Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Disney Vacation Planning: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Disney Vacation Planning: Weighing the Pros and Cons
By: Rebecca Farrell (Follow me on Twitter @RMZFarrell)

When I was a teenager deciding on colleges, my parents encouraged me to make “pro” and “con” lists for each campus I visited. It’s a habit I’ve developed fully over the years and now use it for just about every major (and minor) life decision. It also applies to Disney vacation planning – and so I thought I’d share a few insights with you here.

Let’s face it: Disney has nothing if not a myriad of options laid at the feet of those planning a vacation trip to the House of Mouse.  And for those who are at a loss over where to begin, it can be overwhelming. Below are my personal thoughts/opinions on resort options, park tickets and extracurricular activities.

Once you've read my list below, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section – I’d love to know what you think!


Deluxe Resorts (e.g., Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Boardwalk)
·         Most are located very close to parks, cutting down on travel time
·         Overall resort theme with well-appointed rooms and amenities
·         Wealth of on-site entertainment and dining options
·         Prices
·         Some hotels (e.g., Animal Kingdom Lodge) require a long bus ride to parks other than AK
Moderate Resorts (e.g., Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach)
·         Less expensive than deluxe resorts
·         Some have updated guest rooms (e.g., Pirate and princess rooms)
·         Limited entertainment and dining options
·         Requires bus transportation to all parks (which can take up to 30 minutes based on crowd levels)
Value Resorts (e.g., All Star Sports, Art of Animation)
·         Less expensive than moderate resorts
·         Some offer family suites to accompany large parties travelling together
·         Limited entertainment and dining options
·         Requires bus transportation to all parks (which can take up to 30 minutes based on crowd levels)
·         I have heard from Value Resort guests that rooms are often located VERY far from parking (if you have your own car)

Park Tickets

Base Ticket
·         Cost effective; price per day lowers based on number of days purchased
·         Allows for unlimited exit and re-entry into one of the four main parks per day
·         Limits you to one park per day
·         Travel from the park to other locations (even back to your resort for a break) can eat into your day and limit your overall park time
Park Hoppers
·         Allows you to visit as many of the four main parks as you wish in any given day

·         Cost of adding this option to a base ticket doesn't always have a good ROI
·         Even the most seasoned travelers are lucky to hit two parks per day
·         Travel between the parks can be time consuming
Water Park and More Option
·         For water park enthusiasts, provides lots of options outside of the parks
·         Even more money to spend on top of Park Hoppers

Extracurricular Activities

Group Guided Tours
·         Allows for special ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses of the parks; especially interesting for seasoned park visitors looking to discover something ‘new’

·         Can be expensive (the best tour we’ve found is actually Behind the Seeds in the Land pavilion at Epcot – low cost, fun and informative)
·         Many require a lot of walking and standing, not ideal for all park guests
Downtown Disney
·         Great way to soak in Disney ambiance without using up a park ticket
·         Lots of great dining and entertainment options
·         Best shopping on property – everything you could want, all in one place at World of Disney
·         Bus service from resort hotels is time consuming
·         Very loud, crowded on weekend evenings (Thursday, Friday and Saturday)

Disney Water Parks
·         A great way to spend a day beating the Florida heat and not caring what you look like in your bathing suit
·         For those who can spend the extra money, private cabanas with Cast Member wait service are fantastic!
·         Can be a crap shoot from a weather perspective – there are no discounts if you go to Blizzard Beach in the morning and then it rains all afternoon
·         Parks have limited hours of operation
·         Can be expensive – additional admission costs over and above regular park tickets

1 comment:

  1. Living in Florida, we usually have Seasonal Passes (upgraded to Annual this year), and rarely hit more than one park each day.

    One exception: one year, for passholders, they were offering 4 lithographs, one at each park. So, we drove down (3 hours), hit 4 parks (and a 1-2 rides / shows at each), and drove home that night. It was busy, but do-able. But, I wouldn't recommend that unless you were doing it for a special reason. We were lucky to do 2 things in each park, and wouldn't have been able to do something that required a fast pass.