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Friday, 25 April 2014

Tips 'n' Tricks for booking your Walt Disney World Holiday

Hey everyone. So ever since I did my Disneyworld Diary back in June, I've forever had emails, questions and tweets about Disneyworld. I LOVE talking Disneyworld, I could do so all day and welcome any emails about questions you may have! I have been 4 times which isn't very many to some, but each and every time, I have been the one to book, arrange and sort out everything, so naturally I've come across some tips and tricks for booking the perfect WDW holiday and making it as cost effective as possible. Yesterday the ever popular Dining Plan made its reappearance and I know many of you may be planning your Disneyworld holiday, so I timed this post to go with that, so you may be able to save yourself some money or learn something along the way!



Know when to go! 
Disneyworld has various holidays and seasons, some times might be busier than others and some times may be low seasons and therefore more cost effective! Check out the Dad's guide to Disneyworld monthly calender which shows which times of year are going to be extremely busy and times where you can basically walk on to rides. For me and my family, we prefer to go when its less busy, it just makes the holiday easier and more relaxing, but others may prefer to go when there is an atmosphere (like Christmas or Halloween) and may enjoy the thrive and thrill of a busy park! 

Be aware that some times of year are going to be more costly, for example kids holidays always go up almost double in price (my friend paid £2700 each for going during the summer holidays and that wasn't staying in Disney OR dining) so be aware of that and if you have kids make sure to book around those times! Additionally Christmas is always a very busy and very costly time of year to go. Low seasons are typically cheapest, with September being very cost effective and just after Christmas in January. 

TIP: Do your research when booking and play around, we've found the price difference between a single week can be a lot!
TIP: Flights are at their cheapest 9 months before your holiday. Bear that in mind, we have picked up great deals this way (Disneyworld for £1100 with Dining?!)

Where to book?
Another question I get a lot is, where is the cheapest place to book. This is a hard one, as each time i've gone, i've booked with different agents. Typically, I've found Thomas Cook, First Choice and Virgin to be the most expensive places to book, however its not always the case. When you've decided what time of year you want to go, do your research and open all tabs on your computer to compare the prices side by side. I've had most luck with Travelcity Direct which is Virgins sister company. You get everything Virgin offer but often £200+ cheaper. We have also booked with the official WDW company and this has been most successful in terms of price for us AND perks. When booking through Disney you often get perks that other companies don't offer you, we got a book of vouchers for instance. Other companies have been Charter Travel which I know Amy from Paintpotted has booked from but for us and the time of  year we wanted to go, they didn't offer us the best deal. 

TIP: Check everywhere and anywhere side by side on your computer and always check if travel agents will do a better deal or price match.

When to book?
The time of year you book your holiday is crucial i've found. The cheapest time to book is 9months before. That is when I have found the best deals. The price will often go up the closer you get and then drop down again at the last minute. 12 months before has been too expensive for us despite the fact that people presume the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. Its better to wait it out, check back at 9 months and keep an eye on prices. 

DIY?
A lot of WDW addicts often DIY their holiday. By this I mean they go completely without a package and book the hotels/cars/flights separately  For us this has never worked out and it has always been easier to just book a package. DIY holidays could be for you if you have vouchers to use, flying miles or don't mind doing an indirect flight to save you a bit of money (always worked out a disaster whenever i've done an indirect flight though!) but worth looking into! Its just not something I recommend as I've personally never found a good price. 
TIP: The Virgin flight sale is a brilliant way to DIY and pick up a cheap flight. I've seen many Disney addicts pick up great deals this way!

