Monday, April 9, 2012

Scheduling a Trip


Choosing a time to visit Walt Disney World can be one of the trickiest parts of trip planning, yet one of the most important. In hopes of helping, here are my top 5 factors too be considered are as follows:
  1. School - Do you have children in school (or teach) that can't miss?  That's a very personal decision - some parents don't mind their kids missing a few days, but not all.  Disney has a lot of educational possibilities that are available, organized or on your own.
  2. Weather - Orlando is warm most of the year.  I've been in January when it's been 80 degrees (though I have seen it much colder then).  The summers are brutal.  High temperatures average in the 90's from through September - add in the Florida sun and humidity and it can make for a very  uncomfortable trip!
  3. Crowds - Holidays and times when schools are out tend to have more visitors.  Dates following and preceding the major holidays are often less crowded - though that is generally when school is in session.  For statistics and best bets in planning based on crowds, I recommend using Touring Plans.com.  For a low fee, you have access to a 365 day crowd calender based on years of statistics.  Click on the logo on the lower left panel to learn more!  Honestly - this is my first step when checking out dates to visit!  Higher Crowds mean:
    1. Higher Prices
    2. Less restaurant availability (make those ADR's as soon as possible!)
    3. Longer Lines
    4. Longer park days - peak times of year, the parks occasionally open early, but often stay open much later with Extra Magic Hours reaching to the wee hours of the morning during the peak season.  
  4. Cost- Along with the parks being more crowded during holidays and school breaks, the cost is often higher during these times, too.  There are 3 seasons - Peak, Moderate, and Value -  food and resort costs rise during the peak season - and discounts are often blacked out by major holidays.
    1. Discounts are often offered with short planning - if you're flexible, you could save money buy booking when some major discounts are available
    2. Pin Codes - I tend to receive a lot of these "personalized deals."  They are often an indicator of major discounts that will later be open to the public, but you will have first dibs at the savings!  To increase your chances at receiving this discounts, it is recommended to log in to the Disney Parks website - go in and look around.  If you have a Disney Visa, you'll continue increasing your odds.  No one is sure how these are chosen, but it doesn't hurt to get your email and address in Disney's system!
  5. Special Events - Disney hosts many major events throughout the years.  These events sometimes add higher crowds, but can also enhance your trip!  Some of these include:
    1. Hard Ticket Events such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party often a separate park entrance fee, but opens to the Magic Kingdom to a much smaller crowd and has a lot of special event perks (parades, trick or treating, etc...)
    2. Race Weekends - Marathon Weekend, Princess, etc... if you're into endurance events, Disney is home to possibly the best - or at least most entertaining.  Though pricey, they are generally during lesser crowded times of year and offer a fun and enjoyable way to schedule a big race (5k through full marathon)
    3. Food and Wine Festival - annually in the fall, Epcot's World Showcase opens up dozens of kiosks with food and beverages from different locations all around the world.  This event tends to be crowded, especially on weekends, late afternoon/evenings, and the opening weekends.
    4. Flower and Garden Festival - annually in the spring, Epcot creates incredible topiaries and more.  The past couple of years teamed with HGTV, there has been special events and classes about gardening and landscaping and more!
These are my top factors in deciding when to visit.  Hope this helps in your trip planning!

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