Mar 232016
 

By Tim Rogers

1

So you’re taking a trip to Walt Disney World – great! One of the first things to think about is when you actually want to go. While for some people that is determined narrowly by work and school schedules, if you have more flexibility, the yearly calendar at Walt Disney World provides a wide range of special events and activities to make your trip special. While I won’t be discussing all of these (sorry marathon!), I will take you through some of the big times of year and why you should go then.

 

Spring

2

There’s no time like the present – Spring has definitely sprung around the Walt Disney World resort. The biggest and most noticeable special occurrence during this time of year is the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

3

As seems to be the case with several of these festivals, the Flower and Garden Festival seems to get a little longer every year. This year, the festival began on March 2nd and will run through May 30th. This will cover most spring breaks and even last past when some early schools get out for the summer, and includes some relatively “low crowd” times, and some of the busiest times of the entire year (the week before and after Easter).

4

At the festival itself, there are plenty of things to explore and enjoy. The most noticeable might be the wonderful topiaries that populate all of Epcot.

5

6

Beyond that, the festival center has special speakers and exhibits related to horticulture. Additionally, on weekends you can see the “Garden Rocks” Concert series. The bonus is that, for this festival, pretty much all of these speakers, concerts, and exhibits are included with normal park admission.

7

8

Some of the most recent, and popular, additions to the festival are the Outdoor Kitchens. These booths have great treats from around the world, and have given the beauty and educational value of Flower and Garden some of the energy that the Food and Wine Festival has enjoyed for years.

 

Early Fall

9

Fall at the Walt Disney World resort is when the special events really pick up. The first of these is usually Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This party takes place in the Magic Kingdom, generally on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, from early to mid-September through the day after Halloween.

10

11

The party itself features special character meets, trick or treating, a great parade and fireworks, and more. You do need a special ticket to attend, and some of the nights do sell out in advance.

12

13

Also in mid-September is the start of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Running this year from September 14th to November 14th, this festival is a huge draw and you will routinely see the Epcot Area Resorts completely full throughout the duration.

14

You can expect a few things from this festival. First, the Eat to the Beat concert series, which happens pretty much every night throughout the festival and is included with your admission.

15

16

At the festival center, you can explore and learn about all kinds of food related topics, but several of those will cost extra.

17

18

The big draw for the festival, however, has to be the kiosks. Located generally around the World Showcase, and spreading a little bit into Future World last year, these kiosks provide an incredible range of international food and beverage offerings.

 

Late Fall/Winter

19

The Food and Wine Festival ends up overlapping slightly the next big activity, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. In fact, some visitors try to plan a trip every year that will let them attend the last Halloween Party, the first Christmas Party, and the Food and Wine Festival, while only staying for about a week.

20

 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts in early November and runs through just before Christmas. Its schedule is about the same as the Halloween Party schedule and also takes place in the Magic Kingdom. At the party you can expect special characters, shows, a parade and fireworks, all themed to the holidays.

21

However, the holiday spirit at Disney World is not contained to the Christmas Party. Starting just after Thanksgiving, Epcot hosts the Candlelight Processional, a celebrity narrated telling of the story of Christmas, complete with choirs and an orchestra. Also in Epcot are special performers and storytellers to show and discuss holiday traditions from around the world.

22

23

You can also get into the holiday spirit simply by visiting the hotels on Disney property, especially the deluxe ones. Here you will see beautiful trees and decorations, and some astounding gingerbread creations.

So what is the best time of year to go? As with anything, that is a personal question, and honestly there are no bad choices. I am a Christmas fanatic so it would be hard for me to not choose that first. The fall activities are more numerous than in Spring (if for no other reason than Halloween) and the parade and fireworks during the Halloween Party are thought by many to be the best that Disney does all year. However, it is hard to describe how beautiful and exciting the Flower and Garden Festival is. Really, what I am trying to say is no matter when you go, it will be great – just make sure you take advantage of all that is being offered!

