Disney Travel Basics

Disney Vacation Guide

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.

Disney Travel Basics

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.

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  • 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.

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Planning a Disney Vacation

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.

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  • 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.

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Disney Hotels

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.

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  • 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.

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Types of Disney Vacations

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.

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  • 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.

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Budget Disney Vacations

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.

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  • 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.

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Disney for Adults

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.

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  • 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.

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