Before you book your Disney
vacation you need to answer several questions.
How much do you want to spend?
How long do I want to be at
Walt Disney World?
What else in Orlando do I want
Where should I stay?
How do I get there?
I stay on a plan or go al la carte? (Special Disney Plans Page)
What type of ticket should I buy?
The Geeks Responses:
1) How much do you want to spend? This
is really one of the most important questions to determine. With
the expansion of WDW in recent years there are options in almost
every price category. You have accommodations ranging from campgrounds
to 5 star resorts. You can dine on hot dogs and hamburgers or on
steak and lobster. You can stay one day or several weeks. You have
a lot of flexibility. So the first thing you want to do is plan
a budget for you and your family. Once you have a budget in mind
it makes other decisions easier to make.
2) How long do I want to be at Walt Disney
World? With four major theme parks, 2 water parks, a night club
area, 5 18-hole golf courses, and several other activities you can
litterly spend weeks at WDW and not see it all. To figure out how
long you want to stay I would suggest working backwards. Meaning
list out everything you want to do and see how many days you come
up with, then start cutting things until you reach a reasonable
time that fits within your budget. As a rule of thumb it takes approximately:
one day to see the Magic Kingdom, 2 days to see EPCOT, 1 day for
the Animal Kingdom, and 1 day for the Studios. In addition to this
you probably want a day to "catch up" and see anything you missed
on your first tour through the parks. So you see its easy to fill
up a week without much effort. We usually go for 6-10 days depending
on what plan we will be going on. This seems to be a comfortable
length of time to take a relaxing tour through the property and
experience quite a bit of resort.
3) What else in Orlando should I see? Well this is really a tough question. Disney World by itself can
suck up more vacation time, energy, and money than the average family
has. We used to spend a couple days and explore other attractions
in Orlando, but with the expansion of Disney World over the past
decade there is more than enough to keep you on property for your
entire trip. If this is a once in a lifetime trip to Orlando, and
you have enough time you should go visit Kennedy Space Center, Sea
World, and maybe Universal Studios Florida. For me coming from California
I have experienced much of this already. I have been to Sea World
in San Diego (and in Ohio for that matter), so I have never been
to the Orlando version. I have been to Universal Studios here in
California, so I did not see any reason to go to Orlando's version.
I am not a thrill ride person so Universal's Islands of Adventure
does not excite me. Kennedy Space Center is a truly unique experience
but after seeing it once it does not change that much. I seem to
go about every 10 years and that is more than enough. If you have
not been there in the past 10-15 years the Space Center has really
expanded for the better.
4) Where should I stay? The first question
you must answer when deciding where to stay is whether you want
to stay "onsite" meaning in a Disney resort, or offsite. As a general
rule you will end up paying slightly higher for a Disney resort
than for a comparable resort offsite. I have stayed both onsite
and offsite, and with the ever expanding selection of onsite resorts
I would have to recommend staying onsite. There are several reasons.
The first being location. When on vacation I do not want to have
to travel far or worry about things. Staying onsite makes your life
much more simple. You walk out of your room and take a Disney bus,
boat, monorail, or tram and you get to your destination (check out
our transportation section for more information on this). The second
reason is since your spending all the money to go to Orlando on
vacation, why not "go all the way." Meaning if your going on a Disney
vacation use a Disney resort. That way you never have to leave "fantasyland."
This may sound like a cheesy reason, but not having to think about
the real world for a week (and not seeing it) sure can relax a person.
The third reason to choose a Disney resort is theme. Each Disney
resort is incredible themed and has a personality of its own. Meaning
that you are not just staying at a simple resort or hotel. Check
out the resort section of this site to find out more about the Disney
resorts. In 2005 as part of the Happiest Celebration on Earth Disney
rolled out a new service called Disney's Magic Express. This "free"
service is open to all onsite resort guests and includes a motorcoach
ride and luggage handling to and from Orlando International Airport.
5) To stay on a plan or go al la carte or
some other option?
Check out ourDisney
Vacation Plans page for an analysis and thoughts on this.
6) How do I get there?
A majority of guests arriving at WDW arrive by
airplane at Orlando's International Airport(MCO). WDW is about 30
minutes from the airport. You have several options to make the journey
(rent a car, take a bus(Mears), take a cab, or take a car service).
If your planning on staying at WDW and not leaving the property
we recommend a towncar service. For a family of four prices are
comparable to the other options, but the towncar gives you some
advantages. One is its personalized. So if your late or early they
will be ready. They go by your schedule, not theirs. Another is
most allow for a grocery stop. This is a great idea to grab some
drinks or snacks to keep in your room. It saves some money too.
We would recommend against renting a car unless your planning on
visiting several other Orlando area stops.
New 2005: Beginning May 5, 2005
Disney will be offering a new service for all Disney Resort Guests,
called Magic Express Service. This is a bus transfer to the Disney
World Resort from Orlando International Airport. The service will
be FREE for the first 18 months or so during the Happiest Homecomings
on Earth Celebration in April of 2006 it was announced that this
service was to remain complimentary and has been extended through
2011. So if you head to Orlando this may be the way to go. Just
another reason to stay onsite. This service will handle the backage
We have added a section on Disney's
Magical Express Service
The WDW transportation options are great and easy
to navigate to get around. Check out our WDW
transportation section for more information on getting around.
If your driving your own car or a rental car getting to WDW is
rather easy. Most Orlando area roads have signs pointing the way.
You will have to stop and pay several tolls along the way if you
stay on the main tollways.Consult disneyworld.com or mapquest for
more detailed directions.
Another route to take is public transportation. The Orlando area
bus system services Walt Disney World. Click
here for Tony, a guest contributor's, thoughts and tips on public
7) What type of ticket
should I buy and from where?
A: In 2005 Disney rolled out a new ticket system called Magic Your
Way(MYW). This new system gives huge incentives to book more days,
for example to add an extra day 7 or day 8 may only cost you $10.
The MYW system works this way. You buy a base ticket for X number
of days. Then there are a couple options you may add. The most important
option in our mind is the Park Hopping one, this allows you to go
from park to park and is a flat fee no matter how many days you
add on. There is also a "no-expiration" option. Without
this your tickets will expire 14 days after first use, no matter
if you used all your days or not. This is a great way to save some
money, but it does come at a small risk. Namely you have to use
the tickets or loose the days. Usually this isn't a problem since
if your at WDW for 7 days and you buy a 7 day ticket you will go
to the park for a portion of every day... but plan accordingly.
The other option is for waterparks/DisneyQuest.
These are added on a sliding scale based on the number of days you
get so many of these days to use. If you are planning on going to
a water park check this add on out. One important change with the
MYW tickets. Now ever guest entering the park has to use the biometric
scanners, which actually just measure the distance between your
fingers. This means that once you use the ticket it is "assigned"
to you and no one else can use it. This means you should NOT buy
USED WDW tickets from anywhere anymore. Doing so puts you at risk
of having useless pieces of paper.