When should I go to Disney World and where should I stay
Deciding to go to Disney World is easy enough but then you start planning your vacation and it doesn't take long for the conflicting information and number of options available to become overwhelming. We plan Disney vacations for our clients every day and we've figured out how to manage the choices. You will receive three emails over the next week that each contain two steps and supplemental information to help you plan your trip. You don't have to wait to receive all of the mailings to begin working with one of our agents - contact us today and we will help you plan a wonderful and memorable Disney vacation.
Step 1: Decide when you are going to Disney World & how long you'll stay
Step 2: Decide Where You're Going to Stay on your Disney Vacation
Overview of on-site hotels
Ticket type, length and options
how your Mouse Trip Travel Agent can help you when you drive
Step 1: Decide When You Are Going to Go to Disney World & How Long You'll Stay
Don't panic - there is no wrong answer; any time is a good time for Disney World. There are times that are less crowded or more crowded and going at a busy time does require better planning but, just by reading this article, you've already begun better Disney World vacation planning than 75% of the people who walk through the gates of a Disney theme park.
Less crowded times: Anytime the American kids are in school.
More crowded times: Anytime the American kids are out of school.
Most crowded times: Spring Break, Easter Week, July, Thanksgiving Week, and Christmas Break.
Summer Tip: If you have the ability to go in early June or late August, you'll definitely enjoy lower crowds than if you go in the peak of the summer season, especially 4th of July week.
Best Time to Go: You should go at a time that makes the most sense for you based on school, work, financial and family considerations. A good itinerary and touring plans will help you manage crowds - don't let anyone scare you out of your Disney vacation. Having said that, definitely use theme park touring plans if you are visiting at peak season.
The Benefit of Planning Early: Planning early is definitely to your advantage with Disney World vacations. Because Disney has to staff hotels, restaurants, theme park attractions, and transportation, they offer the best deals to the people who book early because it helps them staff appropriately. The best discounts are almost always offered 3 - 6 months in advance. Because Disney World is such a popular location, planning early also helps you get your first choice in hotel accommodations and restaurant reservations.
Last Minute Disney World Vacations: Sometimes a door opens that lets you take a last-minute trip to Disney World. Short notice trips require more flexibility and compromise but can still be wonderful. Your Build A Better Mouse Trip Disney-Focused Travel Agent will help you quickly work through the details and nail down all the arrangements.
How Build A Better Mouse Trip helps you: When you contact Build A Better Mouse Trip, you work with one agent – your agent – from start to finish. We eat, sleep, and breathe Disney World around here and we absolutely love helping people plan wonderful Disney vacations. Contact us as early as possible, even if you haven’t finalized your dates, and we can start laying the foundations of a great trip – including checking promotions and discounts against your possible dates.
Disney World – How Long Should I Stay?
People often ask how long they need for a Disney World trip so we’ve put together some thoughts on the most common trip lengths. When we book trips for our clients, we almost invariable refer to “nights” which reflects the number of nights you stay in a hotel but, for the purposes of this article, we will discuss “days”, meaning the number of days you want to go into the theme parks and your ticket length. For example, if you want four full days in the theme parks, you would need to book a 5-night or longer stay.
Short Trips – 1 to 3 Days: There are four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom) and two water parks at Disney World so short trips usually mean choosing one or two parks to the exclusion of the others. People choose short trips for a variety of reasons: perhaps you want to add a few days at Disney World to some other type of Florida vacation, you are in Orlando for a convention and the family will tag along, you have small children or some other family member that you worry will be worn out by several long them park days, or you are a repeat guest to Disney but you’ve decided to check out that new Harry Potter area at Universal.
Important considerations for short trips: Since you can’t do it all, you will have to decide what you can do, enjoy those things thoroughly, and not worry about the things you are missing. Sure, you can get park hopper tickets and hit all four theme parks but that is the most expensive way to see Disney World and you’ll lose a lot of your valuable and limited time traveling between parks. If you aren’t already in the Orlando area, you’ll want to be careful about how hotel check-in and check-out might impact your time in the parks. Good theme park touring plans and wise FASTPASS+ decisions will really help you get the most of your limited time at Disney World. Our agents understand the challenges of short trips and can help you plan a great experience, even when time is in short supply. We’ll put good touring plans in your hands and help you make the most beneficial FASTPASS+ reservations.
