Showing posts with label Walt Disney World tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney World tips. Show all posts

What We Learned From Our First Trip To Disney World (part 1)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

*This post got really long so I'm splitting it into two parts. We weren't asked to do this and aren't getting anything for posting about it. 

Going to Disney World for the first time was a little overwhelming and was definitely a learning experience. During the trip we talked about what we'd do differently if we were to plan it all over again. Phil was nice enough to type his observations out for me. I cleaned up a few spelling and grammar errors but copied it directly from his email. My editorial is in purple (natch).

Here are my [eight] lessons learned from the trip. Your mileage may vary.
Animal Kingdom
1) Research the Disney Vacation Club ahead of the trip. There will be plenty of opportunities to purchase it while you are there, but if it's something you really are interested in [pursuing], it only makes sense to get it before you go and immediately cash in your points for the trip. You can also purchase it for less then you would at the parks from re-sellers. This leads into number two.

There are a ton of opportunities to listen to the vacation club presentation. We had time to kill between checking out of the Polynesian and into the Port Orleans and the gift cards were a bonus. We had no intention of signing up. We did join while we were there but then un-joined for several reasons. Buying from re-sellers has its own risks. If you really want to know the details I'll be happy to email you about it. 

2) Research your hotel. Not all are created equal. Based off of a 7 day stay in April for a family of two adults and one kid, Economy is $2133, Moderate $2668, Deluxe Villa $3680, and Deluxe resort $4558. The moderate is only $76 a day more than the economy, with the deluxe resort is running $345 a day more then the economy. The deluxe resort gives you the queen bed standard which is a must for two adults sharing a bed. The moderate comes with the double size standard, which is tough to accommodate two adults. 

We slept in separate beds and Tyler was on the pull out on the floor at the Port Orleans. Phil is over six feet tall. A double bed is hard enough for him let alone both of us. Tyler slept with me for the last three nights. He kicks. 

The deluxe obviously is much nicer in several other areas, such as size, and amenities. I think moderate is the way to go however for bang for the buck (having only seen the moderate and deluxe resort, not sure what the others would rate). The economy is located pretty far south on the property so will increase your travel times, and it doesn't have the fridge standard which cuts down on your ability to keep leftovers and things like milk, etc.. This leads to three.

3) Get the dining plan. Using the above scenario, a mid level dining plan tacks on an extra $309. This is huge [in terms of savings]. The dining plans come in 3 levels. Lowest gives you 2 quick meals a day and a base 7 day ticket. mid level gives you the ticket plus 1 snack, 1 quick meal, and 1 sit down meal a day per person. Highest level gives you the ticket, plus 3 meals a day (sit down or quick) plus a souvenir refill mug and choice of accommodations. The mid level is again how I would choose. At a cost of $44 a day, this deal is incredible. An average sit down meal for a family of 3 will run $80. The quick meal for that family is around $30, and 3 snacks would run you between $7.50 and $12.00 dollars. So $44 is getting you about $130 worth of food.

The lowest plan I don't like because it doesn't offer sit down meals. Quick meals are fine once a day, but you can't survive on pizza and burgers for a week. The highest plan is just too much food, and the souvenir mug is wasted. This is the smartest way to use your quick meals: everyone has a large breakfast. This gets you the fuel for the day. 

The breakfast at a moderate hotel is huge, and each meal comes with two beverages, so it's perfect to grab an OJ for breakfast and a bottle of water or soda for later. Eat a small lunch at the parks, or rather skip it entirely and use your snacks to get some fruit or a pretzel. Use your sit down meal for a large dinner. The amount of food they give you is huge.
He looked like this pretty much the whole trip. Priceless.
I wish the plan had a little more flexibility. Dessert came with every meal. We don't eat sweets that often. The money we spent out of pocket came from adding a soup onto the meal. I would much rather have had the option to choose an appetizer OR dessert, not just dessert. We had a fridge full of cheesecake and brownies at the end of our stay. 

I also would have liked more snacks, for the same reason Phil described. We ate huge breakfasts and weren't really hungry for lunch but we had to share pretzels and fruit (rather than each getting their own) to space the snacks out and we still used them all before the week was up. On the day we left for home, Phil and Tyler were out waiting for the shuttle to the airport and I was in the hotel cafeteria using the last of our meal plan for sandwiches and drinks to tide us over in the airport. The dining plan gives A LOT of food. 
4) For stays of 7 days or longer, forget the park hopper. Definitely get the water park one if you're in the right season though. Realistically if you have enough time to hit each park once then a few days to re-visit your favorites, there is no need to park hop. It takes time to hop, as there are no buses going between parks. You'll have to transit from the park you are in, to a resort, then from that resort to the park you want to go to. Also, with fast passes on the best rides usually running out later in the day, you may hop to find out there is a 2 hour wait for the ride you want, and no fast passes available. The water park option also includes Disney Quest and golf, so it is worth the money if you plan on doing any of those three.

Part two with tips 5-9 coming soon.
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