When using this site to plan a Walt Disney World vacation, you’ll find a balance of Park tips and advice to tailor your vacay to your family’s needs. No two travel groups will have identical vacation itineraries. Choosing a trip length that is fun without being excessive and selecting a Disney Resort that is the right balance of fun, and budget-conscious is important.
Narrowing down what Parks and attractions are a must-see for your family and, of course, purchasing Park tickets and securing Park reservations must also be attended to. Not to mention, you have to invest time packing for vacation and selecting Disney dining experiences. In short — there is a lot to consider when planning a Disney vacation.
If you take a look at Disney blogs, Facebook groups, or source friends for information when planning your Disney vacation, chances are you’ll hear some reoccurring comments about must-dos when planning or things that are too much work/not worth the effort. As a Disney fanatic, I have opinions about booking a Disney vacay that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Here are unpopular opinions: Disney planning edition.
Deluxe Resorts Are Not Always the Best Choice
You heard me correctly; staying at a Deluxe Resort is not the default “best choice”. I don’t just mean it’s not the best choice for those on a budget. It literally is sometimes not the best choice for Guests that can afford it but have specific Park interests, preferences, or theming choices. Knowing the history of certain Deluxe Resorts, like the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village Resort, definitely adds to the sparkle factor of these resorts. After all, these hotels have been at Walt Disney World serving Guests since day one on October 1, 1971.
However, that does not necessarily mean that Deluxe Resorts that rank high in originality, coolness, and exclusivity are a must for Disney fanatics. I believe name recognition is a big reason new Disney travelers feel like they should “go Deluxe Resort or go home”. This is coupled with the fact that Walt Disney World commercials tend to feature predominantly deluxe (maybe an occasional flash of a moderate) resorts. This, of course, leads perspective Guests to believe staying at Walt Disney World means paying a deluxe price tag. Unpopular opinion: deluxe resorts are not always the best choice.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I believe many Walt Disney World Park newbies on a budget shy away from the idea of staying at a Disney Resort because they have no idea how comparable Value Resorts are in price to those off property. Why would they know? All-Star Sports or Pop Century Resort certainly don’t get a lot of spotlight.
If you have small children that will be wow’d by larger-than-life characters outside their room, a Disney Resort like All-Star Movies or Art of Animation is perfect for you. If you have a large group (numerous school-aged kids on an organized trip or a huge extended family traveling together) and want space for the group to congregate outside any time of day or night without worrying about space restrictions or noise issues, All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies or All-Star Music are great choices.
Loyalty Points and Dollars ARE Worth The Extra Effort
As a saver, I have always been a huge fan of loyalty points, cashback, coupons, and discounts. While I agree that time is money, there are some really great ways to rack up cash back or loyalty points that translate into vacation dollars.
If you are flying to Walt Disney World, do not miss the opportunity to earn and use airline points to book flights, secure airport extras like lounges or pay for luggage fees. There are a lot of great airline credit cards to choose from if you would like to rack up flight miles or cash back to offset flight and hotel costs. Here are some of my favorite websites for learning more about how to harness credit card points to help pay for your vacations.
One of the easiest ways to earn cash for your Disney vacation is by opening a Disney Visa Credit Card. You’ll earn Disney dollars you can spend on vacation by using the card for purchases you will make anyway. Promotional offers cycle through periodically, which means that you may even receive an extra spend-based bonus, depending on when you sign up for this card.
Some people will balk at the idea of opening a credit card to offset the cost of flights or Disney Park tickets. Unpopular opinion, loyalty points and dollars ARE worth the extra effort. Why not get “paid” for the purchases you are going to make anyway? Sure, this hack means you will need to plan ahead to secure the correct card for your family, hit any spend bonuses, and rack up points in time to use for your vacation — but the savings can help pay for vacation expenses.
If a Disney Visa card is not the right fit for you, look into other major cards that offer cash back. Any money earned in cash back rewards can be used to offset Disney dining, merchandise in the Parks, Resort rooms, or Park tickets. I’m of the opinion that any savings or cash back help on a Disney vacation is well worth the extra effort in the planning stages.
Disclaimer: It’s important to pay off the balance of your credit card each month to ensure you don’t rack up interest charges. You want to ensure the cashback dollars you earn actually is additional money in your pocket, that can’t happen if you are carrying a balance on your credit card.
A Great Day At Disney World, Does Not Always Equal A Day In The Parks
I know what you’re thinking. The Parks are quite literally why families take a Disney vacation. True, riding Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, screaming down Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios, or soaring above Pandora on Flight of Passage are all incredible vacation experiences. We can’t forget the magic of seeing Cinderella Castle for the first time from Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Yes, the Parks are unforgettable, but they aren’t the only way to have fun at Walt Disney World.
You can save your energy, and quite a bit of cash, by enjoying some Disney vacation days outside the Parks. Sleep in and enjoy the amenities at your Resort. Break a sweat at the Resort gym or float in that refreshing pool. Have your family battle it out in the Resort arcade, or take a photo scavenger hunt around your Resort.
If you are looking to explore the property, snag a bus to a Park and another to a Resort you are not staying at. If you are looking to sip and snack, you are in luck. I love monorail bar crawls at spots like Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village Resort), Outer Rim (Contemporary Resort), and Citricos Lounge (Grand Floridian Resort and Spa).
On a quick visit to Disney World this summer, my spouse and I bought a one-day Park Hopper Ticket and spent the other day outside the Parks. The Park day in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT was awesome and intense! But the Resort day was incredible too and actually provided us a chance to relax on vacation. From exploring a new to us Resort (Riviera Resort) via the Disney Skyliner, to shopping at Fantasia in Contemporary Resort, relaxing at Tambu Lounge, and dining at ‘Ohana at Polynesian Village Resort, we had a great time.
We rode the monorail over to Transportation and Ticket Center for a Joffrey’s Shakin’ Jamaican iced coffee before returning to Grand Floridian for a quick look around and a bus to Disney Springs for an evening of shopping.
Of course, a whole day of fun can be made from enjoying all the details of Disney Springs. And who can forget the fun of magical mini golf at Winter Summerland Mini Golf or Fantasia Miniature Golf? Unpopular opinion, a great day at Disney World does not always equal a day in the Parks. Sure, the Parks are top-notch but you can have an incredible and unforgettable day at Disney World outside the Parks.
Some mainstream must-do’s for planning a Disney vacation are just not true. So smile and nod, when that friend shares Disney trip planning advice you don’t agree with. Then plan the vacation that works best for your family’s interests and rhythm.