We’re going to Disney World!
It’ll be my little one’s first big trip and I could not be more excited! We’re going for her 1st birthday (yeah, I don’t think I’ll be able to top that for other birthdays either). I know she won’t be able to remember going, but my husband and I will be able to remember it all.
Now I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how I plan big trips (some Disney specific)!
My favorite time to travel is in the Fall. Kids are still in school and it seems to be “off-season” or “value season” in many places. I try to ensure that no big events or festivals are going on when I’m looking to book. This one excluded due to the timing of her birthday. We’ll be in Disney over Halloween. It’s also Food & Wine Fest and Galaxy’s Edge is opening this year. The good news is we plan on spending most of time in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom since that’s what we think she’ll enjoy the most.
I always do a ton of research to see how I can get the best deal. For this trip, we’re saving a little bit of money by staying off property. This allowed us to stay in Orlando and go the parks for more days. Now, we even get a resort/Disney Springs day and won’t feel so rushed to do every single thing. Disney is exhausting (y’all know that) and I can’t imagine how much more exhausting it’ll be with a one-year-old.
Another great way to save is AirBNB. I’ve had the absolute best luck with it! I rented the cutest little bungalow for a long weekend in San Antonio. It was a million times better than any hotel I could have booked. The space alone was worth it. The little one was 5-months-old when we made that trip. She did amazing the whole trip, but especially during the car rides. Tip: Try to “put away” some of their favorite toys maybe a week before your trip. They get so excited when you bring them out after not seeing them for a while! It’s like a brand new toy.
Speaking of more days in the parks, let me tell you how I found the BEST prices for legit Disney tickets. If you don’t know, Disney has now changed the way they do ticket prices. You can no longer just buy tickets and use them whenever. They are now date based. Yikes! So naturally, days that are more popular: weekends & holidays, are more expensive. On top of that, Disney just had a price increase on tickets. Double-yikes!
I subscribe to the MouseSavers Newsletter from MouseSavers.com. You get a monthly e-mail that will include all the discounts they know about for Disney and Disney news/updates, which is how I found out about the increase. MouseSavers partners with Undercover Tourist, a company that is authorized to sell Disney World tickets. Undercover Tourist buys the tickets in advance so they had tickets with the old prices. I was able to snag mine before the mark up. (They may still have some available).
I ordered my tickets and go them in the mail super-fast. I was also able to load them onto the My Disney Experience App.
If you’re looking for any theme park tickets, one of the best places to look are on the discount travel websites like Expedia.com. You should also check with your job. Many companies have perk websites for their employees which include anything from cell phone plan discounts to movie ticket discounts.
After I got my tickets, I knew it was time to plan our daily activities. Yes, I’m one of those crazy people that do itineraries. I love itineraries. It keeps you on track and no one has to ask what’s next or what time they need to be where.
For the record, I don’t plan EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of our trips. I “chunk” the time and put the important details on it like dining reservations, shows, meet & greets.
For example my itinerary might be something like:
Morning: Magic Kingdom
Lunch Reservation: Be Our Guest
Dinner Reservation: Jaleo (Disney Springs)
How do I pick which restaurants to book? I got most of my recommendations from DFBGuide. The team over there is amazing. They also have a newsletter and can be found on Instagram and YouTube. My family is a bunch of foodies (another reason to go to Disney during Food & Wine Fest). I may do a post later down the road on which restaurants we decided to book and why. Let me know if that’s something you would be interested in.
Next, you might want to look at airfare. My favorite app for cheap airfare is Hopper. You can watch flight dates and locations. It’ll tell you when they think the cheapest fare you’ll see or if you need to keep waiting for better prices.
Another way to look for great airfare is through Google Flights. This will show you a calendar with prices on each specific date. This way you might choose to fly out on Friday instead of Saturday because pricing is better.
Tip: Southwest Airlines doesn’t come up on discount sites. I often go directly to American Airlines or Southwest Airlines. Sometimes their pricing is even better than the discount sites.
I hope you enjoyed the few tips & tricks I shared. What tips do you have for travel planning? Leave a comment down below. As always, thanks for stopping by!