Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minnie Moms: Advance Planning Tips, Corby

Today Minnie Mom Corby shares her advance planning tips.  Don't miss the other posts in this week's series!

Thinking of planning a vacation to Disney World? Many are shocked when they begin planning what an overwhelming process it actually can be. There are lots of decisions to be made such as dates, which parks to attend, park hoppers, dining plan, travel insurance, what to pack, just to name a few. I consistently get emails from friends/clients wanting advice on what to do.

First you need to decide on which dates you would like to visit. Depending on the season, rates will vary. Typically, you will find when rates are the highest, the crowds will be as well and vice versa. Some will need to go when school is out depending on the child’s age and may be limited as to when they can travel while others have more flexibility and can go anytime. You may want to plan around certain special events such as Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, Star Wars Weekends, Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival or when certain decorations are up such as fall or winter, for example.

My philosophy is it’s never too early to go ahead and book. As long as you are planning more than 45 days prior to arrival, all that is required is a $200 deposit. You can get refunded should you decide to cancel as long as you are prior to 45 days before arrival. So really there’s nothing to lose! Sometimes, prices can’t be guaranteed if you are planning more than 6 months in advance. Also, Disney will typically announce promotions 4-6 months in advance for select dates. Some want to wait until promotions come out. I typically recommend going ahead and booking and should a promotion become available, switch it to the better price. Disney has not been hurting for business and the promotions haven’t been the same as previous years so don’t count on a certain one being available when you need it. Promotions are typically given to those that book ahead of time and not for last minute travelers. Another perk of booking ahead of time is you have from the date you book until 45 days prior to arrival to make payments. If you’d like to pay a little as you go, you have that option which is nice.

Dining Plan:
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s) can be made 180 days in advance. You actually get 180 + 10 days if you’re staying on Disney property as an extra perk. I always recommend booking them as soon as possible. If I’m taking care of them for a client, I start making them the very first day I am allowed so they will get their location and time of choice. There are some really popular restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey, ‘Ohana, Le Cellier (lunch since it’s 1 table service credit), and more that are difficult to get into. I always recommend booking 6 months in advance when possible. I would recommend viewing menus and narrowing it down to where you want to go before the 180 day window approaches.

Travel Insurance:
If you are thinking of adding travel insurance, I would advise waiting until right before the 45 day window to add as it is non-refundable. Insurance is an extra expense but it could be well worth the money should you run into problems.

I typically wait until 7-10 days before arrival day to start stalking the weather websites. You will need to be prepared ahead of time should it look like weather may not be cooperative. I always advise purchasing umbrellas, ponchos, squirt fans, snacks and water before you leave as they will be a lot less expensive than when you are in the parks.

Online Check-in:
If you’re staying on property, take advantage of using online check-in up to 10 days prior to arrival. It will speed up your check in process allowing more time for fun.

Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the details that go into planning a Disney vacation, you don’t have to! You can always contact Travel with the Magic. We’ll be sure to take care of all your needs so you don’t have to worry about a thing and it’s at no additional cost to you.

Contributed by Minnie Mom Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley and  a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic.

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