I receive tons of Disney World questions on a daily basis. Planning a Disney World vacation can be complex, so guests need guidance. Although the variation of the questions may differ, there always seems to be the same type of questions that people ask. I’ve compiled a list of the top type of Disney World questions that I receive with my answers.
If this is your first time planning a Disney World vacation, then these questions should help guide you with the decisions you will have to make for your next vacation.
When Are the Best and Worst Times to Visit Disney World?
There are a lot of different factors that someone may consider as a good time to visit Disney World. One person’s definition may not be the same as the next person. Oftentimes, people are looking for the times with the lowest crowds and the best weather, but those don’t always line up.
Low Crowds – The months that usually have the lowest amount of crowds are January (after the first week) and September. The reason why crowds are low is because the weather is usually the most unpredictable at those times of the year. September is very hot & humid, and it is also the peak of the hurricane season. I’ve traveled in September many times and have never been caught in a hurricane, but it is something to consider. January can be unpredictable with temperatures. You can have a comfortable day, but you can also have days where it feels really cold.
Best Weather – In my opinion, I find March and November to be great months weather wise. March is just as it is starting to warm up in Florida, but you haven’t quite hit the peak heat yet. November is when the peak heat starts to die down and get to more comfortable and less humid days. With good weather though, you will find higher crowds during this time of year since March kicks off Spring Break season and November is the beginning of the holiday season at Disney.
For more details about other months in the year to travel, take a look at When Is the Best Month to Visit Florida?
Is the Dining Plan Worth it?
The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors and it will be different for every family. It truly comes down to how you think you plan to eat while on vacation. Will you be doing mostly quick-service or table-service? Do you want to experience a lot of Signature dining?
I feel that if you do want to experience a lot of the table-service and/or Signature dining places, then a dining plan will help you save money. If you think you will want to do at least 1 table-service restaurant a day, then you should at least go for the Disney Dining Plan. If you want to splurge a bit and upgrade to Disney Dining Plus, then you will get more flexibility. The regular Disney Dining Plan gives you 1 quick-service credit, 1 table-service credit and 2 snack credits per night, per person (aged 3 and over). With the Disney Dining Plus you get 2 dining credits and 2 snack credits per night, per person (aged 3 and over), and you can use the credits at any type of restaurant you want. So, you have the flexibility to eat at 2 table-service restaurants for a few days and then do 2 quick-service other days. It really is up to you how you disperse the credits between quick-service and table-service.
If you plan to only eat at quick-service restaurants, then they do have the Quick-Service Dining Plan, but I find that one is more for convenience rather than savings. If you want to know that your meals are pre-paid and you don’t have to think about the cost of food while on vacation, then that one can work for you.
If your goal is to try and keep your food budget to an absolute minimum, then a dining plan may not be for your family. Many families will pack food & snacks to bring to the parks, and will also share quick-service meals. That will be the less costly option for a family who has a goal to save money on food. Part of the Disney experience is the food though, so really plan out how much you would be willing to spend on food and that will give you an idea if a dining plan fits your budget. The table-service restaurants and character meals at Disney are one of a kind, so most families do want to include them in the experience.
How Can I Get Free Dining?
There is no guaranteed way to get free dining, but you can increase your chances based on the time of year you book. This is a promotion that books up quickly, so it is always best to be prepared and book early. Booking with an Authorized Disney Agency like Click the Mouse will mean that you have an agent that is prepared to help apply promotions to your booking as soon as they are released.
Historically, free dining has been offered during the Fall months, mostly August and September. It does sometimes fall during select dates in November and December, but August and September usually seem to be the better bet.
It’s best if you book your reservation before the promotion releases (usually in April), and then modify it to apply the promotion once it releases. Depending on availability, you should be open to possibly adjusting dates or your resort. A professional travel agent that specializes in Disney will be up at the crack of dawn when the promo releases to apply it to their clients’ packages. Working with someone that is experienced with this will increase your chances of getting the free dining promo.
Should I Stay On-Site or Off-Site?
I think that everyone should always give strong consideration to staying on-site. It really does give you the full Disney experience and you get certain perks with your stay that you don’t get by staying off-site.
- Complimentary airport transfers with Magical Express
- Complimentary MagicBands
- Fastpass selections at 60 days out as opposed to 30 days (huge advantage!)
- Access to Extra Magic Hours
- Transport to/from the parks from the resorts
- Continuing to experience the Disney magic even outside the parks
For those travelling on a budget, the Disney value resorts are priced really well. Most rooms sleep up to 4 and the All-Star Music resort even has a family suite that sleeps up to 6 at a really great price.
If a single family household has 7 or more people, then that is when you might want to compare some off-site options. Disney does have suites & villas that sleep up to 12, but they are some of the most expensive options. It really comes down to what your budget is and if staying on-site fits in your budget for your size family, definitely go for it! For a more detailed look, take a look at Should You Stay At A Disney Resort or Not?
Do I Need Park Hopper Tickets?
I think park hoppers depend a lot on how experienced you are with a Disney vacation and the demographic of your family. If this is your first visit and you are traveling with young children, you may want to just stick with base tickets. Disney can be very overwhelming for a first-time traveler and sticking to just one park per day helps make planning a lot simpler. Also, if you have small children, you may find that they just do not have enough endurance to do more than one park in a day.
If you have already traveled to Disney World a few times and are very comfortable with the parks, then I think a park hopper is a great option. I love the flexibility that it gives you and you don’t feel like you are tied down to one park every day. Experienced travelers will enjoy doing one park in the morning and then having the option to choose to be anywhere they want for the evening.