Most Common Trip Length – 4 or 5 Days: This trip length works well for most people because you can visit all four Disney World theme parks, even possibly enjoy a second day at a favorite park, and it fits within most people’s work vacation limits. In most cases, people in this category are planning a Disney vacation rather than tacking a little Disney onto some other type of vacation though this type of trip may include a day at the beach or visits to other area attractions. Another benefit is that your theme park admission ticket price-per-day goes down with each additional day. A trip of this length will provide lots of fun and let you leave feeling like you’ve been to Disney World.
Important considerations for 4 to 5 Day trips: The biggest challenge I see with these trips is a tendency to try to pack in more than you can possibly do in the time available; as a result, it is easy to spend too much by paying for add-ons like Park Hopping or the Water Park option that you may not really use. Family fatigue can be an issue too as you spend multiple days in the parks. Trips this length often fall during school breaks so crowds can be a factor, making good touring plans and wise FASTPASS+ selections especially important. You’re making a considerable vacation investment with a trip of this length so why not let our agents help you with the planning? It doesn’t cost anything to get our services when you book your Disney World vacation through us but you gain someone who really knows the hotels, restaurant, and theme parks to help you with every step of the vacation planning process.
Longer Trips – 6-Days or Longer: If the 4 to 5 days trips let you leave feeling like you’ve done Disney World, the six-day or longer trips let you leave feeling like you’ve been on a resort vacation. I wish everyone planning a Disney vacation could take at least six days because the extra time lets you find a better balance of fun and relaxation. Adding the water park option can make a lot of sense here because you can place water park days between your busier theme park days, letting you relax and cool down. This is a really great option for summer trips and can slow things down nicely for those of you traveling with young kids or grandparents. You also have time to take advantage of the golf, mini-golf and DisneyQuest features of that option. A week at Disney World is just so easy…you stay in one hotel surrounded by great stuff to do, with transportation provided, and great pools right at your resort if you just want to kick back. In my own experience and based on the reports of others, most people find that six to seven days is great but nine days or longer may become too much of a good thing unless you include some non-theme park activities into the mix. If you do have more time, you’ll find that Orlando has lots to see and do and there are a couple of nice beaches within easy driving distance of Disney World. We’re very good at helping people with their theme park vacations but we’re also extremely well trained in the areas of relaxing in hammocks and floating on inner tubes so we’re ready to help with every aspect of your total Walt Disney World Resort experience. We’d love to help you plan a great trip that combines thrills, new experiences, and some down time to recharge your batteries before you head back to the real world.
Short or Long, You Can't Go Wrong When You Use A Travel Agent
One of the best things you can do to make sure you have a great trip to Disney World is to enlist the help of one of our agents. We specialize in Disney destinations so that we can provide accurate information that helps you get the most from your experience, whether you are making a quick trip or have all the time in the world.
Step 2: Decide Where You're Going to Stay on your Disney Vacation
Disney Hotels: The official Disney hotels are fun, clean, and convenient – delivering the ultimate Disney experience. While they sometimes (though not always) cost more than a non-Disney hotel, don’t forget to consider the value/savings of benefits like free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) and to the Disney theme parks. Disney’s exclusive offers for on-site guests include Extra Magic Hours (special exclusive access to the theme parks), booking FastPass+ reservations 30 days earlier than everyone else and the opportunity to add one of the Disney Dining Plans (a very popular option). These hotels are popular with people who appreciate the convenience of a streamlined vacation experience that rolls transportation, accommodation, and entertainment into one easy package. Women travelers like the safety of staying at the Disney hotels and families with young children find that an on-site hotel makes it easier to take mid-day breaks. With Disney discounts, you may find that staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel can even be your most economical option. For Disney World hotel information and photos, go to our Disney World Hotels pages.