Sep 092015
 

By: Ann Dunnington

 

1544_516297364329_8892_n

Those of us seasoned Walt Disney World travelers know all about the changes that have occurred over the past few years in regards to Disney vacation planning. FastPass+, Dining Reservations, Hotel Reservations, Dining Plans, Ticketed Events, Behind the Scenes Tours… you name it. In many different “Disney Fan Communities” around the internet, travelers have begun complaining that you can no longer have an unplanned, unscheduled trip to Walt Disney World, and the previous spontaneity that vacationers used to feel is now gone. But is it REALLY gone? Can you not have a fantastic trip to Walt Disney World unless each minute is pre-planned 60-180 days before your trip? I say, you absolutely can!

In July, my husband and I took a very unplanned trip to Walt Disney World. We decided to book a last minute long-weekend trip two weeks ahead of time. We had never traveled to central Florida in July before, but since we, like many of you reading this, are “in the know” about all things Disney, we absolutely knew what to expect (hot, crowded, and afternoon rain storms). With just two weeks to “plan”, we decided that we wanted to try to wing it WITHOUT set plans, just to see what would happen.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I did plan a tiny bit. However, the only planning I actually did was to see what parks had Extra Magic Hours (and avoid them, since we were staying offsite for the first time since the early 1990’s), and to make sure my touring backpack was packed with water, snacks, bandages, an umbrella, wet wipes, a big floppy hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and my phone and wallet. We didn’t, however, have even one FastPass or Dining Reservation made. In July. Were we insane?! Spoiler alert, it was just fine, and so much more relaxed than in previous trips. How?

Of course, there were a few things that we knew we needed to do if we weren’t going to go by a detailed touring plan for the first time ever:

  • We knew we needed to arrive at the parks a little past park opening. Why not prior to park opening? It gets crowded when the vacationers have nowhere to go before the parks open, so we wait about a half hour to let the crowds enter the park before we head in. Our first day we decided to park our car at the Transportation and Ticket Center and leave it there for the day. First up was the Ferry Boat to the Magic Kingdom. It was packed, so we decided to go up to the upper level to get away from the crowd a bit. We stood near the Captain and got to watch through the window his amazing boat parking skills! So fun, and something we had never seen before.
  • We knew that we had to go with the flow. Once the boat docked, we let the crowds go ahead of us. No need to rush! We were the last off the boat and walked at a leisurely pace, saying “hi” to every Cast Member we passed. At both the bag check and the ticket scanner, there was always a Cast Member that had little to no line (generally those on the far ends). We knew this was going to be the case, so that’s where we headed! We were in the park in no time! Once inside the parks, we knew there would be large tour groups and crowds at every turn. We knew that it was probably going to rain each afternoon. We knew it was going to be hot. And that was ok! If we got hot, we went inside a gift shop. If we got thirsty, we picked up a free ice water from the various Counter Service restaurants. If we got hungry, we stopped in a shady spot for a snack. No need to rush to our FastPass attraction to meet our time since we didn’t have any. We just went with the flow.
  • We knew we weren’t going to be able to ride everything we wanted to.   This was ok, too. We decided to explore areas of the parks that we had never been to before. Like, the Main Street Train Station. How many of us just walk right past it when we enter the park? Or the new Hub by Cinderella Castle. Or the back of Morocco at EPCOT. Or the smaller paths behind the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. There are so many places to explore! And, we had a blast finding them. While wandering around the parks, we used the My Disney Experience app to see what the wait times were at the various attractions. Believe it or not, there were tons of attractions with very little wait if you knew where to look. Sure, the headliners like Splash Mountain or Space Mountain had wait times of upwards of 120 minutes, which we were expecting. For those attractions, we had a different strategy… ride after it rains, or during the summer extended park hours. Perfect.
  • We knew it was going to rain, and used that to our advantage. When it rains in Florida, only a few attractions go down. Those rides that go outside like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Test Track, or Expedition Everest generally do not run in the rain. Nor, apparently, do guests. When it rains, the restaurants and gift shops become packed with guests waiting out the storm. We were able to ride a number of attractions right as the rain was dying down, in the middle of July, with no wait at all. This was all because everyone was waiting for the rain to completely stop before they went back out again. So put up that umbrella, and keep on touring! You won’t melt, I promise!
  • We knew that the most popular restaurants wouldn’t have tables available. We weren’t even going to try to get a table at the Be Our Guest restaurant. We knew that it would be nearly impossible, so, we packed and brought our lunch and some snacks in a cooler, and opted for a later dinner at the various restaurants at the resorts. Resort restaurants are generally less crowded than park restaurants, which we knew, so we walked up restaurants like Kona at the Polynesian, Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club, and il Mulino at the Walt Disney World Swan, and we were seated in no more than 20 minutes, tops. Amazing food, relaxed atmosphere, and no problem getting a table at all. And now that the Disney restaurants have started rolling out their Allergy-friendly menus, those of us with food allergies needn’t worry about letting the chefs know ahead of time that we’re coming- they’re already prepared!

