When are you looking at going?
When are you looking at going?
I would figure out the time of year you want to go and go from there. If you're bound by school breaks (teachers) then you have to consider that the parks will be crowded. If you aren't bound by school breaks, then you want to avoid those times!
If you want to go during the Winter, early November, early December are good times to go, avoiding Thanksgiving, Pop Warner (I think the second week of December) and getting out of there by about the 22nd for Christmas crowds. The parks will be decorated for Christmas in December, they're absolutely stunning. Pop Warner isn't so bad if you have to overlap with that.
Another winter time to go would be January/February. The weather can be unpredictable as far as temperatures are concerned, but crowds are low between MLK & President's Day weekends. (Week right before President's Day is awesome.)
Generally, avoid March/April because of Easter & Spring Breaks.
If you want to go during the spring, early May is a great time to go, you'll hit the Flower & Garden Festival. If you're big Star Wars fans, the weekends during late May & early June will be Star Wars Weekends. Parks are a little more crowded, but it might be something neat if you're big fans.
Summertime will be hot, but again, if you're bound by school breaks, it might be unavoidable. June & late August are usually the best if you can swing it. Avoid the July 4th holiday at all costs.
Fall is a great time to go, it's still hot while the rest of the country is cooling down. It is hurricane season, so be prepared & get travel insurance. In October, Food & Wine Festival is happening at Epcot. It's my favorite festival and I highly recommend it.
I'd pick a time of year to go, then start planning the rest. They're moving to 180+10 dining reservations again, meaning that if you're staying on Disney property, you can make your dining reservations up to 180 days in advance of the first day of your stay and 10 days after that. For some of the more popular restaurants, this is extremely important. However, I've planned plenty of trips in 2 months and still ate really well, so it's not exactly essential. I'd give yourselves at least 3 months (so plan for 2010 and not 2009 at this point.) And if you can, 6 months. Pick your resort first and go from there.
just a heads up but Pop Warner is Dec. 5-12. if you wanna avoid those times.
Money in general is also a factor for planning. How much do you have to spend on the vacation and can you save up for a while to increase that amount? A great thing to do is watch for the packages on travel, they can really help in the cost department. Know which tier of resort you'd like to stay at as well, booking them farther out would increase your chances that they have openings.
Side Note to kat228- Glad to hear that about Jan/Feb. travel times. My sister and I are going down the week before President's Day in 2010.
That time of year (Christmas/New Year's) can be very busy, so just be prepared for the large crowds.
I'd recommend at least booking a room now (I assume you want to stay on property). You can always modify the reservation to add packages, specials, add/drop days etc. But especially at such a popular time of year, if you don't get the room early, you may not get one, or get the dates/resort you want.
I'd really suggest using a good TA (Travel Agent).
We've use Magic for Less several times & been extremely (sp?) happy. But that said I know there are a few WDW specific companies out there & I've mostly heard only good things.
I like that...
(1) They do the math for me. So as deals & options come out they run the #'s and keep up w/things (I think 3 different times on our last trip our TA got hold of some new, better deal & worked our $$ down). Not only that, they can make suggestions based on your budget to where you may want to stay, eat, etc. Personally, I just don't have the time or the math skills to do that, so I am happy to let them do the heavy lifting for us on that part!
(2) They handle reservations for you. Personally, w/my work schedule I simply can not be on the phone to book that first morning when things open up...but w/a good TA I don't need to be. Deb (our TA) not only handles our ADR's but extra's like a segway tour, Party for the Senses @ F&W, etc. If I change my mind, she takes care of changes & cancellations too. And 2 weeks out, they re-confirm everythign for me. (Now if I could get her to just pack for us too... )
(3) When deciding what to do, the TA's have either done 99% of the things there, or someone else in the office has. When we were deciding between the segway tour or a cruise, they were able to tell us a little about each & what they liked/not about them. It is nice to have access to a little more info. than what WDW puts up on the website.
Especially since this is your first time out, having someone who knows the ropes help you through the process will be well worth it. And it cost you nothing - they get their commission from WDW.
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