Walt Disney World has evolved from a theme park to a week-long resort destination. And just as you would plan for a trip to Chicago or New York, you need to plan for Disney. This is why so many people either give up on a vacation to Disney or they come back feeling like they chased their tail (or the mouse’s) the whole time.
Before jumping in to the planning phase, families need to know if this is the right vacation for them in the first place. Following is a quick and easy explanation of what to expect at Walt Disney World.
What Is Walt Disney World?
4 Theme Parks (also called “the parks”)
2 Water Parks (require additional tickets)
1 Entertainment/Dining/Shopping District
- Disney Springs (no fee to enter)
How Much Does It Cost?
4-Day Tickets for 2 Adults, 2 Kids (Under the age of 10)
Least Expensive Dates = $1,545 (w/tax)
Most Expensive Dates = $1,616 (w/tax)
A Standard Multi-Day Ticket allows access to one theme park per day. Access to multiple theme parks in one day requires an upgrade to the ParkHopper option.
*Single and other multi-day ticket options available, as well as upgrade options
Disney has over 30 options available for accommodations, ranging from campsites to Polynesian bungalows.
Prices Start From $100 to $350/night, depending on category of hotel.
Disney’s hotels (resorts), also referred to as “onsite hotels”, offer a complimentary airport shuttle (Magical Express), plus transportation from your hotel to the theme parks. If you have a car, there is a nightly parking fee. Check the Disney website for Special Offers.
There are a large number of non-Disney (offsite) hotels, condos, and rental homes in the Orlando area. Most require a car to get to the parks, which averages around $250/week when rented at Orlando International Airport. All the big hotel chains are here if you’d like to use loyalty points.
What Is There To Do?
Each theme park offers rides, shows, live entertainment, specialty and casual dining, character interactions, and nighttime spectaculars. The following tools and options are used by Disney to enhance your experiences in their parks.
FastPass+ – Disney offers each guest three FastPass+ reservations per day for certain rides, shows, and character meetings. Each reservation gives you a 1-hour window to arrive for the attraction with a minimal wait. You may obtain more FastPasses after you use the first 3.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Reservation Itinerary
10am – Dumbo (arrive at the ride anytime between 10am and 11am)
11am – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (arrive anytime between 11am and 12pm)
1pm – Haunted Mansion (arrive anytime between 1pm and 2pm)
After you enter Haunted Mansion, you may reserve an additional FastPass+ for the day. After you use that one, you may reserve another, and so on.
Dining Plan – Guests who book a room and ticket package, may also purchase a dining plan. These plans are pre-paid options that provide guests “meal credits” to be used each day of their trip.
For example, on the standard dining plan, each person receives 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and 2 snack credits for each night of the reservation.
My Disney Experience – This is Disney’s planning portal that allows you to keep track of FastPass+ reservations, dining reservations, and to check wait times for various rides. It also includes maps of the entire resort area.
Walt Disney World is a remarkable vacation destination that combines high-energy attractions with unique experiences. While there is certainly something for everyone, taking the time to explore what suits your family will be time well spent. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start planning!