How I Planned Our Trip To Disney

How I Planned Our Trip To Disney
Orlando, Florida can be such a fun place. There are beaches, unique shops and of course Disney. I’ve been to Disney a few times in my life, but the last time I went was a few years ago with my friends. Even though the last trip was so much fun it was very poorly planned. To give you some background we decided to go to Universal Studios around noon on a Saturday…. Yeah, didn’t work out that great. You can definitely do Orlando on a budget and make your money last you the whole week. I wanted to share some tips and tricks on how I planned our Disney trip this year. To see pictures and adventures from our Orlando trip you can view that blog by clicking here.


How Many Days & The Parks

1. The first thing you want to do is decide what time frame of the year you are going. Disney is always changing things up for the seasons and it’s important to know when during the year you are visiting. A few years ago we went during the week of 4th of July, so obviously the park was a lot busier. This year we went in the middle of September because we wanted to go to Disney during the “fall/Halloween” themed of the season and they start it at the end of August. We also wanted to go after school had already started so there will be less families and children at the parks especially since we are going in the middle of the week and avoiding the weekends and all cost.

2. Next, you should determine which parks you want to go to. There are four parks for Disney (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom). There are also some water parks, but I’m not going too much into those since we didn’t go to any. There is also Universal Studios which is actually split up into two parks. So, we decided we wanted to do all 6 parks over the span of 6 days. You really need to research the parks and determine which ones are best for you, which ones you want to visit, and how many per day you want to go to. Since we wanted to do 6 parks, 6 days, Omar and I decided to make our trip a week and a half (10 days), because we didn’t want every day to be spent at a park we wanted to be able to split it up.

3. Once you determine which parks you want to visit, you should also plan out what days you want to go. I did a quick Google search to see which parks are busier on what days. Some parks are geared more towards younger children and will be busier on the weekends versus Epcot which is geared more towards adults which might be busier on a Thursday. Just do a quick search on the busiest parks and plan your week/days from there. My friend Leticia (Shout out to Leticia) she sent me this website called UnderCoverTourist.com. All you have to do is plug in your dates and it will show you which parks are busiest during your stay. This definitely helped us when planning out trip so thanks girl!


Tickets

1. There are so many ways to buy tickets and this will be different to each person going. It’s best to try to do packaged deals (4 days, 4 parks) versus single day tickets. There will normally be a little bit of a discount when you do bulk tickets. However, this only applies to you if you’re visiting more than one park. It’s also important to buy your tickets in advance! If you buy tickets the day of at the park they will be more expensive than if you were to buy them ahead of time.

2. Get a discounted ticket. This can go so many different ways, but just know that with some luck you can find discounted tickets. We happen to have friends still in the military so we were able to get a military package which included 4 parks for 4 days tickets for $226 each. That’s a steal! There are a lot of exceptions and rules to the military packages but it’s definitely something to checkout if you know the right people. However, if you can’t take advantage of the military passes, you should definitely look on Groupon. That’s where we got our Universal tickets from because they were much cheaper than buying them through the Universal website. You really just need to take some time to look up discounted Disney tickets, but make sure the website is legit and you’re not getting scammed! Lastly, if you know anyone who works for Disney/Universal or someone who lives in Florida they usually can get free or cheaper park passes.


Travel

1. How do you want to travel? Depending on where you are in the world you may have a few options. I personally prefer to fly versus driving but there are benefits and negatives to both. Omar and I decided to fly and then rent a car (cheers to being 25), but our friends drove down because their trip was a lot shorter than ours and they're about 6 hours closer to Florida then we were. Once you determine how you’re getting there you can start searching for the discounts.

2. Just like when you’re looking for cheap Disney tickets you can look for cheap plane tickets. Anyone can look up ways to get cheaper flights, but I’ll share just a couple of my tricks here:

- Airplane mode or multiple computers. Once you start searching for flights the prices will start to go up and it’s important to write down the cheaper websites (my faovirets are CheapOAir, STATravel, and JustFly). Once you search through a ton of website, switch computers and do your final search and buy your ticket from there.

- Buy your ticket on a Tuesday (it’s cheaper for some reason), but if it’s a Wednesday and you just happen to see it’s really cheap and you don’t think you’ll get a better deal than go with your gut.

