Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reader Question - Trip planning!

I love answering reader questions - if you ever have any Disney related questions - heck or anything else I've experienced including nursing (especially at the parks), baby wearing, etc, I will always do my best to help, even if that means expanding the question to other knowledgeable Disney folks!

Yesterday on the facebook page, I received this question from Jessica S.:
Starting to plan a trip for May '13 for me, dh, dd (will be 5), and ds (will be 2.5). Trying to decide the best week to go to take advantage of cheapest rates, least amount of crowds, best weather(my kids love to swim) We are open to switching dates....anytime after the Holidays works for us since we have ample time to plan.
Planning far ahead is a fantastic idea - it's great for budgeting and may make you crazy trying to figure out the best deals.  My 2 big suggestions for this are:

  1. Check out Touring Plans - for $9.95 a year, they have years of historical crowds to allow for a 365 day crowd calender - helping you pick the best time for you to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.  I absolutely love this feature!  And no, I don't get paid to say this.  It just really is an awesome travel tool.
  2. Find a travel agent.  I have several friends that are Disney TA's - they're FREE and get paid by Disney.  I've worked with Pixie Vacations Agents before (and honestly, hope to join their ranks if the Mom's Panel thing doesn't work out in 2012 and after I've readjusted to life with an infant!).  I do know several other amazing people that I'm sure would be incredibly helpful in your travel planning!  They're constantly in communication on The Facebook Page, so make sure to stay active to keep up to date!  A travel agent will do all the hard work for you.  If you book this far out, they'll help you change dates if necessary and continuously look for new deals to save you money!  I recently had a friend save $75 on a 2 night trip thanks to a quick thinking Travel Agent!  **I have had a bad experience - an agency highly recommended by a very popular Disney community.  I don't want to post against them publicly, but I will email you if you are curious.  Just know - if they don't answer all your questions or do a lot of research, MOVE ON.  They get commissioned to help you, so make them help and earn their money!**
This will be our first time staying on site ( thinking Pop of A of A). Should we get the DDP? There is so much to consider...any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

I love staying on property and while it isn't always the best for our travel plans (i.e. marathon weekend where we have to leave at 3 am and have someone else watch our little guy), if we're on a regular trip, we do try to stay on property.  Pop seems to be the favorite Value Resort but the Art of Animation looks incredible.  The problem with Art of Animation is that it is almost entirely suites - depending on when you go, these no longer seem value!  And, the only section that has regular rooms is the Little Mermaid section, which may not be the theme you were hoping for.  Again, a travel agent is your best bet to help you figure out the pricing - and if you happen to go when the crowds are low, the prices will be lower and you're more likely to find good deals..


Free Dining.  I would personally rather take a large room discount and choose how much I spend on food to free dining, but that's not always an option.  Every person in your room, 3 years or older, has to have the plan if you purchase it (and everyone 3 or older gets it during free dining).  Depending on how much your children eat, you may end up spending more to buy a 2nd childrens meal, or maybe your children would only eat enough to share a meal.  Under 3 do eat free at buffets, so that is another good option if you're planning to do a sit down meal.

The DDP that is standard at the value resorts is the Quick Service Plan - In 2012 that is 2 counter service meals and 1 snack, down from 2 snacks in 2011 but the price did not drop.  I believe you can save up your credits to do a sit down, but mostly, you'll end up eating 'fast food' for the majority of your trip - you can upgrade, but that's more fees.

Here are some past articles I've posted about the DDP.  It's a very controversial topic.  Many swear by the DDP for their convenience and ease so my side is the side that prefers to save money - and even if you're DDP, you'll still be pulling out your wallet to tip, as those haven't been included in a few years.

Hope these help!!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Hi Jenn. Your post caught my eye because I am a "pixie" at Pixie Vacations. :) I'm also your newest follower. I hope you get a second to stop by and say hello at I also wanted to let you know about a podcast I do with two other pixies. You can find us on itunes or at our website- If you get to listen, we'd love some feedback. Best wishes for your run!

  2. If you are flying into MCO, remember to use Magical Express, check your flight times in and out to make sure you can use it!
    Take the time to do your dining research (both counter service and table), nothing is worse than going into a restaurant that looks like it will have good food only to find out it serves food no one in your family likes.
    This is a great page to use for research, menus, photos, reviews etc.
    Have a great trip.

  3. Thank you for your help! I am looking forward to using your suggestion and planning, planning, planning!