On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney opened the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, which consisted of the Magic Kingdom Theme Park, the Contemporary and Polynesian hotels, the Fort Wilderness Campground, and two golf courses. Today, the nearly 40 square miles of land is the most visited entertainment resort in the world, boasting 4 Theme Parks, 2 Water Parks, 35 resort hotels, 5 golf courses, 2 full-service spas, a wedding pavilion, a sports complex, and an entertainment/shopping/dining complex. The resort is open every day, all year long.
Walt Disney World Frequently Asked Questions (Submitted by James Cameron):
1. When is the best time to visit Walt Disney World?
Generally speaking, the best time of year to visit Walt Disney World is when the crowds are at the lowest levels. This usually occurs when kids are in school. January and February (excluding President’s Week), Late August, September, October, Early November, and Early December are when the parks tend to be less crowded. During these “Off Peak” times of year, the parks will usually operate on shorter hours, but wait times for attractions should be shorter as well. Some dining options are also less expensive during “off peak” parts of the year, and Disney tends to run more special offers on resort/ticket packages and free dining during these times as well.
2. At what age is my child old enough to visit WDW?
As long as you are comfortable traveling with your child anywhere, you can consider a Walt Disney World vacation. Many parents bring their children to Walt Disney World at just a few months old. Even at that young age, Walt Disney World is a stimulating environment of sights, sounds, and smells. Each park is equipped with a Baby Care center that provides a comfortable and quiet place to attend to the needs of your young children, even offering items you may have forgotten like diapers, wipes, and formula. At many attractions with height restrictions, there is an option to utilize a child swap system that allows all the members of your party to experience the attraction, essentially by allowing a small number of your party to ride twice, while someone waits outside with the child. Children under the age of 3 utilizing cribs in resorts do not count against your resort room capacity, nor do they require you purchasing a park ticket for them. They also do not qualify for the Disney Dining Plan, but you can share your meal with your infant if he/she is on table food.
3. What type of weather should I expect? What should I wear?
It’s always a good idea to check the extended forecast before leaving for your trip, and then keep checking each day before heading to the parks while you are at Walt Disney World. Winter months can get chilly, especially in the early morning and evenings, and having a jacket or sweater with you is a good idea. These can be stored in a bag, stroller, or in the lockers provided at the parks when you don’t need them. The summer months, on the other hand, can be extremely hot and humid. A change of clothes may come in handy if you or your kids take on a water ride or enjoy one of the splash areas. Ponchos can be purchased at the parks or brought in with you for keeping you dry during the afternoon rain showers.
No matter the time of year, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!! You’ll most likely be doing a lot of walking, especially at the parks! Being comfortable will go a long way in helping to assure you enjoy your vacation!
4. How much will a Walt Disney World vacation cost?
There are many factors that will determine the cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation. The primary expenses will be for your resort, tickets, dining and transportation. Focusing just on your resort/tickets/dining, we can estimate a budget using the vacation package guide on the Walt Disney World website. For example, a family of 4 would spend anywhere from $1600 at a value level resort, to $2500 at a moderate level resort, to $5000 at a deluxe level resort for 6 nights during early summer. Length of stay, family size, ticket options, dining options and adding transportation expenses could affect this estimate greatly. Even if you plan to stay off property and/or pay out of pocket for your meals, the vacation package guide tool on the Walt Disney World website is a great way to get a ballpark figure on how much your vacation is going to cost.
5. Where should we stay?
Deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. There are many choices and the right choice for your family will depend on many different factors. The Walt Disney World Resort has hotels that cater to every budget level, but in general they’ll tend to be more expensive than staying in an off-property hotel. Some of the benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel include: Complimentary transporation to/from Orlando International Airport, Complimentary transportation within the Walt Disney World Resort, Being immersed in the Magic at uniquely Disney-themed resorts and having access to Disney Cast Members 24 hours per day, Special access to the theme parks with Extra Magic Hours, and the covenience of having your park tickets as well as charging privileges attached to your hotel room key.
One of the benefits of staying at an off property hotel are that you’ll generally get more space for your money (This can be important if your family is larger than 4 people.) You’ll also be more centrally located to other non-Disney entertainment, shopping, and dining options. Some of the area hotels will offer shuttle transportation to the area theme parks, but renting a car may be a necessity if staying “off property”.
