November 06, 2014

i'm going to disney world! how i prepared

In 10 days and counting, and I will be partying with Mickey & Minnie at the Very Merry Christmas Party. Could life get any better than that? I think not.

Now this is not a post for me to brag (ok, maybe a little? forgive me. ) about taking my 756th vacation this year (St. Lucia, Vegas), but just to shout out that "I'm going to Disney World!" and let you know how excited I am, and how to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in 30 days or less.

1. Book Flights and a Disney Resort as fast as you can. I cannot stress this enough. I was toying with the idea of staying off-property, in a more eco-friendly hotel with a breakfast buffet already included. But staying off-property comes with many questions: How will you get to the parks? Do they offer transportation to/from the hotel? How often (if they do) are their shuttles between parks/to and from the hotel? Does the free breakfast really outweigh all of the above that is included with staying at a Disney property? To some, perhaps. But for myself and Michael, we aren't huge breakfast eaters so I skipped the breakfast off-property hotel and booked a Disney Hotel. As far as flights...well I kind of booked these simultaneously because you may find a hotel available, but the flight selection sucks!! It pays to know how to multi-task :)

2. Be flexible with dates.  For some, again, this may not be an option. Luckily for me, it was. I had my dates set on a Friday - Monday however the Value Resort on Disney property was not available. I had to adjust my dates by coming two days later on a Sunday in order to get a room. But now, I'm staying on property, and paying less than $100 a night.

3. Get a plan in action. When are you arriving in Disney? Can you go to the park the first day, or will you be low key, perhaps swimming or visiting Downtown Disney? Is it worth it to get a park hopper pass? For us, we are arriving at 1:30 pm which will put as arriving at our hotel by 3pm, transportation courtesy of the Magical Express (oh how I love that!!). I was originally looking into a 4-day park hopper, but found out that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party is on that Sunday night in the Magical Kingdom. They have extended hours till midnight and the party goes from 7pm - midnight. However, with the ticket to this party, you can enter the park as early as 4pm.  The price of two Christmas tickets is cheaper than a 1 day ticket to the park, so we decided to get a 3-day hopper and a pass to the Christmas party. That is a savings right there!

     3a. Along with a plan, get those Fast Pass Reservations. Funny story: I had already booked my fast passes but when I did it, at the time, I wasn't able to get one for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I was SO pissed.  That is their newest ride I believe and I figure that the lines will be LONG. Well, the other night, I decided to randomly check and I was able to get a fast pass!! (This was at midnight last weekend I believe). HA. The next morning I wake up to this: SEVEN DWARFS MINE TRAIN CATCHES FIRE. Oh my gosh, NO!!!! Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the ride was back in action that same night. PHEW.

4. Do not expect to get reservations in the restaurants.  When I finally figured out which days I would be in the Magic Kingdom (1st and last) I immediately went to Fast-Pass to see if I could get a reservation at "Be Our Guest". NOT HAPPENING.  If you are planning a Disney trip with less than 30 days, just don't even bother. It will never happen. They do have an app for our phones now that you can try and get reservations the day or (for the restaurants) but most times, I'm assuming there will not be openings unless people cancel last minute (which you can get a fee because reservation restaurants require a credit card to secure the booking).  So park food it is. Is food really that important to you?? No!! You are there to see Mickey Mouse and go on the rides!!! Who cares if you are eating at a "fast food" type restaurant!  If you really want to see Be Our Guest, go take a stroll over to Fantasy Land and snap some pics... I am going to try to see if I can at least get a "Grey Stuff" Cupcake! I also went on so many Disney tourist websites to scout out some of the better "fast food restaurants" and what would meet our needs for lunch/dinner. I recommend the Disney Food Blog and All Ears for menus!

5. Buy Disney paraphernalia prior to leaving. Walmart, Target, and Kohl's are my new best friends. Oh, and JC Penney's too.  I have pretty much got my wardrobe for my trip set, and Michael's too for under $100 dollars. Dressing in Disney-wear was important to me and I factored this into my budget.  T-Shirts were approximately $10 each average. And they are cute too!

