Mar 29, 2013

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part One: Myths Busted

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are planning on taking a trip to Disney World. We are SO excited about it! As our friends and co-workers find out about our upcoming trip, we are discovering that a lot of people would like to go but have no clue how to plan for it. If you fall into that category, this post is for YOU!

We will have several parts to this series: common myths busted, how to plan financially, where to stay, and dining options. If you are planning a trip and would like to have another topic covered, please let us know. We want this series to make life a little easier for you, and we are very open to suggestions. We also realize that what is perfect for us may not be perfect for you.

First of all, you may be wondering what qualifies us to be writing this series in the first place. I have been to Disney World four times, all under different circumstances.

March 2003: I went as part of our high school music department trip over spring break. We rode in charter buses the whole way down and stayed in a hotel in Orlando. As this was a school trip, we stayed pretty busy with workshops, parades, etc., and we didn't have much time in the parks.

May 2008: I flew down with three girlfriends, and we stayed in the Pop Century Resort on Disney property. We stayed for five days. We did not purchase a dining plan, and we primarily ate food that we took with us (granola bars, Cheerios, etc.).

April 2009: Two of my cousins, our grandmother, and I flew down and stayed in the Pop Century Resort. We stayed for six days. We did not purchase a dining plan, but other than breakfast, we bought most of our food in the parks.

September 2010: My dad, sister, younger brother, and I flew down and stayed in the Port Orleans-French Quarter Resort. We stayed for four days, and the Magic Your Way Plus Dining Plan came free with our resort reservation.

This year, we will be staying in the Pop Century Resort for six days. We received a great discount on our resort reservation, and we used the savings to purchase the Magic Your Way Plus Dining Plan.

Even if none of those scenarios are fitting for your family trip, I think you'll still find some helpful tips in our series.

Without further adieu....

PART ONE: Myths Busted

Myth #1: "You're going to Disney World? I thought Disney was just for kids."

Wrong! I have never been to Disney World with children, and I've had a blast each time. Disney has made a huge effort to make their parks just as much fun for adults as they do for kids. What do they have that teens and adults will enjoy? For starters, each of the four theme parks has thrill rides (my favorites are Expedition Everest and Rock'n'Roller Coaster). Disney also has two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. At Typhoon Lagoon, you'll find a wave pool, water roller-coaster type ride, lazy river, snorkeling with sharks and tropical fish, and water slides. You can take in a round of golf at Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course. Marshall's a golfer, but I'm not, so we're looking forward to trying out both of the miniature golf courses instead. If you're looking for a more relaxing vacation, Disney has spa packages available. There are many fancy and upscale restaurants for the romantics to pick from, and I highly recommend an evening at The Boardwalk. The sports lover will find a lot to do at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, and gamers will enjoy DisneyQuest, an indoor virtual reality theme park. Last, but not least, is Downtown Disney. Here you'll find lots of shopping and great places to eat. You don't have to have to pay to get in, so we like to visit Downtown Disney on the day we arrive in Florida rather than spending money on a park ticket for just a few hours.

Myth #2: "We'd love to go to Disney World, but we just can't afford it."

If we can afford it, you can afford it. We are a one income family, and like many of you, we live on a pretty tight budget. We decided about two years ago that we wanted to go, so we started saving all of the gift money we received and income from extra projects or overtime for our Disney fund. We are blessed with generous families and were given lots of overtime and extra little projects, and it really didn't take too long to save. In the grand scheme of things, two years is such a small amount of time to wait and save.

There are certain times of the year when Disney prices are lower, and if you have a flexible schedule, you can save a lot of money that way. We'll discuss that more in part two of the series.

Myth #3: Disney World = Magic Kingdom

Disney World is made up of four theme parks, and Magic Kingdom is just one of them. Magic Kingdom was the first park built and is the home of Cinderella's castle, but there is a lot more to Disney than that!

Magic Kingdom itself is a whole lot more than the castle. The park is broken up into different sections: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tommorowland, Liberty Square, and Main Street, U.S.A. Each section has different rides, activities, and restaurants that are theme-based.

EPCOT is almost like two parks put together. The World Showcase Lagoon is half of the park. There are eleven countries represented: Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, U.S.A., Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. In each country's pavilion, you will find native food, educational displays/shows/rides, and shops with authentic souvenirs. One of my favorite parts is that the employees who work at the pavilions are actually from those countries.

The other half of EPCOT is called Future World. There are several fun rides and a lot of really cool displays here. If you enjoy science, I think you would love Future World!

Epcot also has an epic fireworks show every evening. It's a must see!

EPCOT during the Flower and Garden Show
Hollywood Studios is SO much fun! It is home to the famed Tower of Terror, Rock'n'Roller Coaster, and many other exciting rides. There are several behind-the-scenes ride/tours you can go on and even a stunt show with real stunt drivers on motorcycles and in cars.

Animal Kingdom is the largest of the parks and, like Magic Kingdom, is divided into sections: Oasis, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Discovery Island, Dinoland U.S.A., Africa, and Asia. It's kind of like a zoo on steroids that also happens to have some thrill rides. The animals aren't caged, so to speak, but there are a lot of natural barriers. It feels like you're walking through the jungle with these creatures, but you're fully protected.

Disney World also has the attractions mentioned under Myth #1: water parks, golf, miniature golf, spas, a sports complex, a virtual reality park, and a huge shopping area.

Myth #4: "If there are four parks, then I can just go for four days and see it all."

These parks are huge, and even if there weren't any lines or other people to wait on, I doubt you could see everything in just four days. I've been there four times and still haven't seen everything! I heard somewhere that it would take fourteen days to see everything at Disney World. We can't afford to be gone for fourteen days, but we hope we'll be able to return in the future to see and do more.

It's a lot of information, but I could have written so much more! If there is a specific question you have that I didn't answer, please feel free to ask in the comment section below. Come back Monday for part two!

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Two: Money Talk
How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Three: Where to Stay

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  1. Great article. My husband and I are going in less than 2 weeks. Like you, we have gone a few times. There is so much to see and is very affordable. This is our first trip without kids.

    I found you on the I Should Be Mopping the Floor link party.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful vacation!