Non-Disney Hotels: The non-Disney hotels may cost less or offer perks like free breakfast or flexibility for larger families. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for parking (about $22 per day) at the theme parks if you drive. Some advertise "Free Theme Park Shuttles" and some are efficient but you really need to call the hotel to verify the shuttle times and frequency to make sure it fits with your vacation plans so that you don’t miss out on the low crowds at park openings, parades, or fireworks. Be sure to factor in car rental costs if you won't have your own vehicle. Almost every Orlando vacation accommodation advertises that they're "close to Disney World" so use Google Maps to make sure that the location matches your definition of "close" or "a short drive" to the Disney World theme parks. Just so you know, SeaWorld and the Universal Orlando theme parks are in Orlando but Disney World is just outside the city.
Vacation Home or Condo Rentals can be wonderful and economical choices for larger families, groups, and people wanting separate sleeping spaces or full kitchens but work best if you have your own vehicle. Be sure to factor in car rental costs and parking fees to determine your total cost.
Camping at Disney World - This is a fun option for people who enjoy a relaxed, camping setting. Remember that Florida gets lots of rain and that it can get really hot. Make sure your equipment can handle those conditions. The campgrounds fill early, especially on the weekends. Guests at the campsite receive complimentary parking for one motorized vehicle; additional vehicles and vehicles at the Fort Wilderness cabins are subject to Disney's regular parking fees.
Book your accommodations as early as possible—Booking as soon as you set your dates will help you get the best price and the best availability during your vacation. Disney dining reservations can made 180 days prior to arrival. All of the Disney World resorts and most other accommodation options allow you to cancel with advanced notice so there is no risk to booking early and you'll be free to move on to the next steps in the Disney vacation planning process.
How Build A Better Mouse Trip helps you: Your agent can provide no-obligation quotes and recommendations to help you sort out the available options. We can tell you which Disney resorts are a good choice for your family and which room “upgrades” might not be worth the money. You agent will also apply qualifying promotions so you get the best deal and eliminating your need to keep watching for promotions after booking. You never pay any fees for using our services. Contact us today via our website, our toll-free number 877.815.6515, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supplemental Information - Disney Resorts at a glance
Disney World Value Resorts: Smallest rooms with double beds but they also have the smallest price tag. Big, bold and colorful icons make these hotels a hit with kids and, in many ways, are the most "Disney" of any of the resorts. Pools are themed but do not have pool slides. Each of the resorts has its own cafeteria style food court but no full service restaurants. These resorts enjoy the same great Disney benefits as the moderate and deluxe resorts at a much lower price point - benefits like poolside activities, Extra Magic Hours, and complimentary transportation to the Disney theme parks and airport. Standard rooms can accommodate four guests + one baby. You can also book FASTPASS+ reservations 30-days ahead of non-Disney hotel guests, 60 days prior to arrival. Family suites can accommodate six guests + one baby. Great choice for guests watching their budget or people who spend most of their time in the theme parks.
Disney’s All-Star Resorts – These are the original value resorts and guests are allowed to use the pools at any of the three hotels. Depending on the type of promotion offered, All-Star Sports and All-Star Music may be the least expensive resorts on Disney property. All-Star Music has the least expensive family suites on Disney property. All-Star Movies is very Disney, very cute and the Buzz and Woody buildings are popular with Toy Story fans.
Disney’s Pop Century – Bright and fun theme, this centrally located resort is also within easy walking distance of Disney’s Art of Animation resort – giving guests another dining location. Bus transportation here is better than at most other Disney resorts, even moderates and deluxes.
Disney’s Art of Animation – This is where you’ll find the most elaborate Disney theming – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King or The Little Mermaid. Most of the rooms here are family suites but there are a few standard rooms. Considered a “Value-Plus” resort, it costs a bit more than the other value resorts. It is important to note that the Little Mermaid standard rooms are so popular that they have been excluded from every Disney World discount promotion since the resort opened; the family suites are usually included in promotions.
