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Walt Disney World is considered by many to be one of the most magical vacation destinations in the world. With numerous parks, resorts, professional level golf courses, recreational activities, and the best customer service, Disney World can be the ultimate vacation destination. However, due to the scale and variety of options, planning can also be a very confusing and overwhelming process which takes up a lot of your time and energy. While there will always be a certain level of research involved, there is a guided process to help make planning a magical vacation a little easier and fun. To begin planning your Disney World vacation, you need to determine your requirements and parameters for your trip first. The starting point for this should be your budget. Try and be realistic with what you can actually afford to spend on your vacation. Disney World is not a cheap vacation destination but there are a lot of different options to explore to improve the affordability. With your budget set, you need to determine when you can make the journey. Try and come up with time windows and not specific dates like spring time or early March through late April along with the minimum and maximum length for your visit. Since Disney's prices vary based off the time of year, this will give you some flexibility later when deciding on a package. Another factor you need to determine is who is going and their ages. With family and group visits becoming more common, this can have an impact on what resort options are available along with possible additional charges and dining difficulties. Finally take an inventory on what your priorities are and rank them in order. A priority list could be a simple as this: 1. Stay at the Animal Kingdom 2. Visit the Magic Kingdom 3. Dine at 50's Prime Time Cafe The goal is simply to identify your priories for the trip so you can identify the things that are the most important to everyone. With this list in hand, draw a line after the last deal breaker for your trip. A deal breaker would be something that you absolutely must have or do to make the trip worthwhile. Now you have all your requirements to get started with your planning. Having all your requirements in hand, you can start considering your reservation/vacation package. The first thing to go check for is any promotions that are available during your desired travel windows. Disney tends to provide a lot of great offers throughout the year like free dining plans, room discounts, extra days, and more. Promotions typically have availability windows for when you can arrive and still receive the promotion. This is why it is always good to review these before picking specific dates. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the promotions after you make your reservation because you can always adjust your travel dates or change them on your

existing reservations. With the amount of time you have to spend in mind along with potential travel windows, you can start selecting your preferred resort. Disney World has an extensive selection of resort options available to choose from ranging from value to deluxe resorts and villas, campgrounds, cabins, and several Good Neighbor hotels to choose from. While non-Disney resorts, like the Good Neighbor hotels, are generally cheaper, Disney's resorts provide several additional benefits and are typically required to take advantage of several promotions. Resort prices vary a lot based off of the Disney season and the day of the week. This factor can have a huge impact in the cost of your vacation so it is always a good idea to check out the season dates on the Disney World website and the room prices and begin selecting the best dates for you. Now that you know how long and where you are staying, you can decide on your ticket packages. Again you need to review you requirements and consider the length of your visit when selecting your tickets. If one of your mandatory requirements is to visit all four parks but you are only staying 3 days, then you seriously need to consider adding the Park Hopper option to your tickets. Or maybe you want to Visit the water parks or some other attractions outside the theme parks so you can add the Water Parks, Fun, and More option. Maybe your budget is getting tight and you would rather just stick with the base tickets. Again you need to review all your requirements and budget. At this point, if you are planning to stay at a Disney resort, you may want to consider the dining plan which provides you with credits to eat at the extensive dining selections available. Try and review various dining choices and menus before deciding since you may be surprised by the prices at the parks. Most menus can be found on Disney Worlds website. Finally you need to decide on your transportation. Flying is a great option and allows you to take advantage of the free Magical Express service if you are staying at a Disney resort. The Magical Express service allows you to basically get off your flight and hop on the bus to hit the parks while they take care of getting your luggage from the airport to your room. Depending on your budget, if you decide to fly, the Magical Express is an amazing option to add to your package and save you a lot of time and headaches. At this point now, you should have a good idea of what your vacation package is going to cost and how it fits into your budget. Feel free to make adjustments and recalculate as needed and when you are satisfied, book it through Disney's website or a vacation planner. With you package booked, now you can start planning your itinerary. To start, you need to review your dining plans. If you are planning to just do quick service meals and eat at some of the resort food courts, then dining should not be an issue and you won't need reservations. If you decided on the Dining Plan with your package or at least want to dine at some of the table service restaurants, come up with a list of restaurant you would like to try. Review this list to identify where they are located. Since most people don't care about their dining order, you may want to attempt to line these up with the Magic Hours for the parks if you're staying at a Disney resort so you can take advantage of the extra time at the parks. You may also want schedule any park specific dining during the beginning of your visit so you can change your schedule later on, especially if you plan on staying over 5 days. Now all you have to do is make any necessary advanced dining reservations and make sure to keep the confirmation numbers and wait in anticipation for your vacation to start.

While preparing and planning for your vacation, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Start planning as early as possible. Resorts and restaurants fill quickly and if you wait too long you may not have a lot of choices left, so the sooner you make some decisions the better. Try and identify your must see attractions to help plan your park requirements and help determine your dining schedule. If all the attractions you want to see are in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you may not have time to see another park which limits some dining options. This is why creating an inventory of your priorities is so important. Try not to over plan. Some planning is needed based off of what you want out of your visit but as much as under planning can undermine your success, over planning can be just as bad or worse. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a rigid race rather than really being allowed to enjoy it. Try and leave plenty of room to adjust your schedule to what you see and experience during your visit and to have fun. Lastly, you may want to consider a vacation planner. Most planners simply work off commission so they are no additional cost to you. They do provide the added benefit of having more knowledge and can help you with ideas that you may not have considered and save you a lot of time and headaches. With your vacation set, you should be very excited and waiting to depart. At this point you have probably talked with several people, read piles of information, and made some tough choices. Your dates have been set, the resort is booked, you made some great dining selections, and you know which theme parks you are visiting. Now the work is over and you can enjoy the wait until you leave knowing that you have the perfect magical vacation planned.

John Davison The Mouse's House

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Planning Your Magical Disney World Vacation  

1. Stay at the Animal Kingdom 2. Visit the Magic Kingdom 3. Dine at 50's Prime Time Cafe The goal is simply to identify your priories for th...

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