang for your buck especially if you live in the area. You can get discount tickets online for both parks, just make sure you watch where you buy them, and never buy them off Ebay.
Disney Cruise Planning – Dining & Food
Now, let’s look at food. I really get into my planning, and since you need to book your dining reservations at 180 days for Disney World, I like to plan even farther. Now, if you’re like me you don’t know where you will eat tonight much less in 180 days. You would think I would hate planning out in this much detail, well your wrong. As many times as I have gone to Disney World I have enjoyed the restaurants I have booked. If you get a package and have the Disney Dining Plan, pay attention to your type of plan and see where you will be going and make sure you have enough points to eat everywhere. If you’re not on the Disney Dining Plan do what I do. Take excel and look at menus. I price out how much per person and get myself an estimate on how much I think I may end up spending.
Disney Cruise Planning – Fun Money
Lastly, you need to plan your ‘other’ expenses. By other this means everything from buying ice cream to merchandise. You should just budget a set amount, but realize Disney is very good at tempting you to spend more. Your ride’s will exit in stores, you will smell amazing foods (like candied almonds), or you will see great items you will want to buy when shopping.
In the end there are many ways to save on all aspects of your vacation, you just need to make sure to research them and plan them out well. The best place to start planning is by reading, there are some good books and some great websites. My personal favorite is mydisneyvacation.us. They tackle a lot of the various items I highlighted here with much more detail. Remember to have fun, relax, and make some amazing memories. Your kids grow up so fast so take it all in but remember it’s all for them.