So, can traveling to Walt Disney World without a plan be an enjoyable vacation? Absolutely! We rode some of our favorite rides, ate some amazing food, ventured off the beaten path, and had an amazing time! Have you ever taken an unplanned Disney trip? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook your best strategies for touring without a plan!

Jul 152015
 

By: Jennifer Retzlaff

 

Dos and Don'ts of a Disney vacation

Summer is prime time for families to head to Walt Disney World for their family vacation. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few dos and don’ts to help make your trip as magical as possible.

Do Go With a Plan; Don’t Try to Wing It

Magically Speaking Do and Dont June 2015  Be Prepared

Summer is one of the busiest times at Disney making crowds heavy most days. With that in mind, do go in with a plan for the day. Even if it is a light plan with lots of flex time, having a general idea of where you want to go and where you would like to start the day will lower your standing around time, whether that is in line or out on Main Street determining what you want to do. You can tell the families that are trying to wing it as they often can be seen standing around “discussing” the next ride, show, or food kiosk that they are going to visit. Please do not misunderstand me. I know that not everyone is like me and don’t need nor want a detailed plan for the day; that isn’t what I am suggesting. What I am strongly recommending is that you have a general idea if your group wants to hit up Adventureland or Tomorrowland. Knowing your general plan for the day will help your stress level.

Do take breaks; Don’t try to go for 12 hours straight

Magically Speaking Do and Dont June 2015 Breaks

It is extremely hot in Florida in the summer months making it extremely important to take breaks. Trust me I get it. You have spent thousands of dollars on this vacation and darn it you are getting your money worth. My question would be if everyone is burnt out by day three, will you get everything out of the remainder of your trip? I see the complaints online of teenagers not wanting to get up before noon even though they are in Disney. Again a break doesn’t have to mean leaving the park, although if you are able, I highly recommend those few hours away; a break means taking some time to relax and just be for a while. Grab a snack, a seat and settle in for a few minutes. Taking an hour or so every day will give your family that second wind they will need to see those evening shows.

Do be realistic; Don’t get blinded by the magic

I will admit that I struggle with this one. As I am planning our daily plans, I often get wrapped up in trying to do it all which isn’t possible in it the world that is Disney. When planning for your trip, be realistic with what you will be able to accomplish each day. Know up front that you won’t be able to get everything in while you are there. Also be realistic while actually at the parks. Realize that although Disney is full of magic sometimes rides breakdown, bathrooms are needed at the wrong time, and tantrums will happen. I know it is hard to keep this all in the back of your mind, but it will make your trip more magical.

Do be aware of others; Don’t think you are in a bubble

Summer, as mentioned before, is a busy time of the year making walkways, bathrooms, restaurants, buses and rides busy. With this in mind, as you are moving throughout the parks, buses, etc, make sure you are being aware of your surroundings. Try to be aware of where you stop to tie that shoe or have that conversation. Be considerate on the buses when others need to get on. Help that mom with the stroller, offer up your seat to Grandma who has been going all day with the grandchildren. These small things, if we all do it, will make all of our trips that much better.

