Disney World is an exciting place. But it can be overwhelming, especially for first time visitors.
So where do you begin? Here are 5 questions every traveler should ask before booking a trip to the happiest place on Earth:
1. What time of year should I go?
This is usually the first question travelers face. When is the best time of year to go? The busy season is typically summertime and holidays. Then, when kids are back in school, the parks are generally less crowded.
The Disney travel experts at Fodor’s say September and early December is a great time to visit. With the exception of Labor Day, September is the least crowded month to visit. Early December is a great time to visit and also enjoy the holiday shows and decorations.
Melissa Caldarone, a mom with two kids, visits Disney World every year (she even designs her own Disney-inspired T-shirts!) She tells first timers to book when Disney offers free dining promotions, “usually these promos are announced in May for travel later in the year. If you can travel when this promotion is available, you will save a ton of money.”
The parks do run slightly shorter hours in the off-season, but since there are fewer people, you can still easily tour a park in a day.
2. Where should I stay?
Visitors must decide whether to stay on-site at a Disney resort or at a hotel outside of Disney property.
There are pros and cons to each. Disney hotels tend to be more expensive but have some advantages. For example, the location and transportation enable quicker access to the theme parks. There are also perks such as extended park hours, the opportunity make dining reservations early, free and easy transportation to the parks, and possibly extra FastPasses.
But off-site hotels around Orlando like the Four Season Orlando and Hard Rock Hotel are luring more visitors than ever with competitive rates, waterparks and complimentary transportation to area theme parks. Off-site may also turn out to be more affordable, especially if the family has a car.
Travelers can also consider vacation home rentals on sites like HomeAway.
3. Should I use FastPass+?
FastPass+ enables guests to reserve a spot in line at favorite rides prior to their trip.
How it works is this: Once guests receive their theme park tickets, they can log into My Disney Experience on the Disney website or app and make an itinerary of preferred rides and attractions.
This feature allows families guaranteed access and short wait times to some of the hottest attractions. Visitors who master FastPass+ can minimize the wait times and maximize the time they spend playing in the parks.
4. What time should I go to the parks?
Arriving to the parks early can help keep an experience stress-free. Disney parks open at 9 a.m. and lines tend to start forming after 10 a.m. So, guests can hop on a few rides in the same time it would take to ride maybe only one in the afternoon.
5. Should I download any apps?
Yes! Before leaving home, download the My Disney Experience app onto a smartphone. This app helps families coordinate dining reservations, FastPass+ features and the locations of Disney characters.
All family members can use the same account, making the daily itinerary ease to follow.
By Julie Loffredi