If you are traveling with older children, say 10 years and up, you may find a park hopper will work for you as well. Older children tend to have more endurance and can stay up later, so a park hopper may be worth it to you since you will have more of an opportunity to use it.
How Do I Plan My Park Days?
Picking which parks to go to on which days is really important, especially if you are going with a base ticket because then you won’t have the opportunity to park hop.
The first thing I always look at is the Disney calendar to see when Extra Magic Hours are. Then I avoid those parks on those days because Extra Magic Hours means higher crowds. I like to try and aim for the parks that will have the probability of attracting the least amount of crowds for that day.
I also try and put my Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios days towards the end of the week. Those two parks have some of the hardest to get Fastpasses right now (Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, Millenium Falcon, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway). The further you go in the week, the more availability of Fastpasses open up. You will find much more available on your last day, than your first day. Why is that? Well, everyone that is booked to check-in a few days before you has already started selecting Fastpasses for dates that overlap with yours. Since most people go for a week or less, that is why more is available at the end of your week than at the beginning.
Something else to consider is special events. In the Fall, you will want to pay attention to when Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held because Magic Kingdom will close early on those days. You may also want to try and avoid Epcot on the weekends during festivals since you will find higher crowds there during the weekend because more locals will visit.
It does get a bit tricky and there are a lot of factors to consider. If you find it to be too complicated, then best work with a travel agent that specializes in Disney so they can help design your week for you. A good travel agent will have the knowledge to suggest a strategic plan for your week.
How Do I Book and Is the Deposit Refundable?
You can book direct on Disney’s website or you can book through an Authorized Disney Agency. They both book through the same system and access the same prices & promotions. With the latter you will get someone helping you on-on-one through the process.
The deposit for a Disney package (hotel + tickets) is $200 USD, with full payment due 30 days before check-in. Your deposit is fully refundable right up until the final payment date, so as you can see Disney has a very flexible policy. There really is no risk to booking early since you always have the option to cancel without penalty up until 30 days before.
If New Promos Come Out, Can I Still Get Them If I Am Already Booked?
Yes! Like previously mentioned, Disney is very flexible and that means you can apply new promotions to your existing reservation without penalty.
When new promos come out, it is always best to be prepared since availability of rooms with the promotion are limited. Some can get booked up pretty quickly, so you will want to act fast.
Should I Do a Character Meal?
I think every visit should include at least one character meal, especially if you have never done one before. It is a great opportunity to meet characters without having to stand in line. Make sure to pick a dining option that features characters you are most interested in seeing, and then it will be most worth it for you.
You can get more details about what a character meal entails in All About Character Meals at Disney World.
What is Fastpass and How Does It Work?
Fastpass is a feature that is included with all park admission. You get the opportunity to reserve times to access the Fastpass line of a ride. The Fastpass line will get you on the ride much quicker than the regular stand-by line. A stand-by line could have a wait of an hour or more, but the Fastpass line will get you on in about 10 minutes. It is very handy to use on rides that traditionally have long lines.
You will be able to select your 3 Fastpasses per day in My Disney Experience in advance. If you are a Disney resort guest, you can start selecting them 60 days out, off-site guests can reserve them at 30 days out. This is one of the reasons why I feel staying on-site is an absolute must. There are some rides that you just won’t be able to get Fastpasses for at 30 days out, so having that extra lead time at 60 days is a great advantage.
You reserve an hour window to ride. That means you can enter that ride’s Fastpass line at anytime during that one hour window. Once you have used your initial 3 for the day, you can then use the My Disney Experience mobile app to select more Fastpasses, one at a time as you use them.
How Does Disney Accommodate Food Allergies?
Disney World is one of the best places to travel to if you have someone with food allergies in your family. They are so accommodating and have a variety of options on their menus to accommodate allergies. There are also a lot of options for different types of diets. Whether you are gluten free, have specific allergies, vegetarian, vegan, kosher…. Disney can cater to it all.
What is Memory Maker, and Should I Get It?
Memory Maker is Disney’s pre-paid photo package that makes it convenient for you to download all your vacation photos. If you pre-purchase it at least 3 days before your vacation, then you can get it at the pre-purchase price of $169 USD. After that the price goes up to $199 USD, so it is worth it to do an advanced purchase.
Once you activate the Memory Maker in your My Disney Experience account, you will then have unlimited access to download all the digital copies of your photos for 30 days. All of the photos that you took in the parks with a Disney Photopass photographer will be in there. Also included are the on-ride photos & videos for participating rides. You also get Magic Shots, which are photos that have a little extra “magic” added in usually, usually a Disney character (see below).
If you are going to be in the parks for at least 4 days or more, I feel like Memory Maker can be really worth it. If you make sure to stop at the photographers and really use their services, you can end up with hundreds of photos at the end of your vacation. Seeing that each individual photo would cost around $15, it ends up being a great deal with the price of Memory Maker. Plus, my favorite part is the on-ride photos. You can’t capture that on your own and those often end up being some of the most memorable family photos of your vacation!
Our preferred travel agency is Click the Mouse. They specialize in Disney destinations and will help you plan out all the little details. Best part is that their services are FREE when you book your vacation with them. Personalized service at no extra cost to you! To get a quote from a Click the Mouse travel agent, simply click on the quote button below and they will be back in touch with you:
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Laura is a mom of one adorable girl with a love of all things Disney. She traveled to Disney World with her family in 2010 and was hooked. They have since been a total of over 15 times. With all her knowledge of planning Disney trips, she now wants to share that with others. She loves giving guidance, tips and advice to others planning their magical vacation!