Do use your snack credits early; Don’t feel like you have to save them

Magically Speaking Do and Dont June 2015 Snack Credits

We learned this when we first used the dining plan a few years ago. We kept holding onto our snack credits throughout our trip leaving us with more than enough to frantically use on our last day. Instead of getting items we would have liked, we spent them on random things we could find at the resort. Last summer when we went we used our snack credits when the desire came. We also used it to get some breakfast items and munchies to take into the park with us. We did end up spending an extra ten on our last day but we were happy to do that instead of trying to force ourselves to use them.

Do come prepared; Don’t be caught off guard

Doing just a little research before you arrive at Disney will greatly help you be more prepared once arriving. Knowing when the parades, fireworks, and other shows are each day helps you know where you want to be at night instead of finding yourself in Epcot when you wanted to see Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios. Be aware of the park hours, extra magic hours and other special events going on throughout the parks during your visit will again help you take advantage of these offers. You don’t want to think you are hitting extra magic hours only to realize that the park opened up early to everyone. Being prepared also relates to weather. If you are visiting in the summer months, know that it will be hot and there will be daily rainstorms. With that in mind, make sure you pack that extra pair of socks, umbrella, and rain poncho. It can be extremely frustrating to take time out of your vacation because you are caught off guard by something that could have been planned for ahead of time.

Do enjoy the magic; don’t forget to smell the roses or popcorn

Magically Speaking Do and Dont June 2015 smell roses

I had to remind myself of this a few times on previous vacations. I am a planner and sometimes during our vacation I find myself getting worked up in what our next step is instead of just enjoying where we are at the moment. As parents, it is easy to be so caught up in our kids that we forget to really stop and see our kids and the joy that they are radiating. One of my favorite moments from our family trip was watching my kids play with their bubble gun in front of the castle. This wasn’t plan, we weren’t riding any rides, but it was a magical moment as they were so happy to be together and enjoying the moment. You don’t want to miss these moments during your trip because you are so busying worrying or planning.

Walt Disney World vacations are for many a once in a lifetime experience and I hope these quick tips will help all of us enjoy the magic that Disney has to offer.

Jun 172015
 

By Tim Rogers

1 tim sorcerer-Edit

Part of the magic of Walt Disney World is that it is a place where visitors of all ages can recapture the spark, joy and imagination of childhood. And while many adults embrace many facets of the Disney magic, some still resist one of the opportunities that can be the most magical – character meets. My advice and challenge to those adults: embrace the character meet!

2 tim merida

Specifically, I have discovered a few pointers related to character meet and greets and would like to share them here. First, do your research. Each of the Disney parks have an abundance of scheduled character meeting times and locations, and understanding this schedule can help you plan your top choices without spending all day waiting in line. Moreover, knowing which characters have Fastpass+ availability can help save even more time.

3 tim mickey character spot

This brings me to the second tip, which is have a plan. Some characters appear in multiple parks, so you might be able to focus your time and energy on the more unique characters in each location if you know this ahead of time. Additionally, some characters have different outfits depending on where they appear, so if you are looking for a specific look, you need to plan accordingly. For example, Donald has a wide array of outfits, from safari to fiesta.

4 tim fiesta donald

Third tip, watch out for special events, and take full advantage of them. Throughout the Disney year, there are numerous events that have unique and exciting character meetings. One of the events with the most unique character meetings is Star Wars Weekends, where you can see everyone from Jedi Mickey to Chewbacca.

5 tim chewie

Two of the other character rich events are the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These parties are essentially the only way to get a picture with the Seven Dwarfs, but also give you the possibility of seeing other rare characters, from the Genie to Scrooge McDuck.

6 tim dwarfs

7 tim genie

8 tim scrooge

Additionally, many Run Disney events feature special and rare characters along the course for participants, so if you are running make sure you bring a phone or something else that can take pictures with you.

 

My fourth piece of advice for meet and greets is to dress accordingly. The first time I really saw this in action was when my wife and I tried to get to Toy Story Midway Mania right as Disney’s Hollywood Studios was opening, but when we got there the wait was already over an hour. However, Buzz Lightyear and Woody had just started greeting right across the way, so we walked in and were the third group in line.

