This post is presented by Elm Grove Travel, a locally owned, family-run Milwaukee travel agency since 1961. They pride themselves on going that extra mile for their clients. Elm Grove Travel is proud to be the Milwaukee area’s premier travel agency for the best in travel deals, family vacations, corporate travel, direct travel from Milwaukee, cruises and Disney World vacations. Today’s featured post is written by Jennifer Cagle, Chief Operations Officer and President of Elm Grove Travel in collaboration with Amy Frank and Cailyn Kison, Elm Grove Travel’s Authorized Disney Vacation Planners and Family Travel Specialists. Between Amy and Cailyn, they have visited Walt Disney World over 100 times and each have 2 children who started visiting the Magic Kingdom before their 1st birthday, and have been back every year since, making them the perfect Disney World resources!
I love Disney but need help planning my Disney World vacation
I grew up on Disney. One of my favorites was The Little Mermaid. I could “read” the book back to my mom, long before I could actually read because I had heard the story so many times. Fast forward 25+ years and here I am again, watching Disney films on repeat, but this time with my kids.
Let’s just say, there were days during my second pregnancy that my toddler and I had watched Moana three times by our mid-morning snack. Moana saved me when my 2 year old would wake up long before the sun and I had just gotten to bed a few hours prior. I don’t know how I will ever repay Disney for the extra minutes of sleep I could sneak in while snuggled up on the couch watching and rewatching our new Disney favorites but you better believe I will try.
This mama is fully embracing Disney as an adult with children. We buy the movies, soundtracks (actual physical CD’s even!), toys, clothes and someday we will plan our own Disney World vacation. Let me tell you this, I will NOT be planning our trip alone. Maybe some of you have the knowledge, patience, and commitment to make the magic happen all on your own, but I don’t. When the time comes to plan my family Disney World vacation, I want to be able to sit back and enjoy, not stress over it all (which I totally would), I’ll leave that to the professionals, who we happen to have in our backyard at Elm Grove Travel.
If a Disney World vacation is in your future, these tips, below will be invaluable to you as you begin to plan.
“What is the perfect age for our family’s first Disney World vacation?
Our answer…ANY age is the best age to take your first Disney World vacation! We have traveled with our kids from infants to young adults, and we have found perfect experiences at every age.
The key to a successful Walt Disney World vacation is in the planning.
Here are 5 steps to help you get started on planning your family’s first magical Disney World vacation.
- Plan ahead
- Decide when to go and where to stay
- Have a daily itinerary based on your family’s “must-do” activities
- Engage in the My Disney Experience and download the app
- Relax, have fun and let the magic unfold
While there are over 20 resorts on the Walt Disney World property, advanced planning means more options to choose from. If possible, we recommend planning your Disney World vacation at least 8 months ahead. Dining reservations for on-site Walt Disney World restaurants can be made up to 180 days in advance. The most popular restaurants (think Cinderella’s Royal Table & Chef Mickeys’), can be fully booked within a few hours of reservations opening at 6am central time. Having your vacation plan in place prior to 180 days ensures you will be able to snag one of those coveted character meals.
Decide when to go and where to stay
Walt Disney World is a year-round destination with guests traveling from all over the world to visit. For many families, vacations are determined by school and work schedules. This makes summer vacation, spring break weeks and the week between Christmas and New Year’s the busiest (and most expensive) times to visit the parks. Fall and the weeks following Easter through Memorial Day are some of the best times to visit. The crowds are a little lighter, and the temperatures can be perfect. If you are okay with cooler temperatures, January and February are also great times to visit with lower prices and smaller crowds.
With 27 on site resorts, there is a resort to fit every budget and taste.
By selecting a Disney onsite resort, guests receive exclusive benefits:
- Extra magic hours at the theme parks
- Complimentary Magic Bands
- Complimentary transportation (monorails, ferryboats and buses) to the Disney Theme parks, waterparks, and Disney Springs
- Complimentary airport transportation through Disney Magical Express
- Early access to FastPass+ planning (60 days prior to your trip)
- The option of purchasing a Disney Dining plan
Have a daily itinerary based on your family’s “must-do” activities
Walt Disney World consists of 4 theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom; 2 waterparks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, the newly imagined Disney Springs, a large dining and shopping complex, along with countless recreational activities. It will be impossible to see and do everything on your 1st Disney World vacation.
As a first-time visitor, we often recommend a 5-day stay. This allows you to dedicate 2 days to the Magic Kingdom, a day at Epcot, and then 2 shorter days at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Keep in mind that staying at a Disney Resort is an amazing experience all by itself; building in an extra day to enjoy your resort is highly recommended.
By prioritizing the attraction’s, you want to see, you can be sure no one will return home disappointed. Based on your children’s ages, be sure to choose the attractions that relate to their current Disney obsessions. Let each member of the family choose a few “must dos’s” and then create your daily plan around these items.
Your daily plan will include utilizing the parks “magical hours,” arranging dining at the park you are visiting, and selecting fast passes for the most important attractions. When planning your day, be sure to include some live shows to take a break and relax. Everyone will surely be impressed.
Engage in the My Disney Experience and download the app
With this app, you will be able to make dining reservations, book fastpasses, view current wait times, access park maps and Disney’s Memory Maker photos. The app allows you to make on the go changes to any of your reservations.
Relax, have fun and let the magic unfold
With all of your advance planning, you can now enjoy the experience. With our expertise at Elm Grove Travel and your My Disney Experience in hand, your first Disney World vacation will be amazing. Don’t worry if you missed something, it is a great reason to return in the future!
Let Elm Grove Travel Plan Your Disney World Vacation
With years of experience and a passion for all things Disney, the Authorized Disney Planners at Elm Grove Travel can help take the stress out of planning your next vacation, all at no additional cost to you!
They make sure you are getting the best value for your money. Even for the biggest Disney fanatic, there’s a lot to keep track of at the theme parks. There are magical extras that can be added onto a trip, plus the constant roll-out of new experiences and festivals happening ten months out of the year.
Jennifer Cagle: Chief Operations Officer and President, joined Elm Grove Travel in 1996 and has been working actively as a travel advisor focusing on both corporate and leisure travel. In addition, Jenny has taken an active role in the Elm Grove Business Association, serving as president for three years.
Amy Frank: Did someone say Disney? Since her arrival at the agency in 1996, we haven’t found a Disney question
she can’t answer. In addition to completing her master’s degree in the Disney College of
Knowledge and excelling in all things Disney, she also has traveled extensively throughout Hawaii,
Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe and enjoys planning family travel, all-inclusive vacations and
cruises of any type.
Cailyn Kison: She comes to the agency with a wealth of Disney knowledge. She’s grown up going to Disney
World and even hosted her wedding at one of the parks! She is looking forward to her first Disney
Cruise this September with her 2 young daughters.