Disney World Moderate Resorts: These resorts are a bit bigger, the decor is a bit nicer, standard rooms have queen beds and the resorts are more elaborately landscaped than the value resorts. The pools have slides and the resorts have more dining or entertainment options. These hotels have more of a resort feel while keeping you in close proximity to all the magic and benefits Disney World has to offer. These hotels are a great option for guests' whose budgets allow for a nicer resort experience but who don't want to go all in for a deluxe resort.
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside Resorts – These neighboring resorts offer boat transportation to Disney Springs. Guest can use the pools and services at both resorts. Riverside has a food court and table-service restaurant while French Quarter only has a food court; both resorts offer live music in their lounges on select evenings. Riverside has some rooms that can accommodate five guests, if one guest is age nine or younger, making it one of the most economical choices for a family of five. Port Orleans Riverside has some beautiful, princess themed Royal Guest Rooms that deliver a very special experience at a reasonable price.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has some rooms that can accommodate five guests, if one guest is age nine or younger, making it one of the most economical choices for a family of five. It has the most elaborate pool and splash zone of any of the moderate resorts, rivaling the pools at some of the deluxe resorts. This resort has some very cute Pirate themed rooms; however, these rooms are in the farthest buildings from the feature pool and main services area and they have double beds, instead of queen size beds.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a convention center resort and has the largest rooms of the any of the moderates. It has the best food court on Disney property, a fitness center and a very nice pool. It sometimes costs slightly more than the other moderate resorts.
Cabins at the Fort Wilderness Campground – These cabins have full kitchens, are the most economical lodgings in the Magic Kingdom resort area and can accommodate up to six guests. The campground is a lot of fun but some people prefer a more hotel/resortfeel than the “in the woods” feel the cabins provide.
Disney World Deluxe Resorts: These resorts have the biggest rooms and the most amenities - things like multiple restaurants, elaborately themed pools, spas, more entertainment and more services. These hotels are closer to the theme parks, providing the most convenience and a definite resort experience but they also come with the biggest price tag. A great option for people who want to enjoy their resort but possibly not worth the cost for guests who will spend most of their time in the theme parks.
Magic Kingdom – Monorail Loop Hotels: These hotels are close to the Magic Kingdom and are serviced by the monorail. Some rooms have Magic Kingdom views and all guests can view the fireworks and Electric Water Pageant from the marina areas of these resorts. All three have on-site character meals and other dining options. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is one of the original two Disney World hotels and is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom – it is special in that the monorail stops in and passes through the main tower of the hotel. Disney’s Polynesian Resort is the other original Disney World hotel and it has a fun Hawaiian feel. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is Disney’s World’s flagship resort and it is very pretty with live music in the lobby and an elegant “Old Florida” resort feel. They have some studios units with kitchenettes and one and two bedroom villas with full kitchens in addition to the standard hotel rooms.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is another resort in the Magic Kingdom resort area but it is not on the monorail loop and you cannot clearly see the Magic Kingdom fireworks, though you can see the nightly Electric Water Pageant. The rooms are less expensive than the monorail loop hotels and this resort frequently wins “best family resort” awards and has one of the highest rates of returning guests. This resort also has studios units with kitchenettes and one and two bedroom villas with full kitchens in addition to the standard hotel rooms.
Epcot Resort Area: These resorts are within walking distance of the International Gateway entrance to Epcot’s World Showcase area. The close proximity of these resorts gives guests a great variety of convenient dining and entertainment options. Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts share an incredible and huge sand-bottomed pool that includes a beach area, lazy-river, and pool slide. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas has restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues to keep you busy without ever stepping into a theme park. Walt Disney World’s Swan & Dolphin resorts are also in this area and they’re lovely but they’re not Disney-owned so they do not participate in Disney’s Magical Express or the Disney Dining Plans. The Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts have studios units with kitchenettes and one and two bedroom villas with full kitchens in addition to the standard hotel rooms.
Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House & Kidani Village are near Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. This is a “stand alone” resort which means you don’t have other nearby resorts to offer convenient dining and entertainment but it also means you get less non-resort guests wandering through the public areas of the resort. This is a gorgeous resort with savannah areas featuring animals like giraffes, bongos, flamingos and zebras. Jambo House has standard hotel rooms, studios units with kitchenettes and one and two bedroom villas with full kitchens in addition to the standard hotel rooms. Kidani Village only has studios units with kitchenettes, and one and two bedroom villas with full kitchens – it does not have standard hotel rooms.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort are near Disney Springs. These are “Disney Vacation Club” (DVC) properties featuring studios units with kitchenettes and one and two bedroom units with full kitchens; these resorts do not have standard hotel rooms. When booked as part of a Disney World vacation package, these units have daily maid service. The resorts are large and have beautiful pools. Because they have kitchens, they do not have as many restaurant options as the other deluxe resorts. Saratoga Springs Resort has some secluded freestanding “Treehouse” units that can accommodate up to nine guests.
For full descriptions and photos of these resorts, go to our Disney World Resort pages. Our agents will be happy to answer your questions about the resort and provide a free, no-obligation quote.
Walt Disney World Resort Theme Park Admission Ticket Information
This “how-to” guide covers the ticket needs of the vast majority of Walt Disney World visitors. Disney does offer annual passes and some other options that only affect very small, specific situations but the above information applies to almost everyone who visits the Disney World theme parks, whether you purchase your ticket as part of a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package or you just walk up and buy a ticket at the gate. Your Build A Better Mouse Trip agent will make help you select a ticket that covers all of your Disney vacation priorities without wasting money on options you won’t use when you purchase tickets or book your vacation through us. There is no extra charge for our services.
Disney World Basic Ticket
This is your Disney theme park pass. You can purchase varying lengths (one to ten days) and add on various options but all tickets start with this foundation. The basic ticket is available for one or more days and allows you to enter one Disney World theme park (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom) per day. You cannot enter a Disney water park with this ticket and you cannot start in one park and then move to a different theme park within the same day with this ticket. It is the most economical option for entering the Disney parks. Disney recently made a change to their admission tickets and prices now vary depending on the arrival/first use date. They also changed how long tickets are valid, depending on ticket length. Ticket only purchases are valid according to the list below. If you purchase tickets as part of an Disney World vacation package, they are valid for the length of your stay or the length below, whichever is longer:
1-day – The ticket expires on the selected start date.
2-day – The ticket expires 4 days after the selected start date.
3-day – The ticket expires 5 days after the selected start date.
4-day – The ticket expires 7 days after the selected start date.
5-day – The ticket expires 8 days after the selected start date.
6-day – The ticket expires 9 days after the selected start date.
7-day – The ticket expires 10 days after the selected start date.
8-day – The ticket expires 12 days after the selected start date.
9-day – The ticket expires 13 days after the selected start date.
10-day – The ticket expires 14 days after the selected start date.
Park Hopper Option
You’ll frequently hear people say “park hopper tickets” or “basic tickets” but, in truth, Park Hopping is an option that you add to a basic ticket. This option increases the cost of your ticket, but allows you to move between the four Disney theme parks at your convenience; you are not restricted to one park per day. You don’t pay by the day for Park Hopping, the option is good for the full length of your ticket. The park hopping option is discounted a bit on one day tickets. Remember that each of the Disney theme parks has more than enough activities to fill a full day and moving from one park to another takes time – park hopping may not benefit every guest. Park Hopping can be nice if you want the flexibility offered to move about the four parks, especially if you have children and your trip only allows for one full Magic Kingdom day and want to use extra time to return to this park. Park Hopping does not include water parks.
