Doing Disney World on a Whim
The most important part of the plan is to decide how much you should and are willing to spend for value. Traveling with my 14- and 13-year-old sons and 74-year-old mom dictates what's essential to ensure our trips are enjoyable for everyone.
1. Book it. Yes, it's hot. School is out for many, so it's getting crowded, too. And it's the 50th WDW anniversary. So, as one of my favorite disneyfoodblog friends-in-my-head shared, pack your patient pants.
2. Genie+ is your friend. Traveling with my 74yo mom, 14yo and 12yo requires patience in the parks. You pay $15 pp each day you choose to use it. The ability to schedule the most popular rides/attractions allowed us to enjoy a full day of Magic Kingdom. Even though stormy weather canceled the nighttime show, the only thing we didn't get to do was the kiss good night (fireworks show). We made up for it. I will share it on a different blog.
3. Budget is usually on the top of my list. Don't be afraid to adjust your travel to your lifestyle. I've always stayed in Disney resorts on property. There are perks to that, but it's a price, too. Since this was a semi-last-minute getaway, I stayed off property to save a little bit and have more money for things like Genie+, dining reservations and souvenirs. Remember, the more days you stay, the ticket prices decrease, so if it's a choice between a 3- and 5-day ticket, the 5-day may be worth it to get the full experience without the rush.
4. I shopped nearby resorts on Hotwire, Expedia, Booking and other sites for the best price. I wanted a place that offered a lot of amenities on property for a day and a half without park reservations. The key is to check these sites at various times of the day until the best deal pops up. I believe these sites are a gem for those traveling in pairs because sometimes the hotel/resort has the right to select your room, and four people in a room with one king-sized bed isn't going to cut it. Thankfully, several resorts allow you to choose your room type on the app. If you don't see this option, be mindful that it sometimes depends on hotel availability to accommodate your needs. We lucked up with the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort and enjoyed the amenities for an affordable price.
5. Determine what trade-offs are important. Because this was somewhat spur of the moment, I didn't bother booking flights. Even with gas prices increasing, having the ability to haul our creature comforts like gaming systems and snacks and travel to and from the parks on our schedule was a plus for me. The seven-hour car ride was worth it to us.
6. Find an authorized Disney travel agent. They can find great discounts, advise you on which parks to visit on which days, and schedule your park reservations. That's a thing now. You have to have a reservation to attend a park, so the sooner you book, the better the chance you'll visit the parks you want. We went to the four main parks and built-in two days for Epcot. I like to schedule two days for Magic Kingdom, but MK wasn't available the day we wanted to attend.
7. Be prepared for Florida weather. Pack your ponchos because it will likely rain at some point. Try to take chilled water bottles with you. I always carry a backpack, and the most weight is from our water bottles, but it's a must-have, especially during spring and summer. Depending on the time of year, you may want a light jacket. Some rides and attractions can be cold, so I usually have our jackets handy. You never know how the weather will feel in the fall after rain. It's been comfortably cool during the day and dropped to cold just before the fireworks show.
Have fun. Take lots of pictures. Get the photo pass. If you can, invest in the Smart bands - they make everything convenient, especially for groups. Savor the magic. Let your inner child out and embrace the pixie dust magic sprinkled throughout Disney parks.