Sarah Hina provides the common sense, Disney provides the magic, in this simple but thorough approach to getting the best bang for your buck and enjoying to the fullest your time at Walt Disney World without losing your mind. Take it step by step...
You don't need a 900-page tome (unofficial or otherwise) or a degree in statistics to plan a spectacular vacation at Walt Disney World. You do need the best advice for getting there, staying there, eating there, and playing there, clearly and concisely told, and up to date for 2019.
Starting with perhaps the most crucial decision to be made about your trip—when to go— Hina takes you through a foolproof, easy-to-follow step-by-step plan for maximizing your magic and minimizing your stress.
With special chapters on finding fun things to do outside the theme parks and how to become an overnight guru on the MyDisneyExperience app, you'll have all you need to keep a smile on your face from the time you pack your bags to the final happily ever after.
Your great big beautiful Disney World vacation is only a step away!
Step One: Choosing the Length and Dates of Your Trip
Step Two: Step Two: Booking Accommodations
Step Three: Picking the Right Ticket at the Right Price
Step Four: Deciding on the Dining Plan
Step Five: Choosing Transportation That Works for You
Step Six: Using the MyDisneyExperience Website and App
Step Seven: Selecting FastPass+ Reservations
Step Eight: Booking Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Step Nine: Making a Date with Memory Maker
Step Ten: Developing a Touring Plan
Step Eleven: Lining Up Entertainment in the Parks
Step Twelve: Adding Extras Your Family Will Love
Step Thirteen: Planning for Fun Outside the Parks
Step Fourteen: Packing for Your Trip
Step Fifteen: Last-Minute Tips and Reminders
This book was inspired by my family’s love for Walt Disney World and a conversation I had with my husband, Paul, a year ago. We were in our kitchen, preparing lunch, when I raised the provocative notion that there was too much information online nowadays about how to plan a Disney vacation—which, on its face, seemed like a crazy thing for me to complain about. I mean, how could there be too much of a good thing when it comes to Walt Disney World?
My point was that the online planning process had become overwhelming to the average person just starting out on her Walt Disney World journey. The information was plentiful, sure. But where to begin—and how much of that knowledge was relevant to her own circumstances? In my experience, planning a Walt Disney World vacation by surfing the internet felt something like dipping your toe in a pool—and being quickly pulled under.
“Someone should write a planning guide for the typical Walt Disney World vacationer, laying out a series of simple steps to follow that also familiarizes the reader with the theme parks and resort at large,” I told my husband—if not quite that eloquently.
He turned to me and said, “So why don’t you?”
And a book was born.
Hi. My name is Sarah, and my family’s Walt Disney World story started back in 2008, when our daughter, Caroline, was four, and our son, Alex, had just turned three. This was our first big family vacation, and we quickly settled on a five-day stay in Orlando. Because I was lucky enough to have grandparents who lived near Anaheim in California, I grew up making annual pilgrimages to Disneyland, and loved every second spent at the Happiest Place on Earth. In my eagerness to share the same experience with my own family, I thought I knew exactly what we were in for when we headed to Walt Disney World.
I was wrong.
This place was massive! Walt Disney World was so much bigger, and more confusing, than its sister resort out west. While I knew about the four theme parks, I hadn’t a clue about the two water parks, four golf courses, two miniature golf courses, the shopping and entertainment complex that is Disney Springs, and the twenty-plus resorts scattered across Disney property, each of which had its own theme, restaurants, and activities designed to entice guests through its doors. What were Extra Magic Hours? How did one make an Advanced Dining Reservation, and which restaurants required them? And how on earth were we supposed to do everything we wanted to in five days’ time?
Well, we didn’t. But what we did experience captured our imaginations and stole our hearts. So much so that we returned to Walt Disney World four years later. And then two years after that. But that still wasn’t enough, which led us back the following year. And the next. So that now…
We are hooked.
In that period, we’ve learned proven methods for minimizing our wait times while touring the four theme parks, which resort accommodations offer the best perks and most desirable amenities, how to score the hardest-to-get Walt Disney World dining reservations, and some simple tricks for sticking to a budget when you’re in a place that seems designed, at every turn, to take your money. And much, much more.
And now I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.
While I’d love to give you a rundown of each ride, attraction, and show to be enjoyed at Walt Disney World, this book will avoid lengthy descriptions of most attractions out of a simple need to streamline the content. Instead, I’ll encourage you to peruse the Disney website to explore the various attractions, or visit YouTube to get an up-close look at other Walt Disney World experiences.
What I will do is tell you the most efficient way to tour the attractions in each park, and which experiences to prioritize, and when.
This book isn’t going to reflexively parrot Disney’s notion of what a successful Walt Disney World vacation looks like, either. While I am a Disney fan, and loyal to the parks, I also have my issues and critiques, especially in the ways Walt Disney World tries to squeeze more and more money out of the average family vacationing there. So if I think there’s something you can skip, I’ll say so, without reservation.
Sarah Hina is a writer, photographer, and Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. As a young girl, she enjoyed her family’s yearly trips to Disneyland so much she couldn’t bear to leave the park at night. Later, as a wife and mother of two kids, her passion for Disney’s storytelling and innovation grew and strengthened through frequent family vacations to Walt Disney World, where she loved rediscovering the magic of Disney’s theme parks through her children’s eyes.
Now she’s excited to share her experience with other Walt Disney World guests, in the hopes that her tips and insights will make their Disney memories as special as her own.