6. Check into your hotel prior to arrival. I will let you know how this one goes. We are staying at the All-Star Movies resort and I asked to be placed in the "101 Dalmations Section". I'm so excited about this. 
7. If you are trying to save money, look into Garden Grocer. Like I mentioned before, Michael and I really aren't breakfast eaters. I scoured the internet for ways to save money on food in Disney. There are ways. For instance, the Garden Grocer delivers to Disney Hotels (for a fee).  For under $50 dollars, I got a case of water, bananas, grapes, goldfish, doritos, yogurts, granola bars and a few other things to be delivered prior to my arrival to the hotel.  If all goes well, it will be delivered to my room prior to check in.  If not, they will hold the food at Guest Services and it can be delivered to the room when I check in.  I'm flying Spirit Air (aka airline that charges you for every. single. thing) and am only taking ONE checked back (good luck to me). I don't have room for that stuff in my suitcase!! So basically for four days, we are covered for breakfast and snacks (in the park we will take the snacks) for less than $50 bucks! SCORE.

8. Make a check list for crying out loud!!! I have yet to do this, but wouldn't it suck if I forgot my mouse ears???? YES IT WOULD! I'm sure you can find anything and everything you need at WDW if you forgot it, but for hella expensive! Word of advice: Go to the dollar store and buy ponchos. I'm hearing it rains all the time, and apparently it is Hurricane Season now, but I'm thinking more along the lines of three words: KALI RIVER RAPIDS.  I do not walk around the park soaked after that ride, especially after I found out park guests can opt to have riders more soaked by pressing a little button! Oh, and don't forget the ziplocks!!!! wet socks from the ride? want to protect your cell phone? ZIP LOCK BAGS.

9. HAVE A COUNTDOWN AND LISTEN TO DISNEY MUSIC ON REPEAT UNTIL THE DAY FINALLY COMES. Thank you to Spotify (<-- seriously that channel is the best), I've been blasting the music NON-STOP. Oh, and how could I forget, DISNEY MOVIE MARATHON! One Disney movie a night until your day of departure finally arrives!! Tonight, we are watching Cinderella. The past few nights were Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, you get the idea!

So I really hate ending lists on an odd number, so YOU tell ME. For those of you who have traveled to Walt Disney World, am I missing any key preparation tips?? Let me know!


  1. Ooooh- can you feel my jealousy through the screen?!?! ;) Although I've been to Disney 2x in the past 2 years I still love it/miss it/constantly think about going back. I'd LOVE to be there for Christmas-time one day!!! Have SO MUCH FUN!! Jared and I got to dine at Be Our Guest and I won't lie, it was one of the most magical parts of our entire trip!

  2. Oh you are going to have SO.MUCH.FUN. I had no idea about the garden grocer, that is so smart and I'll definitely remember that for next time. We always go to a grocery or something to get stuff to eat at the hotel because we don't like to waste too much money on food. I totally agree with staying at a disney hotel, yeah it's expensive but it's worth it for the transport to and from the hotels alone (in my opinion). oh we were planning a trip with like plenty of time in advance, i literally got on the internet the day that my date became available and the be our guest restaurant was already booked. i hope that makes sense. i think you can only book like 3 months out or something, but yeah the first minute mine was available, it was booked. so rude. fingers crossed for next time.

  3. I can't even wait to see your instagram feed - it's going to be all disney all the time!!! I think you did a great job planning everything and these tips can really be altered for any trip...well except for the disney specific stuff lol!


  5. Disney is so much fun I always love going to Epcot.....but that's more for the food and drinks ;)

  6. This is seriously such a great list! I'm still so jealous you are going! I've always wanted to go at Christmas time! I hope you have an AMAZING time!

  7. Wow, this is such a great list! Have an awesome time!!

  8. Have a great time! We're going in March and I cannot wait.

  9. You're such a spoiled brat. Three big vacations??? AS IF!!

    i'll take it back if you promise to take me with you on the next one ;) hahaha

  10. Oooo I'm so jealous! I love disney!! Last time we went we didn't make any reservations prior to our trip for restaurants but we really were wanting to splurge and try the nice places they had to offer. My husband would just call a couple places a day and ask if they had cancelations. We ended up getting into a different place each night. We were also super flexible with our times. Can't wAit to see pictures!!

  11. Less than $100?! That's such a steal! And I never thought of buying disney related items before going, but that's such a good idea. Hope you have fun on your vacay :)


  12. I am seriously so jealous but so happy for you that you get to go! You're totally making me want to go to disney! I hope you'll share all about your trip when you get back!

  13. Can I just say that I am super envious right now and can't wait to read about your trip. I've never been but it needs to happen, like, 2016. My niece will have turned 4 then and I'm not sure if I want to go alone the 1st time, or go for the full "family" experience and take her too.