That day I happened to also be wearing my Toy Story aliens t-shirt, and when we met Buzz and Woody they preceded to take turns using “the claw” on my stomach. The combination of this and my extreme ticklishness not only had me doubled over, but had my wife laughing to the point of not being able to breathe as well.

9 tim toy story claw

 

After that, she made me start wearing character shirts to their meet and greets. One of the other fun ones on that trip was Mr. Incredible, who liked my shirt, and Frozone, who seemed upset that I wasn’t wearing a shirt featuring him.

10 tim incredible

Giving the characters something to interact with, and then playing along, can make these greets a lot of fun.

The last piece of advice I have is to be flexible and ready for anything. While many characters are available at regularly scheduled times and locations, sometimes you will just happen upon them.

11 tim marie

After a rainstorm, we ran into Marie near Town Square, probably the only time we’ve seen her without a line.

Being in the area when Santa Goofy was just coming out let us see him with only a short wait, where he was normally swamped.

12 tim santa goofy

The main point, though, is to just have fun. Disney World is a place where you can visit places and friends you have only seen in the movies, and in doing so ignite some of the child-like joy we are all capable of. After all, as Walt Disney himself said, “adults are only kids grown up.”

May 202015
 

Disney Cruise Line - Longer Cruises are Better Cruises

By Ginamarie Palmieri

My family and I will not be cruising this year. My four year old son is not pleased, but, I’m going to share something with all of you that I have been sharing with him. I would rather spend this year saving up money so that next year we can book a longer Disney Cruise vacation, because longer cruises are better cruises.   If you have not had an opportunity to take a 14 or 15 night cruise, you may not know why this mantra holds true, so this article will share some tips and information about what makes a longer itinerary an excellent decision.

First, a longer itinerary gives you the opportunity to visit more unique ports of call, including some that may be once-in-a-lifetime visits. Whether you choose to take a 14-night Panama Canal itinerary that takes you through the locks of the canal or a transatlantic cruise with day after day at sea without sight of land, these experiences are only available on longer itineraries. We found a special peace in sailing across the ocean much like our ancestors had 100+ years ago (albeit in better accommodations). By taking these longer itineraries, we were able to visit places like Aruba, Puerto Vallerta, St. Kitts, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. These ports felt like special opportunities, and since they were off the beaten path, we did not have to compete with multiple other cruise ships at the piers like you may find on Eastern or Western Caribbean itineraries or in the Bahamas.

One of my favorite things to experience on a Disney Cruise is the food, and longer itineraries mean you have far more opportunities to try more food. This is beneficial in several ways. For one thing, with more sea days on your trip, there are more slots available for things like Palo brunch or dinner. This makes it less likely to get locked out of brunch due to lack of availability. In fact, we have found that Palo dinner reservations are easy to obtain on longer cruises, even after you get onboard.

LongCruise3

In the main dining room, a longer cruise gives your servers the opportunity to get to know you better. While service in the dining rooms is always good, it is even better when your servers know your preferences a couple of nights into the cruise, and then you have another 10+ days still to share with them. One caveat- after 14 nights with your dining team, you may be even more likely to ask them to come home with you!

The longer cruises also give Disney Cruise Line the opportunity to create special menus just for your cruise. These menus may contain local ingredients and cuisine or relate to a special celebration or show scheduled for that evening. We always love seeing some new menus to go alongside some of our old favorite menus (like Captain’s Night or the Pirates in the Caribbean menu). We also love having multiple opportunities to sneak up to the shwarma station or the poolside grill for some lunch.

Longcruise2

Longer cruises also tend to have a lot of extra events onboard. These range from extra dining opportunities like a royal princess tea or a character breakfast to extra evening activities like flamenco dancers in Spain and mariachi bands near Mexico. We have seen extra specialty acts onboard (Alfonso Ribeiro and Joey Fatone did a cabaret show one year) and participated in lecture series by Imagineers, Disney artists, historians and nature experts.  We also experienced a beer tasting session that we never would have found time to do on a shorter cruise with fewer sea days. Another benefit to a longer cruise is that many of the activities onboard will get repeated, so if you miss a dance party or a character meet and greet there are no worries- you can make sure to add it to your activity list the next time it is offered.

