Disney Vacations: It’s a Small World After All
If you’ve been wishing upon a star that your next Disney vacation will be easy to research and plan, it’s time to stop dreaming and start surfing the Web. In this Web Guide to Disney Vacations you’ll find links to lots of Disney travel information resources, from specifics within Disney’s own sites to unofficial guides, travel planners, money savers and hotel information. The Disney Vacations Web Guide will have you shaking hands with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy in no time.
There might be no place in the world quite like Walt Disney World, but there are plenty of places on the World Wide Web where you can get information and advice for your next Disney vacation. Disney’s official sites start creating the magic right on your screen, and you might find that planning your trip feels more like fun than like research. Still, the Disney hype can be overwhelming (and almost every official site opens with a musical interlude), so you might consider exploring Disney travel through some unofficial guides, which are also plentiful online.
- Although unofficial Disney sites often have insider information that can greatly improve your trip, site design is typically shabby and most authors assume that you already have a basic knowledge of Disney. Disney’s own sites will entice you with expert graphics and capture the “magic.” Our recommendation: use the official sites to figure out exactly where you want to go, and then visit unofficial sites to find out how to get there faster and cheaper.
- If you’ve got time to browse, hit the Disney.com “Travel” homepage. If you have a pretty good idea of where you’re going and want specific information, go directly to sites of individual parks and attractions. They’re all described below.
For the main Disney sites …
has created a “Travel” homepage: your starting point for official exploration of Disney travel. You’ll find links to every Disney destination on the globe, from Anaheim to Hong Kong, and even information about the Disney cruise ships that sail the seas between. Also check out video features and travel offers. The tabs at the top of the screen take you to other sections of the company’s official site.
The Tokyo Disney Resort
encompasses a resort hotel, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo DisneySea Park. The site features basic information and promotes special events. You’ll also find reservation information.
Hong Kong Disneyland
has a robust Web site on which you can research the park, make reservations, and get information to prepare for your visit. Be sure to check out the Park Map
for video tours of attractions you select.
Disneyland Resort Paris
boasts a colorful site that rivals the City of Lights itself with its stylish appeal. Find out more about what the park offers visitors, plan your trip, and discover special money-saving offers.
For unofficial Disney travel guides …
DIS (Disney Information Station)
is a massive, unofficial guide to Disney. You’ll find a Disney podcast and plenty of discounts and information on deals, but most useful are the vacation guides to all of Disney’s theme parks, including a description and history of each ride. Also covered are sporting events, golf courses, and cruise ship sailing listings.
is just a blog but it has a large number of extremely helpful articles and entries on pretty much any aspect of Disney travel you can imagine. There’s advice for decreasing waiting time, tips for handling your toddler, clues about where to meet characters, and much more.
is an official site that advocates, and helps you plan, Disney business meetings. Whether you’re trying to plan a convention or simply want to coordinate meetings with a Disney vacation, the site covers all the details including airport transportation, group activities, and resorts geared toward meeting your business needs.
Packing everything into a Disney vacation requires careful planning. You can plan a trip yourself, or opt for a professional Disney travel planner to construct a perfect trip for you. The sites below allow you to explore both options.
- The travel agents we’ve listed below are “authorized Disney travel planners,” which means they’ve attended classes known as the College of Disney Knowledge. If you’re a travel agent looking to attend the college, you can register online.
- Some of the best planning advice you’ll find is in the unofficial guides to Disney listed in the “Where can I explore Disney travel online?” section.
- The amount of planning you’ll have to do depends upon the activity, as some Disney attractions require reservations (for example, the Princess Breakfast, featuring appearances by characters like Snow White and Belle).
- Disney makes free DVDs for its vacations. This DVD takes you on a tour of Disney theme parks, reveals new shows and attractions, and offers money-saving tips.
For do-it-yourself tips …
is a news and entertainment Web site with articles on various topics, including “Tips for Planning an Awesome Disney Vacation.” The author outlines simple things that you can do ahead of time to ensure a great trip. If you don’t mind the repetition of the phrase “awesome Disney vacation” at least once in every paragraph, you’ll find some great suggestions.