Park Hopper Plus Option
This is another upgrade to the basic ticket; it allows you to park hop between the Disney World theme parks and grants entrance to the two Disney World water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), to the two miniature golf courses (prior to 4PM), spectator admission for amateur evens at Wide World of Sports, and Disney Oak Trail golf benefits. The number of total entrances allowed is equal to the number of days on your Basic Ticket. Because these admissions are separate from the theme park entrances, you can go to a theme park and a water park on the same day with this option even without paying for the Park Hopper option. I love this option during warm months, especially if I have a full week or more at Disney World, but it may not be a great value for short trips. Families with toddlers and very young children may find that this option isn’t especially practical. Remember too that Disney closes one water park for refurbishment from late October – mid-March. If you’re going in the winter months, you may want to wait until your vacation to add this option when you have a better sense of the actual temperatures during your trip; this option can be added at the guest services desk at your resort or at any of the parks. You can purchase a separate single-day admission to the water parks but this option is the best deal if you plan to do two or more of these activities.
Important Note: If you want to go to both water park or a water park and golf on the same day, you can. Doing that will use two admissions from your Park Hopper Plus option. You are limited to one miniature golf game per day.
Benefits of Using A Travel Agent for your Disney Road Trip
Did you know that a travel agent who specializes in Disney trips can help you have a better vacation even when you are driving, not flying, to Disney World? Sure, you can get a Disney package that includes airfare but that is such a tiny part of what we do for you. We immerse ourselves in all things Disney so that we can come along side you for every step of the vacation planning process. That’s important because Disney is so huge with so many choices that it can easily become overwhelming. You need to know about hotels, restaurants, dining plans, tickets, theme parks, rides, and more. Disney World rolled out a new “My Disney Experience” program that offers some great benefits but you have to set up an account, customize your Magic Bands, and book your FastPass+ reservations prior to arrival. You can take the time to become a Disney expert on your own or you can get the help of someone who already eats, drinks and breathes all things Disney on a daily basis. We can help you assess all the available options and quickly eliminate those that aren’t a good fit for your family, saving you a lot of wasted time and freeing you focus on those things that will give you a great vacation. The best part is that we are a fee-free agency so getting our help doesn’t cost anything when you book your hotel and tickets through us.
Hotels – We will help you to quickly sort through all of the hotel options to find an one that fits both your family and your budget. We can book both Disney and non-Disney locations. Some people think travel agents only book top-end resorts but that isn’t true; we love helping people who are looking for economical options or theme park enthusiasts who just need a clean place to lay their heads at night when the parks aren’t open.
Restaurants - We know where every restaurant is located so we can help you plan meals that don’t have you running all over. We can recommend character meals, other fun and age appropriate “experience” meals, or fine dining restaurants. We can help you decide if one of the Disney Dining Plans is a good option for you. We will book dining reservations on your behalf (subject to availability) at times that do not conflict with parades, fireworks or other events that are priorities for your family. We can also make suggestions for great quick-service meals that offer more than just hamburgers and chicken nuggets. We love helping people who have food allergies or other dietary needs.
Tickets – We can answer your questions about Disney Park Hopper tickets vs. Basic Tickets and help you decide whether the water park option is a good fit. We can help with other area attraction tickets as well.
More Fun & Shorter Lines – Here is another place where we really shine; we put tools in your hands that help you keep long lines to a minimum. We give every one of our clients access to theme park touring plans that use the latest and best research to make sure you see and do everything that is important to you but you do it in a way that keeps you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines. During busy seasons, these plans can easily eliminate 3 hours of line time over the course of an average theme park day. Along these things, we will also look at park hours during your trip to help you avoid any pitfalls like unusually high crowds or inconvenient park hours and give you FastPass+ recommendations that will give you the greatest advantage.
An Expert On Your Side – We book directly through Disney but we don’t work for Disney which is an important advantage to you because you get every possible benefit available from them and from us but we can also give you our honest opinions. We are free to specialize in Disney Destinations with your best interests at heart, rather than having to follow a script designed to maximize Disney corporation profits. We always automatically check every available offer to make sure you always get the best price.
Are you thinking about driving to Disneyland or Disney World? Contact us today to see how we can help. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about our services, current promotions, and about the Disney theme parks.