I love Disney World and I consider myself blessed that I live within driving distance of it. It’s a 3.5-hour drive for me so it is something that I can do for a day trip if I really wanted to, but that’s not so easy. A weekend trip is a little more feasible. If you’ve read a few of my past posts, you’ll see that we’ve gone to Disney World quite a few times this past year, and each time we go, we can’t wait to go back! I’m almost immediately planning the next trip because, for us, it really is a magical experience.
We have a trip coming up in a few weeks and it seems that every time I plan a trip, I learn something new. This time we decided for the first time that we were going to take advantage of Disney Dining plans. We had never done Character Dining at Disney, and we decided this time we would try it. In making all our plans, I learned a few things this time that I think could help you guys out if you decide to make plans as well.
- Create a Disney account. This is a money-saving tip because beyond receiving regular updates of what’s going on in the parks, just about quarterly they will send you a special code to use on resort reservations. What I have found is that this code really does give you the best price for resorts, beyond being a Florida Resident and an Annual Passholder. I received a code a few months ago and decided to book a December trip with it at Port Orleans French Quarter resort. I am pretty good at checking rates to make sure we get the best deal possible, and so far it appears we got it with this code.
- Make reservations via phone instead of online. I’m filing this tip under lesson learned. With the trip we have coming up now in 2 weeks, I made our resort reservations online and had in the back of my head that we would call at a later date to add the Disney Dining Plan, thinking this was something that could easily be tacked on. Apparently, that’s not the case. When you make resort reservations online, it’s a different travel company than when you call. Don’t ask me to explain this, because I can’t. So when you call to make changes, like I did recently to add-on the dining plan, they basically had to restructure my entire vacation, which meant that all the money I had paid into the vacation already, needed to be refunded and recharged, since they are two different companies. So if’ you’re going to Disney and it’s going to be just a simple resort stay with no extras added on, by all means, make the reservations online. But if you’re going to add dining or any other perks, just give them a call. It’ll save you a lot of headaches and panicking because it took over a week for the money to be credited back to my account – 8 days to be exact.
- Getting into the parks early. This is something that will be new for us too. I made a reservation at the Crystal Palace for a character breakfast at the Magic Kingdom. My reservation is for 8:25 am, but the park doesn’t open until 9:00 am so this will be a new experience for us as well. I was actually talking to my husband about this today, to remind him of the plans we made, and he was shocked that you can eat in the park before the park is actually opened. The perks of doing this are simple:
- You are in the park early, so you’re wasting no time eating when you could be enjoying the rides. Granted, there will be some overlap, but you’re not wasting an hour at a character dining when you could be out there on a ride. It’s a win-win in my book.
- You can take pictures in front of Cinderella’s Castle with no crowds on Main Street and have it be an extra special picture.
The only thing I see as a drawback to using a character dining for breakfast is that breakfast is the cheapest meal you can get at Disney, so if you’re on the dining plan and you’re figuring out if it’s worth it to you, it’s actually better to use one of your Table Service credits for a dinner (that is more expensive), but I think in the end the experience will be well worth the cost.