So as I haven't written a blog for a long while, and there are only 35 days until we fly to Disney! As always, I'm incredibly excited; I feel like I'm going home! There are many people who think I'm crazy for wanting to keep going back to 'the happiest place on earth', and I often get particular comments which are myths about going on a Disney holiday. Because we are creating a Disney series, this blog post will hopefully tackle some of those myths, and give you some hacks when it comes to planning a trip to Disney. Just to contextualise, I'm referring to Walt Disney World (WDW*) in Florida. I have been to Disneyland Paris a few times (we're going back again in December but that's a different post!) but WDW is where the majority of my knowledge applies. Please remember, that all ideas are my own.
*Disclaimer - I will try to explain as many acronyms as I go along. If I forget, please drop a comment and I'll explain it!
Going to Disney is a 'once in a lifetime' trip because it's so expensive
Now, for many people, they feel that going to Disney is a once in a lifetime trip, mainly because of the cost. In some cases, that may be true. But if you're like us and get the bug like we did when we went for the first time in 1998, then you'll do everything in your power to go back again and again. Luke quite hasn't had the bug for as long as I have, but he instantly got it when he came away with us 3 years ago. This will be my 9th trip in just over 20 years, and 8 of those times we have stayed on Disney property. There are many pros to this and this will form part of our Disney blog series. So, a lot of you are thinking 'oh they're loaded' or 'how on earth do they afford that'? Well it comes down to a lot of research and hopefully the next few points will help you out.
-We go on average every 2/3 years. The years we don't go to Disney, we will just go for the odd night away or a short break in the UK.
-Working in education, we HAVE to use school holidays. For us to go away on holiday anywhere, we've always budgeted £1000 per week per person (this would be all inclusive in the Canary islands for example). Disney does not work out much more than that, and we have lots of added extras within that .
-Disney are always advertising offers. We got a $200 gift card when we booked our holiday to spend whilst we're away, and have free dining for our entire stay. This will form another blog post because, quite frankly, it deserves its own!
-Do your research. If you're flexible with when you can go, then make the most of the cheaper times of year. Another major hack is going indirect with your flights. We pay extra for the convenience of getting there, but I know people who have flown a similar time to us for almost half the price, just by adding in a small diversion into their journey!
-Compare prices. We tend to book our flights separately to our hotel stay and tickets now. We know what we're doing and it can often work out cheaper. Just make sure your travel insurance covers more than package holidays, and that it caters for individually booked aspects too.
-Use online cashback sites (especially Top Cashback because they're the best - even if my brother does work for them!). It's amazing how much money we got back from booking our holiday online. You can take this off the total cost of your holiday then!
These are just a few money saving tips, but there are many more!
Disney is a really busy and regimented holiday - you need a holiday to recover from it
A Disney holiday is as busy as you choose to make it. I'd like to think that we're pros at it now, and we have found that perfect balance. We have lots of fun time in the parks, but we also have downtime, whether that be having a siesta, or an afternoon by the pool. It can and does take some organising, but again, it's how you choose to spend your time. We tend to get to the parks as early as possible (especially those first few days when jet lag is still very apparent), then by lunch time we can head back and chill at the hotel, before heading back out again of the evening. Because we go most frequently in August, this helps out with coping with the heat too.
In terms of things being regimented, there are lots of things you can prebook with Disney. Staying in a Disney hotel gives you even earlier access and some of these things can help make your holiday. For example, I mentioned earlier that we get free dining whilst we're there. This is an offer that has been on for quite a few years now and they always put it on for people during school holidays. Now, this may sound crazy to some people, but we booked a restaurant for each day of our holiday 180 days before our check in date. You obviously do not have to do this at all, because there are an infinite number of dining locations across the parks where you do not need a reservation. However, if your child is absolutely obsessed with a particular character, it would be in your best interests to book a meal at a restaurant where they can meet them! We did the same with Fastpasses 60 days before check in. These are basically like a queue hopper. We've planned which park we're going to go to each day and matched this with our reservation. It means we spend less time queuing and more time having fun!
Just remember, with all of these reservations, they can be altered and changed right up until the last minute!
I think lots of people also assume Disney is just full of crowds and they don't think they can cope with that many people. I'm not going to lie, there are times that it can get busy. Just think about the theme parks and attractions that we go to. I've taken Rory to the zoo twice in the same week; once it was virtually empty, the other time it was full of families. It's something you just have to accept. The Disney app will tell you the queue times of the rides in the parks. If it's too long, you go back at another time. This is where having an itinerary can become useful as you can make sure you don't miss out on those 'must-do' attractions by using a fastpass.
I've had the conversation with some people as well who have said that they feel trapped in the parks and feel they'd never leave the resort. Like I said before, this is just the way we do Disney, it's not necessarily the right way, but it works for us. You don't have to stay on Disney property; you can stay in a villa or a hotel outside of Disney. You can use public transport or hire a car to visit different places. We like to go to the shopping malls, and we went and did a crocodile adventure thing once! You can drive to the beaches, you can go to other parks which are not just Disney (we do this too). The list is endless, but the possibilities are limitless. If you want to stay in a villa and only do a couple of days in Disney, that's your choice. I may think you're crazy(!) but if it's what you want from your holiday then it's the right way for you!
You shouldn't take young children to Disney because they won't remember it/Disney is only for families with children
This myth comes in 2 parts, and they both have a similar answer. So let's look at the first one. One of the most common things I hear is 'I'm going to wait until my children are older. They'll appreciate it and remember it, so it's not a waste of money'. You must remember that this holiday is just as much for you as it is for your children. Go to Disney for all of you, not just for them. They're not going to remember lots of things, and just because you take them somewhere other than Disney, it doesn't mean that they will remember that place! It links back to the first myth I discussed - if you plan well and do your research, Disney doesn't have to be a 'once in a lifetime' holiday and you can take your children on more than one occasion.
Now the second part - believe it or not, Luke was one of these people. When we decided to book Disney as a family of 5 adults (me, Luke, my Mom, my Dad and my brother) he thought we were pretty crazy. Who goes to Disney without kids?! Surely it can't be enjoyable?! His opinion obviously changed rather quickly once we got there! There are so many aspects to Disney which are for children, naturally, but there are so many things which are suitable for adults! You have some thrill rides and rollercoasters, amazing entertainment, and lots of subtle details to Disney which makes it more enjoyable for adults. Disney doesn't have to be in your face if you don't want it to be. There are hotels which don't have a hint of Disney in them, but are still completed to Disney standard. If you want to go and sit in a nice restaurant without Mickey coming to disturb you, you can. It's what you want to get out of your holiday and no way is the right way, just your way.
Like I said before, everything that we write in these Disney blogs are all based on our own ideas and experiences. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I'm always happy to talk to people if they have any questions though! Let me know in the comments or via DM on Instagram (@mommy_davies) if you have anything in particular you'd like to see in our series over the summer!
Mommy Davies x