7-Step Guide to Planning Your Disney Parks Family Vacation
January 18, 2018
Whether it’s your first trip, or one of many, all it takes to plan a Disney vacation are a few tips and tricks, not to mention a little pixie dust. In our step-by-step guide, we’ll show you budget-friendly ways to plan your next family vacation at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort.
1. Take Advantage of Special Offers and Enjoy Perks with the Disney® Visa® Card
There are many programs Disney fans and their families can take advantage of especially when planning multiple Disney Park vacations. Disney Visa Cardmembers get savings throughout the Parks on select dining and merchandise and so much more! View the Disney Visa Cardmember Vacation Perks page to see what kinds of extra benefits you can experience on your next Disney family vacation. To find the latest deals before booking, check the Disney Visa Card Limited-Time Offers page on a regular basis. This page is your one-stop shop for finding the latest and greatest deals. If you haven’t yet discovered the Disney Visa Card, click here to see the great perks the card offers for your family.
Some sample perks include:
Character Experience at Private Cardmember Locations1, 2
10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort3
10% off select dining locations most days at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort4
And much more!
2. Visit the Parks During the Off-Peak Season
Mid-to-late September is a great time to visit. Crowds may be fewer and you may be able to find better rates for hotel and travel. Can’t make it in early fall?
Here are other off-season times to visit:
Mid-November through mid-December
Second week of January through mid-February
First three weeks of May
3. Spend Your Extra Dollars on Churros, Not Airfare
Finding discount airfare can take some research and planning, but with these tips and tricks, traveling with kids on an affordable Disney vacation is just one step closer!
Fly on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
Buy tickets 6-8 weeks out.
Check fares for alternate nearby airports, like Tampa International Airport and Orlando Sanford International for Walt Disney World® Resort or John Wayne Airport for the Disneyland® Resort.
Compare ticket prices for one passenger to quotes when buying family tickets, as some airlines offer family or group rates.
Use a discount website like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline to find the best price.
Book with your Disney Visa Card to earn Disney Rewards Dollars or use your Disney Premier Visa Card and redeem for a statement credit toward airline travel.5
4. Enjoy Great Benefits
Guests staying at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels have access to many great benefits such as:
Extra Magic Hours – Enjoy extra time at one of the Theme Parks each day to enjoy select attractions. (Valid theme park admission required.)
Access to Disney’s Magical Express® service – convenient motor coach transportation for you and your bags between Orlando International Airport and your select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel.
Early Access to Disney FastPass+ planning – (Guests of select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels) enjoy first access to reserve some Disney FastPass+ attractions, shows and more – up to 60 days before they arrive! Plus, complimentary MagicBands and much more.6
Park Proximity – From most Walt Disney World® Resort hotels, the Theme Parks are only a short drive, shuttle ride, or sometimes even walk away.
Check out these lodging options at Walt Disney World® Resort:
Disney Value Resort: Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Disney’s Art of Animation
Disney Moderate Resort: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort–Riverside
Disney Deluxe Resort: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts: Disney’s Old Key West Resort or Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (both Resorts are close in proximity AND have boat access to Disney Springs)
And remember: booking a stay at a select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel can bring a vacation package that includes multi-day tickets or the ability to visit more than one Theme Park on the same day! Ask about available vacation packages when you book to ensure you see as much of the magic as possible.
5. Make Activity and Dining Reservations in Advance
It’s easy to reserve activities and make dining reservations before you even leave home by using My Disney Experience online or the mobile app for your Walt Disney World® Resort trip. You can also use the Disneyland® app for your visit to the Disneyland® Resort for making dining reservations.7
Once you create a My Disney Experience account and purchase your ticket, reserve select activities and attractions with Disney FastPass+ service up to 30 days in advance of your visit (or 60 days if you’re staying at a select Walt Disney World® Resort hotel).6
Guests can make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance at many Theme Park restaurants (or 60 days if you’ll be dining at Disneyland® Resort). In addition to using the Disney Visa Card to secure your dining reservations, Disney Visa Cardmembers can also save 10% off their dining experience when they grab a bite at select locations most days such as:4
Walt Disney World® Resort
Biergarten Restaurant (see restrictions)
Coral Reef Restaurant (lunch only)
Le Cellier Steakhouse (lunch only)
Rose & Crown Dining Room (lunch only)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios®:
The Hollywood Brown Derby (see restrictions)
Hollywood & Vine (see restrictions)
The Disneyland® Resort
River Belle Terrace
Disney California Adventure® Park:
Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill
Wine Country Trattoria
Paradise Garden Grill
6. Find the Best Location and Times to Meet Favorite Characters
To meet favorite Characters and not waste a single minute of your vacation, it’s important to know where to find them and when. Use the My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World® Resort or the Disneyland® app for up-to-date times and locations. Disney Visa Cardmembers can also meet some of their favorite Disney and Star Wars™ Characters at private Cardmember locations in both Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort.2
7. Map Out A Plan to Enjoy Favorite Attractions
Don’t miss your favorite attractions by prioritizing which ones you want to hit first! Make the most of your Park time with these lists featuring some of the best Park attractions for little ones and attractions for the entire family!
Top Attractions for Little Ones
Enchanted Tales with Belle This interactive storytelling adventure is perfect for princesses of all ages. Walt Disney World® Resort – Magic Kingdom® Park
Muppet*Vision 3D It’s time to play the music… and watch a 3D adventure come to life around the theater as the beloved Muppets put on an unforgettable show. Walt Disney World® Resort – Disney’s Hollywood Studios®
Peter Pan’s Flight® A gentle reenactment of Peter Pan’s voyage through Never Land is full of wonderment without being too scary. The Disneyland® Resort – Disneyland® Park Walt Disney World® Resort – Magic Kingdom® Park
Turtle Talk with Crush Don’t miss Turtle Talk with Crush where friends, from Disney•Pixar’s film Finding Dory, are swimming over for a most excellent time at the “human tank”. The coolest turtle around takes questions from audience members and answers them right before their eyes, with everything from facts about the ocean to deep (or deep-sea) thoughts on life. The Disneyland® Resort – Disney California Adventure® Park Walt Disney World® Resort – Epcot®
Top Attractions for Everyone
Star Wars™ Launch Bay There are exhibits and encounters for all the Star Wars fans in the family. Walt Disney World® Resort – Disney’s Hollywood Studios® Park The Disneyland® Resort – Disneyland® Park
Kilimanjaro Safaris® From the comfort of the safari bus, animal lovers get close to exotic creatures amidst their natural habitats. Walt Disney World® Resort – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park
Pirates of the Caribbean® This classic attraction takes a journey on the High Seas through pirate territory, and the beloved music can keep younger seafarers humming through the spookier parts. The Disneyland® Resort – Disneyland® Park Walt Disney World® Resort – Magic Kingdom® Park
Now that we’ve covered the basics of planning a Disney getaway, doesn’t it feel good knowing you can get the most from your Disney vacation, while saving the most too?
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