LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. –
Affordable family vacations at Walt Disney World Resort can
combine convenience, flexibility, savings and extra value. Planning
is the key . . . and here are some ideas and things to consider
while planning to chase the guesswork and let the fun begin!...
Before You Go
Covering about 25,000 acres, Walt Disney World Resort can be
vexing to the guest for whom it is “uncharted territory.” With their
time at the Vacation Kingdom limited, guests who have done research
and made preliminary determinations concerning what they want to
experience discover they can be more “efficient” at having fun. A
couple of sources for information and advice about Walt Disney World
Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World 2011,
available at bookstores coast-to-coast.
The latest information about Walt Disney World Resort is available
at the the Academy Travel website,
www.mickeyvacations.com. Several notable “clicks” on the home
Special Offers to learn about currently offered Disney discounts.
A special area of the official Walt Disney World website,
www.disneyworld.com, is devoted to information for guests Traveling
With Little Ones at Walt Disney World Resort. Among the valuable
topics covered: Vacation packing, travel tips, minimum height
requirements on attractions, kids programs, dining and more.
Academy Travel's Authorized Disney Vacation
Planners are experts who are familiar with vacation
destinations and how to get there. They will explain the choices,
make the calls and book arrangements. They save you time, and their
services generally are provided at a modest cost -- sometimes no
cost -- to you. Options to consider:
Disney vacation planners can answer questions, offer suggestions and
book reservations at 609/978-0740.
Vacation packages available through Academy
Travel combine popular components of a vacation at Walt
Disney World Resort. In addition to convenience, packages also may
save money and often include special value-added features. Walt
Disney World Resort sometimes offers special time-limited packages
that provide even greater savings.
About Disney Resort Hotels
Walt Disney World Resort offers a broad range of accommodations – 24
resorts that vary in price – allowing guests to pay for only the
amenities that are important to them. Disney Value resort guests are
treated to larger-than-life theming, swimming pools and playgrounds,
arcade rooms, and standard amenities – and with more than 8,000
rooms at four resorts, about one-third of Disney’s hotel
accommodations fall into the Value category. Families who prefer the
great outdoors can rent a campsite at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
Resort and Campground (with nearly 800 available) and either pitch a
tent or bring along an RV. (Of course, Moderate resorts, Deluxe
resorts and Deluxe Villa resorts are available for guests who prefer
additional amenities during their stay.) More information: travel
agents, 407/W-DISNEY and
Guestroom rates vary based on when a guest visits. Value Season,
which takes place over select weeks throughout the year, offers
lower room rates than peak or holiday seasons. Often, Value Seasons
coincide with smaller theme park crowds, meaning less time in line
and more time having fun! Weeknight stays (Sunday night through
Thursday night) sometimes have lower rates than Friday nights and
Within each hotel, guestroom rates vary based on the view from the
balcony or terrace. For example, at Disney’s Polynesian Resort,
guests can choose from a garden, lagoon or Magic Kingdom view.
Lagoon-view and Magic Kingdom-view rooms run more than those with a
garden view, but the good news is that all accommodations come with
the same amenities and famous Disney service. At Value resorts,
guests can choose between standard and preferred rooms (more than
two-thirds of the rooms are standard), with preferred rooms being
closer to the resort’s main building.
Many families with young children select accommodations in one of
the “monorail resorts” -- Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s
Polynesian Resort or Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Reason:
location near Magic Kingdom and convenient monorail transportation
between the resorts and Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
Many adult couples visiting without children enjoy the proximity to
Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort,
Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s BoardWalk – as well as the
nightlife of Disney’s BoardWalk. Walkways and water taxis connect
the three resorts with Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Walt Disney World Owned-and-Operated Hotel Benefits
With Disney’s Magical Express, guests of 24 Disney
owned-and-operated hotels can check their bags at their hometown
airport, bypass baggage claim at Orlando International Airport (OIA)
and board state-of-the-art motor coaches for complimentary
transportation to the Vacation Kingdom, where their bags “magically”
appear in their guestroom. When it’s time to say good-bye, guests
board motor coaches for complimentary transportation back to OIA. An
extra convenience: Guests traveling on participating airlines can
check their baggage for the return flight at their Disney resort,
saving time and luggage-toting at the airport.
Guests who combine their hotel accommodations and attractions
tickets into a Magic Your Way Package are eligible to add the Disney
Dining Plan for the convenience of a more-inclusive “cruise-style”
vacation package. In 2010, there are three plan choices to satisfy
different budgets and appetites. All include at least two meals and
a snack for each night of a Disney resort stay. Savings and
restaurant choices vary.
With online check-in, guests can take care of the paperwork that
normally accompanies check-in … in the comfort of their home up to
10 days before their visit. Upon arrival at their hotel, guests then
stop by a special desk, show ID, sign, pick up their room keys and
information packet, and begin enjoying their vacation.
