Orlando Vacation Ideas Family Travel Planning Tips
Let us help you plan every detail! Feel free to contact us with questions!!
Disney World Tips:
As Disney planning specialists we can offer great advice to help you plan every detail of your vacation, whether this is your first trip or you are long time Disney nuts like us! Feel free to ask questions!
Reserve dinner reservations in Disney early, most restaurants start taking reservations 6-12 months in advance, and many book up at that time! We recommend at least one Disney experience dining or character dining during your stay, the cost is higher than most restaurants in the area, but the experience is unmatched, we can help recommend restaurants or feel free to use the tool above to find your perfect restaurant based on character, cuisine or location.
Book your Fastpasses about 30 days before your trip and use the very awesome new My Disney Experience App! The new app lets your manage your tickets, fastpasses, dining, view show times, wait times, even when rides are shut down during your day! This is by far the best advancement Disney has ever done in recent years to make their experience even better! Another great tool is the new Magic Bands which you can link to your passes, dining and fastpasses as well, and easily enter the parks, your fastpass lines, and when we arrange your stay within the park, you can even use them to use your dining plan meals and charge other purchases to your room!
Order Your FREE Disney World Vacation Planning DVD.
Check out the crowd calendar, learn which days are the best to visit each Disney park, customize your own touring plan or view recommended plans unique for your family for each park, even buy the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World at touringplans.com! We can get you the crowd calendar for your dates on request for no charge, just let us know after your dates are booked!
While on your trip, collect as many photos on your Disney’s Photo Pass (given out free throughout the parks at photo stops), and when you come back visit Disney Photo Pass to order some of your favorites with your photos and your Photo Pass pics! You may now also purchase a Memory Maker package prior to your trip at a discount to save all your Disney photos!
Traveling with Preschoolers can be a difficult task, but Disney makes it easy! Enjoy conveniences like baby stops where you can change and feed the baby in a climate controlled area, even purchase the little items you might need–like extra diapers! You can enjoy Ride Swap, where one adult waits with children too young to ride, and does not have to wait in line again to go on the ride after the rest of the party returns! Learn more about Magical Beginnings. Also learn tips for families with Big Kids, Teens, Romance & Relaxation, Active Fun, Magical Gatherings and more!
Disney offers many special events during the year including their Very Merry Christmas Party, Not So Scary Halloween Party & other special and holiday events. Learn more about tours and special experiences.
Learn more about NEW FantasyLand!!
Downtown Disney is now Disney Springs!
Area Information including theme parks, other attractions, golf, mini golf
Disney Package Savings
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Planning & Packing:
There are many things to consider when traveling to Disney and even Florida. If this is a first trip for you, the first with little ones, or you are a Disney veteran, these tips should still be helpful for you! If you have any tips you would like to add to the guide, feel free to contact us with more ideas, and we’ll add them!
When staying in a vacation rental, you can do laundry whenever you need, it is a great idea to pack light and only take 4-5 outfits even for a week or longer stay, per person. Usually in seasons where the temperature is cooler at night than in the day, it is wise to bring mostly shorts/tee shirt sets and then maybe wear one pair of pants (maybe pick up some pants with tie up or zip off legs that convert to shorts!) and a light jacket that is easily stuffed into a backpack and lightweight to carry all day! In the winter months it can even get cold at night, if you plan to do night parks you’ll want to keep your winter jacket with you during travel just in case you need it! Convertible backpacks work great to carry your sweatshirt, water, camera and other personal items.
We recommend sandals for the kids, because there are many spots to play in the water, as well as rain showers throughout the day quite often in Florida, so it is better for their feet, if they can dry! Make sure you get good quality walking or running sandals, and bring band-aids in case they start to rub on their feet, put on the bandaids BEFORE they become blisters!
You might want some canteen backpacks or plan on a travel cooler, the parks allow small coolers and charge an arm and a leg for drinks so you will want to stay hydrated. We normally stock a few gallons of water (for less than $1) and refill our water bottles about 3/4 and freeze them at night, so that they slowly melt and we have a fresh supply of cold water, you’ll need a few per person in the hot months! If you can tolerate city water well, they will give you FREE ice water at any restaurant in Disney even if you’re not eating there, just ask!
When you start your travel shopping, first make sure you’re using an online rebate service so you get cash back!! This is free money and I’ve used both services for years, and have received thousands back on all my online shopping–which with my busy schedule is most of my shopping! I highly recommend Mr. Rebates and Ebates (and I check them both every time I purchase anything on any of my favorite stores because their rebate %s change daily and one is always better than the other!).
