What I really want to do with my life–what I want to do for a living–is I want to be at Disney World. I’m good at it.
Not really. I am misquoting Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything there.
It turns out that being at Disney World is an even less realistic career goal than kickboxing.
But I do love Disney World. And we’ve been an embarrassing (cough*six*cough) times in the past several years, and, what with my weakness for obsessive research and all that, planning Disney trips (and, yes, being at Disney World) is one of the things I’m best at. This is a little sad. Because some people are best at coming up with new cancer treatments or feeding the world’s hungry or writing the Great American Novel. Not me! We all have to work with what we’re given.
So I thought I’d spend some time this summer babbling about Disney World. Stuff that might be helpful if you’re planning a first (or first in a long time) trip, particularly one with kids. I’m thinking every Monday for the next six weeks, with these topics:
1. When to go? As in, time of year
2. Where to stay? Off property vs. on
3. Disney with a baby
4. Big(gish) families and Disney
5. Saving money
6. Food: dining plan, favorite restaurants, plus bonus gluten free fun
It just so happens that the trip we just took was 6 days, so, instead of a separate trip recap, I’ll do a quick one day by day with each of these posts.
Okay! So! When should you go to Disney World?
This is kind of a sad question for me, because, even though we homeschool, we are tied down to the school schedule thanks to Dave, the teacher. Thanks a lot, Dave! At his old county, he had a very special fall break, around the third week of September, so we always went then. This year we decided our best option was to take off as soon as we could when Dave finished school for the year, right after Memorial Day.
So this is what I have personal experience with: September and late May/early June.
Now, the two big things to consider when you’re deciding when to go are crowds and weather. And, of course, when you CAN go, if you are tied down to a school schedule like we are. There’s also cost, but that’s pretty much directly tied to crowds (i.e. prices are lower when it’s not crowded).
Touring Plans maintains a day by day crowd calendar, giving each day (and then breaking it down to each park for each day) a crowd level of 1-10, going out for the next year. You need a subscription ($11.95/year to see the whole crowd calendar (and to access other features like the touring plans and the lines app with wait times). We’ve used Touring Plans for a few trips now, and it’s a great resource.
Easy WDW is a free site with a good guide to best and worst times to go.
Basically, as you’d expect, any time school is out, it’s crowded. So summer, spring break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and President’s week.
So, if you can, you want to avoid those times. According to both Touring Plans and Easy WDW, September is pretty much the least crowded time you can go (I did a quick search of days rated as “1” for crowd level for the next year on Touring Plans. There are 31; 14 of them are in September). No one wants to pull kids out of school right after they start back in the fall AND it’s still super hot and humid in Florida in September.
All of our trips except this past one have been in September. Our first couple of trips we felt like we had the parks to ourselves half the time. This was 2006-2007. I have pictures of my kids in front of the castle with pretty much no one else in the picture:
First Mickey bars of the trip!
World’s cutest baby in world’s cutest sun hat. But no Mickey bars for him. Next time!
There’s a fun game in Innoventions involving this cute pig. It’s supposed to teach you about investing and stuff, but I’m just in it for the cute pig.
Mid day break to swim and nap back at the house.
Back to the park for evening fun.
And of course, many posed pictures. Look how happy they always are to stop and pose for pictures for their mother!
Abe learns a lot about plants on Living with the Land.
You can sample Coke products from around the world at Club Cool. Like Beverly from Italy. It’s fun to trick your kids into trying it.
How about another picture, kids?!
Doing the Phineas and Ferb interactive….thing in World Showcase.
Norway gift shop. We’re not even a tiny bit Norwegian, but he’s totally pulling it off, don’t you think?
We didn’t buy these. Too bad.
Ending Day 1 with Illuminations. Abe’s first fireworks!
Phew! Part 1: complete! Anyone have any Disney tips to share? Any topics you’d like me to cover that’s not on the list (I will talk FOREVER about Disney World!) What’s your favorite Lloyd Dobler quotation?