Where to stay?
So the very first time we went to Florida, we chose to stay off site in Kissimmee. While I look back on this trip with nothing but fond memories, I much much prefer staying on site at WDW. The experience is unparalleled and as a Disney lover, it makes sense! There are various reasons why we didn't enjoy staying off site, the first being buses. We had to get a 7am bus every single day to take us to Disney or Universal. If we didn't get this bus we couldn't go and that meant early starts every single day. Our bus picked us up at 7pm or 8pm which meant we couldn't stay well into the night for fireworks at Disney or dine out and drink til the early hours. It just meant our holiday was a bit restricted and meant we missed out on a lot especially as we didn't drive. In Florida, you pay a younger drivers surcharge of $20 a day if you are under 25, which works out quite expensive. Definitely take this into account. Some off site hotels don't even offer buses, so please do your research to avoid disappointment. For us, Disneyworld resorts always make for a better experience and more relaxing holiday, plus the Disney resorts are just magical!


Saratoga Springs resort typically has 30% off. This is a deluxe resort and part of the free dining offer so you can often pick up a great deal staying here!
Dining Plan?
So you've decided to stay on site at Disneyworld!
 Disneyworld has 3 different types of resort, Value (don't knock it, some of my best pals have had fabulous experiences at Disney's budget hotels) Moderate and Deluxe. With the moderate and deluxe resorts, depending on WHEN you book (i'll dive more into this later) you can get offered a FREE dining plan. The dining plan is basically free food. You are issued credits which entitle you to quick service meals (think burger and chips, that sorta thing) or table service means (similar to a typical restaurant). With the moderate resorts you can get a free quick service dining plan and with deluxe you can get a free full dining plan. I hope you're still with me!
The dining plan saved us a LOT of money, it was worth paying the extra for as it meant, we didn't have to worry about taking money for food (only tips!). We always went Deluxe to get the full dining plan as often the difference was a couple of hundred pounds. Without the dining plan, you'd need about $100+ a day for food, so overall it saved us $1400. Definitely worth the £200 extra we paid. You need to weigh it up and see if it works out cheaper but more often than not, it does!
TIP: Free dining plans are only offered at certain times of the year. Often at the beginning of the year around March/April time and then September/October time.
TIP: Do your math and see if its worth the saving. For us the resort we was going to stay at (All Star) was only £200 less than the deluxe with free dining, so it was a huge saving as we would have spent well over £200 on food! 


An example of the meal you get on the dining plan

Tickets?
This is a question I again, get asked a lot! The only thing I can recommend you do is, do not go to touts to get tickets. You'll see loads of little side shops in Orlando selling park tickets, but often they are fake/expired/ect... so you will end up at the gate disappointed and out of pocket. But I would also recommend not getting the tickets at the gates. Gate prices are extremely expensive and you'll end up paying much more than you should. Check out your holiday operators or ticket selling websites. If you are staying outside of Disney, you'll find many hotels also sell tickets for a lot cheaper than the gate price. You'll also find Walmart sells tickets too! Do whatever you can to not buy tickets at the gate, because you'll find it can be very very pricey!

So I think thats it for most of the tips I can give you! I'm sure there is more but any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email!

4 comments:

  1. Can I add a tip? When I went in 2011, we ended up in such a great place that we've booked it again this year.

    The Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is a really lovely (very affordable!) place to stay. It's on International Drive, pretty much right between WDW and Universal Studios. The shuttle bus was REALLY expensive and, like you said, only left really early in the morning, so we found our own way.

    The I-ride takes you to the Number 111 bus stop, and that bus takes you straight to the Disney monorail. It costs $4 one way. (You can also walk 20 minutes down International Drive and save yourself a dollar if you prefer).

    As for Universal, you just get the I-ride 10 minutes the other way for a couple of dollars and then it's a 10 minute walk away. Alternatively, a taxi costs $15 (with tip!) so it's still pretty cheap if you're lazy!

    With the I-ride, we're going to prebook fortnightly tickets online which give you unlimited use for $18. Billy bargain!

    Becky
    xx

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  2. Great post
    L x
    Http://workingmumy.blogspot.com

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  3. I love all things Disney! New follower here. : )
    Carly's Beauty World

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  4. Oh I reeeeally want to go to Disney World! xx
    www.allthingsbeautiful-x.blogspot.co.uk

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