Disney’s Key to the World card acts as a hotel room key and much
more. Magic Your Way theme park tickets and Disney Dining Plan
entitlements can be built into the card. For easy tracking and
convenience, the card also can be used to charge meals, goods and
services directly to the room, giving the guest a consolidated
statement of vacation purchases.
Merchandise purchased at select shops throughout Walt Disney World
Resort can be delivered to the guest’s Disney hotel at no charge,
allowing the guest to play without lugging packages around.
A Walt Disney World resort ID is the ticket for the Walt Disney
World Transportation System of buses, monorails and boat launches
that connect virtually all areas of the Vacation Kingdom. With the
convenience of “door-to-door” service throughout the resort, many
guests enjoy their Walt Disney World vacation without a car.
Disney hotel guests are exempt from parking fees at the theme parks.
By presenting a resort ID, guests enter parking lots for free no
matter how many parks they visit during their stay.
Disney resorts have wheelchairs available for rent for the
convenience of guests with disabilities, but availability is limited
and Disney vacation experts encourage guests wishing to guarantee
the use of a wheelchair throughout their stay to contact area rental
companies to make arrangements.
With Extra Magic Hours, Walt Disney World resort guests are offered
exclusive time in a Walt Disney World theme park one hour prior to
scheduled park opening or for up to three hours after park closing.
The park varies from day to day. In addition, Disney water parks
sometimes open one hour early for guests of select Disney resort
hotels. To take advantage of the additional time in the parks,
resort guests must have a Magic Your Way ticket valid for the park(s)
offering Extra Magic Hours.
Golfing guests at Walt Disney World owned-and-operated hotelshave
complimentary door-to-door transportation provided between their
hotel and Walt Disney World golf facilities. Guests should inquire
at the lobby concierge desk.
With their location convenient to the Walt Disney World theme parks,
the Walt Disney World resorts are a haven for guests who seek a
midday swimming break – or a siesta!
Guests 17-and-under stay at no additional charge in parents’ rooms
(up to the designated capacity of the room) at Walt Disney World
Quenching a vacation-long thirst is easy at Disney’s resorts. Guests
can purchase a mug themed to their resort that will become a
keepsake when the holiday ends. During their length of stay, they
can continually refill the mug at designated locations at their
Theme Park Considerations and Benefits
The Magic Your Way ticket system lets guests decide what ticket
features best fit their Disney vacation plans … and that’s what they
buy. Guests decide the number of days and whether optional features
– park hopping, visits to Disney attractions outside the theme
parks, and “non-expiration” of tickets – are important. Some price
and value considerations:
- Per-day ticket costs decrease for longer
stays. A seven-day ticket without optional features brings down the
per-day cost to less than half the price, per day, compared to seven
individual one-day Base Tickets.
- The Water Park Fun & More option can
produce significant savings for recreation and entertainment outside
the theme parks. It costs $54. The number of admissions it provides
to the guest’s choice of Disney water parks, DisneyQuest, Disney’s
Oak Trail golf course and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex varies
depending upon the number of days of the Base Ticket (the option on
a one- or two-day Base Ticket provides two visits to the guest’s
choice from among the listed attractions; with a 10-day Base Ticket,
it provides 10 visits). Considering that one-day admission to a
water park is $40-$46 or to DisneyQuest is $36-$42, substantial
savings are possible.
- The Park Hopper option can enhance the
value of the vacation by allowing guests to take advantage of
special fun offered at different times of day at different Disney
theme parks. (Also: Extra Magic Hours – exclusive theme park time
for guests staying at Disney hotels – rotate among the parks;
Park Hopper lets Disney hotel guests experience one park and shift
that same day to another offering the additional park hours.)
Kids under age 3 are provided free admission to all Walt Disney
World theme parks.
Rather than lugging a stroller (including on and off of parking lot
trams), parents with young children can rent a stroller for the
day’s use in any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. Tips for
renters: (1) opt for a length-of-stay rental, which saves some
money; (2) keep your receipt; if you’re park-hopping during the day,
drop off the stroller when you’re leaving a park and use your
receipt to obtain a stroller when you enter another park.
Baby Care Centers are located in all four Disney theme parks and
feature private rooms with rocking chairs for nursing mothers,
diaper-changing rooms, and feeding rooms with highchairs, bibs and
plastic spoons. There are even diapers, formula and teethers for
A "rider swap" program lets both parents enjoy a ride – one parent
waits with the child while one parent rides a ride. Afterwards, the
other parent can board the ride with minimal wait time.
Special guide maps presented by Disney DVD, available at Guest
Relations in all the theme parks, focus on where you can find the
characters, attractions, entertainment and interactive activities of
special interest to young children.
Theme park guidemaps (available in English, French, German,
Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese) and times guides for shows,
character greetings, parades and fireworks are available at Guest
Relations locations in each park.
