By Molly Elias
Planning for Disney can be an incredibly fun part of your vacation. There are so many little details that can be catered to just your family so that you have the most amazing trip ever. Disney handles a lot of the magic making, but there is some that you can do before you go!
- Budget: I think most people would like to avoid this particular topic, but being on top of budget can not only make or break the bank, but also your trip. It’s really important to have a handle on your budget before you leave for your vacation. Disney does a great job at being clear with prices and accommodating guests with budgets. Money is almost always a big deal when it comes to Disney, but if you are smart and proactive about budgeting, things get much easier and much less stressful.
- Countdown: My family and I get a little crazy with this one. It doesn’t matter how far away our upcoming trip is, we always have a countdown going. My aunt has a “week countdown” on a white board in her kitchen. My dad and I have apps that tell us the months, days, minutes, even seconds until our trip. This is such a fun way to get ready and it’s a constant reminder that your vacation is coming-slowly but surely.
- Living and Transportation: Otherwise known as: where are you staying and how are you getting there? Long before your trip, keep an eye out for hotel and rental car rates. Disney fluctuates on deals, but there are definitely better times to go than others. If you’re staying on property, transportation is not as big of an issue. The Magical Express will pick you up from the airport and bring you right to your resort (excluding Swan and Dolphin). And there are buses and boats and monorails (oh my) that will take you to and from the parks. If you’re staying off-property, you’ll need a rental car. Just like hotels, there are better times and rates to book a car-you’ll just need to keep checking their sites.
- MagicBands: Don’t forget your MagicBands! These super fun additions to your vacation need to be ordered well in advance of your trip. When you order yours online, they will usually arrive in the mail in about 10 days! While ordering, you can customize your Bands to the color you like with your name on it. MagicBands go hand in hand with My Disney Experience and FastPass+ and all that jazz. Having your MagicBands ahead of your trip is just another way to start the magic early and reduce chaos later on.
- Rough Schedule: Sometimes it can be fun to just wing the trip and figure things out as we go, but it’s also extremely fun to have a layout of our plans before we leave! This just feels like extending the trip. Having a rough schedule can be really nice to reduce your stress while you’re actually in Florida, so you can just sit back and soak up the fun.
- FastPass+: The new FastPass system provides a great way to start your Disney experience before you even get there. 30 days before your trip (or 60 days before if you’re staying on property!) you can pick out some of your FastPass options to get on rides as soon as you walk through the gates! This is all a part of having a plan, it’s just the more fun part!
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- Dining Reservations: Let no one forget the food. Lots of people do dining reservations last minute and it works perfectly for them, but I like to be prepared so I can work it around my day. Disney dinners are so much fun and such a great experience. I always want to make the best of my evenings in Disney and going to a great restaurant is almost always a part of that. Do some research into what kind of food and atmosphere your family would most enjoy and start singing “Be Our Guest!”
- Plan Your Next Trip: Okay, maybe I’m a little crazy, but there are benefits to being obsessed! It does seem kind of ridiculous, but planning ahead can save you the confusion and anxiety of future trips. There are occasionally serious financial advantages to planning early. For example, if you book your next Disney Cruise while on your current cruise, you automagically receive a 10% discount on that booking plus a nice onboard credit. Have a rough plan before you go so you’re not immediately overwhelmed and stressed when it’s inevitably time to rebook.
- Pack: Kind of an obvious one, right? But packing is a necessity and it’s good to be smart about it. I always pack too much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The weather in Florida always changes, so it’s good to be ready for anything. You’ll also need to be prepared for nicer places if your dinner of choice calls for it. Also: Sunblock. Lots and lots of sunblock.
- Get Psyched: How can you not be psyched when you’re going to Disney?! Unfortunately it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the planning and the checklists and forget why you’re even going in the first place. Disney is fun! Disney is an amazing time away from real life. So start watching Disney movies early, have the Park music blasting in your car and call into Guest Services just to hear them say “have a magical day!” Let yourself get excited, even if you have 82 days, 7 hours, 31 minutes and 6 seconds left until you go….