Susan Pitzer, a Senior Travel Agent with MousePros Travel Agency is a featured poster on the Facebook Group, WDW Insiders. Each month we will share her featured post on the blog as the are always jam packed with great information!
Today I am going to do something a bit different with my post. I want to talk about how the magic of a Disney vacation is different for everyone who visits and there is not cookie cutter vacation nor a right or wrong way to visit. I think so often when planning a magical vacation, people of course ask questions and get advise from everyone they come in contact with as they are excited and often time overwhelmed with the planning and they want to be sure they get in everything. Unfortunately, that is not reality and unless you were planning on staying for 6 months and going non stop daily, you would not take in everything, there is just too much and it is constantly changing!!
When you decide that you are going to experience the magic of Disney with your family, the first thing most people ask is where should I stay, this is of course one of those areas that we get everyone's opinion of what is best. Rather than asking what is the best resort, the first step is asking "what budget am I comfortable with?" All Disney resorts are amazing in their own right, and there is one that is perfect for everyone in terms of budget, theme, occupancy, location, amenities...etc... Start with the budget and then begin filling in the resorts that fall within that budget.
The next question is always base tickets or park hoppers. For a first time visitor, base tickets is typically what I recommend as there is so much to see and do in each park that you will likely find that you do not need to hop. In the event that you choose base tickets and get there and want to hop, no worries, you can always upgrade your tickets to park hoppers while there and it is the exact same price to add the upgrade. I would rather see someone book with base tickets and upgrade than to waste money booking park hoppers and not hop.
The next question is the one that causes the most controversy, dining plan or not. This is one of those areas that is really a personal preference and where that "not cookie cutter planning" really comes to the forefront. Dining is a huge part of many families Disney experience. There are amazing dining options on property that cater to so many different tastes. I will say, if you plan to do sit down table service daily, especially character meals, the plus dining plan can certainly be a money saver as well as a convenience as your dining is paid for before you travel and you are not budgeting for meals while enjoying your vacation. There are also the quick service and deluxe dining plans, again many options to accommodate the needs of different families. I always recommend exploring the dining options available and writing down those that catch your attention, this often helps make the decision on whether the dining plan is your best bet, not the opinion of what everyone else has done on their vacations.
As for parks, remember just as with everything else, everyone has an opinion. I will say, all four parks are amazing and certainly offer something very different with each. I encourage you to not skip a park on the advise of someone else's experience, your interests and enjoyment of certain things may be very different than theirs. Until you have experienced it yourself to form an opinion, don't let someone else's lure you into choosing to not do something your family may love. Disney would not have these 4 amazing parks if they did not offer something over the top fantastic in each, so give each a try and decide for yourself, don't end your magical vacation wishing you would have not skipped a park on someone's recommendation of what they liked or did not.
Finally, I will say, consider how your family vacations and interacts regularly. What types of things interest you? Are you early risers or night owls? Do you enjoy thrills or are you more laid back? Do you have little ones that need a break mid day or troopers that can go from morning till night fall. Again, not every family is the same and therefore not everyone's vacation experience is going to be the same. You do not have to follow the itinerary of your neighbor who just got back and had the best trip ever, they may vacation differently than you or have different interests. Make planning a family affair and create a custom plan to fit your family's wants and needs.
For many in trying to determine what works best for their family, they choose the assistance of a travel agent who specializes in Disney. Again, there is no right or wrong way to choose to book but for many, the services of a travel agent are part of what makes the experience for them. To have someone to listen to you and give your information and guidance that is catered for your family is just what many are looking for. Don't be afraid to explore this option, we do not take over your experience, in fact, we work to give you what you are looking for, even though you don't necessarily know where to begin looking.
As so many are looking at beginning planning for their summer vacation (as many do not realize that planning takes months and the ideal time frame is 6-8 months out) again, you will get advise and often scolded it seems for waiting to the last minute or even told by some to postpone until you can plan with a longer time frame or you will never get what you want. My advice, you don't know what you don't know, if you have not been, you have no idea of what you may or may not miss out on. beauty of Disney is that you can come back and have a completely different experience each time if you choose. So don't be afraid that you are choosing wrong, you have already chosen Disney and have chosen to create magical memories with your family, how can you go wrong with that?
Susan Pitzer is a Senior Travel Agent with MousePros Travel Agency, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.
Find Susan on Facebook!