Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let’s Talk Disney–Part 1: Where Do I Begin?

Let's Talk Disney

Planning a Disney trip can seem daunting but truly it is a lot of fun and one of those things where the more you put into it, the more you will benefit in the end.  I hope this series of posts will be helpful to those either in the midst of planning a trip or those who hope to go in the future.

The first thing I wanted to help clear up is, ‘What is the difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland?’

Walt Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida and consists of 4 major theme parks, a variety of resorts, 2 water parks and a shopping area called Downtown Disney.

Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) is located in California and consists of 2 theme parks and 3 resorts.  I’m the first to admit that my experiences are limited to Walt Disney World in Florida so the information I share will relate to WDW alone and will be referring to WDW as ‘Disney’.

Where Do I Begin??   I’m sure this is a question that many ask when they first begin considering booking a Disney vacation.  Truly, I get this!  One thing I would recommend if you’re considering a trip is to order a Disney Vacation Planning DVD.

Something else someone asked is whether to stay onsite or off?  I’ll admit to being biased to staying onsite whenever possible.  I love, love, love staying on Disney property and spending the week being truly, ‘Disney-fied!’ Even when I’ve been in the Orlando area and not going to any parks, I’ve still chosen to stay at a Disney resort.

I would say one of the biggest determining factors to whether someone chooses to stay onsite or off comes down to cost.  (Doesn’t everything?)  If you have 4 people or less in your family you can stay in any of the Disney Resorts.  If your family is made up of 5 or more it gets a little more challenging and normally more costly too.  The value resorts are limited to 4 people in a room so a family of 5 or more either needs to stay in a moderate or deluxe resort or, you can stay in a value resort if you’re willing to split up your adults.  Adjoining rooms are available so you can feel like you’re all in the same room but will be paying the cost of two rooms.  There is one value resort (All Star Music) that does offer family suites which allow up to 6 people to stay together.  There is also a brand new resort being built at WDW called the Art of Animation that is scheduled to open in 2012 that will feature 1,120 family suites.  This will be a wonderful option for larger families.

If someone chooses to stay offsite a couple of things to take into consideration of your costs is car rental (if you fly to FL) and also parking each day at the parks ($14/day).  If you’re staying at a Disney resort you have the option of either using Disney transportation to get to the parks or if you prefer to use your own vehicle then the parking is complimentary.

I’m going to move forward as if someone is choosing to stay on Disney property.  Good choice! Smile

Something else that is good to mention at this point is how Disney reservations work.  You can book them online at www.disney.com or by calling 1-407-WDISNEY.  When you book a Disney vacation package you will be required to pay a $200 deposit.  Should you need to cancel this reservation the $200 is fully refundable up to 46 days before your arrival date. 

When you go to book a vacation package these are the main questions you’re going to consider:

  1. What dates are you considering going?
  2. What type of resort do you want to stay at?  (Value, Moderate or Deluxe)
  3. How many days do you want to visit the parks and additional options that can be added to your ticket.
  4. Do you want the Disney Dining Plan?
  5. Will you be using your own car, renting a vehicle or using Disney transportation?

While you’re thinking about your answers to those questions I’ll prepare the next post about these questions.


  1. We have not taken AA to Disney yet, so I really am looking forward to all your helpful hints. Thank you for doing this! Even though we live in Florida, we get completely lost in Orlando! Hope to see you here soon!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  2. We loved WDW when we went 12 years ago and can't wait to go back with Chloe some day. Looking forward to your posts and I second staying on the property and using Disney transportation it was so easy.

  3. I like your term "Disney-fied". My daughter and I LOVE going to Disney and are big Mickey fans. When we go, we put on all of our Mickey gear and say that we are "Mickey-fied"! :-)

  4. We are also completely disneyfied as well, and I love to stay on property.

    i will say though, that for a larger family there are some condos in lake buena vista which are very close to Disney. Not so much atmosphere but loads of space if you need it.

    Or you can do as we have, and buy DVC, and get the best of both worlds :)


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