Our Guide to Kicking Ass & Taking On Disney World

You know that commercial...the one where the cute family is walking down Main Street, USA, in the Magic Kingdom hand ­in­ hand, when suddenly their favorite character appears out of nowhere! They embrace while a photographer takes their photo and a magical memory is made in an instant. This family is having the time of their life and their trip just started.

You also know that doesn’t really happen...right? While Walt Disney World is full of amazing, magical moments just waiting to happen, it requires research and pre­-planning! As a full­-service travel agent specializing in Disney, it’s my job to set up your kick ass vacation while you look pretty, so that all you have to do is show up and create amazing memories.

Before planning your Disney vacation, here are a few things to keep in mind!

1)  The time of year you visit Walt Disney World can greatly affect your experience. Peak times include summer vacations and major holidays (Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the big four)! During these times, the prices will be higher and the parks will be far more crowded. This makes booking early even more important, in order to snag the reservations you want! Booking off­-peak times means less expensive pricing, great events (like EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the fall, along with and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the winter), and a bit more flexibility in reservations.

a)  Walt Disney World has over 25 resorts to choose from, for a variety of budgets. Each resort offers something different in terms of theming and experience.The benefits to staying at a Disney resort (vs off­ property somewhere) includes extra hours in the park, access to discounted dining through Disney’s their dining plans, amazing guest service, magic bands, early access to reservations, and more! Basic rooms and amenities are available at the value level. These resorts offer simple rooms with double beds, bright colors and a very kid­ friendly atmosphere.

b)  At the next resort level (Moderate), you will see more subdued theming, queen beds instead of doubles, as well as specially themed rooms, such as royal princess or pirate motifs. These resorts offer full­-service restaurants instead of just food courts and they are all in great locations that are central to everything!

c)  The top level of Disney accommodations is their Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts. These resorts offer a variety of rooms types, private balconies, and fine dining opportunities, in addition to full­-service and food court options. These resorts come in at a premium price, but are also located the closest to theme parks (typically with unique access to at least one of the parks).

2)  Walt Disney World is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco. It’s not a mere amusement park, but an amazing destination complete with 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, dozens of resorts, 4 PGA golf courses, 2 mini ­golf courses, and a newly ­renovated shopping and entertainment district! It’s a lot to cover, but a week for your vacation is a great amount of time to get a chance to see a bit of everything. If a full week doesn’t fit in your budget, 5 nights would allow you 4 full days at the parks...time to visit each park once! You’ll just scratch the surface, but with a good plan in place you’ll see and do a lot!

3)  Walt Disney World offers a variety of dining plans for you to choose from. These plans can not only save you money, but also help to make your vacation as stress ­free as possible. By prepaying for your meals, you don’t have to try and guess at how much to budget for food!

a)  Disney’s Quick­Service Dining Plan is for families on the go! If you don’t like to sit down at a long meal each, day this plan is for you! It offers you 2 fast food (or “quick­service” as Disney calls them) meals per night of your stay, plus a snack for each person! No reservations required... your family can eat when and where’d they’d like!

b)  The most popular plan by far is the next tier up, or Disney’s P lus Dining Plan. This is a great mix of both the “quick­ service” food and more traditional table ­service restaurants, plus dinner shows and character meals! This plan does require pre­-planning as those types of meals can be booked a whopping six months in advance!!!

c)  The Deluxe DiningPlan is the third tier and really makes your vacation all-inclusive, with three meals, your choice of quick­service or table­service, plus two snacks for each person per night of your stay. For a lot of folks, this is just too much food, but if you plan on a lot fine dining (you might be surprised to know Disney has some of the best­ rated restaurants in the area) or dinner shows this is the plan for you!

4)  You may have heard friends who have recently been to Disney toss around words like Magic Band or Fastpass+ . This will soon become your lingo too! Let’s start with Magic Bands! These bracelets are FREE to Walt Disney World guests and are your life line throughout your vacation! They hold your park tickets, entry to your room, dining plan credits, fastpass+ reservations and more ­ all with a simple tap! They make your vacation easy and everything is so convenient. You even get to pick your own color! Now the Fastpass+ system is a bit trickier (but it’s tied into that cool Magic Band). This is Disney’s system for pre-­reserving your spot in line at up to three attractions per day. This ensures you get to see your favorites attractions with very little wait. Combine that with a great plan of attack and you’ll find you can see and do so much!

Does this still sound a bit overwhelming? Well, let me share with you a secret tool... it’s me!!! Using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations can be an invaluable tool to making the most of your Disney vacation!

At Living With The Magic Vacations we offer a special package that includes all the necessities for a memorable Disney vacation... and we tailor it specifically to your family!

Normally this package is $89 (per family...not per person or per day) but we are currently offering it to Kicking Ass and Looking Pretty readers for 25% off! Just mention where you saw us. Oh and we also will help you find the best dates and right vacation package (including resort, tickets and dining) for you at no cost!!

You can read more about us at www.livingwiththemagic.com 

Amanda Mann, Owner - Living With The Magic 

Amanda Mann, Owner - Living With The Magic