Summer will be here before you know it, and if you’re thinking of going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, then you’ll already know there is a lot of planning to get through. Not only do you need to work out exactly which parks you want to go to, where you’re going to stay, and how you’re going to get there, but you need to save for it too.
Once that’s all sorted out though, and you’ve paid your final instalment, it’s time to really get serious. You’re going, and you need to be prepared. Unlike with a beach holiday, there are more things needed and more things to think about when you plan a trip to Disney so it’s best to get planning as soon as you can. Here is a checklist for you to go through to ensure that this holiday of a lifetime is memorable for all the right reasons!
You may not want to look like a tourist when you get to Florida but the thing is… you are one. Embrace it, and get a guidebook so you know exactly where to go and what to do. You wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, especially if this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of Disney World holiday. It’s true that you can look things up online, but it can often be easier to have a handy guidebook in your bag – and you can make notes in it, use markers for your must-do spots, and generally make use of it. It’s a great investment. A second-hand one is even better if someone else has done all the note-taking in the margins already!
Orlando is a hot place. Hotter than you might realise. Shorts and t-shirts are required on a Disney World holiday, but remember to pack thin clothing, not just summer clothing. This kind of heat is entirely different to anything you’ve experienced in the UK, and you don’t want to be uncomfortable as you walk around the parks all day. Take a hat and sunglasses too – you’ll be glad you did when you get out there in the heat of the day.
Whilst on the subject of packing, making sure everyone has good shoes to wear is essential. You may not realise it, but those parks are enormous, and there will be a huge amount of walking to do, plus you’ll find yourself standing around in queues for many minutes (hours) at a time. Fashionable sandals and heels are lovely, but not during the day. You want trainers or breathable shoes. It’s not just about comfort, either. Some of the rules in Disney mean you can’t go on some of the rides if you don’t have the appropriate footwear.
The main reason for anyone to go to Orlando is to go to Disney World, but Disney is not just one theme park; it’s a number of different theme parks that make up the whole group. So do a little research in advance to work out where you might like to spend some time. The Magic Kingdom, for example, is where the famous Cinderella’s castle is, and it’s great for younger children. Older kids might like the Epcot Centre. Film buffs will love Hollywood Studios. Plus there are animal parks and water parks to enjoy as well. Knowing where you want to go will give you a good idea of how many days’ worth of tickets you will need. Buying them in advance is the cheapest way to get them, and you might even be able to make use of special deals. A little tip: take a photo of the tickets when you get them, making sure the ticket numbers are shown. If you lose them or they get damaged, you can then get them replaced.
For some people, a holiday is about going with the flow and working out what to do – if anything – once you get there. In Florida, it’s slightly different. There is so much to see and do that if you don’t have at least a bit of a plan and itinerary by the time you get there, you’ll miss out on something wonderful. If you’re staying at a hotel you can get some great advice from the reps and the staff, but if you’re in a villa you’re a little more on your own. The Internet will help you immensely in that case, although you can also ask the park employees for advice on what to do. Orlando is more than just Disney, though, and you might want to find something different to do, even on a Disney World holiday. Days chilling out by the pool are needed just to re-energise (perhaps have a pool day once every two or three days), and hiring a car so you can go a little further afield will show you some interesting places. If you pick a car from a reputable car rental company, then you don’t even have to worry that you’ll break down; they’ll have help on hand should that happen, working with companies that will be able to help you if you need it.
It’s usually best to change your pounds into dollars here in the UK before you leave as you tend to get a better exchange rate. Don’t assume that’s the case, though, and check out the exchange rate in the US before you travel. You might get a better deal by waiting. For a bit of fun in the parks, you can exchange your American dollars for ‘Disney dollars’. They have the same face value and can only be used in Disney itself, but they’re cute and put a smile on everyone’s face.
There are a number of little extras that are always worth packing when it comes to going to Orlando’s Disney World. They’ll make your trip more magical. Remember, for example, your autograph book and a chunky kind of pen. There will be characters walking around the parks and they will happily pose for pictures and sign your children’s books, so it’s a nice (free) souvenir! A poncho is another useful item. Yes, it’s hot in Florida, but it rains too, and when the heavens open they really open! Showers don’t last for long, but they happen most afternoons in the summer and you don’t want to get caught out. Take a little plastic bag that can fit in your pocket or bag too because there are water rides, and you can protect your phone/wallet/tablet that way.
The final thing to remember when travelling to Orlando for a Disney World holiday is to enjoy yourself. Have fun. Smile. It’s worth every second of packing when you realise you’re in a truly magical place.