I get asked about Disney trips more than anything else, both online and offline, so here is the big fat everything-I-know-about-Disney page. Most likely you’re looking to save money on your next Disney trip (I hear that!) so here are the answers to the top 5 most common Disney trip questions I get:
/// How do I save money on a trip to Disneyland?
Your best bet is to book through Get Away Today because they have the most competitive prices and they’ll actually undercut their competitors if there’s a special out there that someone else is running. They have packages with both the Disney hotels and the local Anaheim hotels so rates get really low, especially if you avoid holidays and the traditional summer vacation months! They also have a layaway option for trip financing and really good customer service if you run into any problems while traveling.
What you DO NOT want to do is buy discounted tickets on eBay or through a little local CA shop because too many scams are out there that leave you with fake tickets that Disney can’t honor. I can’t tell you how many sad stories I’ve heard where people spent a ton of money trying to save money and ended up at the park gates with no way to get in.
/// How do I save money on a trip to Walt Disney World?
Even though WDW is larger, it’s actually a little harder to find a good deal there in my opinion because they don’t have to be as competitive with hotel and park ticket prices. Travel agents may be able to offer you specials, but we’ve found that by skipping a car rental (use the airport shuttle provided), choosing value hotels (we like Pop Century), and booking during a promotion offered directly by Disney (check the WDW Special Offers page) we’ve saved just as much money. You can also the coupons and deals offered in Birnbaum’s WDW travel guide, which also happens to be my choice of guide if you want to read about the parks before you go.
We skip the dining plan unless there’s an amazing deal offered on it because we don’t eat enough at the parks to make it worth it so if you go really cheap and do things like pack your own snacks from home, bring home-purchased souvenirs to surprise the kids, and only do one park per day you can cut hundreds of dollars off your total costs. THAT BEING SAID – if you have to eat saltine crackers the whole time in order to afford your WDW vacation, it might not be the right time for you to go. Nothing ruins a vacation like spending the whole time worrying about what it’s costing you to be there. Wait an extra season, save a little more money, and give yourself a real break without the penny pinching.
/// Should I take my kids on a Disney park or are they too old/young/allergic/numerous/etc.?
Your kids are not too old, too young, too allergic, or too anything to go on a Disney vacation unless they’re too expensive because you have too many of them. (Can’t help you much there – we have three!)
For older kids, there’s still plenty of magic even if they roll their eyes when you bring up Disney. Each park has thrill rides, shows, good food, and a ton of space for teens who want to wander on their own. If anything, sharing a park experience is a good way for a family to have fun together across all ages instead of adults “tolerating” kid/teen experiences and vice versa.
For younger kids, I’m all about taking them even when they’re so young they won’t remember. OK, to be fair, I think they need to be at least two months old but only because I’m a germ freak (lots of people at Disney = lots of people germs) and I’d also be worried about keeping baby hot/cool enough at that age. After that, it’s all fair game. There’s a lot to enjoy with an infant in arms and for rides that don’t allow you to hold your baby (or have a size restriction), you can use the special ride swap option to take turns holding the baby without you both having to wait in line. Your baby might not remember that trip, but you will and you’ll have the photos to show them later.
If your child has food allergies or another health issue, Disney is the right place. As the mom of a child with severe allergies and chronic asthma, I’ve been so impressed by how Disney has accommodated my daughter’s needs. You can read more about our experience with food allergies at Disney parks in this post. If you have other concerns, I encourage you to call Disney’s customer service hotline to ask about accommodations and guidance as you plan your trip.
/// How do I save money planning a Disney wedding or honeymoon?
Once upon a time, I was definitely the person to ask about this! My Disney wedding blog had all the tips and tricks because we planned a budget WDW wedding and honeymoon in 2009 on an shoestring. However, so much changes over there that I’ve lost track of all the latest tips so I encourage you to check out PassPorter’s Disney Weddings and Honeymoons for the best advice.
/// If we’re only going to be there for a day, is there a plan we should follow?
Lots of people have opinions about this, but here’s my two cents: there is no one plan you should follow. You can purchase park plans or follow the plans given to you by guide books and travel agents but you run the risk of being in a herd of other people following that plan AND that plan hasn’t been tailored to you. For example, every plan I’ve ever seen encourages park visitors to hit Space Mountain very early in the day but personally I hate Space Mountain. I don’t have fun on it and it makes me sick, which makes it about the worst way to start a day in the parks.
What you can do is figure out which rides are the most popular, decide if you want to ride them, try to hit them as early in the day as possible, and then spend the rest of the day enjoying shows, restaurants, and “people-eater” rides with lines that move fast and have short wait times (like It’s a Small World). An updated guide book is the best way to identify the popular rides with long lines that you want to do first thing in the morning and a classic trick is to make sure that you’re there for “rope drop” – which means you’re waiting at the entrance when the park opens. You can usually ride about three rides in that first hour even if the rides are popular attractions that have an hour-long wait (or longer!) later in the day.
Oh, and the Fastpass system? We hate it but the good news is that even if all the Fastpasses are taken you can (A) hit the ride early in the morning as mentioned above, (B) keep checking because people shift their Fastpasses around all the time, and (C) enjoy the bazillion other great things about the Disney parks that don’t require Fastpasses. Churros! Parades! People watching as other guests run around to stick to their Fastpass schedule!
Still looking for Disney goodness beyond the travel info above? We have a ton!