By Ann Dunnington
After each trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, my husband and I reflect on what aspects of the trip worked well for us and what didn’t. After a lot of vacations (research purposes only, of course…), we have narrowed down our favorites to create OUR perfect trip plan. Today’s article is a brief synopsis on how WE do Disney in a way that is perfect for us. Maybe these Disney tips will give you some things to think about when you’re planning your next trip. Because let’s be honest, when are we NOT planning our next trip?
For us, the perfect time of year to go is the full week before the Epcot Food and Wine Festival starts. Which generally runs from late September through mid-November. (Editor’s Note: This year’s festival runs from September 19 – November 10.) “But Ann, why don’t you go DURING Food and Wine?? It’s so much FUN!” I’m glad you asked. We actually don’t prefer to visit during the Food and Wine Festival because it makes EPCOT crowded during the evenings and it fills up the rooms at the EPCOT resorts (that where we like to stay) rather quickly. So for us, September is the ideal time. Low(er) crowds, fairly nice weather, and Value Season… it’s a win win…win.
Where do we prefer to stay?
My husband and I have stayed at the Walt Disney World Swan, Pop Century, All Star Movies, All Star Music, Saratoga Springs, and The Boardwalk Villas. Of those hotels, our favorite thus far was The Boardwalk. We loved the location and the restaurants around the resort. With that said, we didn’t love that it felt like we were walking to the other side of the world just to get back to our room. The hallways just kept going and going and going… The other downfall was that The Boardwalk itself was quite noisy for most of the evening. With these reflections, my husband and I have decided to give the Beach Club Villas a try for our next trip. The proximity to EPCOT can’t be beat, they have a sand bottom pool (wow!), and who doesn’t want to be by Beaches and Cream (the AMAZING old fashioned ice cream parlor)?!
How do we get there, and how do we get around?
There have been so many trips where we would arrive at the resort after taking the first flight out of the day, and our room wouldn’t be ready yet because of such an early arrival. We like to get checked in, turn up the mini fridge, unpack, run to the grocery store, and get settled in before we ‘start the trip’, and by taking the first flight out in the morning, we were setting ourselves up for having to wait around. So, this trip, we will take a direct flight that leaves mid-afternoon. And then when we land, we’ll rent a car, check in at the hotel (after 4pm), grocery shop, etc. No waiting around necessary.
What type of tickets do we get?
We like 5 or 6-day park hoppers, depending on how long the trip is. The park hopper gives us flexibility, and we like to ‘wing’ our park touring days sometimes.
What about dining?
The best dining plan for us is eating breakfast in the room (or taking one day to have allergy friendly Mickey waffles at Kouzzina), bringing a packed lunch with us into the park, and having an early (4:30pm / 4:45pm) dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Over the years, our favorite Table Service restaurants have become Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht and Beach Club, il Mulino at the Swan, La Hacienda de San Angel at Mexico in EPCOT, and like I said before, breakfast at Kouzzina. We also like to have ice cream sundaes at Beaches ‘n Cream- they made my hubby an amazing gluten free peanut butter chocolate sundae (the No Way Jose, for those of you Beaches and Cream enthusiasts), so it’s a new favorite on our list as well!
How do we tour the parks?
For so many trips, EPCOT has been the LAST park we toured. Why on earth do we do that to ourselves- EPCOT is our favorite park!! This trip, we will be starting with EPCOT, and then throughout the week visiting the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom isn’t our favorite, and Avatar Land won’t be open yet, so I don’t envision us going there at all this trip. If we get all of our favorites done, then maybe at the end of the week we’ll branch out if we have the time. We like evening extra magic hours, and tend to participate in them as much as we can- there’s just nothing quite like walking through Adventureland at night and feeling like you have the park to yourself!
YES! There are so many details in the parks, restaurants, and hotels, yet we always seem to rush right by them! In this upcoming trip, we are going to walk slower and take time to stop and smell the Hidden Mickey’s. Ok not literally, but you know what I mean!
Hopefully hearing what we prefer for our trips will get you thinking on how to make your trip just a little bit more magical for your family. There is never a ‘one size fits all’ for Walt Disney World vacations, so every family needs to tour in a way that suits them. I would love to hear how your family “does Disney”!