6. What is the Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-paid meal option that can be added on to any Walt disney World Resort package or DVC points reservation. The plan must be purchased for each member of your party (ages 3 and up) for the entire length of your stay. You cannot purchase a dining plan for a child under the age of 3, but they can eat off anyone else’s plate, or you can purchase items for them a la carte. There are three different plans available that offer an assortment of meal credits to your account, which can be redeemed however you like at almost any of the restaurants and food service locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
The Quick Service plan gives you 2 Counter Service (Fast-food style) meals per person, per day, 1 snack per person per day. The Dining Plan allots one Quick Service meal, one Table Service meal, and one snack per person per day. The Deluxe Dining Plan allots 3 meals (Counter or Table service) and 2 snacks per person, per day. All three plans include a resort-refillable mug per person as well. Snacks credits can be redeemed for a wide range of single-serving items such as bottled beverages, ice-cream bars, pastries and even side-orders from counter service locations.
Your dining plans and your family’s eating habits will help determine if any of the Disney Dining Plan options will help save you money on your trip. Savings aside, many families feel that having the majority of their meals pre-paid, and not having to worry about the price when looking at a menu is worth it.
7. What is FastPass+?
FastPass+ is a reservation system for enjoying select attractions inside the Walt Disney World theme parks with no, or very little, wait. There is no additional fee to use the FastPass+ service, it is included in your park admission. The service works by allotting three FastPass+ selections for different time slots throughout the day at participating attractions. The selections give you a one hour window to return.
To obtain your FastPass+ selections, you will need to log into your My Disney Experience account 60 days prior to your vacation for the first 10 days of your vacation if you are staying on property or 30 days prior to their use if you are staying off property. At that time you can select three attractions you want to experience in one park each day.
To redeem your FastPass+ selection, you simply show up at the attraction within the FastPass+ window, tap your MagicBand or theme park ticket and enjoy a much shorter wait than you would in the standby queue.
If you find you have used all your FastPass+ selections for the day yet you still intend to enjoy some more park time you can make more selections, one at a time, using your My Disney Experience app or at in-park kiosks. One of the great advantages of the ability to make more selections is you can make these additional selections in a different park than you originally enjoyed.
Some of the most popular attractions can actually run out of FastPass+ selection times, so be sure to log into your My Disney Experience accounts right at 6:00am (Eastern) to grab your selections before they are gone!
8. What kind of ticket should I get?
One of the great things about Walt Disney World park tickets is they are customizable to your needs. Unfortunately, the many options can make the process of purchasing the right ticket a bit daunting. The simplest and cheapest option is to buy a Magic Your Way base ticket, which are sold either as one-day tickets, or as multi-day tickets. These tickets allow you entry to one of the four main theme parks per day (Water Parks require a separate ticket). If you’d like to visit more than one of the main theme parks on the same day, then you would need to add the Park Hopper option to your base ticket. A one-time fee will allow you to “hop” between parks on each day that you use your ticket.
The Water Fun and More option adds an “extra ticket” for each day that is good for entry to either of Disney’s Water Parks, DisneyQuest, Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, or for a round golf at Disney’s Oak Trail 9-hole golf course, or a round of miniature golf at either Winter/Summerland or Fantasia Gardens.
9. Do I need to bring a stroller for my child?
Disney does allow you to bring your own stroller into its theme parks, provided they do not exceed certain size limits (larger than 36″ x 52″ (92 x 132 cm). Each park also provides strollers for a daily rental fee for use inside the park. The good thing about renting a stroller at the park is that you don’t have to bring it on an airplane or have it taking up space in your car. The negatives are the cost, which can add up if you rent one every day, and that you can only use it inside the park.
An alternative could be to rent a stroller for the length of your stay from a local rental agency. The cost will be cheaper than renting from Disney, and you can use it at your resort as well as inside the parks.
You are the best judge of your child’s needs, just keep in mind that you’ll be walking several miles on an average visit to any of the Disney Theme Parks, which may be more than you or your child is used to walking at home.
10. What items am I NOT allowed to bring into the parks?
According to the Walt Disney World website you may not bring the following types of items into the theme parks: Wagons, Skateboards, Scooters, Inline skates, Shoes with built-in wheels, Strollers larger than 36″ x 52″ (92 x 132 cm), Suitcases, coolers or backpacks with or without wheels larger than 24″ (61 cm) long x 15″ (38 cm) wide x 18″ (46 cm) high. (Coolers required for medication may be stored in a locker or at Guest Relations). Any trailer-like object that is pushed or towed by an ECV, wheelchair or stroller, Wheeled mobility devices with less than 3 wheels and devices that cannot maintain stability and balance when stopped, unpowered or unoccupied. (Training wheels or similar modifications are not permitted,; Alcoholic beverages, Weapons of any kind, Folding chairs, Glass containers (excluding baby food jars and perfume bottles), Pets (unless they are service animals), Balloons, straws and drink lids are not permitted in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park for the safety of the animals.
Additional items may also not be permitted inside the theme parks. Please use your best judgment and do not bring anything that may be potentially harmful or disruptive. All guests carrying bags are required to pass through a security checkpoint where the bags will be handsearched prior to entering the parks.