Walt Disney World
’s official site has a page where you can make hotel reservations and buy theme park tickets that can either be mailed to you or picked up at the park. If you don’t want to use a travel planner, this is probably the most direct and convenient way to get tickets.
For authorized Disney travel planners …
Kingdom Magic Vacations
gives you inside deals about the various Disney parks, sample itineraries, and price quotes by e-mail.
is a travel agency that helps you plan a trip to Disney or find a Disney cruise, and aims to help you get the most for you money.
is the brainchild of former Disney World VIP Tour Guide Mike Hewell. Hewell charges families $21.95 to map out custom itineraries to Walt Disney World based on answers to a pre-trip online questionnaire. Hewell also runs Michael's VIPs
, where he offers a more deluxe service: for $100 an hour, one of Hewell's guides will wait in lines for you and even score tables at the character breakfasts.
There are an overwhelming number of hotels and resorts surrounding Disney theme parks. Many factors go into choosing one that meets your needs and budget, and knowledge is your greatest asset. Use the sites below to learn about your options.
- If you’re visiting Disneyland Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Paris, visit the official site of the park, listed in the first section of this guide, for information about nearby resorts.
- An official Disney travel planner can help you make an easy decision about where to stay based on your needs and budget limits. An unofficial online Disney guide, found in the “How do I plan my Disney vacation?” section can also be quite useful.
- Official Disney resorts are all listed on the Disney.com Web site.
includes all Disney resorts and villas organized by value and level of luxury. Read up on each resort and view picture slideshows for some properties. Take a look at hotel rates for each night of your trip and book directly through the site.
, which also gets a nod in the “How do I save money on my Disney vacation?” section of this guide, provides a clickable list of Disney World resorts, villas, and campgrounds. When you select one, you’ll have the option of viewing a map, checking out a photo gallery, and best of all, perusing user reviews. The site has a similar page for Disneyland resorts
Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels
is a site devoted to the seven resort hotels in Downtown Disney, an area for entertainment, shopping, and dining at Disney World in Orlando. You’ll find information about each hotel and be able to compare hotels to each other and to other accommodations. The site also has information about what Downtown Disney offers.
Disney is a lot more than just theme parks. There are Disney cruises, Adventures by Disney, and the Disney Vacation Club. We’ve rounded up the best Web sites to help you figure out your options and plan your theme-park-free Disney vacation.
- In addition to its general vacation planning DVDs, Disney offers a free DVD about its cruises, as well as an e-Brochure. Getting a visual concept of what to expect before you book a trip is never a bad idea. Be sure to take advantage, especially if you’re considering one of the company’s newer programs.
For Disney cruises …
reviews Disney cruises here. Start by getting a general overview to help you decide if you want to take a Disney cruise, and then review each ship individually.
Disney Cruise Line
has its own official site where you can learn about voyages, search for a cruise to fit your schedule and budget, or even listen to the Disney Cruise podcast. It’s an extremely useful site if you’ve already decided you want to take a Disney cruise (or if you’re looking to be sold on one).
For Adventures by Disney …
Adventures by Disney
is a Disney program that runs guided vacations to exotic destinations all over the world. On the site, you can get a brochure, watch vacation videos, or ask the Adventure guide questions.
is a blog that introduces new technology and cool, interesting things. When Adventures by Disney was set to launch, Thought Press did a post on it. Read about the premise of the program, and its perceived advantages.
is a discussion board devoted to Disney travel, and this particular page focuses solely on Adventures by Disney. If you’re trying to figure out whether it’s the right vacation for you, or which adventure to choose, post your questions or read old discussion threads to hear honest opinions, questions, and answers.
For the Disney Vacation Club …
Disney Vacation Club
is a vacation timeshare that essentially encompasses every type of Disney vacation listed in this guide. With membership you can purchase points and exchange them for any number of Disney vacations. On the site, read about the many aspects and advantages of the program, stream a video, or order a free DVD.
