wdwWalt Disney World – The Happiest Place on Earth….isn’t it?

It can be!  It can also be completely overwhelming, with four parks, two water parks, four golf courses, two miniature golf courses, 22 resorts, sports complexes, shopping areas, over 100 restaurants and endless activities.  Whew!

Here are some of my top tips from years of experience that will help you to plan a magical, stress-free vacation!

*Use a FREE Authorized Disney Travel Planner.

An expert at helping you customize a vacation to meet your family’s needs and budget, your agent can suggest itineraries, make meal reservations, and keep up with special promotions that can save you money.

*Know When to Go.

Choosing when to visit can have the biggest impact on your trip.  Walt Disney World can be a crowded place, and the time of year you visit can have a dramatic impact on crowds.  Typically, September to mid-November and January to mid-February are the least crowded months.  Early December is another great time to visit; the weather is great and the holiday festivities are magical!  When schools are on breaks Walt Disney World is more crowded and more expensive.

*Stay at a Disney World Resort.

Immerse yourself in the magic.  WDW has a resort for every budget, and the accommodations are part of the experience.  Guests enjoy complimentary transportation from the airport, free parking at all resorts and parks, free transportation to all resorts and parks, use of extra magic hours, and the option of using the Disney Dining Plan (explained below).

*Book the Disney Dining Plan.

Use of the dining plan essentially turns your trip into an all-inclusive vacation.  The dining plan is a convenient way to eat around the World without having to worry about the cost of each individual meal your family eats.

*Make Dining Reservations

Reservations can be made 180 days in advance and many locations book up fast!  You don’t want to be stuck wandering around looking for a place to eat with a bunch of grumpy, hungry kids.

*Plan a Day to Relax.

Disney World can be exhausting.  Plan an off day in the middle of your vacation so your family will have a chance to relax and recharge.  Sleep in and spend the day at your resort pool, or exploring Downtown Disney.

*Be Realistic.

You cannot see it all and do it all, so don’t be miserable trying to!  Remember: you are on a vacation.  Be flexible and take it all in stride!

*Don’t Break the Bank Purchasing Souvenirs.

Set a limit for the kids before you go.  Purchase a gift card for each child and encourage them to choose what they want to spend their money on wisely.

*Arrive Early.

The best way to experience the parks without waiting in lines and maneuvering through crowds is to arrive early.  The lines will grow long a couple of hours later and by then you will have already hit all of your “must dos.”

*Don’t Spend Your Vacation Waiting in Line.

Arrive at the parks early and utilize the fast pass system to eliminate waits.  Decide before you arrive which attractions are “must dos” and hit those first.  If you have small children, use Parent Swap – the first riders must wait in line.  When they’re finished, the parent who had to wait with the child(ren) goes through the fast pass line.

Kari Bonnes is a Lake Norman resident and special education teacher.  She is a mother of two children, ages 7 & 11.  After 30 years of traveling to Disney and helping others plan their trips, her love turned business.  She joined Tiggerific Travels and started a new adventure of her own.  Just this past month her agency became an Earmarked agency from Disney!  Her services are 100% free.  For more information, Kari can be reached at [email protected] or via her Facebook Page.