Disney world is one of those fun places that people love to talk about, but when it comes to planning, everyone falls into two camps.
The ‘I don’t care, I’m just going to go and we can do whatever” camp
And then the “I need to know everything about Disney World and I’ve color coded my printables camp”
BUT regardless of what camp you fall into, you’ve got some basic questions. These are the ones that everyone asks, and if we’re being honest, they’re also the ones everyone needs to know to have a successful trip to Disney World.
Before we get started though- there are TWO Disney’s in the United States. This is an important distinction that people forget to ask, because depending on where you grew up, you only really knew about one Disney.
The one we’re discussing today is home to Cinderella’s castle, the iconic beauty featured at the beginning of Disney movies in some sort of animated entrance. (The other Disney is in California, called Disney Land).
-without further ado
The questions all Disney World Beginners need to know
One) it’s all about timing
When it comes to Disney World, we’ve got one very important thing to consider.
When’s the best time to go?
Sure, many of these decisions are based on vacation dates and school vacations. There are birthdays to consider and dates to celebrate. But if you really want to know. There IS a time to go to Disney World that is considered the best time.
You have to ask yourself. Do you want to deal with high crowds?- then go during the summer months and on Holiday weeks/weekends
Do you want the least expensive time of year? Go in January (since all of Disney World is seasonally priced)
Willing to go whenever Disney releases there newest discounts and free dining plans? Get on their email list or hook up with a travel agent who can give you the scoop on what’s available for 2020 and 2021.
If it was me, I would go during the week in the spring and fall seasons, totally skip the weekends (those would be my off days or travel days) and avoid the big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve) like the plague.
Two) looking like a snack
If you’ve been around long enough you will likely recall that theme parks and amusement attractions around the world used to not allow people to bring in coolers. Thankfully, those days are far behind us (which is such a blessing for those of us with food allergies!).
Disney does allow outside food AND drinks. They just don’t allow large coolers or loose ice, only ice packs. They don’t want you dumping ice out all over the place or leaking water, it’s unsightly and a disaster waiting to happen.
I’d highly recommend any number of book-bag or collapsible coolers, plus, you should consider bringing in a hydration backpack. All good things to use at Disney!
If you do plan to bring in snacks, keep in mind that most rooms only have a small fridge (so check ahead) and that you can get food delivered to your resort so you don’t have to shop on vacation.
3) the jury is still out… kinda
The most loaded question you’ll find on the internet regarding Disney World is, is the dining plan worth it?
Again, we have two camps that think the dining plan is the best thing since spice racks.
Camp 1 believes it will save them money, especially with free dining.
Camp 2 believes it easier because they’re on vacation and they don’t want to look at money.
However, there’s a flaw to each of these camps. For camp 1, we know that it’s the same price with ‘free’ dining as it is with a package of room ticket and dining plan. The only difference is that with free dining, the dining is free but the room is much higher priced and you can’t use discounts. The only caveat is if you manage to snag a bounce back offer during free dining BUT it’s likely better for you to get an annual pass if you’re going more than 2 weeks a year to Disney. So- it’s a lot of math, and we know how well our education system prepared us for math. People like to believe it’s ‘free’ and the cognitive dissonance won’t break them from the hard facts that it’s a similar price without and with the ‘free’ label.
Camp 2 believes that the dining plan is worth it because you switch out money for credits. This is a common marketing tactic meant to encourage the consumer to not price check and it’s true. Many snacks are between 3-6 dollars, but how many people only choose the 6 dollar snack consistently to get their money’s worth on the dining plan?
For many, it’s actually more stressful trying to navigate a new to you system of credits and reservations. Disney makes it very easy (too easy) to use your magic band (also known as your room key and park ticket) to charge your food without using money or cash. So Camp 2s arguments aren’t really valued.
Most importantly from all of this is the fact that people push the dining plan because they are compensated for it.
Travel agents that work for Disney are ‘free’. While you won’t pay anything out of pocket, they will receive a commission based on the total package they sell you much like a car salesman. Adding the dining plan gives them more of a commission and more reason to persuade you that the dining plan is indeed a good deal.
So I will go to Disney World perjury for saying this but, I can truthfully say, from the most non-biased perspective, that it is indeed, not worth it.
4)Where can you find him?
The most essential question has to do with our favorite pal.
Where can you find Mickey Mouse?
Well that’s a loaded question because our furry friend likes to hide in lots of places with lots of outfits changes!
Parades and shows aside (where you can see him but not meet him) there are many places in the parks you can say hello in person. Each of the parks has a meet and greet location (and if you want to see Mickey and Minnie, you’ll need to head to the only spot available for that, Animal Kingdom)
Not inside the parks? No problem! , you can still greet Mickey at a few locations tucked behind a paywall.
These are known as character meals and they are at several of the resorts around the property. You can see the full scoop about how to do character meals without a park ticket, but basically, you schedule a meal and pay the big dollars (dinners are now over 50 per adult) to have a character meet with a meal.
5) the cheapest ones are where?
I saved the very best for last!
The question that everyone will ask, even if they have the money. Why? Because the cost of admission is steepppppp.
A family of four can easily drop 1000 on tickets for a small vacation and several thousand for annual passes.
so that leaves people hunting for the best option when it comes to tickets, but Disney is one step ahead of the game. They’ve been raising prices every year and it hasn’t been friendly on the pocketbook.
Naturally, people look to bargain sites like eBay, and while I wholeheartedly support eBay for most things, I can’t recommend them for tickets. Too many times they’ve sold a dud and you are out of luck at the ticket window (sure you can complain to eBay, but the damage is already done while you are at the parks)
If you are military, Disney World has its own resort for military members called Shades of Green and you can get discounted tickets there. They also have special options for military members for 2020. (and for everyone else, like our first responders, don’t forget to check GovX!)
Another way to score tickets is when you go to conventions at Disney, or through a discount work program that you might have available at your job. For those that go for conventions, Disney usually has a booth in the main hall where they offer deals on Half-day tickets.
Lastly, consider getting tickets from an authorized reseller like Undercover Tourist or a travel agent. These tickets are not drastically cheaper (normally only a few dollars) so you will need to decide if hunting around for a few dollars is worth your time, or if you’re better off just waiting to see what discounts Disney offers throughout the year.
Confused? I hope not
Many people wig out when it comes to a Disney World vacation- but you don’t have to be overwhelmed. Get your bucket list together, review the most common questions to make sure that you have a foundation, and go make memories that will last a lifetime!