Here is a helpful list I have put together for my own family, you can customize it for your family:
A lightweight back back for each family member, containing sunglasses, a hat, light jacket (in the summer when night temps aren’t that cool that won’t be necessary), disposable camera for the kids, water bottles, maybe a misting fan or cool towel. One backpack should contain the other items you need like the camera, extra batteries, hand sanitizer (also helpful to wipe down any rental strollers, etc), band-aids, maybe some light snacks like nuts/granola bars, etc, however plan at least one stop to go home for lunch or dinner if you have time and wish to save money on meals.
If you are driving: Small travel bag for adults in the front seat with travel documents, valuables, snacks, chargers, paper towels, and anything else you need handy during the ride. I also always prepare another bag like that for each row of seats including activity books, snacks (not drinks, those we plan 20 minutes before a stop!), any video games, crayons, sticker books, etc, that they kids would like to have. More great travel fun ideas. I also have each child pick out a stuffed animal to cuddle with when they are at their destination (if they like), it also doubles as a travel pillow for the ride. If they don’t like that, they can just take a small travel pillow, perhaps try one that deflates to save space when not needed. Other great things to have for the ride are: an inflatable beach ball you can blow up to let the kids run around a bit at rest stops, so they can burn off some energy before getting crammed back into the car; juice boxes, water, etc, that can be taken out just before a stop (about 20 minutes), before bathroom breaks!
I usually give each child their own rolling back pack for their own clothes, to keep it simple, plus little bags can be strategically placed throughout the car if there is not enough cargo space! If you are flying, you might consider consolidating all the kids clothes to one bag, however I also find it easier to give each of them their own bag to drag through the airport, instead of Mom & Dad hauling all of it!
Then, you will want a bag containing camera, camcorder, laptop if necessary and any other valuables you need to travel with. Keep that handy so you can take it into the hotels if you have a long trip and need to stop halfway. That isn’t something to leave in the car overnight! Do the same for your toiletries bag. If space allows, include one change of clothes in that toiletry bag, to create a sort of “overnight bag” for the hotel room stop, so you don’t have to drag in all the suitcases.
I usually make up a bag of the items you need for the pool, as well as sandals, etc, however if you have room, you can put these items in each child’s bag. And, of course the big suitcases are for the adults and teens! Still, try to pack light, only 4-5 changes of clothes is sufficient when you can wash them. Leave room for your souvenirs especially if you’re flying back home, or bring an extra lightweight duffle.
Planning the hotel room stops:
There are advantages and disadvantages to planning where you will stay, if your travel will be more than one day. If you don’t plan, you are up to the mercy of where the vacancies are, where you need to stop. Many times, we have tried that route, and have found that the only hotels anywhere to be found were not exactly the ones we wanted, and found it difficult to even get through the night, however at midnight when your kids are tired and cranky, you need to stop, wherever you are! You might not be in the best of neighborhoods, or you might pay way too much.
For this reason I do prefer to plan stops at trusted hotels. Then you can map it out prior to the trip and you’ll know when you will likely arrive at that location. One of my favorites is the Hampton Inn on a budget, Hilton Garden Inn or Homewood/Embassy Suites for up to 6 per room by Hilton, any of the Hilton brand hotels are wonderful. They have plush beds, fridge/microwave, usually free internet, and are most importantly CLEAN! The only benefit to NOT planning your stop, is that you can sometimes get further than you planned, if you are “making good time”, however usually it will be the reverse! With Hilton hotels, though, you can usually call by 6pm the day of arrival to change or cancel a reservation, so you really are better off, in my personal opinion, to plan it!
Now, get packing…
Before you start shopping, make sure you get a Mr. Rebates membership so you can earn cash back on every purchase!
Some recommended items to purchase ahead of time:
- Sierra Trading Post–good quality sandals/sneakers (sandals recommended for rainy days so you can stay in the park when the lines dwindle and the crowds dissappear!), small coolers or backpacks, try a camel pack for water and refill with gallons of spring water each day–save a bundle on drinks and always stay refreshed!
- Dollar store, drug store or WalMart–$1 ponchos–very lightweight and compact, you will save you a fortune vs. buying them in the parks!
- Misting Fans, Autograph Books with a cool Pen also much cheaper at dollar stores/walmart before you hit the parks–and pay a lot more!!
- Summer clothes that are comfortable and fit–of course!
- Trial size toiletries (1 day supply)– you can stock your home with our grocery shopping service for your arrival
- Lightweight baby travel gear–we can rent some of these items for you if you need them during travel and don’t want to haul them all with you.
- Pet needs for while you are away or for easy travel if you are enjoying one of our pet friendly homes!
- Cell phones w/GPS (or separate GPS), tablets, other devices and travel accessories to help you keep in touch while away, and don’t forget the chargers! (get some extra car chargers on ebay cheap!)
- Maybe some new luggage?