Disney Trip Planning
This year, Michelle and I are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Our niece and nephew are visiting, and they really want to meet Mickey and Minnie. To save money, we have been researching the Resort, trying to find the best deals and places to stay, and let me say—when you plan a Disney trip, there are a lot of decisions to make if you want to do it right and NOT spend an arm and a leg.
Since Walt Disney World is just 3½ hours north of Miami, and many people who vacation in Miami Beach also travel around the State, we thought it would be useful to add some of what we found here at MiamiBeach411. If you notice, in the left hand column of the site, there is a new link to Disney World Vacations. This is where you can find Disney tips and information we learned while planning our trip.
How to get there
I figure most people who visit Disney World from Miami will be driving. If you are planning a road trip, it is fairly easy to get there. The Resort is approximately 230 miles (370 km) north of Miami International Airport. The drive takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to get there.
Here are directions to Disney World from Miami:
Take I-95 North. Stay on the LEFT side of the freeway. Merge onto FLORIDA’S TURNPIKE N via EXIT 12A toward SR-826 W (toll road). Continue North 205 miles. Take OSCEOLA PKWY via EXIT 249. Turn LEFT onto E OSCEOLA PKWY / DART BLVD. DART BLVD becomes OSCEOLA PKWY (toll road). EXIT US-192 / RESORT AREA. Turn LEFT onto N POINCIANA BLVD. Turn RIGHT onto VINELAND RD. Turn LEFT onto WINTER GARDEN. Turn LEFT onto VISTA BLVD. Turn RIGHT onto LIVE OAK DR. This road ends at the Walt Disney World Resort Main Gate.
Where to stay
The first thing you need to decide is where you are going to stay. You have two options: Book a Disney World hotel or stay at one of the hotels near Disney. And if you are like me, it is also important to know which Disney hotels offer Internet.
Although Disney Resorts can be more expensive, you will definitely make the most of your vacation by staying at one of Disney’s themed properties. If you do, you will enjoy special benefits such as: Magic Hours, free parking and transportation, close proximity to attractions, character breakfasts, golf discounts, and that special Walt Disney World quality and service.
Magic Hours - Each day, one of the Disney Theme Parks opens an hour early or stays open late after closing so Disney Resort Guests can have easy access to select attractions. To see when each Park will be offering special Magic Hours benefits, click here.
Parking - For Disney Resort Guests, parking is free. For non resort guests, cars are $8; campers and RV’s are $9.
Shopping - You can find specialty shops and stores inside all of the theme parks, but to experience real Disney shopping, you need to visit Downtown Disney, a 120-acre shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
Restaurants - Since you will not be able to eat at the more than 200 restaurants during a single vacation, some decisions will need to be made. For priority seating at any of the Disney World Restaurants, call (407) WDW-DINE.
Character Dining - Being able to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with Disney characters is very popular with younger guests. At the Resort, you can find 13 character dining restaurants offering this up close and personal encounter.
Golf - The Resort is home to six professionally designed golf courses. They range in difficulty from Oak Trail, a 9-hole walking course, to the intermediate Magnolia and Lake Buena Vista courses, and the more difficult Osprey Ridge, Eagle Pines, and Palm courses.
If you decide to stay at one of the many hotels and motels near the Resort, you can still visit all of the Disney properties to enjoy the atmosphere, have a meal, or shop. You may be charged for parking, but you can get validated for up to one hour of parking for each $10 you spend while you’re there.
How to get the most out of your vacation
The least crowded time to visit is from Labor Day to Thanksgiving and from the week after President’s Day (mid-February) to the start of Spring Break (mid-March).
It is good to learn Disney ticket prices in advance, and buy your pass before you get to the park. There is no sense wasting your first hour standing in line at the ticket booth.
Magic Your Way Base Ticket - With this option, you first choose the number of days you want on a base ticket - this allows you to enter one theme park each day. (You can enter that same park multiple times on the same day.) Then you can decide which options, if any, you want to add. You pay for only the options you want, such as the ability to visit multiple Disney theme parks each day or to visit Disney water parks, Pleasure Island, etc.
To take advantage of special Magic Hours, your Theme Park selection must be at the Park offering the Extra Magic Hours for that day. Remember, with the Magic Your Way Base Ticket, you can only visit one Theme Park per day. To get the most out of the Extra Magic Hours, you can add the Park Hopper Option below.
Park Hopper Option - Adding this option lets you come and go to all of the four major Disney World theme parks for each day of your pass. Extra cost on top of the base-price ticket is a flat rate of $40. This works out to just over $6 per day on a seven-day ticket, but obviously, it adds a lot to the cost of a one-day ticket.
Florida Residents - If you live in Florida, you can purchase a 3-Day Play Pass. You can use the 3-Day Pass for up to six months from its first use. The ticket is available year-round with no block out dates. The cost is $120 (Ages 10+); $99 (Ages 3-9). Proof of Florida residency is required.
Florida residents also receive a 10% discount on the price off a 1-day ticket or a Park Hopper option added for a $10 additional charge to a full-price 1-day ticket.
Souvenir Cups - If you drink lots of soda or coffee, you may want to purchase a refillable Souvenir Cup from one of the Resorts. You can refill it for free during your entire stay. The downside is, the cup is only good for the Resort you purchase it at.
Walt Disney World Resort is located at 1500 Live Oak Lane, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. The main phone number is: (407) 824-2222.
Are you Disney trip planning and need more information? I put together a list of hard-to-find phone numbers that can help you.
If you have any questions or Disney tips you would like to add, please post a comment below.
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