Tip boards that give guests a heads-up concerning attractions’ wait
times and entertainment show times are located at strategic
“crossroads” in each theme park.
For the convenience of guests with disabilities, wheelchairs and
Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent at
Disney theme parks. A length-of-stay rental ticket is available
which offers not only savings but also involves a one-time payment
transaction after which the guest simply shows the receipt at the
stroller rental location and is expedited through the queue with
little or no wait time.
The Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities provides a detailed
overview of services and facilities available for guests with
disabilities and is available at Guest Relations locations within
all four parks as well as Guest Services locations at Walt Disney
World resort hotels.
By using Disney’s FASTPASS, guests can avoid waiting at designated
popular attractions in all four Walt Disney World theme parks. At
the entrance to attractions offering FASTPASS, two times are posted:
approximate wait time using the normal queue, and return time for
FASTPASS holders currently being issued (at no charge to park
guests). If the wait is long, guests can choose to obtain a FASTPASS
ticket with an assigned return time (an hour-long window) and then
use the time until then for other experiences in the park. Upon
returning to use their FASTPASS, the guest experiences little or no
wait time to enter the attraction.
Guests who decide to forego a popular parade frequently discover
it’s a time to experience a popular attraction with less wait.
During festivals and special events, the theme parks feature extra
entertainment and excitement – included with regular admission.
Several long-running events are the Epcot International Flower &
Garden Festival (spring), Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
(fall), ESPN The Weekend (spring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios),
Star Wars Weekends (spring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and
elaborate decorations and seasonal entertainment at all four parks
for the holidays.
Professional photographers with Disney's PhotoPass service take
keepsake shots of family vacations – with everyone in the picture –
that can be viewed online and from which guests can order prints,
customized photo albums, T-shirts, mugs and more! The photographers
are stationed at prime photo spots throughout the theme parks. The
guest’s Disney’s PhotoPass ID card (issued free) is used by the
photo team to keep track of images. Additional information is
available online by visiting www.disneyphotopass.com.
Here and There
The AAA Car Care Center near Magic Kingdom is a full-service
automotive repair facility and provides towing service to guests on
Walt Disney World property.
Quenching a day-long thirst at “the beach” is the purpose of the
refillable mug offered at Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon
water parks. The souvenir mug is refillable throughout the day of
For the convenience of guests with disabilities, wheelchairs and
Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent at
Disney water parks and at Downtown Disney.
Prime tee times for the award-winning Walt Disney World golf courses
are early in the day throughout the year, with the heaviest activity
fall through spring. To avoid getting shut out, book ahead (90 days
in advance for guests of Walt Disney World resorts with a resort
confirmation number, 60 days in advance for day visitors with a
major credit card). Less-busy times mean savings on greens fees –
twilight rates mid-afternoons throughout the year and specials
offered beginning mid-mornings during the summer. Check with the
master starter: 407/WDW-GOLF (939-4653).
Meals and Deals
Most table-service restaurants throughout Walt Disney World Resort
offer children’s menus, with kid favorites such as chicken strips,
macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti and meatballs, PB&J
sandwiches. Call 407/WDW-DINE for dining information.
Big appetites get their fill at a variety of “all-you-care-to-eat”
meals throughout Walt Disney World property. More than two dozen
Disney mealtime experiences offer the proverbial “seconds” . . . and
even “thirds” and “fourths” – many accompanied by a visit from those
ever-popular Disney characters. 407/WDW-DINE is a good place to
start the search.
Dining reservations are recommended at the full-service restaurants
at Walt Disney World Resort and may be made up to 180 days in
advance. Many popular restaurants frequently fill up early. To make
dining arrangements: call 407/WDW-DINE(939-3463).
Eating meals either an hour before or after the “standard meal time”
can avoid crowds at popular restaurants.
Shopping and Shipping
Merchandise purchases don’t have to be a burden to Walt Disney World
theme park guests. There are alternatives to carrying the packages
throughout the parks:
Package pickup is available at no charge. Merchandise is moved to
package pickup, conveniently located near the front entrance of each
park, for guests’ pickup when they are leaving the park.
Hotel delivery is available at no charge to guests of Walt Disney
World resorts. Purchases made prior to 7 p.m. will be delivered to
the guest’s hotel by noon the following day. Purchases made after 7
p.m. will be at the hotel on the second day after purchase.
Shipping is available for an additional charge at the time of
Shop the theme parks by phone after your vacation. Common scenario:
Guest visits Epcot and sees the perfect gift for Auntie Rose. Guest
puts the idea on “hold,” goes home . . . and is kicking
himself/herself for not making the purchase. No problem. Just call
407/363-6200. Describe what you saw, and where. With the help of
computers, the Attractions Merchandise Guest Services Department can
locate that gift, arrange the purchase and ship it. The Guest
Services Department can help with merchandise from all Walt Disney
World-run shops in the theme parks. It is open weekdays except