Conversely, longer cruises also give you more opportunities to relax rather than feeling like you need to squeeze in a new activity every minute. We treasure the time spent at the pool, riding the water slide over and over, or finding an empty window seat or deck chair where we can watch the ocean fly by.

I know what you may be thinking- Disney cruises are expensive and a longer Disney cruise is going to be even more expensive. However, there are also some financial incentives towards longer cruises. For one thing, the per diem rate on a Transatlantic or Panama Canal cruise is often a good deal lower than the per diem price on sailings from Port Canaveral (part of this reason is that these longer itineraries are offered on the “classic ships” rather than the newer Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy). This means that the long sailing may be more expensive overall than a shorter one, but if you average out the price per day, the longer itinerary is less expensive per day.

LongCruise4

Additionally, while these itineraries are twice as long as a 7-night sailing, things like an unlimited photo package do not double in price. We have been able to take hundreds of pictures while on these longer itineraries, making the photo package an even better deal for us. Since we were onboard longer, it meant we were able to make good use of things like wine and beer packages as well. While the embarkation/debarkation ports may be more expensive to get to than a round trip cruise from Port Canaveral, by spacing out these cruises to every 2-3 years, our travel expenses become equalized.

The biggest downside to taking a long Disney Cruise itinerary is that it’s hard to go back to the shorter cruises! In fact, many people who take one of these itineraries feel compelled to continue taking longer Disney cruises. On our last Transatlantic cruise (September 2014), the vast majority of people onboard were not only Castaway members, but also people who had taken a prior Transatlantic cruise (including most of our sailing party).

Overall, I hope that this article has piqued your interest in some of Disney Cruise Line’s longer itineraries, and maybe I can catch you onboard a future sailing.

May 062015
 

By Jennifer Reztlaff

 

When to Visit Walt Disney World

As school ends and summer beings, people start to plan their vacations.  From summer trips to the beach, baseball games, and zoos to determining what next year family trip is will be; summer months spark that vacation planning bug in many of us.  With one school year ending and another off in the distance, summertime, for many families, becomes the ideal time to sit down and plan future family trips.  As a fanatic of all things Disney, I often have people ask me when the best time to visit Walt Disney World is throughout the year.  As a teacher, many people then want to know the best time to go, keeping school calendars and breaks in mind.  Many families try to avoid missing school when planning vacations; however, one has limited options when planning any vacation around these scheduled breaks.  Spring break, holidays and summer are the three main options families are given when planning a trip around the school calendar.  When looking at each of these options when planning a Walt Disney World vacation, there are pros and cons to all of them.  We will break down the pros and cons of each of these times and also discuss how to get the best out of any of the choices.  After all, it is still a Walt Disney World vacation.

The first option is spring break.  This season typically starts early March and extends through mid April for many schools.   Pros of going during spring break are great weather, pools are open, longer hours and it is not as crowded as the summer months and holidays can be.  I felt that the weather during spring break was a big pro. It is starting to warm up sometimes sneaking into the 80s but usually staying comfortable in the 70s and cooling off nicely in the evenings.  Pools and water parks are generally opened during this time giving you even more options during your vacation.

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(3)

 

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(5)

As this is a busy time, Disney normally doesn’t plan major refurbishments during this time which although it never guarantees your favorite ride will be open, it does give you better odds than the slower seasons.  Being a busier time of year, Disney does often extend hours during spring break giving you more opportunities to hit up the parks.  My favorite part of spring break though wasn’t any of those things; it was being at the parks as the sun rose in the morning.  There isn’t anything else like seeing the sun start to shine on Cinderella Castle.

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(10)

There are some cons to visiting during spring break as well though.  First off it is a busy time of year sometimes bringing in peak crowds.  I never felt overly crowded during our trip mid-March, as the month progresses, the parks seem to fill up even more.  As it is spring break, there are a lot more young crowds and teams in the area for different competitions.