You might vow to avoid the gift shop but it’s hard to leave Disney without at least a pair of mouse ears. The sites below offer some more reliable ways to save on your trip.
- Of course, one of the best ways to save money on planes and hotels is to go during the off-season, if that’s possible for you. Disney deems the following periods “value season,” during which you can expect lower hotel prices and fewer crowds: Jan. 1–April 13; April 30–June 1; and Aug. 27–Dec. 21. However, some travel industry insiders have different perspectives. This Boston Globe writer’s favorite time to visit is from the week after Thanksgiving until mid-December.
- Using a vacation planner or travel agent to plan your Disney vacation may also save you money. Some of them offer low or no fees and they often have access to the best deals.
- If you plan to rent a car, you can find considerable savings by booking a hotel or other accommodation a few minutes further from the theme park. You might also be able to forgo the rental car, as many area hotels operate free shuttles to and from the park. However, the aforementioned Boston Globe travel article notes that finding affordable accommodations inside Disney is possible.
is a site filled with discounts on “all things Disney.” If there’s a way to save money on a Disney vacation, MouseSavers.com knows about it and has the information on this site. Select the vacation you’re interested in from the left sidebar and see what’s available.
Walt Disney World's
official site has a section devoted to affordable vacations. Discover the options with this simple, interactive presentation that asks you a series of questions to determine which vacation package suits you.
The Magic for Less
is the official travel agency of aforementioned The Mouse for Less. Here, you'll be able to get vacation planning advice straight from graduates of the Disney College of knowledge in Webinars and chats throughout the month. The site also keeps up with the latest codes and discounts on Disney travel and will apply them to your Disney reservation at no charge.
Plenty of people give up Disney once they realize there’s a human being inside the Donald Duck costume, but there are a fair number of others who still believe in the magic. Below, you’ll find some tips for grown-ups, as well as grown up–only activities.
- One grown-up activity at Disney theme parks is skipping the fast food to eat at nice restaurants. Explore dining options at Disney’s official site, or in one of the unofficial guides listed in the “Where can I explore Disney travel online?” section of this guide.
- At Disney World, adults can kick back at Paradise Island, the park’s nighttime hot spot in Downtown Disney. Every night features live bands and a New Year’s Eve celebration at midnight, plus frequent comedy acts and a different dance club for every decade from the ’60s through the ’90s.
- Parents visiting Disney with the kids won’t have trouble finding some alone time. At both Disney World and Disneyland, there are childcare providers available day and night. It is recommended that you call ahead of time to reserve childcare (these providers do not have Web sites): at Disney World, try the Fairy Godmothers at 1-407-277-3724; at Disneyland, the Fullerton Childcare Agency is highly regarded, and can be reached at 1-714-528-1640.
- If you’re sure that there is really nothing adult enough at the Disney theme parks that will make you smile, you might still consider checking out some of the options in the “What other kinds of Disney vacations are there?” section of this guide.
For adult-only activities …
has an article featuring six tips for grown-ups at Disney World, written by a grown-up who’s still a huge Disney fan. There’s good advice on a variety of topics (for example, dealing with crowds), and general advice for making the most of your Disney experience.
promises to make your fairy-tale fantasy come true. Read about choices for your wedding, see pictures of other Disney weddings, and check out the honeymoon registry
, which allows your guests to contribute toward your Disney vacation honeymoon.
The Downtown Disney
official site displays all the things you can do at Downtown Disney. The variety of entertainment, dining, and shopping options can help you unwind after a long day of lines and rides.
Disney Cruise Line
's site has an FAQ for adults that explains all the activities that are available only for adults on a Disney cruise.
For childcare services …
Disney World and Orlando Unofficial Guide
lists resorts at Walt Disney World that offer childcare services. Get contact information and find out what to expect from each provider. If you won’t be staying at any of the listed resorts, scroll past the list for a few high quality independent childcare providers in the Orlando area.
has an article about visiting Disneyland with babies and toddlers. In addition to listing especially child-friendly eateries and attractions, the author recommends a few tour packages and a childcare agency.
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