by Tom (Pogo) Henry
So…. You’ve never been to Walt Disney World before and don’t know where to start? Start here of course!
OK…. you’ve made your mind up. We are going to Walt Disney World. Now what? First of all….. it’s a vacation. Relax! Here are some of my tips for making the most of your first trip to Walt Disney World.
There are several ways to make your reservations for your trip. You can book it directly from Disney via their website. You can use AAA or you could use one of the many travel agents out there. You could book a package deal from your favorite air carrier too.
A great way to book your first trip is by using a travel agent that’s been there, done that themselves. They will know the best deal for you and your family. Of course we are here on the forums to help with your questions too.
Which is my favorite, you ask? The one here on this site, “Off to Neverland Travel” and here is the reason why. Off to Neverland Travel has all the experience to assure that your family will have the best vacation to fit your budget.
You tell them when you’d like to travel and they will use their experience to guide you along. They know when the best deals are offered and they will handle all the reservation details for you. That is one big problem solved and will relieve you from the stress. And it doesn’t cost you any extra money. They get paid by Walt Disney World, not you. How cool is that?
Are you close enough to drive or do you need to make flight reservations? Let’s assume you need to fly.
Start looking at your favorite air lines web site for deals about six months before your trip. You can use Expedia, Orbitz, or one of the many other travel sites if you’d like, but you won’t get a better deal than you will if you make your reservations directly with the Air Line web site.
When Patti and I fly to Orlando from Rochester, we like to leave here in early morning so we can be at our favorite park in early afternoon. We’ve found that if we arrive at Orlando at noon, we will be at our resort, checked in and at our favorite park by 1:30 to 2:00 PM.
Our return flight always departs Orlando after 6:00 PM so we can enjoy the Magic Kingdom before we leave. But it is easy for the two of us, because we do not have little children to consider.
That leads me to transportation questions.
Transportation from the Orlando airport to your resort and back to the airport at the end of your vacation is part of the package if you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort. The Magical Express bus service that is included with your package. There is no need to rent a car or the added expense of a taxi. This is the best “free” service I’ve ever used.
When your travel agent makes your package reservation for you they will ask about your flight details. You tell them what airline, when you arrive and depart, what flight number, and about a month before your trip you will receive an envelope from Magical Express with vouchers and bag tags. Before you leave home, you put the yellow bag tags on each “checked” bag and they magically appear in your room at your Disney resort about two or three hours after you arrive. It’s that easy! If you are not using a travel agent its easy just ask how in the forums.
Your package also includes all your transportation to and from the parks by bus, water taxi, or monorail, depending on where you are staying and which park you are headed.
Many off-site resorts offer transportation to the parks and if you are renting a condo and need more information please go to the forum for your questions.
OK…… which park and on what day is best? Every one that I talk with has a different opinion about this. We like to go to the Magic Kingdom first…… because….. I’m like a ten year old kid there. I can’t wait to see Cinderella’s Castle. If you have children with you I’d suggest this as a first day park.
As soon as our trip is booked, I get onto the Walt Disney World web site and look at the park calendar for each park and try to decide which day we’d like to visit each park. We take into consideration “Extra Magic” hours. Each day one park either opens early or stays open late for guest staying at a WDW resort, another reason for staying at a Disney resort. We try to use the EMH to our advantage. These hours are subject to change and do change frequently so remember to check back to make sure the park hours are still the same as your plans.
One question I get asked a lot is…. do we need reservations for dinner while there? And the answer is…… it depends. If you want to eat a sit down dinner at a Table Service restaurant, then yes, you do. And you need to make the reservation at the 180 day mark before you are going to be there. Some restaurants fill up extremely quickly. All of our friends here at Mouse-aid can help you with advice on dining options. We have information regarding special dining needs such as food allergies, picky eaters and more.
Park tickets can also be a mystery to somebody that has never been to Disney. Once again, your travel agent can give you all the options and help you decide. Patti and I usually have tickets for the number of days we’ll be there with the Park Hopper added on. That allows us to visit two or sometimes three parks in one day. But you might want the Water Parks and more options for your family. This allows you to visit Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for some water slide fun. Remember members here can help you with your ticket questions.
When in doubt about any thing concerning your trip, visit our forum often and ask lots of questions. This site was put together by some very experienced Disney travelers and we are all anxious to help.
Relax…. It’s only a vacation! But it is the best vacation we’ve ever taken by far.