When Congress implemented the first US tax code in 1861 (to pay for the Civil War), it was pretty straightforward.
That was 149 years ago, and since then it’s gotten more complicated every year. Recently, the complexity has gotten out of control.
I first visited thirteen years ago. We blindly picked a hotel, booked some flights, packed our bags, and had a great time. Our biggest concern was whether our kids would be tall enough for the rides.
My husband decided that it was time to do it again. It feels like bookends to a major stage of parenting. First when the youngest child started kindergarten. And again when the oldest graduates from college.
This time, planning a Disney vacation feels a lot like planning a wedding.
I think it has a lot to do with the Internet. Can you say information overload?
First you pick your dates. I know you have constraints in your own life, like weddings, births, and graduations, but they really should take a back seat to other considerations, like climate trends, historical crowd levels, and special events in the park. (Our visit will overlap with Gay Days. Should be interesting.)
Now, will you stay in the park or off site? Consider costs and the availability of a car.
To pick a hotel—I mean, resort—from the 32 in the park you must consider location, theme, pool quality, bus service, and size.
And, of course, cost. There are three price categories. Value (expensive), Moderate (uber-expensive) and Deluxe (get-out-your-will-cause-you’re-gonna-have-to-make-some-revisions-to-your-estate-planning).
And don’t just settle for any old room. Some are a 20 minute hike from the lobby. Where do you want to be in proximity to the pool? Try to get a room close to the first bus stop, so the vehicle won’t be full by the time you get on.
If you request adjoining rooms, include a sob story about how important it is that you be close to Aunt Mabel as she’s prone to wandering. That will increase your chances that they’ll abide by your request.
There are four big parks to visit: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood, and Animal Kingdom, as well as two water parks, Downtown Disney, and several smaller attractions. Historically, on certain days of the week, some locations tend to be busier than others. Schedule your visits accordingly.
Also note: every day Disney opens one park early and closes another one late. You may want to visit those parks to take advantage of those extra hours. Then again, you may want to AVOID those parks because they tend to be extra, EXTRA crowded. But everybody else might be thinking the same thing so you should, in fact, go to those parks. Strategy, people!
You can get tickets that allow you to park hop. Ones that provide admission to the water parks. Ones that don’t expire. Of course, they cost more.
Once in the park, you can get fast passes that permit you to get directly on the ride at a certain time, avoiding the lines. (So you go once— and wait in a line?— to sign up and a second time to actually ride? Nice. Remember, comfortable shoes are a MUST!) There are rules. Familiarize yourself with them before you go.
There are multiple meal deals. But regardless of what you pick, get reservations before you go. What do you mean you don’t know where you’re going to want to eat? Do some research!
If you have little ones, character breakfasts, where costumed Disney characters wander among the tables, are a must. And if your little one might be terrified of the creatures, you’ll need to get her involved in some sort of desensitization program to acclimate her before you head south. Otherwise, it will RUIN your trip.
What about eating in the rooms? You can
- buy at the overpriced stores in the park,
- take a taxi to a real grocery store,
- mail yourself some supplies before you leave, or
- order from one of two private food delivery services available.
Details of all the options are available online.
Do want to buy a mug for $13 which can then be refilled at your resort indefinitely for free? Scope it out.
What will you do on the day you arrive and the day you leave? What if the rain starts when your plane touches down and the first sun you see is when your plane taxis to the runway to depart?
Where do you want to be to view the parade or fireworks? Or do you want to be hitting the rides then as the park will be relatively deserted?
There’s a forum that debates which Disney character is doing wake up calls on which days, something which is apparently a delight for youngsters (except for the ones whom it scares half to death.)
If interested, you can view pictures of the entrances to and the seating on all the rides.
You can see floor plans of various rooms.
Alright, times a’wastin’! Hit those websites!
Before you visit these web forums, it is critical that you familiarize yourself with abbreviations for hotels, parks, attractions, discounts, etc. Otherwise you’ll be at a loss when you read something like:
We stayed at BCV and PORS in FEB and visited both CS and POFQ.
Try out AK EMH and then hop over to the DHS and catch the second showing of F.