So, I thought I would share some tips for my number one vacation spot…
1. Virgins Downtown Disney Check in
For a fee (or free if you have booked your holiday through Virgin Holidays) you can check in at downtown Disney on the morning of your departure – giving you more time to enjoy your final hours in the most magical place on earth. You will receive your boarding passes and your luggage is taken to the airport for you. It also means you do not have to be at the airport quite as early as if you have to check in, but please be aware there can be big queues at security.
Buy a Luggage Scale, they are relatively cheap, small and light so won’t take up too much space but it means you can check your weight before checking in…potentially saving you quite a few pounds on excess luggage. If you know you are going to buy lots of goodies (like me!) pre book extra baggage as it is cheaper than at check in. We usually buy an extra suitcase from Walmart, so just pay extra coming home not both ways!
3. Take a trip to Walmart/Target/Publix
Stock up on breakfast goodies…buy a cheap toaster for bagels! This will save you so much money and time, especially if you want to get to the parks for opening.
Most Hotel rooms have a fridge so you can buy Water, OJ, Milk, Cream Cheese…
Walmart is also good for cheap clothes…you can return items with a receipt at Asda when back in the UK (although this is something I have never tried).
4. Hire a car
Disney World is humongous…you can’t really walk from place to place, so by hiring a car it means you can pop out of Disney much more easily to grab a non Disney Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner, there are so many fantastic, great value restaurants (I think this deserves a post to itself!!)
There are also several Malls and Outlet Shops which deserve a look in if you have the time.
Mall at Millenia
Orlando Premium Outlets (2 locations):Vineland Road and International Drive. Vineland Road is closest to Disney.
5. Don’t try to fit everything in…plan plan plan and plan some more
So you have booked your vacation, now the excitement begins…where to go, what to do??? “Lets go to Disney World and Universal and Busch Gardens and Seaworld and Discovery Cove and Legoland and Gatorland and Kennedy Space Center…oh dear, I don’t think we’ve got enough time!” There is so much to see and do…the list is endless, I bet you feel exhausted just thinking about it!!
Try to work in some pool/quiet time, even if it is a morning or afternoon every few days. Some days you will want to stay at the parks late for the fireworks, this is a good day to spend the morning by the pool. The waterparks are also a good ‘rest’ day, you just have to decide which one to pick; Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Aquatica.
6. Buy your park tickets before you go
Disney have a special Ultimate ticket which is only available in the UK so buy before you go…if you are planning on visiting Disney the most on your vacation it is definitely worth the cost. It gives you 14 (or 21) days in all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney Quest at Downtown Disney, ESPN Wide World of Sports and one round of Mini Golf a day.Virgin Holidays have recently launched ticket bundles which seem to be excellent value for money and include a range of parks in Orlando.
There are many discounted ticket websites, some offer real tickets, others you will receive a voucher which can be exchanged at guest services at any of the parks.
7. Use Virgin Holidays
If you don’t want to book all the bits of your holiday separately I would highly recommend Virgin Holidays, you get extra perks and I have always have great service using them in the past. If you do like to book things separate, again check Virgin Holidays for hotels, some of the hotels receive extra perks, such as free parking.
8. Disney’s Boardwalk Area
This is our favourite non park location. It is a perfect hotel location (although very pricey). There are 5 resorts in total, 3 Disney (Yacht, Beach & Boardwalk) and 2 Non Disney (Swan & Dolphin). There are a few restaurants and ESPN Club which has hundreds of TV’s showing all different kinds of sports. These are the only resorts which are in walking distance to TWO Disney parks, Hollywood Studios (my favourite park!!) and EPCOT. There is also a Water taxi if you feel the need to rest your weary legs!!
9. Raglan Road Bar
It is a great place to have a bite to eat, you can usually find a spot at the bar, they have live bands and Irish dancers on too. Kevin’s Ham is a firm favourite with my other half!
10. Make Advanced Dining Reservations
If there are Disney restaurants you really want to eat at I would highly advise that you make reservations in advance. Disney’s Advance Reservations can now be done online. Most restaurants now require a credit card guarantee when making the reservation. You can make a reservation 180 days in advance of when you want o dine, if you are a Disney resort guest it is 180 + 10 days. Some Advanced Reservation tips from WDWInfo.com.
Two of my favourite books, even as a ‘Pro’ I buy the updated editions regularly.
Brits Guide to Orlando
The Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld
Great Websites I visit on a regular basis
Disney Parks Blog
Offical Disney Website
Emma & Winnie the Pooh x