Yes, vacation time is limited and precious too. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to save time on your Disney World vacation.
Margie Binder wrote an interesting article on the Mouse Planet web site that outlined some key considerations (Source). We think they are great tips for ensuring you get the most from your Disney vacation.
Pick The Best Time To Visit
Of all the tips that can have an impact on your vacation, this is the biggest. When during the year you plan to visit Disney World will have a huge impact on everything, from weather to cost to crowds.
Weather: In January Disney World enjoys high temperatures averaging 71F with low humidity. Just about perfect weather, even if it occasionally gets a bit chilly in the evenings. Fast forward to July and you get an average high of 92F with oppressive humidity. Which would you rather have?
Cost: Let’s price out a four day stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in early December for two adults. We will throw in theme park tickets and the Disney Dining Plan. The cost is about $3,400. What happens if you move that vacation to the week between Christmas and New Years? The price jumps to $3,700.
Crowds: Here is an example, with data provided by a popular Disney touring web site. If you plan to visit on December 8 (a Thursday early in the month) you will encounter an overall crowd level of 2 out of 10. If you plan to go to Disney just four weeks later on December 29 (a Thursday between Christmas and New Years) had an overall crowd level of 10 out of 10.
Why the big differences? Going to the theme parks during the slow early-December time period vs. the time between Christmas and New Years, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year. As you can imagine, the lower crowds during early December will allow you to see more and enjoy more.
It’s not always possible to pick the slow seasons, but do a little research on weather, cost, and crowds before you make your final booking plans.
This next tip may be a little controversial, but I tend to agree with it. If you stay at a Disney Resort Hotel you will save time. At first look this might not make sense. With just a little research you will hear plenty of complaints on how Disney transportation busses are slow. You may well experience waits between the arrival of busses, and plenty of stops along the way.
However, the up side is that you can leave the driving to someone else. While it may actually take a little longer to get to your destination, you can relax during the process and conserve your energy. No worries about getting lost or misunderstanding maps. This also allows you to enjoy these travel times.
In addition, staying on Disney property also helps you enjoy the Disney magic for your full visit. You are much less likely to encounter a surly waiter or a rip off from an off-site ticket vendor or merchandise store.
Do Your Research, Planning, and Purchasing Before Leaving Home
Some first-time visitors to Disney World don’t realize that the place is named Disney “World” for a good reason. It is huge. And there are lots of things to do. These are good attributes. However, you will want to do some research before you leave home.
Read up on the Disney Magic Your Way ticket options. Decide how many days you will visit the theme parks and what ticket options you want. Buy your tickets in advance either from Disney directly or a reputable travel agent like the Automotive Club so you can save time by note waiting in line at the ticket booth.
Make the outline of a plan for how you want to spend your days. No, you don’t need a minute by minute agenda. But you should have a general idea of what you want to do when. This will save time from those uncomfortable discussions of ‘what are we doing to do today’?
Make your dining reservations well in advance for sit down restaurants or Disney character dining. Normally these reservations open 180 days in advance, and many of the popular location fill up immediately. Having reservations in hand will help you ensure you can get into the places you want, and that you won’t have to wait a long time before being seated.
A Little Planning Now, More Time For Fun Later
By spending a little time planning when you will visit and where you will stay, and by doing your research and making ticket purchases before you leave home, you will have more time to enjoy everything that Disney World has to offer. You might even use your extra time to enjoy a special meal, catch your favorite attraction one more time, or simply relax by the pool.