So how can you get the best out of a Walt Disney World vacation during spring break?  Get to the parks early or stay out late.  This will eliminate some of your crowd issues.  Book your dinners, FastPasses and entertainment ahead of time allowing you to get the most of the trip.  And if groups of students are a concern, book more of a moderate or deluxe hotel.

Summer is another choice for those wanting to avoid taking their kids out of school for family vacations.  Summer gets into full gear at Disney usually the second week of June and goes through Labor Day weekend.  Pros of going during the summer months focus on park hours, entertainment options and flexibility with travel time.   The first pro of going in the summer doesn’t have to do with Disney itself but with the flexibility summer offers.  When traveling during spring break or the holidays, you are limited to usually a week.  Many find that to be enough time in the magical land of Disney, others (like me) would like more time.  Summer allows for this.   Going for a few days more also allows you to feel less rushed at the parks.  Having a few more days gave us time to hit to pools, sleep in, and revisit rides and shows we loved.

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(8)

On Disney’s end, summer allows for usually longer park hours giving you more bang for your buck.  Longer hours also mean more entertainment times as well.  Evening shows such as Fantasmic or the night time parade will often be on twice during the summer months.  A difference between spring break and summer is that although summer is busy and can reach peak crowds as well, everyday is not packed like you can experience during spring break.

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(7)

On the downside, weather can be a concern during the summer months.  It is a lot warmer during summer months.  Sometimes unbearably hot temperatures are reached hitting the triple digits at times.  It is also a rainier season than spring break so rides can be shut down due to storms.  Like spring break, summer does bring travel groups into the parks as well making some parks feel overly crowded when they are all there together.

Magically Speaking Article May 2015- When to Visit WDW(11)

So how do you survive and make the most out of a summer Disney vacation?  First of all be prepared for the weather.  Pack a poncho for the rain and then go jump in the puddles.  Take breaks in the afternoons to avoid the heat of the day.  And just like with spring break, make sure you book your reservations before heading to the parks.  This again will help lower your wait time throughout the parks during the busy season.

The holiday season is another choice for a Disney vacation when not wanting to pull kids out of school.  Even though the holiday season seems to be starting earlier and earlier at Disney with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the true holiday school vacations revolve around Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  The biggest advantage to visiting during the holidays would be the special events that go on at the parks.  From special parades and events like the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot with guest storytellers, no one does the holidays like Disney.

 

IMG_3596rt

 

A great reason to visit Walt Disney World during the holiday season is all of the Disney resorts are decorated for the holiday which offers a unique experience that you can’t get any other time of year.  This also gives you something to do outside of the parks getting you away from the crowd.  Spending the holiday at Disney is a unique experience for a special time of year.

2014-11-21 14.33.50

The weather during the holiday months can be a pro or a con depending on what you want from your trip.  It doesn’t normally get overly hot during the holiday months meaning the water parks and pools can often be closed.  If this isn’t something you want to do on your trip, then you might find the cooler months nice.  Although this year many visitors were surprised when the temperature dropped into the 30s, so be prepared for anything during this time of year.

Visiting during the holiday season does have its’ downfalls as well.  The holiday season is often the busiest times of the year at Disney causing parks to often times hit capacity.  What is the secret to making the most out of your holiday trip to Disney?  Be realistic.  If you choose to go during this extra magic time of year, go in knowing that it is going to busy and the joy of going during this time is slowing down and enjoying the sights, the extra magic and the decorations.  Make sure to book your special ticket items ahead of time as they are limited ticket items that go early and fast.

Even though Disney does get packed during the holiday season, if you go with realistic expectations, and take time to just enjoy being at Disney, the holiday season can be one of the most magical times to visit Disney.

Trying to plan your family vacations around the school calendar can be difficult as it limits you to spring break, summer and holidays all which are busier times at Walt Disney World.  No matter when you visit Disney there are some challenges that you need to take into consideration, but also some wonderful opportunities that you can experience as well.  Spring break, summer or the holidays are all great times to visit Walt Disney World just do your research, take a breath and remember you are going to Walt Disney World!  Good luck planning your vacation!