- Call the website and buy tickets through the phone. We found our tickets on JustFly through Spirit airlines and even though they were a great deal, I knew with Omar’s military discount we could get a little more off. So I called Spirit and told them I found these tickets on this website for this amount, they confirmed and because we had the military discount we got additional cost off.

- Try to bundle. Bundling a flight and rental car can definitely make things cheaper, but not always. You really just need to shop around and see what works best for you (military discounts and such can affect this). 

- Start early. The earlier you book everything the cheaper it will be.

- Don’t be afraid to shop around. Sure you can check Travelocity, Kayak and all those, but what you should also pay attention to are those last minute deals. There are certain Twitter and Instagram accounts that will post last minute flight deals and if you’re lucky you may just see your trip come up. @Airfarewatchdog, @cheapflights, @theflightdeal and @secretflying are some of my favorites.

- Use Cashback apps or cards. If you’re a hardcore Disney goer then you know all about the points you can earn if you have a Disney credit card. I’m not recommending anyone pull out a Disney card (because we certainly didn’t) but pay attention to your current cash back cards and see if you have any rewards you can take advantage of. Omar and I have been using the app Get Upside where we get cash back on gas and groceries (Use my code: UTUBE to get an extra 20 cents back). We basically saved all of that money and used it for some extra spending money on our trip.

3. Be flexible. It would be awesome if you could be flexible on dates. For instance Omar and I had the option of flying in on Sunday or Monday. We also are fortunate to live in Northern Virginia which means we have THREE airports to fly out of. If you can be flexible with dates, airports, or even locations (maybe staying at a hotel ten minutes outside of Orlando is cheaper) than go with those! It’s all about taking the time to actually shop around.

4. Everyone has their own travel hacks such as ways to pack, what to pack, etc. Even though Orlando is a pretty easy trip, Disney is not. You’ll be packing extra sneakers and deodorants, because you know you’ll be in parks all day. This would be a very long post if I went into EVERY travel tip and trick that I do. If you want to see a FULL blog post on just travel tips leave me a comment down below. In the meantime, just do your own or look up some easy ones to help with the travel essentials. Some easy ones are pack snacks for the trip, roll your clothes instead of folding them, pack simple items such as white t-shirts, pack shoes that match with everything, pack a portable charger, and no you don’t need that big beach hat that you’re only going to wear for the Insta pic.

5. I almost forgot to include this, but most likely you’ll be booking a hotel. We are so fortunate that Omar has family hat lives in Orlando so we didn’t need to rent a hotel, but that’s not the case for everyone. The good thing is hotels are booked the same way flights are. Repeat steps 1 through 3 when looking for a hotel. Also know that Disney resorts have a lot of benefits (travel to and from parks, free dining, and offer military discounts).


Fast Pass

1. This was really important to us because we wanted to fit everything in each park and still have time to enjoy it all in one day. Why did not do the fast pass the last time we went and we stood in the Transformers line for over two hours. Why did we do this to ourselves?  This time, I was prepared to plan out our day in the park and make sure we avoided those lines. Learn what Fast Pass is and how it works before you plan your trip, you can learn all about it here. If you still aren’t sure or have questions you can call the help line.

2. Once you have set up your Disney account and are ready to plan your day, pull up a map of each park. Most people will probably do it this way too, but what you can do is see which rides you’re going to hit first when you walk in and set up your day according to that. Or maybe you want to start at the end and work your way out. However you do it, you don’t want to be running from ride to ride.

3. Plan early. Of course the earlier you plan our trip the better, but check on your fast pass throughout the day because you may get lucky with moving your ride times up.


Save Money

This one is just super obvious, but if you plan ahead of time then you know your trip is coming up then you should set some money aside for this trip. I’m very fortunate that I have PTO at my job and I’m able to not feel like I’m going a week with no pay, but also with each paycheck leading up to this trip I set aside a couple hundred dollars. Again, using other tools to help save like Get Upside or Omar saved his tax return to help with a trip like this. If you plan it all ahead of time not only will you get the best deals, but you’ll also be ready and finically stable to take it.

I hope that some of my tips help you when planning a big trip like this. I know it’s a lot and if you have a question about anything just leave me a comment down below!

xoxo, Michele